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Monday, 13 January 2020

10 Favourite Rihanna Songs

By Waiching

Over the past two decades, Barbadian Robyn Rihanna Fenty burst onto the global pop scene back in 2005 with the dancehall flavoured, 'Pon De Replay', who has also turned her attentions to acting and starring in movies, as well as dabbling in fashion. Her hits not only have dominated radio airwaves over the past 2 decades, but her music videos and performances have garnered millions, or be it billions of views on YouTube. In contrast to her other Carribean musical counterparts of whom are primarily in the reggae field, Rihanna's work spans a mixture of diverse musical influences and genres. By incorporating pop, rock, R&B, rap, dancehall, she has a total of 8 albums and 52 singles under her belt as of today. 

Yet it was the 2007 smash hit, 'Umbrella' with a little help from Jay Z - which was turned down by Britney Spears - that truly opened doors for her pop career to blossom. Though if Umbrella was the 'lift-off' for Ri-Ri, then most certainly 2009's Rated R was and still is the most significant chapter of her pop career, along with being a game-changer; displaying the bold, fearlessness of Rihanna (not to mention a comeback of huge proportions in the wake of the Chris Brown incident), whilst it didn't match the commercial and groundbreaking success of Good Girl Gone Bad, - and it's an album that I still enjoy a great deal -, creatively, musically and diversely and critically acclaimed, Rated R still ticked pretty much all the right boxes and helped cemented her position as a musical artist, not just a pop star by going out of her comfort zone and be daring. The R must have referred to 'Raw', which it was, & not just 'Rihanna'. 

I've weighed in with 10 chosen songs that I enjoy listening to the most from Rihanna:  

 1. Cold Case Love (2009) - Favourite Rihanna song, personally and one of many from her huge back catalogue, it is also the highlight of 2009's Rated R, which was written by Justin Timberlake. Vocally, Rihanna sounds inch-perfect and in hitting each note impeccably; lyrically it is excellent, though it may infer or directly refer to the Chris Brown assault, musically it is sweeping with an emphatic -yet rousing finish, and Timberlake is very good to great when it comes to penning not only the chorus and verses but also the bridge of his and other artists' songs - ''we lost our way, took this too far, now I'll never find the pieces of my heart'' -, love this part. 

''we opened up a cold case love, and it got the best of us. And now prints, pictures and white outlines, are all that's left at the scene of a crime, of a cold case love''

2. Hate That I Love You feat. Ne-Yo (2007) - a mid-tempo ballad written by Ne-Yo which drew comparisons and similarities with Beyonce's Irreplaceable: another Ne-Yo penned song in terms of composition and chord structure. The Spanish version has vocalist Bisbal in place of Ne-Yo. When it comes to modern pop duet records, Hate That I Love You, is simple but also top draw stuff.

''And I hate how much I love you, boy (yeah), I can't stand how much I need you (I need you), and I hate how much I love you boy (Oh, whoa), but I just can't let you go. And I hate that I love you so''

3. Te Amo (2009) - One of Rated R's less heavy tracks and seen by many as one of the album's weak spots, Te Amo (which is Spanish and Portuguese for 'I Love You') is still a fine- flowing, gentle song with Latin influences about the relationship of two women, with one proclaiming her love for Rihanna by saying 'Te Amo'. It is beautiful as it is pleasing. 

''Then she said 'Te amo', then she put her hand around my waist. I told her ''no'', she cried 'te amo'...''

*image by Canyon

4. Fire Bomb (2009) - a put- your- lighters- in- the- air - type of guitar ballad, it's in the soft rock reign with the theme of tortured love and act of arson being committed. Preferably, this ought to have been the send-off of Rated R, as opposed to The Last Song

''the lovers needa clear the road, ohhh, 'cause this thing is ready to blow, ohhh, I just wanna set you on fire so I won't have to burn alone, then you, then you'll know where I'm comin' from, fire bomb, fire bomb''

5. Russian Roulette (2009) - the bleak - yet brooding Russian Roulette is Rihanna at her most passionate best, vocally and listening to her sing shows. It is moving, emotional but also heartwrenching & intense. Here, lyricist Ne-Yo is economical and evocative and as ballads and slow tempo songs go, undoubtedly this is in the Rihanna top 5 easily. 

''And you can see my heart beating, you can see it through my chest, said ''I'm terrified'', but I'm not leaving, I know that I must pass this test, so just pull the trigger (trigger, trigger, trigger)''

6. What's My Name? feat. Drake (2010) - Rihanna post-Rated R, but also channelling her softer side, laced with a reggae-style beat and coupled with a warm and infectious hook. Rihanna's performance once again showed signs of growth in this mid-tempo & polished track which topped the charts in both the UK and US.

''oh na-na, what's my name?, oh na-na, what's my name?, oh na-na, what's my name?''

7. Good Girl Gone Bad (2007)  - Written by Norwegian artist, Lene Martin who sang 'Sitting Down Here', this is another mid-tempo modern acoustic-based track with terrific, slick production by Stargate. 

''easy for a good girl to go bad, and once we're gone (gone), best believe we've gone forever, don't be the reason, don't be the reason, you better learn how to treat us right, 'cause once a good girl goes bad, we done forever''

8. Stupid in Love (2009) - On the first listen, I didn't like it as the chorus' lyrics are repetitive, but after several listens, it became a definite grower: another song penned by Ne-Yo, it is a traditional ballad that was dismissed by a lot of critics as being forgettable and divided some Ri-Ri fans. It was originally recorded by Brandy, but in the end, it went to Rihanna. For me, it was the bridge part that saved it for me; had it not been for that and the way it was composed, I wouldn't have given it any more than one listen. But alas, it was enjoyable and Rihanna delivered yet another impressive emotional serving of her vocal talents. People who enjoyed Unfaithful taken from A Girl Like Me may appreciate this one.

''This is stupid, I'm not stupid, don't talk to me, like I'm stupid. I still love you, but I just can't do this. I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid''

9. G4L (Gangster For Life) (2010) - a slickly produced, fast-paced electronica-style beat whereby Rihanna leads the way and expressing her bad girl attitude; If the good girl Rihanna went bad in 2006's offering, then in 2010 this good girl turned badder, as she goes for the in-yer-face darker approach. In Russian Roulette, she was the victim yet the tables are turned by Ri-Ri with G4L in full-on vengeful mode. The end result is startling, raging, bizarre perhaps but also brilliant, even though she curses several times on the track. It's offputting for some, but that didn't bother me due to the frenetic energy and tone G4L was conveying that I quite liked. 

'' know I'm down, down for life, load it, reload it and let's go, gangsta for life, 'til the day that I die, yeah, I promise I'm standing high, 'cause you know that I'm down, you know I'm down, gangsta for life''

10. Shut Up And Drive (2007) - As catchy as Umbrella and became a big- if not as bigger hit than the former, this somewhat frothy speed-driven, pop-rock song is still acutely good. Even though the song itself isn't about driving cars, well it's about, erm sex and it was featured in the animated movie, Wreck-It-Ralph. Ho-hum. Sampling New Order's Blue MondayShut Up And Drive was the first real record of the then-18-year-old Rihanna's outside the dancehall and R&B vein and shows she can easily transition into the pop-rock phase.

''...'cause I'm zero to 60 in three point five, baby you got the keys, now shut up and drive (drive, drive, drive), shut up and drive (drive, drive, drive)''

*Honourable Mentions: Talk That Talk, Roc Me Out, Sell Me Candy, Kiss It Better, Diamonds, Umbrella, Rude Boy, Wait Your Turn, Cry, Unfaithful, Hard, Take A Bow, Disturbia, The Monster (featuring Eminem), If I Never See Your Face Again (with Maroon 5), Who's That Chick?, Live Your Life, Four Five Seconds, California King Bed, Do Ya Thang, Fading, Where Have You Been, Birthday Cake 

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