The Grammy nominations from this album included:
- Album of the Year
- Best Pop Vocal Album
- Best Rap/Sung Collaboration - "What's My Name?"
Her previous albums had a darkness to them, whereas this is much more pop and up-tempo for the clubs and party girls in all of us. It reaches back to her earlier styles, but in a new and more mature way that allows her to grow as an artist.
If you want to follow along, here's the complete album link from Spotify.
Speaking of that more mature sound, we kick things off right away with "S&M." I have a few friends who loved the sound of the song, and didn't realize the subject matter until a few listens later and were, quite frankly, shocked. There's also a remix of this done with Britney Spears that's worth checking out - it's actually what I'd prefer to the original. Regardless though, here's the single's released video:
The one song to be nominated by itself is the second track on the album, featuring Drake, "What's My Name?" I found this particularly annoying for the longest time, and still don't expect it to be a favorite off the album. I think it has been the melody I haven't been able to stand for this long, but maybe the song just doesn't hit well with me.
"Cheers (Drink To That)" came on one night in my car when I was driving home, and it was my first experience with it. Immediately, I recognized the lines from Avril LaVigne's "I'm With You," a song I remember singing out with my best friend in 8th grade, as we were angsty wonderful punk kids. :) Now, with this new song, I think I'll be singing it with my roommate as we head out this weekend on the town.
"Fading" is the first non-single release we've come across on this one, so a fresh song will be awesome to experience. Remember that Lonely Island song she guested in? That's what this sounds like to me, just melodically though. It's a relatively short number with a simple beat and about letting go. It's a nice little interlude sort of. Enya is actually sampled in this one, with her song "One by One."
Back into the charters now, we have "Only Girl (In The World)," probably one of my favorite club indulgent songs.
The next song is probably my favorite from the album. I stumbled upon this one on the radio late one night as well (clearly I don't follow Rihanna's career and new releases closely enough), and I think I started crying. Partially, it was the music itself. There's a gentle, yet rock, feel to the song. And it's slightly heartbreaking just by her vocals alone.
Funny thing here is, I don't remember "Man Down" as a single, but it was in early May of last year! It's a pretty interesting sounding sound compared to the rest, with a definite island beat and reggae feel unlike any other song on the album.
Oh Nicki Minaj.. just when I thought I had escaped you, you show up again. "Raining Men" takes that interesting club beat each seem to employ in dragged the BPM upward a little bit. I thought maybe this was a cover, but no luck. Granted, the two work together very well. "Fly" is a great song, even with Nicki's raps. They sound good together, but the song just isn't fun after a while. There's no real dynamics to it to keep us interested, and I gradually just wanted the beats to be done.
"Complicated" grabbed me from the start. She sings it out so loud and frustrated, but in a lovely way. The back beat is simple and moving. It's actually been described as sort of trance, which makes some sense. There's even some sort of Asian theme/feel about it that's really cool. I don't think we're supposed to know why, but this is a great song in some incredibly strange entrancing way.
Like I said, there's a bedroom song on every album (maybe more than one). "Skin" fits the bill on this one. She apparently performs a lap dance on stage to an audience member for this one. Clearly, we know where this is going. I have to hand it to her, the sensuality is intense in this one, but completely appropriately done given the lyrics and circumstances.
I waited for a while for Spotify to allow me to listen to "Love the Way You Lie (Part II)" and finally they have. This song is just so great. It takes the listener to a more intense viewpoint of the girl from the first part, released on Eminem's album, Recovery. It was actually Eminem's idea, and Rihanna had to be convinced because there was no way, in her eyes, they could out-do the first. This version is so much more broken down though, and Skylar Grey did a good portion of the writing, giving the melody a haunting and beautiful feel. There's the same emotionality, if not more, to this version, and it's just... ah. "Just gonna stand there and watch me burn? Well that's all right because I like the way it hurts." You know you've dealt with the abuse for love. It's just so much. It's not a song you want to be relating to in anything more than retrospect, but in that respect, man do you want to sing it loud...
Added to My Playlist:
- "Cheers (Drink To That)"
- "California King Bed"
- "Long The Way You Lie (Part II)"
All right, I see how this was maybe deserving of the nods it received now. Rihanna did manage to compile an album with variety, soul, and fun - three elements that are hard to put together into one disc. It's got a little something for everyone, from the partiers to the over-thoughtful crazies like me! There's beauty musically, as well as lyrically from time to time, and we're presented with a full range of feelings and stories. Well done as a whole.