Monday, 23 November 2009

Rated R- Rihanna Album Review

The singer recently undergone the "Chris Brown Assault", where the singer was abused and sadly beaten to a pulp, then abused again my media takeout, paparazzi and immense amounts of gossip, and here we are months later with Rihanna's fourth studio album, titled Rated R.


I first heard these tracks at her Nokia sponsored London concert at Brixton Academy, which was such an amazing concert. She performed several of her new tracks (Russian Roulette, Hard and Wait Your Turn), and a mash of her hits, such as Umbrella and Take A Bow. Having seen the quality of her new album, I just had to get it.

~~~ALBUM COVER~~~
The album cover is a very dark and slightly gothic look, showing Rihanna donning an eye patch and heavy make up, with a very unique hair do, one we have previously seen on the Pokemon Pidgeot. The cover looks like it could be ripped out of her recent Vogue Italia magazine spread, although personally, it is a step down from her previous album's Good Girl Gone Bad, where although it is also dark, it was a very high end and stylish, yet classy look.

This move in a different direction perhaps indicate that her music is also taking a turn to the dark side, and perhaps it is... for better or for worse.

~~~TRACKLIST~~~
This album contains 13 tracks, although it includes "Te Amo" which was a demo from a while ago.

1. Mad House 3/5
This is the introduction to the album and does not feature Rihanna singing this much. It is a dark and great intro to the album. It definitely has a rock and roll feel to it, which is a nice change from her previous pop albums.

2. Wait Your Turn 5/5
The second single is also the second track on her album!! The song is not only catchy and addictive, but changes so much throughout the song, that it can be enjoyed by almost anyone.

The song is fresh and does not feel like a "Good Girl Gone Bad" regurgitation, where she just reuses her strengths. She builds on it, and turns it into a crazy dark fiend of a song; I really like this song, and is one of my favourite on the album.

3. Hard (Ft. Jeezy) 3.5/5
Whilst this song starts off with a great backing beat, Rihanna's "Yea Yea" is off putting and the Bajan influence brings us back to her "Music Of The Sun" era which is a big "NO NO", although the urban part does lift it up, but only slightly. The song aims to be catchy and it succeeds in that aspect. It also succeeds in that dark side we expected from the album.

Lyrics wise, almost nothing can be gained on the first few plays. One struggles even to pick up what she is saying (thanks to her Bajan accent. Good or bad thing, YOU decide), but if you dig deeper, perhaps you'll understand that she's basically being an arrogant B* and slaying all her other competitors with the Um-be-rella (watch the Ciara parody) in her back pocket.

At 2 minutes, there is a great "doowwwnnn", which perhaps makes the song, but then ruined by the mindless babble Rihanna produces at 3 ½ minutes. NEXT.

This just isn't a song for me, although I'm sure many other people will like it :P

UPDATE: I have grown to like this much more now... It IS catchy and her arrogance is to love.

4. Stupid In Love 5/5
Just looking at the name of the track, I was immediately reminded of Beyonce's "Crazy In Love"... and another dance pop hit? Rihanna proves us wrong, giving us another powerful and emotional ballad. It isn't amazingly original, it does sound quite typical but it is easily likeable and catchy- this is the Unfaithful / Take A bow of Rated R. From the introduction, we already get the same vibe we got from Unfaithful, and this is easily one of the best songs on the album!

5. ROCKSTAR 101 (Ft. Slash) 3/5
The song starts with a different kind of feel, a much darker and gangster feel. Lyric wise it definitely reflects that, and it is a very loud mouthed approach to the song. It is a very different Rihanna we are hearing here; a good girl gone bad! I found this quite hard to get into but a few listens and it is ok. It is not my favourite, and for those who have been long time fans of Rihanna may feel the same way.

6. Russian Roulette 5/5
This is her first single, taking the form of a powerful ballad. The song is strong, with insightful and deep lyrics, however, as it was posted on rihannanow.com, which also showed a promo video of "Wait Your Turn", with lyrics "the wait is ova"; THAT was much more catchy and enjoyable than Russian Roulette.

Had that not appeared simultaneously, Russian Roulette would not be upstaged, and would reign in all its glory before Wait Your Turn is officially released.

However, Russian Roulette is a song which is difficult to play along with other songs. It is somewhat unique in that sense, but it blends in well with the album on the whole.

7. Fire Bomb 4.5/5
The song starts with a very rock and roll, "guitar hero" style intro, with an upbeat tune. This is another ballad, which sounds great. It sounds a bit like Kelly Clarkson (who I love) so this song is great. It has that extra edge with these guitars which is great. This is another one of my favourite songs, with a cool name 

8. Rude Boy 3/5
The whole songs sound more Beyonce than Rihanna to be honest. It feels a bit superficial and doesn't have the depth and meaning the other songs have. It feels like she has regressed to her good girl gone bad era, and perhaps even before... which is NOT good.

9. Photographs (Ft. Will.i.am) 3.5/5
The song has a great piano introduction, and Rihanna starts off great. It has quite a catchy verse with much for substance. This is a good collab with Will.i.am; his style evident throughout the song. It is a good song, but not amazing. It's also one that is quite easy to listen to and would be one the Black Eyed Peas fans would like.

10. G4L 3.5/5
A very dancy tune is introduced to us, but it is quickly changed by Rihanna's singing, turning the song into a VERY dark mood. Again, it is quite explicit and personal to her... The song has a mix of dark and upbeat bits which is interesting, but not sure it works too well. It is also not generic, so quite difficult to get into...

I like the quick bit... but not sure this whole style works 100% for Rihanna... I like the dark beat, but the song on top doesn't seem to work... This song is a bit of a mess for me.

11. Te Amo 4/5
A catchy and slightly exotic backing beat. Whilst we might expect a lovey dovey ballad from the name, it is quite an interesting and exotic song. It is a rhythmic song, but not one that is very addictive. It is upbeat and seems more suited to Bajan Dance, as I can picture this being played whilst people just rock it out...

It's not a bad song, but again, seems a little too "Music Of The Sun" for this mature Rihanna. It's nice that she's going back to her roots, and it IS an improvement, but it's not amazing for a comeback album after everything that's happened.

As it was a demo from before, it lacks the dark undertones of this album, which makes this an odd one out... but it is easy to listen to...

12. Cold Case Love 5/5
Another ballad which has a catchy rhythm in the background, another cultural element sounding very Bajan... It is a nice song, it is not easy to get into, but after a few listens it is very good, and especially if you listen to the whole album you can really feel the consistency.

Near the end, the beat gets much stronger and that works well in engaging the listener. A strong song and the lyrics are quite interesting and personal in some respect... It isn't my favourite song, but a good one.

UPDATE: Listening to this on repeat, it has SO much depth and I love the way it crescendos near the end. It is definitely one of my favourite songs on this album.

13. The Last Song 4/5
The song starts slow, and isn't particularly exciting to begin with, but it gradually develops into something more listenable and interesting. I think it is quite a good song to end, as if a catharsis from a tragedy... It is not dark, but light, which lifts the mood from listening to the whole album.

It definitely ISN'T the last song for Rihanna, but perhaps the last in her phase of aggression, sadness and growing up.

My favourite tracks are: Cold Case Love, Wait Your Turn, Stupid In Love, Fire Bomb

Tracks to skip: Rudeboy, G4L

~~~OVERALL~~~
Rihanna's fourth album brings an incredibly dark edge to her already existing style, and we're not talking about her constant wearing of fishnets, leather and provocative clothing. Instead of just releasing another album of dance pop hits which are catchy and all the same, she builds on it and brings it to another level- an arrogant, dark and moody one.

This huge change shows that she has not only grown as a person, but her way of expressing what she wants, evident through the depth and explicity of the lyrics. Whilst her previous albums touched mainly on love and romance in a superficial way, the lyrics found in Rated R are much more personal, which elevates the quality of the album. There is also a nice touch that links all her previous work together, which are the Bajan beats and the cultural rhythm which is evident through many of the tracks and makes the album consistent.

Whilst most of the songs do fit into this dark genre, a few of them stand out, such as Te Amo, Rockstar, Photographs and G4L. This could be due to the variation in people she worked with such as Slash and Will.i.am, and are obviously different when listening to this.

I have found that listening to this album, there are a bunch of songs I absolutely love, but a few that I really don't like... caught between two extremes. Surely, this album won't appeal to all fans of Rihanna, as this is a very DIFFERENT style to her previous works, but there is something here for EVERYONE. We expected her to come back with a BANG, and in a sense she did with her outrageous and loudmouthed album (and the end of Russian Roulette), but not completely, hence we ask ourselves, is this perhaps, "OVA-rated"?

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