Saturday, October 31, 2009

Album Review: Rihanna - Good Girl Gone Bad (2007, 4.5/5)


With her fourth album out mid this month, I thought I'd take a re-look at the album at the album that made pop singer, Rihanna a force to be reckoned with in today's pop music--her third album, Good Girl Gone Bad. Her first two albums showed no indication that she would eventually become among the biggest things in pop but her bland and rather generic beginning in R&B and raggae would have been enough to completely write of Rihanna as one-hit-wonder.

In summer of 2005, Rihanna emerged with her first single, the thundering reggae-orientated dancefloor filler "Pon Da Replay," which scored the Barbadian singer her first worldwide hit, notably reaching top 2 in both sides of the Atlantic. Her first album Music of the Sun, wasn't a big hit--barely pushing platinum in the US and spawning the less successful second and last single "If It's Lovin' That You Want," which I liked quite a bit. Only months later, Rihanna re-emerged with her second album A Girl Like Me, a more consistent blend of pop, dance and reggae ultimately more appealing than her first, spawning her first chart topper, the firey electronic uptempo "SOS," and almost as-successful second single, Ne-Yo penned ballad "Unfaithful," which came under criticisms regarding wether she had pipes to pull of such a dramatic ballad.

The last singles released from that album weren't as successful, which catches up to Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna's breakthrough, the album that made her credible artist and worthy to compete with Beyonce's and Amy's of the industry. Working with big-name producers such as Timbaland, Ne-Yo and Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, her fourth album saw an expansion and possibly a reinvention of her sound, delivering a dark blend of pop, dance, electro and R&B. This was definately my favorite albums of 2007.

As with most albums that end up becoming the best selling its year, there's always the single that sets the ball rolling (or if your Mariah Carey, the second single that saves your career in the process) in this case it was "Umbrella," her breakthrough single featuring Jay-Z, which quickily became biggest song of summer of 2007 and ultimately one of the classic pop songs of the decade, topping the charts across the world--notably in the US, where it spent a lengthy seven weeks atop the chart and the UK where the song spent ten weeks--during this period where parts of the UK received severe floods until the song was knocked of the top spot, in which the weather improved, weird huh?

Rightly so, the album fixed the problem her previous albums had suffered, they deteriorated too quickly, whereas Good Girl Gone Bad manages to stay solid for the whole first half. First up is the funky '80s pop influenced, "Push Up On Me" thumping with its infectious bassline, claps and drums. Taking influence from Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Something," is third single "Don't Stop the Music," a hard-hitting club anthem, pulsating with bold synths and a persistent beat, which became yet another hit for her, reaching top 5 both in the UK and US. Rihanna really comes into her own on the vengeful "Breakin' Dishes," one of those strutting chick-fit type songs with '80s influences that hook me mindlessly. Rock-influenced electronic guitar studded second single "Shut Up and Drive" is another winner.

Ne-Yo puts pen to paper as well as featuring on the guitar strung, "Hate That I Love You" whilst I still think it's a retread of Beyonce's "Irreplaceable," I think it's more fulfilling than the Rihanna's last Ne-Yo-penned track, the shreiky "Unfaithful," for the last album. Following is the lighthearted "Say It," an R&B and Caribbean tinged mid-tempo, probably a sizable down-step from the rest of the album, but I still really like it. Timbaland produces the next three tracks, which are some what of a hit and miss capitalizing on the albums weaker second half, first up is "Sell Me Candy," a slightly flat hip-hop-orientated composition, which picks up nicely on the chorus. "Lemme Get That," is one of the favorites--a firey, raunchy number which features some rapping from Rihanna, I love the sassiness in the song--especially the lyric: "Got a house but I need new furniture, why spend mine when I can spend yours."

One of the best songs on the album, especially on the last half is the last Timbaland produced track "Rehab," a darkening ballad featuring Justin Timbalake. Following is "Question Existing," which is where thing get a tad too freaky for me and although it came out a year later it reminds of Janet Jackson's "Discipline," from her album of the same name except she's not talking about S&M. Title track "Good Girl Gone Bad," is a stunning guitar and drum number.

Exactly a year later Rihanna released a re-loaded version of this album which featured four new tracks. The highlights of the bunch were the hits--the piano and bass laced ballad "Take a Bow," which gave the singer her fourth US #1 and the haunting retro stomper "Disturbia," which became the singer's fifth. The other two tracks were also good; another ballad "Cry," and the re-working of Maroon 5's "If I Never See Your Face Again."

As I mentioned before, Good Girl Gone Bad, was one of my favorite albums of 2007 and possibly among my favorites of the decade. The album delivered the singer a lengthy string of hits, I wonder if her forthcoming fourth album, Rated R can do the same. Lead single "Russian Roulette," points to a darkening album. Can't wait!

Best: Umbrella, Disturbia, Don't Stop the Music, Rehab, Breakin' Dishes, Shut Up and Drive, Hate That I Love You, Push Up On Me, Sell Me Candy

4 comments:

rcLoy said...

Umbrella and Rehab is pretty decent but "Don't Stop The Music" seriously kills it for me. Imma RiRi fan afterwards. I love M5, I love the collab a lot but sadly the song ain't catching up. Too bad. =)

Ken said...

UMBRELLA. Ahh, I went crazy for this back in 2007. I think this album really defined Riri as an artist. But with 'Russian Roulette', I'm tad disappointed with her.

Paul said...

never bought the album but it was one of those sets where I was won over slowly single by every blooming single!

J.Mensah said...

Loy, "Don't Stop the Music" is one hell of a killer isnt it? Yeah, I probably like it more than "Umbrella" too.

Ken, I was a bit skeptical over "Russian Roulette," when I first heard it too, but it grew on me hopefully it does the same to you =[

Paul, Yehp! This albums had like her best run of singles ever, a solid 8!