Album review: Rihanna’s “Unapologetic”


by Kaitlyn McCurdy

Not too long ago, Rihanna released Unapologetic, her seventh studio album in seven years. Rihanna always has a song playing on the radio, and this album definitely has some number one hits potential, at least until her next effort gets released (I’m betting summer or fall of 2013). What’s common throughout Unapologetic is super-confident lyrics and emotionally charged ballads, but the album isn’t what I expect from Rihanna.

“Phresh Out the Runway” is the album’s opening track, and it’s full out hip hop. It’s also full out annoying. The beat is like nails on a chalkboard. Yeah, that bad. Although it sucks, it does capture your attention, setting you up to listen to the rest. It’s confident and loud and startling. Still bad.

The album’s first single, “Diamonds,” is pretty different from what Rihanna’s released as singles lately. It’s simple, but retains a catchiness that makes it irresistible. Not one of my favorites from Ri, but still a great kickoff single. She’s set to be super successful in this new era (as if that’s shocking, the woman’s had, what, 11 number one hits?).

Although rap isn’t my favorite genre, I love Eminem. Like, a lot. With “Numb,” Rihanna recruits the help of Eminem after their majorly successful hit “Love the Way You Lie.” It’s a perfect club song, and that’s where it’ll be played most. Well, perfect club song with the beat. The lyrics are really just “I’m going numb” over and over and over and over to the point where you want to pull your hair out. Even Eminem can’t save this song. The bland lyrics don’t live up to the awesome instrumental. Next.

“Pour It Up” has Rihanna proving that women can sing about strippers, too, not just men! Basically, this song is everything I hate. However, I’m obligated to listen to the entire track, and not only is it lyrically terrible, but the beat is mind-numbing. Not good.

Future and Rihanna join together to bring us “Loveeeee Song,” which is exactly what is sounds like. The beat is slow and toned down, and Future croons “I need love and affection” a lot. Once again, nothing special. So far, this album has nothing in it that really has me impressed.

If you’re looking for an extremely innuendo filled song, look no further than “Jump.” The song references Ginuwine’s ’90s hit “Pony.” Honestly, the song is just cringe worthy, and no, not just because it’s basically just sexsexsex. The beat is pretty nauseating and the lyrics just make me roll my eyes.

“Right Now” sounds more like the tracks from Ri’s “Talk That Talk” and “Loud.” It’s super catchy and the beat doesn’t make me want to cry for once. It’s got major single potential, and would definitely be another number one for Rihanna.

A break comes in the form of “What Now,” a ballad where Rihanna shows us her vulnerable side. It also proves that Rihanna has actual talent and doesn’t need to rely on auto-tune (which you wouldn’t guess from a majority of the rest of the album). It’s a major highlight of the album and is possibly the best ballad Rihanna has ever released.

Rihanna’s on a streak with ballads, as “Stay” is another emotionally driven, piano backed slow tune. It’s my absolute favorite. It’s extremely open and just absolutely gorgeous. If you haven’t liked the feel of the rest of the album, listen to “Stay.” Fantastic

I can’t take “Nobody’s Business” seriously because I hate Chris Brown. However, controversy and bad press has always been on Rihanna’s side, so why not perform a song with your ex where you say “you’ll always be the one I want to come home to?” It’s extremely Michael Jackson-esque, but I just can’t like anything involving Chris Brown. Oops.

Although this album definitely has its lows (lots of them), it’s also packed with intensely personal, emotional tracks, including “Love Without Tragedy/Mother Mary.” Rihanna croons “you took the best years of my life / I took the best years of your life / felt like love struck me in the night / I prayed that love don’t strike twice,” which are my personal favorite lyrics from the album. The track is another favorite of mine and definitely another must listen.

While the beat of “Get It Over With” is nice sounding, it’s boring. Really, really boring and I kept checking to see when the song would end. Not the greatest.

“No Love Allowed” is obviously influenced by Rihanna’s Barbados roots, and the instrumental is really great. The song is a strong point for the album as Rihanna sings “Like a bullet your love hit me to the core / I was flying til you knocked me to the floor / and it’s so foolish how you keep me wanting more / I’m screaming murderer, how could you murder us / I call it murder, no love allowed.” It’s fairly decent.

The album ends with “Lost in Paradise,” a fun upbeat track that ends the album on a hopeful note. I actually really like the track, and it’s a fantastic way to end the album. If only more of the album was like “Lost in Paradise.”

Overall, “Unapologetic” is meh. Not bad, not good. Compared to some of Rihanna’s past releases, it’s weak. With Ri’s last two efforts, they’ve seem extremely forced and rushed, as if she wanted to just release it as soon as possible. While there’s no doubt that tracks from “Unapologetic” will guarantee Rihanna some more number ones, it costs her quality which is extremely sad. She’s one of the most talented women in pop music, but a lot of her recent work hasn’t impressed me. The album really isn’t worth buying. I really hope Rihanna steps up her game for her next album.