Rihanna’s latest LP Unapologetic — her seventh album in seven years — will debut number one on the Billboard charts next week, moving 240,000 copies. Those are career numbers for Rhi Rhi, a remarkable feat considering that pop stars tend to fizzle as they start to push a decade in the game.
It’s been seven years since Rihanna first sang “Pon De”— whatever, and she is still heating up.
Here’s a question: has there been a female pop star in the modern era this prolific (again: seven albums, seven years) this successful, this entertaining and this famous, who kept on peaking the deeper her career has gotten? My mind is blank.
Just as amazing to me is that Rihanna is shooting for career highs on an album that, while maybe not her best, is her most daring. Unapologetic is catchy and accessible enough to be called a pop album but it’s more complicated than that.
This new album is a Rubik’s Cube, man.
The beats are dark and dense, the lyrics are short-tempered and coarse and the songs are often brief, straight to the point.
The happiest moment of the album is the 80’s-inspired “Nobody’s Business” and that song is drenched in controversy because it features ex-lover and ex-abuser Chris Brown.
This album is a direct contrast to last year’s Talk that Talk, which was loaded with confidant dance records. Talk that Talk was Batman Begins and Unapologetic is The Dark Knight.
A part of me wonders if this is the album that Rihanna was forced to make. Not by anyone, but by the climate of pop music.
Looking at the landscape right now, I’m not sure if pop music has ever been this alive.
Look at the names, folks: Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber Christina Aguilera, Madonna. Let’s add the fact that hip-hop has become more pop than anything else (ex: Nicki Minaj) and you have a crowded party where you have to do something drastic to stand out.
To me, what makes pop music in 2012 so great is that even though they are formed from the same clay, everyone is different.
Taylor Swift and Rihanna are the two biggest pop stars on the planet, but what do they really have in common — other than their differences?
Point is, no one knows their competition better than the players. Taylor Swift killed it with her latest album, Lady Gaga is going to kill it with her new project and so will Ke$ha.
I think this is why, seven years later, you get the most daring, different album of Rihanna’s career.