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Rihanna - 'Te Amo'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:55 UK time, Monday, 24 May 2010

Rihanna at Big Weekend

Say what you like about Ms Fenty and her apparent lack of an easily-understood public persona, but as anyone who was at Big Weekend will attest, she can SURE put on a unique show.

I mean to say...Look at this! Just LOOK at it! There are dancers in German WWII helmets - with WWI spikes coming out of the top - dancing about and carrying pink rifles. And that's just the first song. Pink rifles though! It's like war, only for girls!

As for the music, well, she's stripped out the icy robotic central nervous system of her songs and replaced it with a hot-blooded, meaty rock band, including Nuno Bettencourt on widdy-widdly guitar. I know!

(Here's the video. 'Te Amo' is around the 12 minute mark.)

WHO-no Bettencourt, you ask? Well, way back in the lost rock hinterland between Motley Crue and Nirvana, when metal wasn't metal unless it came dressed like an S&M poodle with clown fetish, there was a band called Extreme. They weren't particularly: extreme, that is. But they did have this one song called 'More Than Words' which was a pretty acoustic ballad, in an Everly Brothers style (srsly, I can't keep explaining all these references, look 'em up). A tad rambly in the lyrics, perhaps, but a big hit nonetheless.

Anyway, their guitarist was Nuno Bettencourt. He wore black nail varnish, had long flicky hair, and could do widdly-widdly guitar until the first rays of the morning sun. Someone even made a Nuno Bettencourt signature guitar, a mint condition of which would probably be worth literally POUNDS these days.

20 years on, he's STILL wearing the black nail varnish, still has the flicky hair, still plays the widdly-widd, but instead of being in a second string rock band, he's blowing minds on a nightly basis with Rihanna. Which HAS to be considered a massive stroke of good luck on his part.

She, after all, has the songs (and the fans). Hell, he even gets to play Spanish widdly-widdly guitar on this mournful tale of doomed love across gender AND language barriers. A song which manages the rare feat of beating Extreme's best song in both emotional impact and lyrical silliness.

It's that old, old story: Girl meets girl. Girl speaks different language to girl. Girl loves girl. Girl doesn't love girl. Girl sad. Girl sad. We've all been there, right? And Rihanna's captured that feeling beautifully (she actually has, even though I sound incredibly insincere about it).

That's got to be better than trotting out a fistful of damp funk rock to a not-getting-any-younger crowd who just want to hear Their Song so they can smooch, right?*

Four starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: May 24th
BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

Digital Spy says: "Rihanna's taking a well-deserved break from titillating the blokes here."

Tiny Mix Tapes says: "An Ibizian bit of sapphic role-playing"

Unreality Shout says: "['Te Amo'] takes her back to her origins but still sticks to her new and modern sounds."

* Yesyesyes, Nuno fans, I know he's done other things since Extreme.


  • Comment number 1.

    This is probably my favourite track on Rihanna's Rated R. I love the Caribbean sound and those tribal-esque beats, I can just picture the perfect video for this. Hopefully, Rihanna will use this sound more on her next album, due out at the end of this year.

  • Comment number 2.

    I quite like this song but after a few listens, I find that it is a bit bland:

    3 stars.

  • Comment number 3.

    To be honest, I'm a huge rihanna hater, though after 'hard' and 'rude boy' I was creeping towards the like area.
    This has launched me back into the dislike area though. I really didn't think her voice could get any more irritating, until I heard this (though I admit, she doesn't sound as terrible as she did in 'unfaithful', she's getting there though)

    This gets 2 stars

  • Comment number 4.

    At Haducon2


  • Comment number 5.

    Im a serial Rhianna disliker as well. However I thought 'Russian Roulette' was great and this also is good. 'Rude Boy' was shocking. So one more good track and I may listen to the album.

    Previous to this, I liked Glee's 'Take a bow', her duet with Ne-Yo till I got bored and 'Please don't stop the music' when I was drunk. 'Umbrella' was alright. Oh and Last Shadow Puppet's 'S.O.S'.

  • Comment number 6.

    I don't mind her, shan't be listening to the album though.

  • Comment number 7.

    4. Lol, I get very passionate, especially when I'm discussing things I dislike.

  • Comment number 8.

    Well, it's nice to see her returning to her island ispired roots, and then infusing it with what's big now.

    One HUGE gripe I have with this is that, she was, as we all know, chopping and changing her mind between three possible single releases - 'Te Amo', 'Photographs', and 'RockStar 101'.

    I don't particuarly like any of these. I would've much preferred 'Firebomb'.

    But that's not the best part of this gripe, the best part comes when you know that 'Alejandro' was confirmed as Lady GaGa's third single from 'The Fame Monster' single even before the 'Telephone' video was rumoured to be a 'Paparazzi' continuation.

    So Def Jam Records wanted to release 'Te Amo' over here, but it had already charted early - a very high - peaking at #6 on the Billboard Chart despite no physical release. This presented a problem as her record label thought 'Te Amo' would stuggle to out-peak itself by the time of it's official single release, so they released ' RockStar 101' instead.

    But why go to all the trouble to ensure that 'Te Amo' did well in the UK? The answer is simple, and that is because Lady GaGa's 'Alejandro' is released next month. Def Jam caught wind of the release of a spanish/island-tinged single, and though 'Rihanna has one of those, let's release it'. So they did, and they made sure it was out before 'Alejandro' too. Sneaky...

    All that aside... 3 stars.

    For the record, my three favourite Rihanna songs looks sonething like this:

    1. 'Disturbia'
    2. 'Hard'
    3. 'Firebomb'

  • Comment number 9.

    EDIT: Def Jam released 'RockStar 101' in the US, whilst we got 'Te Amo'.

  • Comment number 10.

    The Rockstar 101 video was released today. Rihanna dresses up as Slash in it and plays guitar. Hilarious!

  • Comment number 11.

    And agreed Fire Bomb does not need to waste away on the album. It should have been released...Worldwide!

  • Comment number 12.

    Oddone, where did you get that info? I'm nearly 100% certain that Te Amo didn't even chart on the Billboard chart, let alone peak at no.6. Sorry to be annoying here but I follow the American charts and I definitely haven't seen Te Amo in the Hot 100...

    The song? 3 stars, definitely should have released Firebomb instead..

  • Comment number 13.

    Yeah OddOne, Kingshleppy is right. Te Amo never charted in the US, it did get to #1 in Brazil, I think, last June when it leaked online.

  • Comment number 14.

    Thanks Random, chart details are extremely important to me for some reason!!

  • Comment number 15.

    Dear Mr Fraser McAlpine,

    Dear dear dear! Well I did take interest in Rhianna, purely to see Nuno bettencourt!, while this may seem a little strange to you, the chance to see one of the worlds finest rock guitarist, that's been here and there for 20years or so, and still making great music, great albums and touring with a pop star was a must.
    Frankly I'm sure Rhianna is great and all, but her live but flat tones leave me always wanting. lets hope that for Mr Frasers sake Rhianna isn't a long forgotten footnote in cod reggae/hip hop/pop, surely a underused genre if there ever was one.
    Last thing, Remember there are singers, there are even a very few artists, there are musicians and there are the musicians the musicians dream of becoming. Then of coarse there a pop reviewers and nobody dreams of them, black nail varnish wouldn't even help there I suspect. Perhaps stick to eurovision in future Mr McAlpine.

  • Comment number 16.

    Dear Mr Pete,

    I'll have you know a friend of mine had a dream about me only the other night (no jokes, it wasn't THAT kind of dream). Apparently I was helping her answer quiz questions.

    Yours sincerely,

    Mr Fraser McAlpine

  • Comment number 17.

    Meh its ok. Agreee with most of these comments though, Firebomb is a MUST release sing, its her most emotionally charged song yet.
    The Rockstar video is funny, but she looks rather gorgeous no?

  • Comment number 18.

    Fraser comments!?!

  • Comment number 19.

    Yeah , he doesn't reply to valid questions about the future of the Rybak thread , which brought a lot of us together in musical union and friendly alliance , but as soon as Pete suggested that "black nail varnish wouldn't help him " , he replies quicker than a Glen Johnson thunderbolt !

    Sheeeesh !

    What about Rybak ?

  • Comment number 20.

    I love spirits topical metaphors, always in line with an occurance of the week.

    And Frazzle Dazzle is getting nearly as sarcastic as Chandler Bing, and it's brill :D

  • Comment number 21.

    I of course mean Frazzle McDazzle, I must respect his roots.

  • Comment number 22.

    Sorry...what questions about Ryback? I haven't seen one to reply to.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think spirit means something along the lines of 'it's stopped' and 'why'...

  • Comment number 24.

    Ah. Someone should've said.

    I don't know this for sure, but it looks like it's full. Maybe time to either pick a new review to coagulate around?

  • Comment number 25.

    Sory Fraser , I thought you said once that you read ALL the comments on this site .

    Anyway , the direct questions to you , from contributors here , are on the Jedward thread , numbers :


    Cheers .

  • Comment number 26.

    Guess we're going to have to put all our exclusives on the new Eurovision winner's page.

  • Comment number 27.

    *Pete Waterman crosses his fingers*

    *Dubovie sings*

    *The world laughs*

    ^ No need to watch Eurovision now, I've predicted what will happen already. It's a service I provide. :)

  • Comment number 28.

    Does that service include wrong chart info on Rihanna?? Ha joke, heard the English entry, it's awful. So's the Irish one but apparently we're to come 6th according to the bookies......

  • Comment number 29.

    The Irish one will probably get into the semi-finals but I highly doubt it will win! It's not awful, just a bland boring ballad. I think we should have sent that sexy European woman with the good voice instead.

  • Comment number 30.

    Well we're in the final...

  • Comment number 31.

    I want Turkey to win it, their song is actually good, I'm impressed!!

  • Comment number 32.

    Yes but Germany won and their bird is fittest lol in non politically correct thranjax shock horror.

  • Comment number 33.

    Spirit, you have ignored a vast number of direct requests to Fraser from me... although many of those may be in my head.

  • Comment number 34.

    The German bird was nowhere near the fittest. I couldn't believe how many attractive woman there were this year on Eurovision. After Alexender I expected a stream of male copy-cats. Instead on Belgium and Israel seemed to go down the good looking bloke route, the rest went for women in frocks.

    Highlights (musically) were Ukraine and Turky, Moldova for pure comedy. Serbia was literally insane. Denmarks wierd screen and couple thing was hideous. We couldn't understand why the hell Greece did so well, or why we gave them 12 points.

    It would have been hillarious if they had won and couldn't afford to host..

  • Comment number 35.

    Liam, soberly, you may be right. But drunkenly, at the time, the German singer was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Looking now, er.. no.

  • Comment number 36.

    The song's not all that hot either...

    Turkey's entry for President!

  • Comment number 37.

    And to answer kingshleppy's comment a while back:

    I knew it charted really well somewhere, the country was purely a guess but I'm sure it got #6 somewhere, I just get an inkling.

  • Comment number 38.

    just look at this piano cover I recently found
    Love the way you lie piano sheet


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