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Rihanna

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Rihanna

Rihanna at the premiere of Battleship on April 22, 2012
Background information
Birth name Robyn Rihanna Fenty
Born February 20, 1988 (age 24)
Saint Michael, Barbados
Genres R&B, pop, dancehall, reggae, hip hop, dance
Occupations Singer, songwriter, actress
Years active 2005–present
Labels Def Jam, SRP
Associated acts Chris Brown, Drake, Coldplay, Eminem, Jay-Z, Ne-Yo, Nicki Minaj
Website rihannanow.com
Rihanna-signature.svg
Rihanna’s signature

Robyn Rihanna Fenty (pron.: /riˈɑːnə/ ree-AH-nə or /riˈænə/ ree-AN; born February 20, 1988), known mononymously as Rihanna, is a Barbadian recording artist and actress. Born in Saint Michael, Barbados, her career began when she met record producer Evan Rogers in late 2003. At age 16, she came to the United States to pursue a recording career and began recording demo tapes under Rogers’ guidance, subsequently signing a contract with Def Jam Recordings after auditioning for Jay-Z.[1]

Rihanna’s debut studio album, Music of the Sun (2005), peaked at number ten on the Billboard 200 and features the Billboard Hot 100 top five hit single “Pon de Replay“. Her second album, A Girl Like Me (2006), peaked at number five in the United States, and produced her first Hot 100 number one single, “SOS“. Rihanna’s third album, Good Girl Gone Bad (2007), spawned the international hit singles “Umbrella“, “Don’t Stop the Music“, “Take a Bow“, and “Disturbia“. The album was nominated for nine Grammy Awards, winning Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Umbrella”. Her fourth album, Rated R (2009), produced the top ten singles “Russian Roulette“, “Hard“, and “Rude Boy“, with the latter achieving the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Rihanna’s fifth album, Loud (2010), spawned the number one hit singles “Only Girl (In the World)“, “What’s My Name?“, and “S&M“. Her sixth album, Talk That Talk (2011), served the worldwide chart topper “We Found Love” and the top five single “Where Have You Been“. Rihanna’s seventh album, Unapologetic (2012), was preceded by the lead single “Diamonds“, which became Rihanna’s twelfth number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

Rihanna’s work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including five American Music Awards, eighteen Billboard Music Awards, two BRIT Awards and five Grammy Awards. She has achieved a total of twelve number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming the youngest solo artist to achieve the feat.[2] Billboard named Rihanna the Digital Songs Artist of the 2000s decade, and ranked her as the seventeenth overall artist of the same decade.[3][4] As of 2012, Rihanna has sold more than 25 million albums and 60 million digital singles worldwide since the beginning of her career in 2005, which makes her one of the best selling artists of all time.[5] Some of Rihanna’s singles have earned their place on the list of best-selling singles worldwide. She is the highest-selling digital artist in US history,[6] having sold 58 million singles as a lead artist as of 2012.[7] Furthermore, she has also sold 8.7 million album units in the United States as of November 2012.[7] In the United Kingdom, she has sold 20 million records as of 2012,[8] of which, she has sold a combined singles sales tally as a lead artist of 11.4 million, being listed as the UK’s second biggest selling female singles artist of all time.[9] In June 2011, Forbes reported that Rihanna had earned $29 million between May 2010 and May 2011.[10] The following year, the magazine ranked her as the fourth most powerful celebrity of 2012 with earnings of $53 million between May 2011 and May 2012.[11] The same year, American magazine Time named Rihanna one of the most influential people in the world.[12] Also in 2012, Billboard placed Rihanna atop their list of “Top 100 Pop Songs Artists” in the past twenty years.[13]

Contents

Life and career

1988–2004: Early life and career beginnings

Rihanna grew up in the town of Bridgetown, Barbados.[14]

Robyn Rihanna Fenty was born on February 20, 1988, in Saint Michael, Barbados. Her mother is Monica Braithwaite, a retired Afro-Guyanese accountant, and her father is Ronald Fenty, a warehouse supervisor of Barbadian and Irish descent.[15][16] Rihanna has two brothers, Rorrey and Rajad Fenty, and two half-sisters and a half-brother from her father’s side, each born by different mothers from his previous relationships.[17][18][19] Growing up in a three-bedroom bungalow in Bridgetown and selling clothes with her father on a street stall, Rihanna’s childhood was deeply affected by her father’s addiction to crack cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana, and her parents’ turbulent marriage ended when she was 14.[14][16][20] Rihanna grew up listening to reggae music and began singing at around the age of seven.[17][21] She attended Charles F. Broome Memorial Primary School and then the Combermere High School, where she formed a musical trio with two of her classmates.[17] Rihanna was an army cadet in a sub-military programme; the singer-songwriter Shontelle was her drill sergeant.[22] Although she initially wanted to graduate from high school, she chose to pursue a musical career instead.[23]

Rihanna’s career began through her association with American record producer Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers; she met Rogers through mutual friends in Barbados in December 2003.[24] Rogers soon asked Rihanna to come to his hotel room, where she performed renditions of the songs “Emotion” and “Hero“.[24] This impressed Rogers, who then took her on various trips to New York, where she was accompanied by her mother, Monica, to record some demo tapes which could be sent to record labels.[24][25] Rihanna was signed to Rogers’ and Sturken’s production company, Syndicated Rhythm Productions, who assigned her a lawyer and manager before the completed demo tape was distributed to various record labels around the world in late 2004.[25] In February 2005, the president and CEO of Def Jam Recordings Jay-Z requested to meet Rihanna and she auditioned for him and industry executive L.A. Reid, performing Whitney Houston‘s version of “For the Love of You” as well as the original songs “Pon de Replay” and “The Last Time”.[25][26] On the same day of the audition, Rihanna signed a six-album record deal with Def Jam Recordings, later relocating from Barbados to New York to live with Rogers and his wife.[25][27]

2005–06: Music of the Sun and A Girl Like Me

Rihanna performing at the Jingle Ball, 2005

Following her signing, Rihanna spent three months recording and completing her debut album and collaborated with rapper Memphis Bleek on his fourth studio album 534.[1] The album featured production from Evan Rogers, Carl Sturken, Stargate and Poke & Tone.[28] Her debut single, “Pon de Replay”, was released on August 22, 2005 and charted highly across the world, peaking at number two on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart.[29] Her debut album, Music of the Sun, was first released later that month and went on to sell over two million copies worldwide and received a Gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting shipments of over 500,000 units to retailers in the United States.[30] The album received mixed reviews by music critics. Rolling Stone magazine gave it 2.5 out of 5 stars and described as lacking the replay value, ingenuity and rhythm of the single with “generic vocal hiccups and frills” of US R&B inflecting upon her “Caribbean charm”.[31] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine described the album as a “glut of teen R&B chanteuses ” and described her lead single “Pon de Replay” as “a dancehall-pop mixture that owes plenty of its sweat and shimmy to Beyoncé‘s “Baby Boy“.[28] A second single, “If It’s Lovin’ that You Want”, was not as successful as its predecessor.[32] In October 2005, Rihanna struck an endorsement deal with Secret Body Spray; her first of many.[33]

A month after the release of her debut album, she began working on her second studio album.[34] The album contained production from Evan Rogers, Carl Sturken, Stargate, J. R. Rotem and label-mate singer-songwriter Ne-Yo.[35] A Girl Like Me was released in April 2006, less than eight months after its predecessor.[36] Its lead single, “SOS“, was an international success following its March 2006 release as it charted in the top five in Canada, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and reached number one in the U.S. and Australia.[37] Critical response to the album was mixed; Rolling Stone magazine commented “Like her filler-packed debut album, this similar but superior follow-up doesn’t deliver anything else as ingenious as its lead single.”[38] The album entered charts across the world, peaking at number one in Canada and at number five in both the UK and the U.S., where it sold 115,000 copies in its first week.[30][39]Unfaithful“, the album’s second single release, charted in various territories, reaching number one in Portugal, Canada and Switzerland.[40]We Ride” and “Break It Off“, which featured Sean Paul, were also released as singles.[41][42] Following the release of the album, Rihanna embarked on her first headlining tour, the Rihanna: Live in Concert Tour, as well as supporting The Pussycat Dolls on the PCD World Tour and performing alongside Jay-Z and Ne-Yo on the Rock Tha Block Tour. Rihanna created her Believe Foundation in 2006 to help terminally ill children.[43][44] She also made her acting debut in a cameo role in the straight-to-DVD film Bring It On: All or Nothing, which was released on August 8, 2006.[45]

2007–09: Good Girl Gone Bad

Rihanna performing at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, 2008

For her third studio album, Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna embraced a new musical direction through uptempo dance tracks produced by the likes of Timbaland, will.i.am and Sean Garrett.[46][47] First released in May 2007, the album topped the charts in multiple countries including the UK, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Japan, Russia and at number two in the US and Australia.[48] The album received positive reviews by critics, becoming the most critically acclaimed of her first three albums.[49] The album’s lead single, “Umbrella“, topped the charts in thirteen countries and stayed at number one in the UK for ten consecutive weeks; this made it the longest-running number one single since Wet Wet Wet‘s single “Love Is All Around” spent fifteen weeks at the top in 1994.[50][51] It became Rihanna’s first single to be named one of the best-selling singles worldwide, having sold over 6.6 million singles since being released.[52][53] The songs “Shut Up and Drive“, “Hate That I Love You” and “Don’t Stop The Music” were also released as singles from the album. In support of the album, she kicked off her second headlining tour, the Good Girl Gone Bad Tour in September 2007, with a total of 80 shows across the US, Canada and Europe.[54] The same month, Rihanna became the official face of tourism for Barbados and subsequently featured in many of their advertising campaigns; she holds the honorary title of Ambassador for Culture and Youth in Barbados.[55] The 50th Grammy Awards saw Rihanna nominated for a string of awards, winning for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Umbrella” alongside Jay-Z.[56]

Throughout 2008, Rihanna performed on the Glow in the Dark Tour alongside Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco and N.E.R.D.[57] On February 20, 2008, Barbadian Prime Minister David Thompson presented the singer with several gifts at a national concert in an event named “Rihanna Day”.[58][59] To help raise awareness and combat HIV/AIDS, Rihanna and other public figures designed clothing for the February 2008 H&M Fashion Against AIDS line.[60][61] Her third album’s reissue, Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded, was released in June 2008 with three new songs; Disturbia, Take a Bow and the Maroon 5 duet “If I Never See Your Face Again“. All three were released as singles and charted highly, reaching peak positions across the world.[62][63][64] In August 2008, Rihanna and Beyoncé Knowles, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey and a host of other female singers recorded the charity single, “Just Stand Up!“, the theme song to the anti-cancer campaign Stand Up to Cancer.[65]Live Your Life“, Rihanna’s duet with the rapper T.I., was first released in November 2008 and peaked in the top five in Austria, the Netherlands, Canada, Ireland, the UK and Australia, reaching number one in New Zealand and the U.S.[66] A remix album, Good Girl Gone Bad: The Remixes, was released in January 2009. Good Girl Gone Bad has shipped over 2.7 million units in the United States alone, receiving a two-times-platinum certification from the RIAA and marking Rihanna’s best-selling album to date in the country.[30][67] Since its release, Good Girl Gone Bad has sold over seven million copies worldwide.[68]

2009–10: Domestic violence case and Rated R

Rihanna in Paris, April 2010

On February 8, 2009, Rihanna’s scheduled performance at the 51st Grammy Awards was cancelled.[69] Reports later surfaced regarding an altercation with then-boyfriend, singer Chris Brown, who was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats.[70] On March 5, 2009, Brown was charged with assault and making criminal threats.[71] Due to a leaked photograph from the Los Angeles Police Department obtained by TMZ.com — which revealed that Rihanna had sustained visible injuries — an organization known as STOParazzi proposed a law called “Rihanna’s Law,” which, if enacted, would “deter employees of law enforcement agencies from releasing photos or information that exploits crime victims.”[72] Gil Kaufman of VH1 reported the “nonstop coverage of the Rihanna/Brown case has brought up a number of issues regarding the privacy of alleged victims of domestic violence, including the decision by almost all major news outlets to divulge the identity of the victim — which is not typically done in domestic-violence cases” and the controversial distribution of the leaked photograph.[73] Rihanna was subpoenaed to testify during a preliminary hearing in Los Angeles on June 22, 2009.[74] On June 22, 2009, Brown pled guilty to the felony assault. In exchange for his plea Brown received five years probation and was ordered to stay fifty yards away from Rihanna, unless at public events, which then would be reduced to ten yards.[75] However, in February 2011, at the request of Brown’s lawyer, Judge Patricia Schnegg modified with Rihanna’s consent the restraining order to a “level one order,” allowing both singers to appear at awards shows together in the future.[76][77] Since then, Rihanna and Chris Brown have had at least periods of reconciliation.

Returning to music after the assault, Rihanna collaborated with Jay-Z and Kanye West on “Run This Town“, which peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, number one in the UK, and reached the top ten in ten other countries after its July 2009 release.[78] Her fourth studio album, Rated R, was released in November 2009.[79] Critical response was favorable; Rolling Stone claimed that Rihanna “transformed her sound and made one of the best pop records of the year”.[80] The album’s lead single, “Russian Roulette“, received commercial success, reaching number one in Norway and Switzerland and making the top ten in sixteen other countries.[81] This was followed by the release of “Hard” with Young Jeezy and “Rude Boy“; the latter became the biggest worldwide success from the album, topping the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks, as well as claiming top ten positions in twenty-two other countries.[82][83] Two other singles were released from Rated R; “Rockstar 101” with Slash and “Te Amo“.[84][85] Rated R: Remixed was released in the spring of 2010 and featured ten tracks from the album remixed by Chew Fu.[86] To further promote the album, she embarked on her second worldwide tour, the Last Girl on Earth Tour.[87] At the 52nd Grammy Awards, “Run This Town” won ‘Best Rap Song‘ and ‘Best Rap/Sung Collaboration’.[88]

2010–11: Loud and Talk That Talk

Rihanna performing on her Loud Tour

During the summer of 2010, Rihanna collaborated with rapper Eminem on “Love the Way You Lie“, which was a major worldwide success, reaching number one in over twenty countries worldwide.[89] The song became Rihanna’s seventh U.S. number one of her career, making her the female artist with the fifth-most number ones in the chart’s history.[90] Despite reaching number two, the song became the biggest-selling song of 2010 in the UK, and the first Rihanna’s singles to sell over one million copies in the country.[91][92] With sales of over nine million to date, it is one of the best-selling singles worldwide and Rihanna’s biggest-selling single worldwide.[93] She also lent her vocals to “All of the Lights“, a single from Kanye West’s album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, alongside John Legend, The-Dream, Elly Jackson, Alicia Keys, Fergie, Kid Cudi, and Elton John.[94]

In October 2010, she released an eponymous book and announced that she was parting ways with manager Marc Jordan and would henceforth be managed by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.[95][96] The following month saw the release of Loud, Rihanna’s fifth studio album.[97] Its lead single, “Only Girl (In the World)“, reached number one in fourteen countries including Australia, Canada, the UK and US.[98][99][100] The album’s second single, “What’s My Name?“, featuring Drake, also reached number one in both the U.S. and UK, making Rihanna the first female solo artist to have five number one singles in the United Kingdom in consecutive years.[101] The song reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 before “Only Girl (In the World)”, making it the first time in the chart’s history that an album’s lead single reached number one after the second.[102]S&M“, featuring Britney Spears, “Man Down“, “California King Bed” and “Cheers (Drink to That)” were also released as singles.[103][104][105][106]

January 2011 saw the release of Rihanna’s first fragrance; “Reb’l Fleur“.[107] The following month, “Only Girl (In the World)” won the award for ‘Best Dance Recording’ at the 53rd Grammy Awards.[108] In June 2011, Rihanna embarked on the Loud Tour and broke the record for selling out ten nights at the The O2 Arena in London, the most sold out shows for a female artist in the venue’s history.[109][110][111] In October 2011, Nicki Minaj released the collaboration “Fly” featuring Rihanna from her album Pink Friday which peaked within the top twenty in both the US and UK.[112][113] Rihanna’s sixth album, Talk That Talk, was released in November 2011 in both deluxe and standard editions.[114] The lead single, “We Found Love“, topped charts in eighteen countries worldwide, peaking in the top ten in thirty countries and breaking a string of records worldwide.[115] It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for ten non-consecutive weeks and became Rihanna’s longest-running number-one single as well as the longest-running number-one single of 2011.[116][117] The music video later won the ‘Video of the Year‘ award at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards making Rihanna the first women to win the award more than once.[118]You Da One” was released as the second single from the album and was a moderate success, reaching the top twenty in both the UK and US.[119][120] The third single to be released was the titular, “Talk That Talk“, featuring Jay-Z, followed by the simultaneous release of two collaborations between Rihanna and her ex-boyfriend Chris Brown; remixes of her song “Birthday Cake” and his “Turn Up the Music” that received mainly negative responses due to the pair’s history of domestic violence.[121]Where Have You Been“, the fifth single became a success on charts worldwide, reaching number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and six on the UK Singles Chart.[122][123]Cockiness (Love It)” was released as the album’s sixth single in a remixed form featuring rapper ASAP Rocky.[124]

2011–present: Film debut and Unapologetic

Rihanna performing on The 777 Tour

Rihanna’s first fashion range, for Armani, became available in November 2011.[125] In early 2012, two collaborations featuring Rihanna were released; Coldplay’s “Princess of China” from the album Mylo Xyloto and Drake’s “Take Care” from his album of the same name.[126][127] February 2012 saw the release of Rebelle, Rihanna’s second fragrance.[128] The same month, Rihanna won her third Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 54th Grammy Awards, while also being voted the ‘Best International Female Solo Artist’ at the 2012 BRIT Awards for the second consecutive year.[129][130] Rihanna starred as Petty Officer (GM2) Cora Raikes in her first theatrical feature film Battleship, which was released on May 18, 2012.[131] Loosely based on the game of the same name, both the film and Rihanna’s performance received mixed-to-negative reviews; The New York Times claimed she was “just fine in the rather generic role”.[132] She also appeared in Katy Perry: Part of Me, a 3D documentary-concert film centering on singer Katy Perry. Rihanna’s first TV program, Styled to Rock, premiered in the UK in August 2012 on Sky Living. The ten-week series saw Rihanna, Nicola Roberts, Lysa Cooper and Henry Holland assisting up-and-coming British designers with their own clothing lines.[133] On August 19, 2012, Rihanna appeared in the first episode of the second season of Oprah Winfrey‘s American prime time television show Oprah’s Next Chapter.[134] The episode scored the second-highest telecast in the history of the Oprah Winfrey Network.[135] In October 2012, Billboard placed Rihanna at the top of their ‘Top 100 Pop Songs Artists of 1992–2012’ list.[13] Later that month, she was also named the UK’s second biggest selling female singles artist of all time, with a combined singles sales tally as a lead artist of 11.4 million.[9] In November 2012, the Official Charts Company revealed that Rihanna had sold over three million singles in the year in the country alone.[136]

Rihanna’s seventh studio album, Unapologetic, was released on November 19, 2012.[137] In the United States, the album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with sales of 238,000, becoming Rihanna’s first number one album in the country. In addition, it became the best-selling debut week of her career, besting her fifth studio album Loud (2010).[138] The album also became Rihanna’s third and fifth consecutive number one album in the United Kingdom and Switzerland.[136][139] The lead single from the album, “Diamonds” was released in September 2012 and has reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming Rihanna’s twelfth number one, thus tying her with Madonna and The Supremes for the fifth most number one songs in the chart’s history.[2] As promotion prior to the album’s release, Rihanna embarked on the 777 Tour, a mini tour consisting of seven shows, in seven countries, lasting a duration of seven days.[140] Rihanna’s fifth headlining concert tour, the “Diamonds World Tour”, is set to begin in March 2013.[141]

Artistry

Music and voice

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Pon de Replay” is infused with a reggae style using a mixture of dance-pop and R&B. Lyrically, the song is about Rihanna asking the DJ to play her favorite song repeatedly.

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“Umbrella” was a significant milestone in Rihanna’s career. It is a pop and R&B song with lyrics about a romantic and platonic relationship.

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While recoding tracks for her third studio album, Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna took vocal lessons from Ne-Yo stating, “I’ve never had vocal training, so when I’m in the studio, he’ll tell me how to breathe and stuff. … he’ll call out these big fancy words: ‘OK, I want you to do staccato.’ And I’m like, ‘OK, I don’t know what that is.'”[47] Her vocal performance on Loud (2010) received positive reviews from music critics: James Skinner from BBC praised Rihanna’s vocals on the song “Love the Way You Lie (Part II)” commented that her voice is powerful and that “it is Rihanna’s vocal – at once commanding, soulful and vulnerable – that anchors the song, and Loud itself” and Andy Gill from The Independent stated that “California King Bed” features her best vocal performance.[142][143] Originally marketed as a reggae singer, Rihanna’s musical genre has changed throughout the course of her career, which includes pop, R&B, hip hop, dance-pop and dancehall.[144] Volume 65 of the Contemporary Black Biography book series notes that “Rihanna is the rare rhythm and blues (R&B) diva to emerge from the Caribbean world.”[145] Becoming an international sensation, Rihanna is known for blending R&B with Caribbean music, such as reggae and dancehall.[146] At the time of her debut, reviewers referred to her as a “bubblegum queen”[147] and her music to “teen pop.”[148] Some of her music is also inspired through sampling: “SOS”,[149] “Shut Up and Drive”, “Don’t Stop the Music”, “Cheers (Drink to That)”, and “Talk That Talk” all contain samples from other artist.[150] Over the evolution of her career, she has branched out into house music with tracks like “We Found Love”, “Only Girl (In the World)” and “Complicated.”[151]

Rihanna performing on her Last Girl on Earth Tour in March 2011

Rihanna began her musical career recording songs that were inspired by caribbean music genres such as soca, dancehall and reggae as well as corporating dance-pop and R&B, because of her caribbean descent.[152] The combination of dancehall and reggae genres on her debut album, Music of the Sun (2005), was complemented by Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times stating, “Dancehall reggae sometimes seems like a furiously insular form of music, but … Rihanna is only the latest singer to discover how versatile the genre’s spring-loaded electronic rhythms can be”.[153] Her debut album featured production from Stargate and production duo Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers, who discovered her and helped launch her career with her debut single “Pon de Replay”.[47] A Girl Like Me (2006) saw Rihanna infuse a bit of rock music on the track “Kisses Don’t Lie”,[154] a sound she would also use on tracks like “Shut Up and Drive” and “Rockstar 101“. She enlisted into pop and R&B working again with Sturken and Rogers, J.R. Rotem and label-mate Ne-Yo.[149][155] The ballads on the album were described as elegant, mature, and that it displays her artistic growth.[156]

With Good Girl Gone Bad (2007), she took a different direction from the dancehall influence of her previous efforts with uptempo songs.[157] stating that “[at] this stage I feel like I want to do a lot of uptempo [songs] … but still be soulful at the same time.”[47] She worked with new producers on the album, including Timbaland, Sean Garrett, and Christopher “Tricky” Stewart who produced the international hit “Umbrella”, which was a major breakthrough in her career.[158] Rihanna again entered a new musical and lyrical direction with Rated R, departing from her previous up-tempo and dance-pop style with elements of hip hop, rock, dubstep and dancehall.[159] Recorded after the assault by her then-boyfriend, Chris Brown, the album had a much darker tone and was filled with different emotions she experienced throughout 2009.[159] Continuing to reinvent her music and sound with Loud (2010), she wanted to have more fun with her music and image while experimenting with new material stating, “with Loud, I got a bit more rebellious and did whatever I wanted to do. I reinvented my image and took creative control”.[160] The album differed from her previous release, which featured an angry tone with dark themes, whereas Loud reflects on the sassy, fun, flirty, and energetic attitude she had while recording the album.[161] The album is a mixture of ballads, party anthems and empowering love songs with elements of up-tempo and pop genres, ranging from dance-pop to R&B.[162] Described as “a sexy, sexual record”, Talk That Talk (2011) was similar to Rated R, both containing hip hop, R&B, dancehall and dubstep genres.[163] Loud and Talk That Talk also saw her return to her dancehall roots, evident in the tracks like “Man Down” and “Watch n’ Learn“.[164]

Influences

Madonna (left) and Bob Marley (right) are two of Rihanna’s biggest influences.

Rihanna has named Madonna as her idol and biggest influence, and said she wants to be the “black Madonna”.[160][165] She said: “I think that Madonna was a great inspiration for me, especially on my earlier work. If I had to examine her evolution through time, I think she reinvented her clothing style and music with success every single time. And at the same time remained a real force in entertainment in the whole world.”[160] She also cites Whitney Houston as a major influence and idol[166] Mariah Carey has also been cited as one of Rihanna’s influence and idol, whose song “Hero” she covered while performing at a school talent show.[167] Of Janet Jackson, Rihanna has commented that “[s]he was one of the first female pop icons that I could relate to … You have to love Janet.”[168] Beyoncé Knowles has been named as a major influence,[169][170] citing that she was inspired to start her career after watching Knowles on television as part of a Destiny’s Child performance.[171] Rihanna commented that Marilyn Monroe and vintage clothing served for visual inspiration for the music video “Hate That I Love You” and “Rehab“; in contrast, the “dark, creepy” scenes of “Disturbia” have drawn comparison to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.[172][173] Her other musical influences include Alicia Keys,[174] Fefe Dobson,[175][176] Celine Dion,[177] Brandy[178] and Gwen Stefani.[179] Jon Bream of the Star Tribune commented “[i]n the tradition of Madonna and Janet Jackson, Rihanna has become the video vixen of the ’00s … Rihanna has perfected the pout, the long-legged strut and trend-setting hairdos that keep women and men alike checking her out on YouTube.”[172] George Epaminondas of InStyle considers Rihanna’s music videos to be “cinematic” due to her “blend of lush island rhythms and swinging pop and … mischievous sensuality.”[180]

Rihanna’s music contains strong influences of Caribbean music which include reggae and dancehall.[181] In an interview, she stated that while growing up in Barbados she grew up listening to reggae music and when she came to the United States she was exposed to many different types of music.[182] The video for “Rude Boy” was inspired by her Caribbean roots.[181] Rihanna is heavily influenced by the Jamaican singer-songwriter Bob Marley and stated “[h]e’s one of my favorite artists of all time […] he really paved the way for every other artist out of the Caribbean”.[183] She also built a shrine in her Los Angeles home dedicated to Marley.[184] Rihanna has covered Marley’s “Is This Love” and Bob Marley & The Wailers‘ “Redemption Song“.[185] Rihanna herself has influenced the singers Rita Ora and Justin Bieber.[186][187]

Videos and stage

Rihanna performing “Hard” on her Last Girl on Earth Tour

Rihanna has often worked with music video director Anthony Mandler on more than a dozen music videos throughout her career, the first being “Unfaithful” (2006).[188] “We’ve done 16 videos together; they’re not all tough, […] Yeah, I mean, I’m known for the ‘Disturbia’s and the ‘Russian Roulette’s and things like that, but ‘Only Girl (In the World)’ is certainly an ethereal kind of empowering, beauty-filled video,” Mandler said.[188] Jocelyn Vena of MTV wrote, “Rihanna, like Madonna, also has a tendency to make truly thought-provoking music videos that fit the songs they represent. Smattered in between glitzier, more glamorous clips, Madge and Ri want us to think about bigger issues”.[151] “Unfaithful”, “Love The Way You Lie”, “Man Down” and “We Found Love” were shot resembling a short film with issues about love triangles, abusive, and substance abuse romance.[151] Her music video for “Umbrella” showed Rihanna’s transition into adulthood with her newly adopted image.[189] Tamar Anitai from MTV Buzzworthy listed “Disturbia” at number five on the “Buzzworthy’s Top 5 Most Paranoid Music Videos” stating that “Paranoia never looked so supernaturally sexy!”.[190] The video for “Russian Roulette”, features Rihanna in a padded room playing a game of russian roulette with her partner and scenes of Rihanna being approached by a speeding car at night, which was compared to the altercation with Chris Brown.[191] The Caribbean inspired music video for “Rude Boy” was compared to rapper M.I.A.‘s video “Boyz” by many critics for its colorful aesthetics similarities.[181]

In 2011, Rihanna released three music videos that caused major controversy with topics of sadomasochism, rape and domestic violence; the video for “S&M” was banned in eleven countries for its sexual content,[192] “Man Down” was criticized by the Parents Television Council (PTC), which features Rihanna shooting a man in a train station,[193] and “We Found Love” sparked controversy from The Rape Crisis Centre for its inappropriate message,[194] which shows Rihanna and her love interest in a drug-filled unhealthy relationship.[191] Commenting on Rihanna’s controversial music videos, Charne Graham of the Houston Press stated, “Why should Rihanna’s music videos get everyone riled up when others’ equally sexual and controversial videos are in rotation?” and that “she just like to make music videos that give us something to talk about”.[195] The video for “Where Have You Been” broke the VEVO record for the most views in a 24-hour period, with 4.93 million views, surpassing the previous record held by Nicki Minaj’s “Stupid Hoe” with 4.8 million.[196] A few days later the record was broken again by Justin Bieber‘s “Boyfriend“, which gained over 8 million views.[197] Rihanna is also the first woman to pass 2 billion views on the website YouTube.[198]

While performing at the Ottawa Bluesfest, Denis Armstrong of Canadian Online Explorer commented on her performance saying “her show was a Disney-esque choreographed fantasy of non-stop hip-swiveling, sassy attitude and personal endearments and a string of funky, sugar-free hits.”[147] Her performance of “Disturbia” at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards was ranked tenth best ever on the MTV Video Music Awards, according to poll by Billboard.[199] Her revealing leather costumes during her Good Girl Gone Bad Tour were highly criticized when Malaysia’s conservative Islamic party recommended that her concert tour should be banned from performing due to her skimpy outfits during each show.[200] Whilst commenting on her third album’s accompanying tour, The Times compared Rihanna’s stage wardrobe styling to that of Janet Jackson and “a vision of Ann Summers couture in thigh-high boots and a few scraps of black PVC.”[201] In the October 2011 issue of British Vogue, Rihanna claimed that her performance outfits and appearances are all an act; “[t]hat’s not me. That’s a part I play. You know, like it’s a piece of art, with all these toys and textures to play with”.[202]

Public image

New York magazine described Rihanna’s early look as that of a cookie-cutter teen queen while stating that she has the ability to shift looks dramatically and with great ease.[203] Around the time of the release of her second studio album, A Girl Like Me (2006), many critics felt that Rihanna’s style, sound and musical material were too similar to those of Beyoncé.[204] Negative reviews appeared, in which her music,[205] music videos, performances[206] and her image were compared to those of Beyoncé,[207] garnering Rihanna much criticism.[208] Some media even claimed that Jay-Z fashioned her to be a replica of Beyoncé.[209] Rihanna went on to state in an interview with Look magazine that “Beyoncé is a great artist and I feel honored to be mentioned in the same sentence, but we’re different performers with different styles”.[210] Her third studio album Good Girl Gone Bad (2007), served as a precursor of her new image,[211] with her hair chopped into a bob cut which was inspired by Charlize Theron‘s hair in Æon Flux (2005).[212] Larry Meyler of The Sun stated that “Rihanna going bad is very good” and that she had “[shaken] off any ‘teen pop’ image.”[148]

Rihanna at the 2009 AMA’s red carpet

Rihanna is known for reinventing her style and image with every album, changing her personal appearance with several different hairstyles.[213][214] She stated that when selecting her personal wardrobe, she takes risks with fashion and that she looks “for the most interesting silhouette or something that’s a little off.”[215] Country singer Miranda Lambert admires Rihanna’s fashion and style commenting, “I don’t necessarily get inspired by the whole no-bra thing, but I love that you never know what she’s going to wear. It always keeps you guessing, which makes her sassy and interesting.”[216] Jess Cartner-Morley of The Guardian wrote that “Rihanna’s wardrobe is the most talked-about, influential and dissected in pop right now” and that whatever she wears “is immediately reproduced on the high street, because it sells”.[217] Her appearance has landed her on Maxim‘s Hot 100 list and on FHM‘s “100 Sexiest Women in the World” the last six years, with her highest position being at number 6 on Maxim and at number 3 on FHM.[218][219] In June 2007, Gillette named her the Venus Breeze’s Celebrity Legs of a Goddess.[220] People magazine recognized her as one of the 10 Best Dressed Stars of 2008 and Glamour magazine ranked her at number 17 on the 50 Most Glamorous Women of 2009.[221][222] In October 2011, Esquire declared Rihanna as the Sexiest Woman Alive for 2011.[223] Commenting on the cultural expectation for pop stars to be role models, she said “[being a role model] became more of my job than I wanted it to be. But no, I just want to make music. That’s it”.[202]

Rihanna has seven wax figures of herself at Madame Tussauds Wax Museums in Berlin (Germany),[224] Hollywood (US),[225] Las Vegas (US),[225] London (UK),[225][226] Sydney (Australia),[225] Vienna (Austria) and Washington D.C. (US).[225][227] She has a wide collection of small tattoos around her body: a music note on her ankle; pisces sign behind her right ear; Sanskrit prayer on her hip; a star in her left ear; the word “Love” on her left middle finger; an Arabic phrase on her ribcage area, meaning “Freedom in Messiah”; a trail of stars going down the back of her neck; a skull with a pink hair bow on the back of her foot; the phrase “Shhh…” on her right index finger; the date 4.11.1986 in roman numerals on top of her left shoulder; a henna-style dragon claw on her hand; a handgun on her ribcage; the motto “never a failure, always a lesson” near her right shoulder; rebelle fleur on her neck; the words “Thug Life” on her knuckles; a small cross on her collar bone; an Egyptian falcon shaped in a gun on her right foot; and a goddess isis above her stomach.[228] In late 2011, comparisons were made between Rihanna and Rita Ora that noted similarities in their fashion and music.[229][230]

In April 2012, Rihanna placed at number twenty on Time magazine’s list of the ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’.[231] The following month, Forbes ranked her fourth on their Celebrity 100 list, naming her one the world’s most powerful celebrities with earnings of $53 million between May 2011 and May 2012.[11] She is the most popular person on the social network Facebook,[232] has the fourth most followers on Twitter and is the most-viewed female artist on video-sharing site YouTube,[233] putting her atop Forbes list of ‘Social Networking Superstars’.[234] She has broken multiple Guinness World Records, noting titles as the first woman in the UK to have five number one singles in five consecutive years, the singer with most number one singles in a year and the artist with most digital number one singles in the United States.[235][236] Rihanna has been named the best-selling digital artist of all time in the United States, having sold 58 million singles as a lead artist as of 2012.[7]

Discography

Filmography

Main article: Rihanna videography
Film
Year Title Role Notes
2006 Bring It On: All or Nothing Herself Cameo appearance
2012 Battleship Petty Officer (GM2) Cora Raikes Theatrical film debut
Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie: Breakout
Katy Perry: Part of Me Herself Cameo appearance
2013 This Is The End [237] Herself Post-Production
2014 Happy Smekday![238] Voice-over debut

Tours

See also

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