Monday, November 23, 2009

Album review: Rihanna, RATED R (Def Jam)

Rihanna’s official bid for ultimate pop music domination is nothing short of epic. RATED R explodes with a genuine energy, confidence and vibrancy that is becoming increasingly rare in the charts. Shimmering with a black metallic sheen and future-shocked production, the album is a cinematic tale of being destroyed by a man and getting over it...eventually.

Along the way, the album’s protagonist is alternately vengeful, horny, and still kind of sad at the cost. The songs range from slow-burning sex bomb come-ons (“Rude Boy”) and robotic rock self-empowerment anthems (“Rockstar 101”) to dramatic power balladry (“Fire Bomb”) and stark, acoustic confessionals (“Photographs”). Rihanna even invokes the rapid-fire rapping of Peaches during the moody and atmospheric revenge fantasy “G4L.”

Coupled with the high-profile personal drama she’s endured this year, Rihanna has elevated from pop’s #1 contender to something much bigger: the opportunity to become this generation’s Tina Turner.

(Originally published on