Since she is supposedly supposed to be dropping a new album soon and we as a human race collectively miss her, I thought it would be fun to talk about some of my favorite Rihanna songs today. As always, these songs are not ranked in any way or in a list; it is too tough for me to actually pick a favorite. It seems like it has been so long since Rihanna last dropped an album. It has actually only been about a couple of years, and she has had multiple collaborations since then(Mike Will Made-It, N.E.R.D., and DJ Khaled have all had excellent songs featuring Rihanna in the last couple of years), it feels like it has been a really long time since she last dropped music because she has been taking over the make up and fashion world. Fenty Beauty is becoming so big that Rihanna could probably not make music anymore if she did not want to, so this record that she releases later this year will be a blessing at this point. Now, obviously, this list does not include literally all of my Rihanna favorites, so don’t freak out or be a dick because ‘Take A Bow’ or ‘Pon Du Replay are not in this post; I wanted to highlight some of her best music by era, and I did not want to pick too many from the same album or too many that are similar to each other. The only rule for this list is every one of these songs are considered to be by Rihanna. Some of my favorite songs by Rihanna are actually collaborations she has done for other artists’ records, but this list will not include anyone those ones. Let me know if you dig my choices for this list and what your favorite Rihanna songs in the comments down below!
I feel like I had to include this song on the top of the list because it is one of the songs that introduced us all to Rihanna. Of all of her sweet and cute island pop music that she started her career making, this song is my favorite for sure. Everything about this the instrumental of this song reminds me of R&B music from 2007, and I freaking love that, man. I like how the melody and tone of this song seem sort of light and carefree and happy, but the lyrics and pretty heartbreaking. Rihanna was definitely ahead of her time with that theme because it seems to be pretty popular in music today. Maybe this song is the one that turned her into the bad girl; I mean, it seems like she was really heartbroken from this situation. I do not know what your personally pre-bad girl Rihanna track is, but if ‘We Ride’ isn’t at or near the top of that list for you, you are wrong.
UMBRELLA FEAT. JAY Z
‘Umbrella’ will always be so iconic for so many reasons and on so many levels, but I think one of the most important things about this song is the fact that it was the start of a new era for Rihanna that completely changed her image forever. When she first got big, she was known for having this cute and sweet island girl persona, playing in the fact that she was young and naive and in a new country. This is the image of Rihanna one would think about when remembering the song ‘We Ride.’ ‘Umbrella’ was the first time we got to see that Rihanna is not this little sweet and soft Caribbean chick; she is actually a total fucking badass. ‘Umbrella’ was probably the most unique and mature sound that Rihanna had experimented with to that point; most of her music before this was sort of light and breezy, and this track is heavy and somber sounding R&B joint that really has none of the Caribbean style and flavor that all of her music had before this point.
DON’T STOP THE MUSIC
I can not even write about this song without that infectious hook immediately getting stuck in my head. ‘Don’t Stop the Music’ was definitely underrated when it first came out, having gained popularity over the years because of how great of a club and party track it is. I always really loved the Michael Jackson sample on this song; I have always thought that the song ‘Wanna Be Starting Something’ has always been way ahead of its time(although it is technically a disco track, I swear to god that this could have came out and sounded natural in he Y2K era as well), and considering how similar it is to Rihanna’s Don’t Stop the Music, I think that sentiment is a correct one. The lyrics and feel of this song do a good job of portraying that bad girl Rihanna persona that she first came up with when promoting this album; at this point, it is obvious that Rihanna knows how hot and desirable she is, and she does not want to play any games; she just wants to freak on the dance floor. The title of this track is pretty fitting because I think it would be a sin for someone to request the DJ to skip this track; it is just too good. Whatever you do, when this track comes on, you better not stop the music.
‘Disturbia’ the song is almost as good in my opinion as Disturbia the movie is, and that is really saying something. ‘Disturbia’ came out at a time in Rihanna’s career where she seemed to be into a bit more dark and macabre stuff, and this song and video are about as macabre as mainstream pop music is going to get. I love the dark and weird production on this song. It is super funky in a strange and dark way; I honestly wonder if Kim Petras gets inspiration from this era of Rihanna’s music because I feel like her stuff is a more futuristic and electric version of ‘Disturbia.’ The vocal arrangement on this song is very cool as well. I love the way that it sounds like Rihanna is harmonizing with herself. A song that has top-notch production like this and a singer that can use so many different pitches and singing styles is such a cool thing.
‘Rude Boy’ is a great example of when Rihanna was at the peak of her naughtiness and confidence. I feel like this era of Rihanna’s music can probably be considered her peak; Rated R is considered by many to be her best album, and I really enjoy it personally because it seems like it was at this moment that Rihanna was able to really start to control what kind of music and art she was putting out. Before this point, it is pretty easily to tell that her career had been scripted in a way, with Roc Nation sort of driving her island girl turned bad bitch persona. You could say that ‘Rude Boy’ is just an extension of that bad bitch persona, but I think that this sound and musical style is more personal to who she really is. Rihanna is a strong and confident and sexual woman who knows what she wants and can get what she wants whenever she wants it, and ‘Rude Boy’ is the first time in her career that this attitude is pushed to the forefront. This is also the time period where Rihanna seemed to start embracing more Latin hip hop trends, which in turn influenced popular as a whole greatly. ‘Rude Boy’ will always be very important for jump-starting these elements of her career.
DIAMONDS FEAT. KANYE WEST
I am not going to lie to ya’ll, if it wasn’t for this Kanye feature, I may have picked another track in place of ‘Diamonds,’ such as ‘Cheers’ or ‘We Found Love.’ To be honest, from 2009-2012, when Rihanna dropped three full studio albums, there were so many iconic songs that sort of defined her style and legacy as an artist and influenced pop music a ton in the coming years(as I stated above, there is totally a major correlation with Rihanna embracing more Caribbean music/island sounds and pop music as a whole embracing Latin riffs and beats). Ya’ll, if you have never heard this remix, please listen to it right now, because this Kanye verse is easily one of his best ever. It seems like he was just starting to lose his sanity and starting to get into his weird fake woke shit, and he just preaches on this track, man. Also, I wish that Kanye and Rihanna had collaborated more than this because Kanye’s ability to rap over pop and R&B melodies just would have meshed really well with Rihanna. Trust me and listen to this remix, guys, because it is just so damn good.
BITCH BETTER HAVE MY MONEY
I have always thought that Rihanna was a total badass, but I always thought she was probably too chill to have some shooters in her corner or for her to want to stomp someone out, but this song changed my opinion on that. After hearing ‘BBHMM’ for the first time, I think that everyone figured out that Rihanna is the last person that you would want to piss off. This is one of the hip hop-sounding songs that Rihanna has released on one of her own records, and honestly I fricken love it. I would love to hear Rihanna to do more rapping in the future, especially if she does it with this hardass persona. One of my new favorite things is to watch college-age white boys in the bar scream out the lyrics of this track because it is so funny to me. I don’t know why it just is. Thank you, Rihanna, for giving me so much joy with your music and with watching people get turnt to your music.
KISS IT BETTER
For the last song of this list, I wanted to go with a slow and sensual one since I have not really covered any of those kinds of songs yet. Now, most people who needed to pick a slow Rihanna song from this era would probably go with ‘Love on the Brain,’ and you definitely would not be wrong for making that one your choice. ‘Kiss it Better’ is just so good, though, and I had to go with this track instead. One of my favorite lines in any Rihanna song comes from this one: You yell, but you take me back. Who cares when it feels like crack? Boy, ya know you always do it right… The fact that Rihanna alludes a toxic relationship with someone who is really great at sex to being addicted to crack is so accurate and my favorite thing. This song is just so sexy, dude. It is almost tough to listen to in a non-sensual setting because of how sexy it is. ‘Kiss It Better’ may not be the best song to turn up to, but if you need a new mood music song for you and your honey, you would not be wrong if you picked this one.