Everybody knows when there’s a red carpet or black tie event making its way through the sea of fashionistas in the industry, we’re clearly looking out for none other than, Rihanna.
But also, when you take a look on the Billboard Hot 100 or turn on your local radio station, you’re destined to hear the latest, catchiest, Pop or R&B hit, from the songstress whether it’s a solo single or collaborative project.
As the third most chart-topping artist of all time, securing 14 no.1 hits, behind Mariah Carey and The Beatles, Rihanna has gone through a versatile selection of music since her debut album “Music of the Sun,” up until her most acclaimed and strongest work as an artist, her eighth project, “Anti.”
Through her music career, I’ve noticed we only truly appreciated the chart-toppers and records we were able to simply turn up to or we heard 3 to 5 times on a day such as, “Work” which went six-times platinum and spent nine weeks, at no.1.
Just for this probable assumption, here are a few of Rih’s most vibe worthy, but underappreciated ballads and even upbeat tracks, that should’ve also placed a spot, at the top of the charts.
“Final Goodbye” A Girl Like Me
One of my personal, favorite ballads. You could hear the transition from her first project into this one, “A Girl Like Me,” as it went from fun, dance-pop and reggae inspired tracks to a more passionate and love-struck approach.
“Final Goodbye,” was a bittersweet and beautiful record that implemented the breaking point of two people who were once in love. Although, you would do anything to keep the feeling going and would literally cling on to the last straw, eventually and sometimes, all good things, must come to an end.
Before we turn off the lights and close our eyes, I tell you a secret, I’ve held all my life, its you that I live for, and for you, I die. So I lay here with you, until the final goodbye
“We Ride” A Girl Like Me
As the third single from album two, “We Ride,” was the unofficial anthem of 2006 in regards to trying to keep hope, despite strong words and broken promises.
A guy can tell you it’s a forever thing, even with their constant mess ups and games, and to each is own rather you believe it or not, but sometimes it’s in your best interest to end the situation entirely and ride for yourself and sanity.
Boy, you forgot about the promises you made me/And now we’ll let the memories just fade away/but I remember what you used to say (when we ride we ride it’s ’til the day that we die)
“Question Existing” Good Girl Gone Bad
“Question Existing,” was like an open diary. In the song, Rihanna sings about her feelings toward the industry, adjusting to fame and being in the spotlight, altering trust issues and how much she’s changed, since she’s been placed in her dream.
It’s almost like a strip-down, raw and more real than the usual bop, being as “Good Girl Gone Bad,” was one of Rih’s most lyrically concise and fan favorite, albums. And with it being co-written by her mentor and boss, rap mogul, Jay-Z, a pioneer of the industry through his own experiences he may have faced, that alone solidified this song’s position as one of many, underrated, Rihanna gems.
Dear Diary, it’s Robyn
Entertaining is something I do for a living, it’s not who I am
I’d like to think that I’m pretty normal
I laugh, I get mad, I hurt
I think guys suck sometimes
But when you’re in the spotlight everything seems good…
“Stupid in Love” Rated R
Rated R was Rihanna’s most raw and edgy album yet, since her debut back in 05.’ It gave the singer an open outlet of all of her emotions laid out on the table from her personal life, reflecting on certain situations and what seemed like the solution to such a tough time, many could relate to.
“Stupid in Love,” was an up-tempo ballad from the perspective of a woman who realizes, she can’t continue to stay in a relationship, with an abusive and unfaithful, lover. She blames herself for not immediately leaving as she’s expected too, but something is holding her back from actually taking the step into ending this toxic, relationship.
Ladies, sometimes it may feel like it’s almost impossible to let go because you can’t help who you love, but just know, love, isn’t supposed to hurt.
They’re telling me “Let go, he is not the one”/ I thought I saw your potential, guess that’s what made me dumb/He don’t want it, not like you want it/Scheming and cheating, oh girl, why do you waste your time/You know he ain’t right
“California King Bed” LOUD
First and foremost, let’s acknowledge Rihanna’s BEST album, thus far. Argue with your problematic auntie, but my opinion isn’t changing.
Although almost instantly amongst the first listen, you may think this song has something to do with a long distance relationship, hanging by a thread. But it’s deeper than that, as, in a more vulnerable tune from Rih, she expresses feeling a detachment from her lover and even with being right next to him, she feels emotionally, miles apart.
“Californian King Bed,” was as beautifully written, as it was shot. The subtle soft colors, mixed in with Rihanna’s vibrant red hair, the small scene of black and white and strong emotion executed throughout the lyrics, was just a bonus to this phenomenal record, that was one of Rihanna’s best, argumentative, vocal performances.
Just when I felt like giving up on us, you turned around and gave me one last touch, that made everything feel better, and even then my eyes got wetter, so confused, wanna ask you if you love me, but I don’t wanna seem so weak, maybe I’ve been California dreaming…
“Man Down” LOUD
‘This completely reggae inspired record was hands down, one of the best to ever come from any one of Rihanna’s studio albums.
The concept of the song highlighted the effects and aftermath of sexual assault, a social issue that has been surfacing more frequently through the entertainment business now, but has always been an overlooked and sometimes victim blaming problem through society, for as long as we can remember.
‘Man Down,’ told the story of the aftermath of a woman being sexually assaulted. Rihanna sings about shooting down the man who has committed such actions, which received some criticisms from certain organizations, who stated the singer was sending a dangerous message, to assault victims. Rih responded on a phone interview with BET’S ‘106 & Park’ hosts at the time, Rosci and Terrence, by saying the video was meant to be created as “art with a message,” and to focus on a serious matter people are afraid to address, especially if they are the victims.
The cinematography of the music video for this track, directed by Anthony Mandler, made it even more memorable. Rihanna takes it back to her roots in the islands, the visuals work through a rigid setting, bright colors are used to implement the place Rihanna’s character was in before the fatal shooting and overall, creates an emotionally pulling and strong, visual story.
I need to get out of sight, fore’ I end up behind, bars
What started out as a simple altercation, turned into a real sticky situation
Me just thinking bout the time that I’m facing, makes me wanna cry
After her era of pop and dance music with ‘Loud,’ and 2011’s ‘Talk That Talk,” Rih shifted gears back into an R&B feel, backed up by a mixture of her previous projects, to present to us her seventh studio album, “Unapologetic.”
For the last single of the album, Rih put a twist on R&B singer, Genuwine’s 1996 mega-hit, ‘Pony,” with the track entitled, “Jump,” featuring Kevin Cossum. The record mixed and matched R&B with dancehall and electric sounds to create this upbeat and carefree, “I can have anyone I want, so you best secure your spot,” tune.
Think I give a damn/Boy, don’t you know who I am?/I aint running ’round chasing no dude/ Think somebody else like gone come around?/ Boy, you got it misunderstood
Now we’re not sure what Rih Rih is cooking up for this year, as far as music. It’s a clean slate for the singer and many others within the music industry, but with her last fresh and defining project, “Anti,” it’s hard to tell if the singer will continue down that path, return to her roots with more reggae sounds and island vibes or give us a versatile piece of art, with many different components of music. Whatever it may be, we’re looking forward to the collabs and fashion moments to come, and until then, will listen to the gems carved within the eight different steps, of Rihanna’s career, so far.