Rihanna returns to the charts next week with the release of Unapologetic, we can’t wait for the Barbadian singer to stop hitting the headlines for her strip club antics and her relationship status with the still somehow accepted Chris Brown and get back to what we all like her best for. The music.
With Unapologetic being her seventh full album, we thought we’d take a look back at her back catalogue and name our seven favourite RiRi songs.
Pon De Replay
The track where we all heard about Rihanna, Pon Da Replay is still a relentlessly catchy and singable tune.
Released all the way back in 2005, it was the first time that Rihanna broke out of her native Barbados and got serious airplay on the radios of the UK and America.
While the track’s up tempo beat remains similar to much of Rihanna’s later work, the dancehall vibe of Pon De Replay has now ben ditched for a more mainstream pop angle, with even Rihanna’s accent stronger in this origins track than you here now.
One of Rihanna’s early ballads; this was one of the first signs that she was more than just a pretty face and a real vocal talent.
Unfaithful is a confession booth of a song, filled with raw emotion and a truly different angle on the old chestnut of infidelity.
Unfaithful came as a real breath of fresh air for Rihanna, who at that point was only known for her catchy hooks and gorgeous looks, and gave her burgeoning fanbase a heartfelt and personal song to absorb.
While Rihanna had found success with her previous songs, it was nothing compared to what was to come with the release of Umbrella.
A collaboration with Jay-Z, Umbrella instantly became a favourite and may yet be bettered as an overall package from Rihanna and pushed the singer to the position of pop queen that she still clings on to.
Her first number one in the UK, a position the song held for an almost imponderable nine weeks before slipping off the top step. Umbrella was a worldwide smash hit though, with the song hitting the top spot in the charts in another 14 nations and selling more than four and a half million copies to date.
It instantly became the song every artist wanted to put their own song on, with Radio 1’s Live Lounge just becoming a succession of covers. With good reason too, as Umbrella still working just as well as it did five years ago, with its brilliant chorus, and surprising amounts of sentiment mixing effortlessly with the cracking instrumental.
One of the songs of the summer, Disturbia was another smash hit off of her third album and stands as one of her best tracks to date.
Witten by Chris Brown (let the subtext begin), the track was a fantastic dance-pop song and showed that Rihanna wasn’t just about to let the success of Umbrella distract or overpower her.
Disturbia actually displayed a fantastic level of confidence from the singer, with the song sucking you in from the opening hook to the closing notes and a distinctly artificial and cold sound that suited its horror film aesthetic down to the ground and moved her sound on once again.
Our third choice off of Good Girl Gone Bad (still Rihanna’s stand-out album and the blueprint for her success), Rehab was another great collaboration and closed off Rihanna’s domination of 07 and 08.
While it might have not been a massive chart success (only reaching a paltry number 16 in the UK singles chart), the song still stands as one of the finest off the singers third album.
Timberlake’s influence is clear from the very start, with the high drums, panting and strings that’s Timberlakes’ made his trademarks over the span of his solo career.
Rehab and Disturbia even made the re-release of Good Girl Gone Bad seem OK, even though it ranks as one of our pet peeves.
What’s My Name
Her first and most successful collaboration with Drake, What’s My Name is a little slice of luxury that easily slides it way on to our list.
The track was the antithesis to S&M, all seduction and implied sensuality, and easily one of the strongest track off the Loud album.
With a totally different pace and rhythm to it than most of Rihanna’s other single releases, What’s My Name was the perfect follow up to Only Girl In The World and stands out as one of her best hits.
The most overtly sexual of Rihanna’s singles (and that takes some doing), S&M might have caused radio DJs to blush, but its sheer unabashed nature propels it on to our list.
While most pop songs, and plenty of Rihanna’s, deal with sexual innuendo, S&M throws out the pretentions and just goes for broke on the smut, creating a pounding, gyrating dance floor filler.
The track’s absolutely up-and-at-‘em nature and 100mph pace makes it as exciting as Rihanna seems to find the chains, whips and handcuffs usually associated with the titular discipline.
We Found Love
The debut single to her six album Talk That Talk, We Found Love absolutely perfected the dance floor focus of her last album Loud and delivered her and Calvin Harris another global phenomenon.
Rihanna has always played at the very top end of the tempo range with her pop music, but We Found Love moved her fully into the realms of house music, with Clavin Harris’s intoxicating beat fighting a battle for dominance with Rihanna’s fantastic vocal.
This brilliant troubled love story topped the charts all over the world, netting her a truck full of platinum discs and putting her squarely back on top of the pop pyramid after a fairly disappointing series of releases from Loud.
Got any favourites yourself? Let us know in the comments section.
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith