Five of the best: Rihanna

We revisit five points in RiRi's sonic-shifting career ahead of her upcoming ANTI World Tour.

Ben Smith

Last updated: 29th Feb 2016.
Originally published: 5th Feb 2016

Image: Rihanna 

Rihanna slipped into the spotlight last week, finally releasing her long-waited album ANTI. It arrived following months of rumoured release dates and a social media crusade that probably cost more than it did to make her eighth record.

She marketed the album via a virtual ANTI DiaRY room tour, introducing followers to various locations: one which included Rihanna hovered over a bald tattooed man so elated he was crying tears of purple ink (yes really, see below).


More to the point is that the album was the fastest to ever go platinum, with Samsung wiring 1 million of their customers a copy of ANTI. Ultimately, Rihanna is pops baddest and her seemless ability to shift sonics and appearance has elevated her to the mega-star she is today. 

'Pon De Replay' (2005)

Once upon a time Rihanna didn't post skimpily clad photos with fat blunts on her Instagram account. She sang with an Americanised accent and appealed to the popular masses with a 'girly girl' look.

Eventually picked up by Def Jam, then commanded by Jay-Z, she released her debut single Pon De Replay from debut Music Of The Sun. Fusing pop and dancehall, the hit rocketed her to prominence and changed her life forever. 

'Umbrella' (2007)

One album later and Rihanna began to rid the shackles of pop princess, instead opting for a head-turning bob that added talons to the otherwise innocent package  that Def Jam attempted to mould her into.

Good Girl Gone Bad marked the transition explicitly, turning out hits like 'Shut Up and Drive' and 'Disturbia'. 'Umbrella' featuring Jay-Z is still the most iconic of her extensive back-catalogue, due its unmistakable hook.       

'Love The Way You Lie' (2010)

Progressing with a hip hop influenced R&B sound, Rihanna was beginning to rub shoulders with the genres elite including label boss Jay-Z, Kanye, and Eminem for 'Love The Way You Lie'.

Taken from fifth album Loud, it arrived after her well-documented relationship troubles with Chris Brown. While the rap record with Eminem provoked a response to that, the album also solidified her sex-icon status with hits like 'S&M' and 'Rudeboy'.

Resultantly RiRi was later declared Esquire's sexiest women alive and became the first female cover star on GQ's Men Of The Year issue.   

'Fourfiveseconds' (2015)

Accelerating her penchant for nuclear-powered link ups, Rihanna released this folk pop joint with Kanye and Paul McCartney on her official website. Stripping back her vocals to their rawest form, the single which was performed at the Grammys is the most iconic of her live performances and even managed to elevate Kanye into a danceable mood. 

'Same Ol' Mistakes' (2016)

Arriving via her latest cut ANTI, the record surprisingly never featured any of Rihanna's preceding singles. It contains her most progressive body of work, exploring multiple styles including a cover of Tame Impala's 'Same Ol' Mistakes'. 

Our love for a Kevin Parker glitter riff probably makes this choice slightly bias, but from a greater perspective it emphasis Rihanna's continual urgency to shift her colours and reign as pop's Caribbean Queen. 

Find tickets for when Rihanna heads to the UK for her ANTI world tour supported by The Weeknd and Big Sean

Read: Rihanna ANTI World Tour supported by The Weekend and Big Sean