Disclaimer: I don’t own any Rihanna albums.
But that doesn’t make me any less of a judge when it comes to reviewing her singles. It probably shows that if anything I’m biased against her. If anything, she’d have to make a whopper of a single for it to even catch my attention. Only five years into her career, she’s released four albums and sixteen singles.
I was a fan of her debut single, ‘Pon de Replay’ back in 2005. It was a great dancehall single, but a lot of her subsequent material has been lacking. ‘SOS’ would be the only other one of her first fifteen singles I’d have any time for. I don’t like ‘Umbrella’, and still can’t understand how so many people love its triteness. Jay-Z has guested on so many other better songs that didn’t get the same amount of love.
Single XVI is from her newest album Rated R, and is the best song Rihanna has ever recorded. Originally intended as just a 30-second ditty, it grew into a monster of a song, full of fantastic hooks. It takes notes from M.I.A., especially in the extremely psychedelic video.
The lyrics are some of the smuttiest you’ll hear on daytime radio: “Come on Rude Boy, are you big enough? Come on Rude Boy, can you get it up?”, but this gritty realism only adds to the song’s impact. Real girls aren’t all flowers and cupcakes like the Saturdays or Florence and the Machine might have you believe; real girls want it, and they want it now. However, if you’re a parent, don’t let your teenage boy hear this song, he’ll realise that girls do want, want, want as much as boys do.
It’s a tremendously catchy song, and the best in Rihanna’s oeuvre. However, I feel many people aren’t giving it the chance it deserves – it only made #23 in the US chart, where Rihanna has had 11 top ten singles. If you’re flicking through the music channels on TV later on and see something colourful and flashy, leave it on, you’ll love it.
Probably the best pop-R&B single of the year.
Watch Rihanna – ‘Rude Boy’: