Rihanna is very much a poor man’s Beyoncé. Weaker voice, much less charisma and pretty where Beyoncé is beautiful.
That’s why you end up with an album of songs that don’t quite cut it, often with an OK voice but one that’s been through so many machines it sounds like you’re being sung to by the Sainsbury’s lady who announces “unknown item in bagging area”. Sometimes sounding a bit like Cher’s Believe, so not exactly cutting edge, some of the lyrics such as the “whips and chains excite me” bit of S&M smack of desperation.SG
The generic beat in “Fading” and slow moving acoustics of “California King Bed” both fail to gain any momentum. “Skin” relies on the vocalist’s ever-present sexual empowerment, “Don’t hold me, you know I like it rough,” but its slow atmospheric sound never finds its rhythm; the track is further bogged down by the late addition of a guitar solo that clashes with the song’s fuzzed out background vocals. “Man Down” floats by with Rihanna channeling her Barbadian blood with an unusual off-beat dub that reflects a deep reggae influence. The track isn’t a bad one, but its placement in the album leaves it sounding unusual and out of place. Much has been made of the album’s final collaboration and closing track, “Love the Way You Lie Part II” which features Eminem alongside the sultry vocalist. Just as with “Man Down” the track isn’t poor by any measure, but as it retains the exact same sound and format as the original, which appeared on Em’s Recovery earlier this year, it begs the question: what is the point? Sure, it offers Rihanna’s “side of the story,” but Eminem’s uninspired verse is bland, and when combined with an unimpressive performance from Rihanna what’s left is an unremarkable shell of the original.