7 ways Rihanna is the toughest pop star in the world

Some singers are eager to please, some are desperate to show off what they can do, and talk about the crazy ideas that skip across their minds at all times. Rihanna is not like that. She does her thing and steps back to let everyone else squabble over what has just happened.

Here are a few examples of her not really giving much of a stuff:

1. She survived a traumatic childhood

This thick skin has been developing since my first day at school"
Rihanna

Rihanna's upbringing was not a happy one. Her home in Barbados suffered the debilitating effects of domestic violence and substance abuse, and she also had to put up with more than her fair share of bullying at school, while providing care for her younger brother when her parents split up and her mother started working full time.

So it's no surprise that she's become very capable at dealing with criticism, as she admitted in this interview in Harper's Bazaar: "This thick skin has been developing since my first day at school. It didn't happen after fame; I couldn't survive fame if I didn't already have it. So sometimes the toughest thing in life is to be vulnerable."

This thick skin has been developing since my first day at school"
Rihanna

2. She likes to wind people up

This is the BBC Northern Ireland report concerning barley farmer Alan Graham, who interrupted the video shoot for We Found Love in his field in Bangor, County Down, and asked Rihanna to leave. Having already run into trouble for the content of her videos for S&M, Te Amo and Man Down, We Found Love's depiction of an obsessional relationship provoked intense discussion about the potential damaging effects of watching music videos. Although that discussion was nothing compared to the row earlier this year when she unveiled the horror promo for B**** Better Have My Money.

Incidentally, Rihanna was the first woman to pass two billion cumulative views on VEVO.

3. She would not stop putting out records...

The model for album releases in pop music is one every two years at most, with a long gap after the third or fourth one for everyone to take a breather. And yet, in the seven years between her first album Music Of The Sun (in 2005) and her most recent, Unapologetic, she put out seven albums, each one accompanied by hit singles and provocative videos. This interview with Radio 1's Scott Mills took place in 2010, and his first question is about her phenomenal workload, and at that point there were still two more albums and a bushel of singles to come.

4. ...until she did

Since 2012, there have been no Rihanna albums and a mere trickle of singles compared to the flood that preceded it. She had 26 UK Top 20 hits on her own, and seven more as a featured artist, then there was a break, in which she only appeared on Eminem's The Monster, with Kanye West and Paul McCartney on FourFiveSeconds, in her own right on Towards The Sun (from the film Home), and more recently the singles B**** Better Have My Money and American Oxygen, both of which are taken from her suddenly announced new album Anti.

5. She gives remarkably frank interviews

This is a cute story from 2010, fairly standard stuff for Graham Norton, in which one of his guests relates an embarrassing or awkward tale. The interesting thing about it is that while Rihanna remains composed and giggly, not particularly wanting to shock anyone, once her sofa-mates Rhod Gilbert and Colin Farrell start to get involved, it's clear that she could, at any moment, rip the both of them apart. That warning hand in Rhod's face should be taken very seriously.

6. She travels by public transport...

There are no special prizes reserved for celebrities who take the bus. It's just a bus after all. However, it is interesting that when one of the busiest pop stars in the world visits London, she just pops on the tube in order to go about her business. Never mind a convoy of blacked-out Jeeps, never mind a phalanx of bodyguards. She's got her Oyster card and her London tube map and she's away.

7. ...apart from when she's flying a jet full of journalists around the world

From around two minutes into this interview with the writer, broadcaster, enthusiast and magazine editor Mark Ellen, there's an account of his time aboard Rihanna's specially chartered 777 aeroplane, filled to the brim with music journalists, for a week - a week in which she basically left them all to their own devices until they rebelled. It's one of the most astonishing tales in modern music, a promotional event that went badly awry in an era of meticulously handled PR and embargo contracts. Needless to say, it did Rihanna's career no harm whatsoever.

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