Doesn’t seem like too long ago when pop star Rihanna bursted onto the scene with her infectious first single “Pon De Replay” in 2005. Since then, she has been turning heads both as an artist and a media headline, with the infamous relationship with Chris Brown overshadowing her most recent albums. Now, her seventh studio album Unapologetic is out, and all the drama following it doesn’t help, hurt, or destroy it at all. We do, however, get an okay pop album.
The first single “Diamonds” is a great pop ballad – something that she hasn’t really put out as a single since “Take A Bow” way back when. This, along with the gorgeous duet “Stay (feat. Mikky Ekko) shows off her true singing ability while still feeling radio-ready. Then we have things like “Phresh Out the Runway” where Rihanna…raps. Her verses aren’t going to change the game any, but she attacks the song with such hard swagger that you have to be a little impressed. Doesn’t help that the beat is also incredibly catchy. Speaking of, “Jump” wins for being the catchiest song on the album. Yeah, it completely rips “Pony,” but the verses and DIRTY dubstep bridges more than make up for the lack of creativity in the song. “Nobody’s Business (feat. Chris Brown)” is another great song lacking creativity, giving us a Michael Jackson type pop duet which fits this album quite well.
Not everything fits though, and when it doesn’t, it seriously doesn’t. “Loveeeeeee Song (feat. Future)” has some great ideas going, but Future’s vocals are not up to par with anyone else currently involved in R&B today (Side Note: Would’ve loved hearing The Weeknd on this track). “Right Now” has some great positive lyrics from Rihanna, but the convoluted beats from David Guetta brings this song to a hault quickly. And then there’s “Numb (feat. Eminem),” which is quite possibly the worst song in the discography of Rihanna. The song goes nowhere, the beat is boring, and Em’s verse is God awful. And this being the third track on the album made me consider just turning it off outright.
Some of the biggest faults on Unapologetic are some of it’s production. “Love Without Tragedy/Mother Mary” is the longest song on the album, which starts with a Police reworking, and goes into this sad 80’s guitar ballad during the second part. This could’ve easily been two songs, so combined like this does nothing more than makes the song too long and boring. And, the beat in “No Love Allowed” sounds like something a lavish hotel band would be playing on the beach or something.
As a whole project, Unapologetic is an alright pop album that is truly held back by some glaring song choices and flaws. Unlike previous material, the best moments on here are when Rihanna actually sings with some passion. The rawness of her voice gives her this vulnerable feeling in specific points throughout the album, and when she loses that sensibility, Unapologetic starts turning sour. There is a good handful of tracks here to save for a party or a mixtape, while others just feel like uninvited guests – awkward and unwanted.
Final Grade: C+
Go Download: “Jump,” “Stay (feat. Mikky Ekko)