This will become a regular feature of the site, but with a different star obviously. Hopefully you guys will help fill out the reason why people love or hate the featured artist! So presenting to today's subject, the 23 year old, Barbadian whose full name is actually Robyn Rihanna Fenty .
Positives about Rihanna:
Attitude:Rihanna has said she is not a role model for people’s children and how right she is: skimpy outfits, suggestive imagery, swearing, drinking and smoking are only some of the vices she partakes in publicly. It’s a devil may care attitude that extends to the way she takes on people and the world, often giving us a direct link into her thoughts via her twitter account.
Whereas most A list stars keep their thoughts on events and news regarding their personal life to press statements, song lyrics or manicured interviews- which has most likely been orchestrated and vetted by the stars publisher/ and or a lawyer- Ms Fenty constantly gives it loud and direct.
From her hilarious, albeit juvenile, replies to haters (see below), to weightier subjects like racism, Rihanna isn't afraid to tell it out how it is. Cross her at your own peril.
One of the most admirable twitter spats occurred in November last year, and was in response to a Dutch magazine that printed derogatory and racist comments in reference to the singer's style. On being alerted to the slight, Rihanna fired off a classy response- bar her sign off- that not only showed an intelligence beneath the wigs that many didn’t reckon, but also got results with the editor, who initially tried to joke away the matter, resigning. Rihanna's Tweet read;
"I hope u can read english, because your magazine is a poor representation of the evolution of human rights! I find you disrespectful, and rather desperate!! (sic)Source: Digital Spy
"You ran out of legit, civilized information to print! There are 1000's of Dutch girls who would love to be recognised for their contributions to your country, you could have given them an article."
"Instead, u paid to print one degrading an entire race! That's your contribution to this world! To encourage segregation, to mislead the future leaders to act in the past!
"You put two words together, with the intent of abasement, that made no sense..."N***a bitch?!.... Well with all respect, on behalf of my race, here are my two words for you... F**k YOU!!!"
Rihanna’s evolving image, like Madonna and Janet Jackson before, go hand in hand with the music. Every album not only has a distinct sound but Rihanna puts in that little bit of extra work, and reconstructs her entire image to go accompany it. It’s a tactic that manages to keep Rihanna feeling fresh and current, while also creating some visually exciting, and dare I say “iconic” imagery, to be created via her videos.
Who can forget- I'm sure some will substitute "forget" for "remember"(!)- the growth and rebirth of the young Sos islander into the cool, edgy, black bob donned young woman of Umbrella and the Good Girl Gone Bad epoch: the Mickey Mouse helmet, pink tank straddling, empowered Rihanna of Rated R : or the red hued videos, and accompanying clown red wig, of the Loud era .
Sure changing your look for every album is kind of contrived, and its all obviously helped along by stylists and advisor- whose look isn’t in the pop industry- but there’s an individuality and a strong direction with Rihanna’s fashion and styling that make it likely that it’s ultimately her at the helm, making the final choices. Something that was confirmed during an interview with digital spy –see below- and also by the credit of “artistic director” on her new album, Talk that Talk, sleeve.
"I want to have more fun with my music, my image and be more experimental. So, with Loud, I got a bit more rebellious and did whatever I wanted to do. I reinvented my image and took creative control."Source
Music: To many, Rhianna’s music is considered throwaway, unimportant and akin to the fast food of the music world. I think this all depends on your perspective. If people are looking to Rihanna for social commentary, or political discourse then I can see how someone would come to the conclusion that her music is of little value. But that’s an unfair expectation to put on a 23 year old who’s already said she wants to make “fun” music.
What she does do, better than most, is give the world’s top producers and writers a vehicle and a muse for which they can channel and distribute their sonic creations, without the ego of a big star interfering with their vision.
Rihanna isn’t known for her writing- though she has credits on most of her albums- but that doesn’t make her work worth intrinsically less than someone who does like people claim. For instance does the fact that Right Said Fred writing the lyrics to I'm too sexy make it better than Rihanna's music just because of that fact. I think not.
She is an artist who knows her strengths and plays to them, and as such, has already managed to amass a large back catalogue of hits that not only illustrate her versatility but her musical progression through the years.
Just because music is catchy and fun, as much of Rihanna’s music is, doesn’t mean it doesn’t fulfil a purpose or warrant an existence. Rihanna ultimately makes great pop records that are meant to make you dance and have a good time, and in my experience she is doing just that.
Negatives about Rihanna:
Performance skills: There is no doubt that Rihanna wasn’t a vocalist at the start of her career, so the reason she was chosen for a record contract must have been centred more on her looks than anything else- watch her butchering Mariah Carey’s Hero below, at 16, around the same time she was signed.
However, the star has come a long way since then, and her recorded and live vocals have improved considerably with time and training. What hasn’t followed suite is Rihanna’s stage presence or dancing abilities- I've seen it first hand on her Loud tour. This being the case, its often levelled at the star that her talent, as a performer, is not only lacking when compared to her contemporaries, but actually lacking when compared to a city street performer. It’s a gulf that is accentuated when compared to the polished, and edited videos that she is famed for, creating cries of "style over substance"!! To many this is proof that she is actually a product of clever marketing and branding instead of a person of real talent.
Record company puppet/ cash cow: With Rihanna constantly releasing albums- with her last two Loud and Talk that Talk coming in the space of a year- seemingly always promoting and touring- despite stories of her being sick- people have questioned why the singer refuses to take a break and recuperate before she has an actual breakdown.
Could it be that her record company want to squeeze as much money out of the star, and as quickly as they can? Even now, with the star holidaying after the end of her Loud tour, images are still being circulated of Rihanna to the media, thereby keeping her name and face in the public conciousness.
Perhaps records execs fear that if Rihanna is out of the spotlight too long the fickle public will forget her and she’ll be replaced by another pop puppet of a rival record label.
Voice: Perhaps the most contentious aspect of Rihanna is the voice itself- see her vocal range and profile here. With its unusual, nasal tone and quick vibrato- that has been liked to the bleat of a goat- many argue that her voice just isn’t strong, or good enough to grace the airwaves; often argued that the minimum someone with a recording contract should be able to do is actually sing, or at least have something redeemable about their voice. It’s an argument that is amplified a hundred fold when her dancing and performance skills aren't even enough to balance out the questionable vocals.
Fatigue: Tired of the shocking looks, the sexual imagery and innuendo and the constant media attention, some are just becoming tired of Rihanna’s antics. If not in the papers, on the news, or on MTV, it’ll be her music on the radio, in shopping centres or even blaring out of the headphones of the person next to you on your commute. These individuals don’t necessarily have a problem with Rihanna personally, in fact they sometimes quite like some of her songs, but they just want a little space and time away from the constant exposure.
Verdict: I think regular readers will know where I stand on Rihanna but I’d love to know what you think: Vote below and comment.