The Barclays Center Was Totally Transformed
Rihanna art-directed and executive produced the show, and along with producers PRODJECT and Endeavor Content, managed to make the 19,000-capacity venue feel intensely intimate. Most of the arena was closed off, leaving a small space for celebrities -- including Diplo, Kacey Musgraves, Kehlani, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Real Housewives cast members and Miss Vanjie among others -- to sit alongside media and guests. The set design appeared to be inspired by Greece, with white sponge-painted walls and arched entryways.
Rihanna Graced Us With Her Presence -- And Dance Moves
Rihanna made not one, but two appearances in her show. To everyone's surprise, she opened the 40-minute set center stage, flanked by 10 model-dancers all wearing sheer black bodysuits -- Rihanna outfitted hers with a velvet mini-skirt, diamond jewelry, red lipstick and a sky-high braided ponytail. Though she didn't sing -- as fun as the live debut of a new, long-awaited song would have been -- she did deliver some sultry, precisely-executed dance moves. Her hip pops teased what we would likely get from her next tour, whenever that may be (no rush, really).
High-Profile Models and Artists Shared the Stage
In the first of many model and artist pairings, Gigi Hadid strutted the length of the stage while Big Sean walked on from one of the 10+ entry points singing his Kanye West and Jay-Z collab "Clique." He was later joined by A$AP Ferg, who sported a teal-blue buzzed haircut, for their team-up, "Bezerk." After, the pacing slowed momentarily down as Cara Delevingne and a crew of model-dancers debuted a new look to "Oops (Oh My)" by Tweet and Missy Elliott before 21 Savage made his appearance -- not to perform, but to model a men's look of red silky pants and a matching robe, worn open, of course.
But possibly the best pairing -- and perhaps the most intentional -- was when Laverne Cox strutted her stuff in a hot pink leotard and heels ahead of Migos' performance. The trio sang its Mustard collab, "Pure Water," while standing in a circular, inch-deep pool on stage and wearing variations of matching iridescent outfits.
Normani's Unparalleled Moves
Since dropping her "Motivation" music video, Normani made one thing very clear: she can out-dance anybody. The rising artist impressed attendees with intensive choreography, and proved that Savage x Fenty is truly for any and all occasions -- despite the quick-paced, bouncy choreography, her pieces stayed rightfully in their place the entire time.
The Live Debut of Halsey's New Song "Graveyard"
The singer, who the night before performed at DKNY's 30th anniversary event in Dumbo, sang "Graveyard" live for the first time -- the song isn't even out until Friday -- from atop one of the higher structures in the show's set before making her way down the stairs. Once at the bottom, she engaged in a passionate dance as a three-piece band -- whose members played acoustic guitar, drums and synthpad -- played off to the side. Following the show, Halsey tweeted: "There! Are! No! Words! @rihanna just changed the game forever; as she always does. Thank you for letting me witness and be a part of this incredible event."
Tierra Whack Spit Bars Alongside DJ Khaled, Fat Joe and Fabolous
DJ Khaled came on stage with a whole lot of energy, as he always does, while screaming the opening lines of "All I Do Is Win" before going hard on its verses. Khaled later welcomed longtime friend and collaborator Fat Joe to perform "All The Way Up" -- without Remy Ma, French Montana or Infared -- while jumping in to state: "Rihanna, we love you!" And then, Tierra Whack joined in, perfectly and energetically rapping her "Clones" track while Khaled took on the role of hype man. Finally, Fabolous got in on the fun, switching up the lyrics of "You Be Killin Em" to say, "Rihanna, you be killin em."
Rihanna's Humbled Wave
Promptly at 10:20, Rihanna returned for a quick goodbye. She looked around the space, waved toward the camera fixated on her, and shared a smile that was a fusion of pride, relief and an eagerness to celebrate yet another career milestone.
Celebrities Who Acted Just Like Us
Once the lights turned on and guests were pointed toward the exits, Diplo -- who was dressed casually in jeans and a button down with his hair in a small ponytail -- climbed over the arena seats to speed along his departure. It worked. Elsewhere, once in the lobby, Nicky Hilton was overheard asking her sister Paris to call their car before they both realized that their phones were still locked tight in Yondr cases -- turns out no one was exempt from the no-phone rule.