Rihanna – Unapologetic

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Rihanna has never really registered on my radar. Yes, she’s damned hot, has a bad attitude and her voice is recognisable, but that is where my interest ended. That was until she performed “Stay”on Saturday Night Live two weeks ago and a minor obsession developed.

I swiftly brushed up on the basics. She has just under 27 million followers on Twitter and just over 62 million likes on Facebook. She is celebrity #100 on the Forbes list with earnings of $53 million as at May 2012. She’s won a couple of Grammys, has just released her 7th studio album and launched it with the infamous 777 Tour. YouTube naturally provided hours and hours of entertainment.

And she is only 24.

I reviewed her discography, just to realise I did know more than one or five of her summer anthems. I wouldn’t say I could quite listen to a whole album at a time, but if you put all the hits together you would come up with one extended rather listenable album.

Of course I found the interview the inimitable Oprah did with Rihanna earlier this year. The pop star came across as down to earth, yet still slightly guarded. She still calls Barbados her home (where everybody calls her Robyn), and took Oprah to see the two- bedroom house where she grew up and bought her mom a mansion. She might not be Oxford educated, but she seems to have an instinct for survival.

The Rihanna on Oprah’s couch was definitively a tad more sedate than the partying, bad-ass, S&M-loving rock star that provides more than her share of interesting sideshows to keep the tabloids happy. There are rumours of an affair with her assistant, Jennifer Rosales, but nothing can quite compare with the eventful evening in 2009 with then boyfriend Chris Brown. Read the police report and check out the hospital records. It is riveting, considering that the pair has just released a duo together and are flirting with each other publicly.

Of course one can never know what went down between two individuals and their business should certainly remain their business, but Chris, is there coming back from trying to strangle your girlfriend? And continuing to get into drunken brawls? And threatening comedian Jenny Johnson with shitting in her eye? I applaud the women’s rights protestors who forced him to cancel a show in Guyana, South America, a week ago. Take heed, RiRi. These situations rarely end well.

Back to the new album, Unapologetic. The New York Times published a brilliant review that I am not going to try and improve on. I do agree with Caramanica, though, that it is her best album to date. She can sing better than most pop singers today (always keeping in mind that the bar is not set terribly high). Yes, it is still pop, but there is something to be said for the universal power of a beautiful pop song. It can instantly transport us, remind us, make us cry or make us dance. So if you dig pop, and you dig Rihanna, then rush out immediately and buy or go online and download.

And as for Rihanna, the pouty, droopy-eyed diva? She works incredibly hard, she has a plan, she is good at business and she has not fucked things up yet. Hopefully we won’t be horrified at a future headline about a brutal beating ending her promising career.

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