Normani is one of the biggest pop stars on the rise. The former Fifth Harmony singer has the most coveted opening gig of the year (on Ariana Grande‘s Sweetener World Tour) and has had half a dozen hit singles without even putting out an album yet.
Many fans speculated that Normani would play new songs from her upcoming debut solo album on tour with Ari. On the tour’s opening in Albany, Normani threw the audience for the most delightfully unexpected loop. She didn’t perform any unreleased songs, but she did have an entire four-song Rihanna medley in the middle of her set.
Normani performed several of the pop icon’s biggest hits — 2012’s “Diamonds,” 2009’s “Run This Town,” and 2011’s “Where Have You Been” and Calvin Harris collab “We Found Love.” Rihanna is one of the biggest stars of our generation, with a singular voice and musical style. It’d be easy to botch a cover of her songs, but Normani gives the classics her own spin.
Performing the Rihanna covers is a smart move on several counts. It lets Normani save her new music for a bigger release and single debut. While it’s cool to hear new music on a tour, fans tend to be quieter and sing and dance along less if they don’t know the lyrics to the song yet. Everybody knows “Run This Town.” And if these particular Rihanna songs are an indication of what kind of music we can expect from Normani in the months to come, it looks like we should get ready to crown another pop princess.
Watch fan-shot footage of Normani’s Rihanna medley performance above.