Time to share something a little strange. Something some might say was out-of-character. Something unexplained. Something trendy.
Friends, I believe the time has come...to talk about Rihanna.
I think she is completely awesome. I don't even think she records particularly good songs, but I like them anyway. Hers is (according to wikipedia) a pretty straight-down-the-middle pop star story: pretty sixteen-year-old with vocal chops impresses visiting millionaire & wife in her native Barbados, and goes to live with them on the States while they launch her career. You know, the usual. If you can hear some reggae in her delivery (which I can, in "Umbrella", "What's my name?", "Rude Boy" and "Te Amo"--by the way, Hi, Queer sexuality song! Awesome.) she comes by it honestly. Fun fact: many of her hits were written by a Swedish/Norwegian pop music team called "Stargate".
Had to link this so you can listen, because it's that dope. This is one that she actually had a hand in writing, and to me it shows, like it has, like, lyrical details and things. Don't pay attention to the video, it's dumb (ALTHOUGH Rihanna had military training in Barbados where she grew up, perhaps she's entitled? Just kidding, a big pink tank is a terrible idea. BUT how great is it that the word for someone from Barbados is 'Barbadian'? Do you not love the way that word sounds? 'Barbadian'?). It may not be the most original to have a hip-hop song that's like, "Hey I'm so awesome, you couldn't bring me down if you tried" but I just buy it all the frickin way. I love that a woman is singing that kind of phallic chorus--combined with the line "I see you aiming at my pedestal" and the "brilliant, resilient" line, it's like she's some kind of amazing statue--whether it's Parthenon-style or Lenin-style I don't know, either way it's so great. Rihanna, you just might be the hottest b*tch in heels right here.
Which brings me to Rihanna fashion? Do I love her red hair? I DO. Do I also love all her weird Mohawks? YEP. She can even wear stuff that I usually don't care about (fishnet shorts under other shorts, a dress made of feathers, big heels, neon capris, etc.) and I'm like, "Oh, Rihanna you look so amazing forever!" And then she wears things that I like (FACEPAINT, bright red hair, the mohawks...and that's about it, actually) and it's so awesome. She has AMAZING posture. This lady never sits or stands indifferently.
"Only Girl in the World"
Love this video. Love this song (this is a Stargate song, and is apparently written in what's known as "club rhythm"--a standard tempo so you can run the songs together to dance to--so interesting! Pop music lesson today).
Rihanna is in my opinion a really cool singer who sounds distinctive and strong, PLUS in this song the vocals totally make me think of country vocals which is badass. I even like the weird, power-game "I'm the only one who's in command" "take it like a thief in the night" lyrics. Her melodramatic delivery! Except sometimes she's deadpan! Swoon!
I know that Rihanna has caused some raised eyebrows/bafflement because of her domestic abuse-themed collaboration with Eminem, "Love the Way You Lie". Third-hand, I read that she made some statement that she thought the composition was clever and an accurate depiction of the effed-up cycles of abuse, denial, what-have-you. I'm not the biggest fan of Eminem--and a lot of that is because I don't put effort into listening and enjoying rap--his music just doesn't often grab me--and a lot of it is because his music seems misogynist and violent, and that gives me a case of the sad-faces & the resentment-shoulders. I've heard the song on the radio several times, and no, I didn't love it, but honestly it seems pretty self-aware. I also seems like it IS an accurate (if by "accurate" you mean "lines up with dramatic depictions I have seen on fictional TV cop shows") portrayal of the dynamics of a physically abusive relationship. I have certainly heard WORSE WORSE WORSE in the name of art, and been OK with it (I'm looking at you, Nick Cave; topic for another post), and also I am not the song police. Rihanna is a survivor, and she can do whatever she wants with that. Actually, it's pretty cool that she wanted to do something vocal about an issue that has touched her personally AND under the public eye. Brave. So in conclusion, go Rihanna.