Rihanna is now officially a bad girl. The Caribbean teen sensation straps on some high heels and takes a huge step towards musical womanhood on her new album Good Girl Gone Bad. Before the tabloids get too excited let’s be clear; I’m not talking Lindsay Lohan coke-binge bad, more like stay up all night and get drunk on champagne bad. Rihanna’s breakout single Pon De Replay dripped with island-pop charm, and prompted thousands of people to pretend they knew what “pon de replay” meant, myself included, but it wasn’t exactly Grammy material. On Good Girl …
DJBooth Album Review
Rihanna’s breakout single Pon De Replay dripped with island-pop charm, and prompted thousands of people to pretend they knew what “pon de replay” meant, myself included, but it wasn’t exactly Grammy material. On Good Girl Gone Bad industry king and Def Jam president Jay-Z has arranged for some production heavyweights to work the studio with Rihanna and for the most part she steps up. It’s rare that we get to see an artist mature, but the 19-year-old is doing just that. They grow up so fast.
The album’s first single Umbrella sets the tone for Rihanna’s new and improved self. The track has a futuristic feel with its echoing percussion, layered synths, and rock guitar background, and none other than Jigga contributes a slightly abstract flow. For her part Rihanna doesn’t light the track on fire, just hits her notes, puts in some personal style, and delivers a replay worthy performance. Rihanna has essentially become the girl-next-door version of Beyonce. She can sing but isn’t going to belt out a show-stopper, she has some undeniable sex appeal but isn’t going to become a sex symbol. Watch Umbrella and Beyonce’s Upgrade You back to back and see what I mean. If every woman wants to be Beyonce and every guy wants to be with her, they also know it’s not going to happen. You seemingly don’t need to own a yacht to date Rihanna, and you don’t have to be Christina Aquillera to sing along with her. It’s this kind of crossover appeal that should have fans lining up to buy Good Girl Gone Bad.
It wouldn’t be a major album without Timbaland, and sure enough the production master gives Rihanna something to work with. Lemme Get That is trademark Timbo, he somehow combines Indian singing with a marching band to head nodding effect. The track’s hot, but Rihanna isn’t strong enough to make it her own. Timbaland’s beats are so powerful it takes a truly dynamic artist to rise above them, a problem I wrote about in length, and in the end the music overwhelms Rihanna. Timbo also brings along Justin Timberlake to write Rehab, a more laid back song that allows Rihanna to shine, even if it sounds almost exactly like J.T.’s What Goes Around…Comes Around. All three Timbo tracks are tight, but you get the feeling they could have just as easily been done by Nelly Furtado.
Ne-Yo on the other hand lets us hear the full potential of Rihanna. The two combine for an acoustic guitar duet on Hate That I Love You, a well-crafted song that has Ne-Yo lending some vocal support while still giving Rihanna the spotlight. He also wrote the title track Good Girl Gone Bad, which despite its scandalous title is a social commentary blaming male abuse for leading good girls down the wrong road. Ironically Ne-Yo might be the best female empowerment songwriter alive. Even more impressive is Question Existing, an intensely personal and atmospheric track that has Rihanna asking,”Who am I living for?” With songs like Question Existing Rihanna has established she’s more than just another pretty face, she’s a true artist.
The road to stardom is littered with young singers who showed promise but in the end just couldn’t maintain (excuse me Ashanti, I didn’t see you there). Good Girl Gone Bad is a crossroads album for Rihanna. It has enough genre bending material to make her a truly national star, or she can fall victim to fame and fade into oblivion. I’ll put money down that ten years from now we’ll look back at this album as her Rhythm Nation, an album that opened the door to national prominence. Any takers?
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 06/4/07
Related Songs & Features
The most successful R&B album of this decade, Usher’s Confessions, yielded five successful singles. As a result, the album is on the brink of being certified diamond, which equals an impressive 10 million albums...
To understand the story of Rihanna‘s re-release album, Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded, just read the story of reported main squeeze Chris Brown‘s Exclusive: The Forever Edition (multi-plat, numerous hit...
Rihanna sure has come a long way since she dropped the ‘05 dancehall hit, Pon De Replay. In the three years since her debut, Music of the Sun, the Barbadian beauty has sold approximately 10 million albums...
After reaching #1 on almost every domestic and international chart in her young career, it seems Rihanna is now trying to top the campfire song charts too. Her new single, Hate That I Love You (the third off Good Girl...
It’s been a good year for Rihanna. Following the success of her chart-topper Umbrella, this Good Girl Gone Bad brings us her second single, Shut Up And Drive. Rihanna rocks out on this single, with a...
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Umbrella ft. Jay-Z" (2007)
Member Reviews and Ratings
- DJBooth City Cypher #1 (ft. Emilio Rojas, Maffew Ragazino, Black Dave, HD & Kirk Knight)
- Best/Worst Of The Week: Coolio Turns To Porn, Nicki’s Comical Booty & More
- Russ, The Wild Card #TopProspects
- Sean Brown - The Top
- Even More Porn Stars in Music Videos (NSFW)
- Common - Nobody’s Smiling
- Real Recognize Real: Wrekonize on Pink Floyd, the Rise of TDE & More
- Kanye Thinks Drake is #1 Right Now - Is He Right? (Rap Power Rankings)
- Bobby Shmurda is the New Worst Thing to Happen to Shmusic
- The Best Hip-Hop & R&B Songs of 2014 (Ongoing)
Discover the best new songs, videos, and albums added to the Booth.