Is it Autumn already? Must be time for another Rihanna album. Her seventh studio album “Unapologetic” is the latest in a regular stream of blockbuster albums from the Barbadian megastar. The only year since her international debut she hasn’t released an album was 2008 but even then she released a deluxe edition of her breakthrough album “Good Girl Gone Bad” to keep her momentum.
That’s what Rihanna (or at least her label) seems conscious of – the idea that if she takes a year out, someone will come and capitalise on her position as possibly the biggest pop star in the world at the moment. Cracks threatened to form around previous album “Talk that talk”, with some commenting that in places it felt like a hastily thrown-together set of “Loud” offcuts. That’s for you to decide, but it still brought some more hits to her impressive tally, including one of her biggest career hits “We found love”.
But where now? Will people get tired if she continues down the dance-pop route? How best to launch an album which might end up finally saturating demand for her? Well, just as she took a risk by launching “Rated R” with “Russian Roulette” (a gamble that arguably didn’t pay off Stateside but consolidated her fanbase in Europe), she’s taken a different sound to launch this album.
Co-written by currently super-hot writer Sia (David Guetta’s “Titanium”, Flo-Rida’s “Wild Ones”), it’s a sparse midtempo track, quite chilled out. Not sure I’ve really gotten into it yet, it feels a bit lacking in big moments. Rihanna’s got a decent voice, but she’s got too much power in her voice on this song, and it sort of swamps the subtle production a bit.
It worked in more dance-driven tracks as they are pretty loud themselves, but this ends up feeling a bit one-note. The lyrics are all very nice but I don’t like that “shine BRIGHT like a DIAMOND” hook that makes up the chorus, it’s just a weird-sounding bit of melody, and I don’t think just repeating that line over and over constitutes a big chorus in a song like this.
But what do I know? The video might turn this around for me, as they often do, it’ll certainly look expensive I’d imagine. In any case, by the looks of the sea of countries in which Diamonds has reached the iTunes top 10 – including the UK where it looks set to be No.1 on Sunday – Rihanna hasn’t lost her hit power yet. Too soon to say of course but it might need a bit more work in the USA, with it wavering on their iTunes.
I guess it has reacted to Rihanna’s critics that she plays it safe these days, but I’m not sure I agree with everyone equating a tempo change to a creative renaissance. But I’m reserving judgement, I don’t want to be indifferent to her.