BuzzJack
Entertainment Discussion

Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register | Help )

Latest Artist News
 
Reply to this topicStart new topic
> The Guardian: Rihanna's 10 Best Songs
Track this topic - Email this topic - Print this topic - Download this topic - Subscribe to this forum
My Reputation
post Jul 10 2017, 08:21 PM
Post #1
I’m sorry, the old Andrew can’t come to the phone right now. 
******
Group: Members
Posts: 5,932
Member No.: 21,161
Joined: 24-August 14
 


QUOTE(The Guardian)
1. Pon de Replay
Released in 2005, Pon de Replay’s intoxicating mix of dancehall, reggae, electropop and Bajan Creole introduced the world to one of the defining pop stars of the last decade. One of the handful of demos she had recorded in New York after being discovered by producer Evan Rogers in Barbados, the song’s brilliance almost cost her a deal with Jay Z, CEO of Def Jam Recordings at that time. “When a song is that big, it’s hard [for a new artist] to come back from,” he told MTV. “I don’t sign songs, I sign artists.” As it happened, he wasn’t that bothered … allegedly locking her in his office until she signed a six-album deal on the spot. In the end, he had a point – listening back to Pon de Replay now, it’s amazing how it already contains so many of the distinct flavours that would make Rihanna’s singles so incredible. First, and most importantly, there’s the voice, a supple, perfect pop instrument that winds its way through the song emanating both a breathless sexuality and an almost blank guideline in which the listener can fill in the colours. Rather than saturate every second with vocal histrionics, the song is allowed space to breathe and expand. It also links directly back to her heritage – a theme she’d return to throughout her discography – while continuing the DJ shoutout lyrical theme previously explored by both Madonna (Music) and Jennifer Lopez (Play).

2. Umbrella (feat. Jay Z)
Despite releasing three more US top 10 singles across two fairly successful albums, Rihanna’s position as a megastar wasn’t cemented until 2007’s Umbrella. Even then, she was still having to lower herself to fairly un-megastarlike behaviour, appearing on J-Status’s immediately forgettable Roll It just a week before Umbrella’s US release. What Umbrella did was give Rihanna her first undeniable, mainstream-piercing megahit, a song so popular (it topped the UK charts for 10 weeks) that you only had to say the titular word in public and wait a second before hearing “ella, ella” hook sung back at you. In fact, such was its popularity that the Sun accused it of causing the constant downpours in the UK that plagued its reign (ahem) at No 1. Built around a strutting hi-hat and drum loop co-producer Christopher “Tricky” Stewart found on GarageBand, which then inspired the song’s other producer The-Dream to come up with the main hook, the whole thing was demoed in a couple of hours. Aware that they had a global hit on their hands, the pair pitched it to Britney Spears’s team, who rejected it because she had too many songs to record for her Blackout comeback, and then to UK also-ran Taio Cruz who, amazingly, couldn’t convince his team he should record it. The song was eventually heard by Rihanna’s people, who were so keen to snap it up they essentially swiped the song from under the nose of Mary J Blige. Like all Rihanna’s best singles, there’s no fat. Even Jay Z’s lumpen, literal opening verse can’t dampen (sorry) the song’s laser-guided brilliance, that simple central mantra of “you can stand under my umbrella” a perfect encapsulation of emotional support. Musically, it also moved her into a slightly rock-influenced sound – one that would come hurtling back on 2009’s Rated R album – with the chorus crashing in on a wave of guitars and chunky synths.

3. Don't Stop The Music
In the midst of the EDM-ification of pop, it’s easy to hear Don’t Stop the Music – the fourth single from her third album, Good Girl Gone Bad – as just another crude hybrid. Back in 2007, however, it was one of the first songs by a major, R&B-leaning pop star to fully embrace what would become EDM. Elegantly constructed around a sample of “Mama-say, mama-sa, ma-ma-ko-ssa” from Michael Jackson’s Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (as well as some of his “hee-hee” ad-libs), it stands on fairly minimal foundations, the pounding four-to-the-floor beat joined by pop’s greatest weapon, the handclap, a little flurry of synth effects and Rihanna’s airy vocal. Lyrically, we’re in familiar territory – Rihanna’s back to asking the DJ if they might like to keep playing some music – but there’s something magical about how the constituent parts gel together, the slow build of the coy pre-chorus (“Do you know what you started? I just came here to party”) exploding like glitter bomb into the chorus. Rather than heavy-handedly chucking the sample at the song, Jackson’s vocals simmer gently in the background, bubbling up out of the cluster of synths at just the right moments.

4. Hard (feat Jeezy)
Rihanna’s 2009 album Rated R is impossible to digest outside its context. After the DayGlo buoyancy of Good Girl Gone Bad had laid the foundations for her megastardom, Rated R – via the use of rock, dubstep and hip-hop textures – was a much starker reflection of her personal life, its combative lyrical tropes reflecting the fallout from the assault by her then boyfriend Chris Brown. While launching the album with the ballad Russian Roulette (“I’m terrified, but I’m not leaving” runs the chorus) was statement enough, perhaps the album’s true turning point is Hard, a barrelling, confrontational collaboration with rapper Jeezy that takes aim at any- and everyone trying to take her down or come for her crown (“Where them girls talking trash?” she asks). At the time, it was a fairly shocking addition to Rihanna’s persona, her previous attempt at anger and confrontation being 2007’s Breakin’ Dishes. Hard’s brilliance is that it showcases Rihanna’s ultimate trick of effortlessly flitting between genres and personas while stamping her own identity over the entire thing. When she barks “no pain is forever” and “tougher than a lion” over those deep, low-rumbling horns, you place the song in the context of her life, but there’s also a laid-back feel to her delivery, the line “brilliant, resilient, fan mail from 27 million” said with a knowing wink. This bravado would have swamped any other mainstream pop artist at that time, but Hard, like all of Rated R, is an experiment that works, sometimes purely due to force of will. Hard also paved the way for Rihanna to become more experimental with her image, the song’s clear denial of the victim narrative many were applying to her life opening up a new creative outlet for her anger.

5. Fire Bomb
Pop’s shortcut for connoting a sense of danger is to chuck as many electric guitars at a song as possible and see what happens. That seems to be the case with two tracks on Rated R; the Slash-featuring Rockstar 101, which actually feels like it would be a better song without all the guitar histrionics, and the excellent, should-have-been-a-single Fire Bomb. Opening with a chugging guitar riff, Fire Bomb – about a once unstoppable relationship burning spectacularly to cinders – is one of the album’s simpler melodic moments, the song basically unfolding like an 80s rock ballad, all bluster and bulging neck veins. (Those “oh, oh” bits in the chorus don’t initially seem to be within Rihanna’s vocal comfort zone, but ultimately that’s what makes it such a great singalong song.) There’s such conviction throughout that the surprisingly stark lyrics hit like a hammer, the song careening through the glorious pre-chorus like an out-of-control lorry. Its crowning glory is the bridge that glides in at the three-minute mark, Rihanna’s icy monotone suddenly clicking into genuine despondency as she sings “Baby we were killin’ em / They couldn’t handle the millionth degree” before things get so personal you almost need to look away (“As we were burning, the world called the police”). A proper, hands-aloft anthem.

6. Man Down
Released less than a year after Rated R, 2010’s Loud was, even from the title and the vibrant red artwork, the antithesis to its predecessor’s emotional heaviness. Announcing the album to broadcaster Ryan Seacrest, she said: “I’m just gonna be me, just being normal, normal for me is loud! Sassy, fun, flirty, energetic.” All those attributes were gloriously encompassed in the album’s lead single, Only Girl (In the World), helmed by Norwegian duo StarGate, an escapist slice of EDM with more than a passing whiff of Don’t Stop the Music. While Loud’s early singles are all gold-plated chart maulers – Only Girl (In The World), What’s My Name? and S&M all topped the US charts – there were still pockets of experimentation littered throughout the album, specifically the Enya-sampling Fading, the sensual Skin and the album’s fifth single – and, inexplicably, only real chart flop – Man Down. Inspired by the idea of creating a version of Bob Marley’s I Shot the Sheriff from a female perspective, the bittersweet Man Down fuses reggae with elements of ragga and light electronic touches, creating a modern murder ballad (in a neat reference to Jay Z’s All I Need, Rihanna’s weapon is also called Peggy Sue) whose chief hook is “Rum ba-ba-bum, rum ba-ba-bum, rum ba-ba-bum”. Once again, Rihanna shows her versatility, that immaculate pop voice now skipping its way through the cadences of reggae, the tumbling, increasingly frantic lyrics in the bridge expertly dashed off with a strong Caribbean lilt. And any song that makes use of an airhorn is immediately on its way to greatness.

7. We Found Love (feat Calvin Harris)
On a roll by this time, Rihanna released her sixth studio album, Talk That Talk, a year later, now fully ensconced in the cycle of album, tour, record-the-next-album-while-on-tour. The immaculate run of singles didn’t seem like stopping anytime soon, with 2011’s We Found Love perhaps overtaking Umbrella as the definitive Rihanna moment. Initially offered to a number of lower-tier pop stars – Leona Lewis recorded it as a ballad, while Nicole Scherzinger said no – We Found Love’s brilliance lies in its simplicity. The chorus, for example, is one amazing line – “We found love in a hopeless place” – repeated over Harris’s joyous electronic riff. Fully ushering in the EDM wave that would crash over pop music, We Found Love is the perfect example of all the genre’s constituent parts – the build, the drop, the pretty melodies, the pared-back lyrical motifs – working while still allowing the song’s pure melodic strength to shine through. It is also elevated by the marriage of song with artist. Rihanna’s voice, her relationship travails and her ownership of the fact that she shouldn’t be held up as a role model combine to give the song, and its video, an extra level of escapist joy. Watch any live performance of We Found Love – specifically this glorious car crash from The X Factor – and you realise that Rihanna’s performance is basically just a reflection of the way everyone else performs it; careening around, arms flailing, massive grin on your face, lost in the moment.

8. Bitch Better Have My Money
Burned out by the album-a-year routine, Rihanna’s seventh album, 2012’s Unapologetic, was the sound of a singles artist mumbling her way through another CD in order to go on another tour. It had its moments – Stay and lead single Diamonds, specifically – but it was obvious things needed to change. Early 2015 saw her return with the creaky folk of FourFiveSeconds, a song with input from an eclectic selection of music idols: Paul McCartney and Kanye West featured, while writing credits went to the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Dallas Austin and Dirty Projectors’ Dave Longstreth. The campfire singalong was a red herring, not just for the direction she was going in but also for the implication the song was ushering in a new album (by this point there’d been a three-year gap between albums). February arrived with Towards the Sun, a sweet song from the animated movie Home, while March bought with it the boldly narked, Bitch Better Have My Money, co-produced by Kanye West. While the entire Unapologetic campaign failed to live up to that name, hobbled by fatigue, here was a song that showcased a newly energised artist whose voice had suddenly taken on a growl of aggression and delicious bile. There are no subtleties when it comes to the meaning behind Bitch Better Have My Money; the massive echo chamber of beat allows the unequivocal lyrics to bounce around, growing more and more glowering as the song rolls on. It also bangs harder than anything she’s done since, well, Hard – that final minute or so just a single clattering drum clap fighting it out with an oddly detuned vocal.

9. Work (feat Drake)
Rihanna’s eighth album, Anti, was finally ushered in a year ago by Work, her fourth collaboration with sometime boyfriend Drake. Anti would feature none of the three palette-cleansing singles that preceded it (FourFiveSeconds, Bitch Better Have My Money and the blustery American Oxygen), so the focus was on Work to shine a light on what Rihanna had been working on for what seemed like a decade. Gone was EDM, replaced instead by comfort-zone dancehall and reggae, the song built around a 1998 Jamaican riddim called Sail Away. Work is Rihanna at her loosest, the song’s hypnotic hook delivered through a sweaty glaze. Every line becomes a hook or a slogan in and of itself (why someone didn’t make “Nobody touch me in the righteous / nobody text me in a crisis” into a T-shirt I’ll never know). It’s also so much more than just that chorus, the lyrics to the verses touching on a fairly standard theme (women struggling to keep an uninterested man happy) but making it feel potent again: “I believed all of your dreams, adoration / You took my heart and my keys and my patience / You took my heart on my sleeve for decoration / You mistaken my love I brought for you for foundation.” It’s a shame, then, that Drake’s guest rap is so leaden, taking the title to literally mean the workplace (“You need to get done, done, done, done at work, come over”) and temporarily derailing the whole thing. Thankfully, it’s good enough to withstand him, its undulating swirl a steady intoxication.

10. Kiss It Better
As an album, Anti did exactly what it needed to for Rihanna’s career. It highlighted the fact that she was more than just a singles artist, and it put her character back into the music. Most importantly, it sounded like the sort of music she enjoys listening to. It was in its softer moments that the album really shone, the exemplar being the Prince-esque majesty of Kiss It Better. Gloriously epic, it opens with the sort of guitar riff you’d have expected to hear Slash perform on a hilltop in the early 90s, before waves of throwback R&B and soft rock. Lyrically it’s about the point when you know a relationship is destructive, you’ve fallen out, but you’d quite like to swallow your pride and get back to some sweet, sweet lovemaking. Despite the initial judgment that Anti was short on choruses, Kiss It Better’s is one of Rihanna’s best, a blooming flower that opens up and sways in the breeze before her frustration kicks back in and that lonely guitar wail peals out again.


Some interesting inclusions here! They're right about the Unapologetic campaign as well, there just clearly wasn't as much effort and heart in it and I don't know what the quality would've been like if she'd have continued to release albums every year, as painful as the wait was laugh.gif
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Jonjo
post Jul 10 2017, 08:34 PM
Post #2
Together we are more.
********
Group: AF Leader
Posts: 65,921
Member No.: 5,042
Joined: 13-December 07
 


They included 'Fire Bomb'... that's more than enough for me wub.gif

A solid list overall though! ohmy.gif
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Nick Jonas
post Jul 10 2017, 09:09 PM
Post #3
BuzzJack Platinum Member
******
Group: Members
Posts: 5,151
Member No.: 9,481
Joined: 20-August 09
   No Gallery Pics
 


Hard 🙌🏻
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
My Reputation
post Jul 10 2017, 09:25 PM
Post #4
I’m sorry, the old Andrew can’t come to the phone right now. 
******
Group: Members
Posts: 5,932
Member No.: 21,161
Joined: 24-August 14
 


QUOTE(Jonjo @ Jul 10 2017, 09:34 PM) *
They included 'Fire Bomb'... that's more than enough for me wub.gif

A solid list overall though! ohmy.gif

Yes at the Fire Bomb love wub.gif
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Cremey
post Jul 10 2017, 09:49 PM
Post #5
white girl wasted on brown liquor
******
Group: Artist Mod
Posts: 16,253
Member No.: 4,089
Joined: 9-August 07
   No Gallery Pics
 


I thought I'd open this and completely disagree but they've actually got it pretty spot on for me ohmy.gif
I'd put 'Needed Me', 'Pour It Up', 'Skin' and 'Birthday Cake' in there in place of a few of them though...she's just got too many good songs for a top 10!
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Cremey
post Jul 10 2017, 09:51 PM
Post #6
white girl wasted on brown liquor
******
Group: Artist Mod
Posts: 16,253
Member No.: 4,089
Joined: 9-August 07
   No Gallery Pics
 


So good to see the 'Hard', 'BBHMM' and 'Work' appreciation 🙌🏼
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post


Reply to this topicStart new topic

1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members:


 

Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 19th October 2017 - 05:20 AM