Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Track By Track Review: Rihanna - Unapologetic


Rihanna has been an unstoppable force since the release of Good Girl Gone Bad, and has busted out a new album in November for the past 3 years. Unapologetic is her 7th studio album in 7 years.
Phresh of the Runway: If I ever had to guess what music from 3000 sounded like, this what be what it. It’s eerily similar to Cockiness, especially the drums, but who cares? It’s still an interesting listen. With lyrics that could rival P!nk in cursing, it’s pretty hollow, but that instrumentation is fascinating. B

Diamonds: Sadly, I feel that this is the best song on the first half of the album. I was hoping to have a stronger showing from the first 6 or 7 tracks, but the only bone to really chew on was Diamonds. With one of Rihanna’s best vocal performances ever, she takes a trip back to last years “Yellow diamonds” in We Found Love. A-

Numb: Another futuristic instrumental track, the chorus is pretty bland by Rihanna standards. “I’m going numb/ I’m going numb/ I’m going numb” is repeated God knows how many times in the chorus, and it can feel soul sucking at points. Lyrically it’s nothing spectacular and instrumentally it doesn’t sound very different from the rest of the album, except for the dashes of reggae, but that doesn't mean it's not catchy as hell. As for Eminem, or “the butt police,” I would prefer he not be on the track. C-

Pour it Up: Rihanna, why in the hell are you at a strip club? This is has to be the most IQ reducing song on the entire album. Same drums as the rest of the album, soul draining lyrics, and no creativity what so ever, one the weakest cuts on the album. However, that riff in the chorus is might catchy. D+

Loveeeeee Song (Feat. Future): The song starts off with the relatively unknown “Future,” who is basically a D-List T-Pain, and by God he might just be the worst thing that could have happened to this song. With the same beat, same instrumentation, as the rest of the album, and a lot more autotune, it's nothing more than a dreadful ballad. F-----

Jump: The most club ready song on the album. “When you f**k them other girls, I bet they be wonderin' why you always call my name” she crows, and while some might brush it off as a pathetic bad girl attempt, she actually does make it work. The dub-step breakdown is the perfect crescendo for the amount of energy this song produces. Single? Probably not, way to dub-steppy for pop radio. And who is that random man with the auto tune? Turns out it's Kanye West. A featuring in the title might be nice. A-

Right Now (Feat. David Guetta): We have moved from 3000 back to 2012, and I’m thankful. The album was starting to fell redundant. A breakdown reminiscent of “Where Have You Been” and a chorus production similar to Guetta’s own “Turn Me On” and it feels like a standard Rihanna hit. A sure-bet for a single choice. However it's easy for this song to be drowned out by every other dance-pop song on the airwaves, and frankly, "Right Now" doesn't bring anything new. C-

What Now: Finally a piano and no “Cockiness” drums! As she belts her face off passionately screaming “What Now?” Rihanna creates one of the catchiest hooks on the album without really trying. “What Now” is one of the few songs that can make your heart ache, while also giving you a beat worthy of head banging. This electro-pop ballad is one the best songs Rihanna has under the belt of her career. A+

Stay (Feat. Mikky Ekko): “Stay” proves that Rihanna has come miles vocally since 2005. She never would have been able to pull of this ballad on “Girl Like Me” or “Music of the Sun.” Her voice is raw and stripped, and even though the song starts wandering into “Someone Like You” territory, the fact that it moves into a duet saves “Stay” from feeling like a copycat. While there’s only one true power note at the end of the song, this is one of Rihanna’s best vocal deliveries ever. A+

Nobody’s Business (Feat. Chris Brown): Of course this song is going to stir obvious controversy, which is a shame cause it’s a good song, and a break from the hardcore production on the rest of the album. A sweet disco duet with sultry lyrics and smooth vocals make for a sure fire R/B #1. B+

Love Without Tragedy/ Mother Mary: The "Love Without Tragedy" section is mighty catchy with some interesting lyrics such as "I was his Marilyn Monroe," and a simple instrumentation make it one of the most addictive parts of the album. And the "Mother Mary" section is there mainly because it’s not a pop album without some Christian innuendo isn’t it? No creativity what so ever to be found on this section, even if it is a whopping 5 minutes long. C-

Get It Over With: An F-Bomb in a ballad? Only Rihanna. "Wont you just f**king rain and get it over with?" She asks, actually creating a light and airy ballad reminiscent of Sara Bareillis. Except, the latter would pull it off better. C-

No Love Allowed: From the moment the Caribbean instrumentation comes in, it sounds like a Disney version of "Man Down." Her delivery is almost laughable, sounding like a comedian when she asks "N***a is you blind?" D-

Lost in Paradise: One of the funnest tracks comes at the end of the album. With heavy-hearted lyrics, the synths don't seem to help her get her heart broken message across. Thats what makes it seem like Karmin's "Brokenhearted," heavy lyrics with fun instrumentation. B

Unapologetic is a mixed bag of songs. With her best ballad work to date on "What Now," "Diamonds," and "Stay," she also falls flat on several tracks, where her bad girl image seems to crumble. It doesn't seem like she's aiming for a mainstream sound on the first half of the album, but the latter half seems to have some single potential, but not much. This is not much of an artistic shift from "Talk That Talk," and Unapologetic doesn't feel like it's predecessor, but some tracks make it feel like Rihanna is copying herself. 

Vocals: B
Lyrics: C-
Instrumentation: A-
Overall: C+