Review - Rihanna - Unapologetic
First, before I even say anything about the album itself, I want to congratulate Rihanna on her seventh album. She has released one album per year for the past seven years, and that is an extremely impressive accomplishment no matter what – let alone her 23 top ten singles and 11 number ones. Even if she has nothing to do with writing or production, there is still a lot of work in recording, promoting, and touring on a record, so she’s still killing herself every time.
Having said that, I will tell you now that this is probably my most positive Rihanna review (it is my third for her while writing this blog). ‘Unapologetic’ is the singer’s most interesting LP – if at least sonically. What stands out most on the album is the music, sometimes outshining her. When you look at the list of producers she worked with – Stargate, David Guetta, The-Dream and Benny Blanco – and match it up with Rihanna, you think you know what to expect. More of the same, not that that’s such a bad thing.
Even though they only had a year, everyone who worked on this project pushed themselves to do something new. The album has a plethora of sounds, and the only thing that holds it all together is that the theme of this album is not so much what is hot in pop now, but where else pop could go. Rihanna has been on top of the charts for years, and now she wants more.
The second half of the album is probably the most surprising, as each song varies considerably in tune from the next. “Love Without Tragedy…Mother Mary” has some keys that make you think you’re starting a Journey song, “What Now” takes your typical R&B track and mashes it with subtle dubstep, “Get It Over With” has some thematically romantic strings, and the Chris Brown collaboration “Nobody’s Business” (really, Rihanna?) is genuinely interesting – and not just because of the guest feature. Even the real dance record on the album, “Right Now (ft. David Guetta)” (this album’s “Where Have You Been”), is a taste of what’s happening right now in the EDM underground, thanks mostly to Guetta bringing in new favorite protégé Nicky Romero for production help.
Lead single “Diamonds” sets the tone of the album up perfectly, as so much of it is somber and melancholic. While the songwriting isn’t always at the best, her vocals are some of the best we’ve heard in her career. It’s nice to see her singing improve so much, and in a way that perfectly complements the fresh sound. RiRi is also not so worried with you knowing that she is sexy (the nude album cover should handle that), instead showing herself as a tortured, love-obsessed artiste.
Rihanna confirms to the world several things with this album. First, that she is without a doubt one of the best pop stars of our time. Second, that she understands that just being pretty and having hit singles isn’t good enough anymore – for the world or for herself. Third, that she is most likely still in love with Chris Brown, and fourth, that she is really struggling with it.
Listen to: “Diamonds”, “Loveeeee Song (ft. Future)”, “Right Now (ft. David Guetta)”, “Stay (ft. Mikky Ekko)”, “Nobody’s Business (ft. Chris Brown)”, “Get It Over With”, “Lost In Paradise”