Rihanna - 'Only Girl (In The World)'
Did anyone else have to suppress an involuntary shudder on first hearing this song? Did it worry anyone? Was anyone else's immediate reaction to wonder where we are going with this imperious pop music thing, and exactly how much haughty, snarling distain you can cram into on three-minute pop song without it causing gas embolisms among the weak-hearted and poorly? I know mine was.
It's not the fault of this song alone, but for some reason, recend developments in popular sound have pushed the humble pop song into scarily intense areas, and the long term health effects have yet to be fully explored. I mean listen to the pneumatic hiss at the heart of this song. Try and endure the pumping thrust without getting winded. There is simply too much pressure being stuffed into our ears, with too much brutal force. Heads are going to blow, you mark my words.
(Here's the video. It's peachy.)
And poor Rihanna doesn't sound like she's having a barrel of laughs either. She's all wailing and crying about how she'd like to be treated by her fella, and demanding that anyone who wishes to take the job on be aware of this. She's basically acting the Rapunzel, saying she definitely won't let down her hair to just anyone. And particularly not someone who isn't prepared to make the climb up to her scarily high window. She is very clear on this point.
So why, if the song wants to make us sad and the sound wants to blow us up, does this sound leave such a positive impression? Why is this preposterously dramatic noise something we choose to expose ourselves to on a regular basis, to the extent that we want it on while we're shoppping, while we're travelling, and even while we're celebrating wonderful news?
Well, possibly it's because pop music is supposed to act as a combined face-slap and back-rub. Its job is to electrify and support. This song is imperious and aloof, but it's sung passionately and its message is timeless.
And anyway, whatever else you may think about Rihanna, she is very good at demanding that you listen to what she has to say, even if she has to hurt you in order to do it.
The Man Crush Blog says: "All she does is twirl around, play with balloons and explore this red-tinted alien world of hers"
Hot On Internet says: "Sounds better and better every time we hear it."
Common Sense Media says: "The singer's vocals are also particularly strong in this song, finding her belting her heart out in the refrain, especially. "