Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I listened to the new Rihanna single so you don't have to

Rihanna's new single, Work, has just premiered "on top 40 radio around the world". It's a sparse, minimal, dancehall-inspired tune. More subtle than We Found Love or Bitch Better Have My Money, but instantly memorable nonetheless.

If you missed the premiere you can play or purchase the song (a duet with Drake) on Tidal - the streaming service Rihanna reportedly has a 3% stake in [Update: It's now on iTunes, too, where it's billed as having "a love-at-first-listen hook fuelled by Auto-tune magic"].

But if you can't be bothered to sign up for that, here's a blow by blow account of the first track from the long-delayed #ANTi album.

0:00 We open with a supine bassline. It's sparse. It's slinky. It's a mid-tempo Rihannabanger.

0:10 Heeeere's Rihanna! "Work, work, work, work, work, work," she sings.

0:12 Furthermore, she adds: "I’mma work, work, work, work, work, work."

0:15 "You see me do me dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt," Rihanna continues.

0:17 In conclusion, she notes: "There’s somethin’ bout that work, work, work, work, work work."

0:19 So far, it's a lyrical masterpiece.

0:23 At this point Rihanna starts to sound a little woozy. Maybe she needs a rest after those first 13 seconds of vocal effort.

0:34 Great lyric >>> "Nobody touch me in the righteous / Nobody text me in a crisis."

0:46 Amazing flute motif arrives.

0:53 Rihanna pronounces "foundation" as "fownd-ay-she-yawn". Love that Bajan accent.

1:04 Oh, the "work, work, work" bit is the chorus.

1:22 But now she’s just singing "nah, nah, nah". It's not like the lyrics were difficult to remember in the first place.

1:31 Muted steel drums prove Rihanna is "on trend" with the “tropical house” sound.

2:07 Rihanna has become so drowsy that "work, work, work" is being pronounced "weh, weh, weh". The poor lamb is exhausted. Someone get her a blanket.

2:11 Here's Drake. He sounds like Drake (ie monotonous).

2:31 Nice harmonies here.

2:47 Guitar solo!

2:48 Only joking.

2:39 Although any kind of musical development would be welcome at this point.

3:01 Repeat chorus to fade.

3:26 I'm going to listen to this again.

Overall, I'm giving it an early 6/10 (ratings out of 10 may go up as well as down). It's a confident, if slight, scene-setter for the album - but one I expect will be eclipsed by the second single.

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