Zombie Politics

I drank your milkshake.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Track By Motherfuckin’ Track: Rihanna’s New Album [Updated]

The new Rihanna album leaked and it’s really fucking great. It makes the new Amerie album, for which there are maybe four or five good songs ("Crush" is a killer), look like a bad, but still adorable, dream. I'd argue it's as good as the new Sophie Ellis Bextor album... and that album is pretty goddamn stunning. The more you listen to it, the more you love it. Here’s my track-by-track review, with a format blatantly stolen from PopJustice’s review of the Timbaland album. Enjoy!

01 Umbrella
I consider this to be one of the best songs of the year, if not the single greatest pop accomplishment so far. If there are seven different parts of a song that can get stuck in your head, then it’s a success. Also, as we were walking around rainy NYC this weekend, we heard a gaggle of little black girls singing it. (GET IT??) And that was fucking awesome. The whole album couldn’t possibly be as good as this song, right? (Ballsy move having this be the first track – did Jay-Z sequence this thing?) Onwards…

02 Push Up On Me
In the current ‘Summer Music Preview’ (aka Overlong Commercial for Mostly-American, Big Album Releases), Entertainment Weekly talks about how she was inspired by ‘80’s pop’ for this album. This song is definite proof of that. The skittering little synthy sound is a testament to that, with the chorus being sung in an 80’s B-girl sort-of way. Also, it’s pretty sexual, which is fun for a pop record – being subversive is what pop’s all about (look no further than the brilliant new Maroon 5 album for a great example of that - just filthy!)
Is it as good as “Umbrella?” No.

03 Don’t Stop the Music
On first listen you may think that Rihanna is just doing her dancehall thang again, but then that electro bounce comes in and then, oh baby, oh baby, that Michael Jackson sample comes in. It's subtle, but when it explodes, whew, stand back. Somebody's going to get hurt.
Is it as good as “Umbrella?” No.

04 Breaking Dishes
This song is INCREDIBLE. This might be because it’s actually incredible, or because it sounds an awful lot like a song Kelis would do (and I loves me some Kelis). Also, it’s about spousal abuse, except she’s the one breaking dishes over her man’s head – until the police come! Whew – she is a spark plug, huh?
Is it as good as “Umbrella?” Almost. Ask me again at the end of the summer.

05 Shut Up and Drive
Another stand out track. This is the comeback single Kelly Clarkson should have released, instead of whatever racket she’s brandying about on the radio. This one is also really sexy and subversive (huh, wonder what ‘smoother than a limo ride’ means…) It kind of reminds me what an American version of Nadiya’s super-awesome “Tous Ces Mots” would sound like (except probably not that good). Here’s a video for that Nadiya song, which I also love:

Oh, is it as good as “Umbrella?” No. But it's THIIIIIIS CLOSE.

06 Hate That I Love You
This is the song she does with Ne-Yo. It’s typical Ne-Yo bullshit. As much as I love “So Sick,” it doesn’t keep me from realizing that EVERYTHING NE-YO DOES SOUNDS EXACTLY THE SAME. This is no exception. Still, vocals from Rihanna does go a long way for making this song ‘listenable.’ On further listens, it has been upgraded to really, really good.
Is it as good as “Umbrella?” No.
Is it as good as “So Sick?” Nope.

07 Say It
Not the greatest, but still very good.
Is it as good as “Umbrella?” No.

08 Sell Me Candy
Now we’re talking! This is probably one of the Timbaland songs, as far as I can tell. This is awesome because it’s a perfect summer song, because it’s got an utterly perverse subtext, and because the beat is a wicked, skittering beast that can probably take over the world, given adequate time and funding. (I’m not sure who is doing the backing vocals, but Mr. JT is supposed to make an appearance somewhere – boy, linear notes sure would be helpful!)
Is it as good as “Umbrella?” No.

09 Lemme Get That
Another incredible song. Not sure who does the production on this, but it also feels like Mr. Mosley had a hand in it (the background “Oh!” screams of Timbaland). Again, the backing vocals could easily be Justin, but just as easily not be Justin. Fuck. Let’s focus on what we do know: that the beat is great, it plays up the dancehall elements of past Rihanna hits but is totally more pop, and it’s about using a man for his money, kind of like Dragonette’s “Black Limousine.”
Is it as good as “Umbrella?” No.

10 Rehab
The best slow-jam on the album, the only way it could be better if it was an actual cover of the Amy Winehouse song (we’ll save that for Ronson’s next album of covers - except this time he’ll cover his own songs!) This is DEFINITELY a Timbaland joint. It’s quite good.
Is it as good as “Umbrella?” No.

11 Question Existing
LOVE IT. Pretty sexy.
Is it as good as “Umbrella?” No.

12 Good Girl Gone Bad
Yes – the question is finally answered – how did Rihanna go bad? Werewolf attack? Nazi recruitment? Well, actually, I’m not quite sure. Just that you shouldn’t be the reason a good girl goes bad. (That’s for us fellas.) This is a nice little pop song, nothing too challenging, but not epic enough to close out the album. Still great.
Is it as good as “Umbrella?” No.


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