In 2005 a young popstar with an accent from Barbados walked in our television screens with her first single ‘Pon De Replay’, we all remember it, but lots of things changed in five years and so has Rihanna. From youngster in the business she grew to up to sexy vixen and by the time it was late 2007 everyone knew her. she was unstoppable with Number 1 hits like Umbrella, Disturbia, Don’t Stop The Music (which features a sample of Micheal Jackson’s song ‘Wanna Be Startin Somethin’), Unfaithful and so many others. Rihanna made it happen.
But after her last and most successful album, Good Girl Gone Bad, it was quiet for a couple of months. Well, in the music industry anyway. In the tabloids? Not so much. In September 2008, Rihanna and now ex-boyfriend Chris Brown didn’t show up at the annual MTV awards. I don’t need to share you the story, we all know how it ends. It was world news.
But what happened didn’t get buried in the ground, Rihanna took advantage of the situation and wrote down all her anger and fears into the new album, Rated R. And that is very clear. Rated R is far, far away from happy and is probably the darkest album ’till now, if not ever.
The first song an intro and the red wire, ‘Mad House’, starts off with a deep voice talking. Almost like an after-hour radio show in the twenties. Its like as if the voice is trying to scare children away from it. Then she starts singing like she’s lamenting about a loss, but instead she sings “come on in.” Strange and scary, but well done.
The second track, “Wait Your Turn”, is one of the most powerful songs off the album. When Rihanna sings “I’m such a fucking lady”, you know what time it is. And its either your choice to keep on listening to the mad Rihanna or stop. I chose option one.
after “Wait Your Turn”, I stumbled into “Hard”, a song featuring the rapper Young Jeezy. It’s co-produced by The Dream, and I still don’t really get why it wasn’t the first single for the album, since it could perfectly represent the whole album. Thank god they chose the song to be her second single and she didn’t disappoint us by turning up in an army outfit in the video. While Rihanna is claiming her ego, Young Jeezy is defending black people. Great and probably one of the biggest and most important lyrics.
The next song “Stupid In Love” is the first ballad but the words are direct and we all know who she’s singing about. She sings “I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid” and nothing in the song needs any imagination to understand. The song itself, is kind of boring and slow but its worthy to be on the album because of the lyrics. Besides, everyone expected a song like this to be on the album, anyway.
Rockstar 101, featuring Slash, is one of those fillers, to me. In the song she doesn’t really sing, but tries to rap. Not really cute, not that this album is cute anyway. The song is quite repetitive, and not on a nice way. Unlike other songs, on the album like Rude Boy, where repeating works.
The next song is another ballad and the first single, Russian Roulette. Like Rockstar 101, its not my favorite tracks off the album either. The song and video talks about facing the end of your life, or at least there’s a possibility. I’m sure you’ve all heard it before, so I think everyone is capable for their selfs to review.
Fire bomb, on the other hand, is one of the best songs off the album. It’s bright, unlike a lot of songs, and even though it starts with a big guitar noise, soon enough the piano and violins hit in and it becomes an airy song about a relationship being in the big overdrive of love but suddenly stops. Clearly not inspired by her own situation, since it wasn’t a nice heartbreak. But for all the people who look back at their passionate relationship with someone they loved, this is it.
The next track is one of my favorites, Rude Boy. Like I said, this song has a lot of repetitive lyrics and sounds, but it works. It’s colorful, and the director of the video saw it too. If you haven’t seen the video yet, you could describe it as a bad David Bowie video with a lot of fake winks and moves, and a long haired Rihanna. “What I want, want, want, is what you want, want, want, give it to me baby like boom, boom, boom”, is one of the lines that keeps repeating in your head after hearing it. The lyrics are inviting, and truth to be told, I’d love to be invited, too. You get the instructions, now go for it, guys!
Photographs, a song featuring Wil.I.Am, is probably for a lot of people a filler. For me, its a stand out. With cheesy but striking lyrics about losing a loved one and the chorus sung by the duo, it makes the song very interesting. Even though its a simple song, the typical style of the BEP singer makes the song a little more futuristic.
G4L, or Gangsta For Life is put in the Rockstar 101 category. It’s hard, but so boring. Let’s move on with better songs.
Te Amo strikes you from the first minute with the beat. When the the chorus starts, you get the feeling its not just any song, its a love/hate case, but I for one, love it. In Te Amo, her vocals are hardly understandable because the cute Barbados’ accent comes out. Not a coincidence. Te Amo underlines the importance of the L-word when she sings: “Te amo, don’t it mean, I love you?”
After the song “Rehab” on Good Girl Gone Bad, the collaboration with Justin Timberlake continues in Cold Case Love. And you don’t even have to look that up to know it. You instantaneously hear it. Justin’s style is dripping off, and on top of all that, JT beat boxes his way to the end of the song. Cold Case Love is build up slowly to explode at the end.
For the last song, which is called The Last Song (I’m not kidding), she waves goodbye at the Mad House, and of course at her past relationship.
The whole album has a lot more rock and guitar influences, that probably represent the hard image they want to give Rihanna. With half shaved off hair, she goes through the album like a real bad ass. Get happy, girl, you deserve it.