Rihanna sticks to her good-girl-gone-bad motif with Unapologetic
Despite what you may think of her music or persona, no one can deny Rihanna’s incredible work ethic. She’s been churning out albums almost once a year since her big break in 2005, in addition to worldwide tours and a film career. Unapologetic is her seventh studio album, which at the ripe age of twenty-four is no easy feat.
Those who argue that music takes time may want to rethink their position after evaluating her success. Rihanna’s business model seems to be built on exposure. She is constantly on the radio, either in her own songs or belting the chorus for a range of performers from Drake to Coldplay. Every so often, when she seems to be teetering on the edge of overexposure, she releases a song that catapults her back to the top of the charts.
Rihanna seems to be following Madonna’s wheel of reinvention. Every album has its own distinct image to set her apart from competitors. From sun-kissed island girl in her debut album, to a fire-engine redhead seductress in “Loud”, Rihanna knows how to market and brand herself.
Her latest reincarnation is as a brash, outspoken young woman. From risqué photos on Instagram to daily tweets about marijuana use, it’s clear that Rihanna does not want to be a role model.
Unapologetic is filled with these themes; the album seems to uncage her emotions. For pop fans, the album has a little something for everybody. There are empowering, upbeat songs, with “Phresh Out the Runway” and “Pour It Out” — two of the best for feeling fly and getting ready to party. Of all the artists mixing R&B stylings with dance music, Rihanna does it best. She enlists David Guetta on “Right Now” to help her pick up where “We Found Love” left off. It’s a youthful anthem about living in the moment, sure to be played in every corner of the globe.
The most interesting songs give a glimpse into her headspace over the last few months. Her tumultuous relationship with Chris Brown is reportedly back on, and she touches on the subject in a retro-sounding track with Brown titled “Nobody’s Business,” which samples Michael Jackson.
Rihanna plays around, sampling other artists and injecting her own sassy mood into the lyrics, including lyrics from 90’s track “Pony” by Ginuwine, and briefly copping a bit from “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” by Kanye West, an ode to her newfound relationship with Mary Jane.
Rihanna’s made it clear that she’s not apologizing – but she doesn’t need to: we’re still buying what she’s selling.
Songs to listen to: “Numb”, “Pour It Out”[hr]