Rihanna a romantic
Back in the early 1960s, the American singer James Brown used to call himself the hardest working man in show business.
If the late Godfather Of Soul were still around to appoint a modern, female equivalent, then Barbadian R&B queen Rihanna would be a strong contender.
The diva maintains an astonishingly demanding schedule.
She is only 23, but this is her sixth album in as many years.
She is also in the middle of a mammoth British tour that leaves even her closest female rivals in the shade.
So it is no wonder that her current single, the barnstorming dance track We Found Love, last weekend secured a fourth week at the top of the charts. It’s her sixth British No.?1 in five years.
Robyn Rihanna Fenty sometimes hits the headlines for things other than her music, of course.
In September, she was ordered from a muddy field in Northern Ireland by farmer Alan Graham after exposing too much flesh for his liking while making a video.
Her live concerts have also been criticized for their sexual dance routines, with the singer often writhing suggestively around the stage in a barely-there bikini.
There is a danger that Rihanna’s sharp, snappy songs will be overshadowed by her raunchy antics.
Her latest album Talk That Talk offers a chance to redress the balance – even if she indulges in some almost laughable double entendres that will give her detractors fresh ammunition.
First, the good. In blending her Caribbean vocals with pop, soul and hip hop, Rihanna has forged a distinctive style, one that has enabled her to transcend the limitations of R&B and become a mainstream star.
Much of Talk That Talk was recorded on the road, and there is a playful immediacy to We Found Love, brilliantly produced by Calvin Harris, plus the opening track You Da One, which melds Bajan flavours with a dubstep section.
Rihanna also shines on the ballads – the most touching moments of her current show occur when the relentless rhythms slacken and she dons an evening gown to belt out California King Bed and Unfaithful.
That tender side emerges here too, notably on We All Want Love, an acoustic guitar ballad with booming drums, and the closing Farewell, a Phil Spector-esque epic built around a rolling piano motif and a huge chorus.
Less interesting are those moments that rely on innuendo for impact.
The title track, which features a rap from Jay-Z, is slow and sultry, but the subsequent Cockiness, on which Rihanna begs the listener to be her “sex slave”, is hardly subtle.
By the time we reach Birthday Cake, the double entendres have grown tiresome.
Maybe Rihanna is wising up, though.
One of the catchiest songs, Roc Me Out, features a few all too predictable line about the singer being a bad girl who promises to divulge her “dirty secret”.
But when the time comes to reveal it, she wrong-foots the listener. And her guilty pleasure? “I just want to be loved,” she sings.
It seems even pop’s most provocative princess is a romantic at heart. (Mail Online)