Rihanna, undoubtedly, is a certified star in the music world.
With 14 #1 hit singles on the “U.S. Hot 100,” Rihanna is only surpassed by Mariah Carey (18) and The Beatles (20). With awards won in both the music and fashion worlds, world tours, and a legion of fans amassed of the years, it’s safe to say that Rihanna probably isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
But what about Rihanna, specifically, made her such a bonafide luminary? This is where the details become clear, yet so regularly ignored.
Following Rihanna’s career back to the beginning, her first two albums, “Music Of The Sun” and “A Girl Like Me” did very good jobs of establishing Rihanna as a pop act with some sort of staying power. Rihanna’s single “SOS” is the first of her 14 number one hits that would help build her career to what it is today. Following was the ever-popular “Umbrella,” “Take A Bow,” and “Disturbia,” to name a few.” However, all of that “hard work,” becomes somewhat transparent over the first few years of her career.
Rihanna’s credentials as a songstress, fashion icon, and entertainer can all be easily challenged. Of her 14 hit singles, seven of those songs have features, three of which has Rihanna as the featured artist. She’s only featured in the writing credits of four of her hit songs. “Rude Boy,” is credited with six writers, while “Love The Way You Lie,” “The Monster,” and “Work,” all credit seven different writers. Mel Ottenberg is Rihanna’s stylist, styling her for a ‘Elle Magazine’ shoot in 2006, before reconnecting with her in 2011. He’s been her go-to ever since.
There has been plenty of awful things said about Rihanna’s vocal ability, which has improved over the years. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that Rihanna, technically, was manufactured.
That’s not a bad thing. If anything, Jay-Z saw a diamond in the rough when he got a hold of Rihanna, and cultivated her into the star that we know and love today. She was able to transform over the years, and keep herself relevant until a whole new decade. Rihanna’s now 13-year career is one that we probably won’t ever forget. She has all the credentials of a legend.
However, her “manufacturing,” may ultimately be her downfall. Looking over Rihanna’s career, you’ll see what glaring flaw. There’s no true claim to fame. Something that every legend seemingly has.
Past artists like Madonna, Prince, and Michael Jackson were all groundbreaking for their time. Even while older, their performances were still iconic because of the big risks they took in their careers. Vocalists like Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, and Patti LaBelle had voices like no other, and haven’t been matched since. No one could hit a whistle tone quite like Mariah Carey. Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles mastered the piano, without being able to see. Beyonce has carved out a legacy with her larger than life performances, with shows that span over music she’s been making for roughly twenty years.
Rihanna is missing that defining factor to her appeal. That’s not to say that she’s unimpressive, or that she isn’t worthy of praise. There are a lot of entertainers who didn’t last a third of what Rihanna has. Being made by a label, however, is truly going to be a gift and a curse. Of all the things that could be said, the most realistic could be history repeating itself.
Enter: Rita Ora.
The British singer with an album that went gold under her belt, Rita Ora was instantly compared to Rihanna. Similar style and tattoos, not to mention many different reports of the two feuding, even to the point of Rihanna “not being able to stand her.” While drastic, the similarities are there between the two. To be frank, we must consider the fact that one day, Roc Nation will invest stylists, writers, and resources into a new star. How that affects Rihanna is yet to be seen.
Music is always evolving. Artists will simply be evolve with it, or end up being replaced by the next willing young face with potential and willingness to be a star. What does that mean for Rihanna, or any artist like her? Tell us in the comments below what you think.