16 October 2010

Video of the Day: Rihanna - Only Girl (in the World)

I don't know why I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I genuinely like Rihanna. During her "Pon De Replay" days or whatever she wasn't my thing but lately with the prior release of her "Rated R" album and the recent songs on the radio from her upcoming album, I'm really appreciating her sound. And not just that, I like her strong, nearly masculine message of taking charge and questioning the prowess of her admirers. There's something kinky and exciting about her image and overall aura.

In her latest video for "Only Girl (in the World)", she takes a step back from the overtly graphic lyrics and moves into subtlety risque territory - the entire video is just her wearing midriff baring tops with neon colored balloons floating in a meadow. It's still risky but kind of beautiful and really interesting to watch. The images almost work against the music which adds a nice contrast. This is really just a dance song with some so-so lyrics but like Lady Gaga, when you add these massively colorful, memorable scenes to it, there's this new layer that makes the song that much better.

I had a friend who used to insist that music videos were pointless because music must be heard not seen. We would harass him, saying that everyone should just close their eyes at concerts then because what would the point of looking at the musicians be? You should just let the music flow through your ears. Of course, I understand his logic a little but it's music videos like these, that have that extra edge of surprise that make the art form very worthwhile. When I used to watch MTV Hits, the 24 hour music video channel, obsessively, I would always love when Rihanna's "Rude Boy" video came on. It was during the Chris Brown controversy and possibly for that reason or something unbeknownst to my own mind, I always felt like this was a rather melancholy song. There's this air of sadness or creepiness about it although it's truly sexy and different (maybe a little M.I.A. "Paper Planes" but in my opinion, even better). I think of Rihanna more as a performance artist than musician. Perhaps my friend is right and music videos aren't necessary for songs like "Wonderful Tonight" or "Rave On" because classic, GOOD songs stand alone but carefree, fun dance songs need the visuals to back themselves up and become greater than the sum of their parts.

Take a Ciara music video for instance. Her songs bore me to tears but whenever she's on the screen I can't stop watching. The way she moves is hypnotic and in turn I start feeling the song more. I'm not saying it's right to use cheap tricks like that to sell music but it just happens. If I'm enjoying a song on a soundtrack to a movie that I never realized I liked before in real life, chances are I'll appreciate it a lot more from now on - in part because of the context I now think of it in. Rihanna's songs have always been like that for me too. I like her so in turn I like her music. To me, she's charismatic, beautiful, and fascinating. Of course I've never taken the leap and actually listened to any of her songs outside of the singles because I'm not sure it's my style but nevertheless I value her work as something that's more than just cheesy dance music. She reminds me of Tina Turner.



Bronson Pinnochio said...

I never cared for R. Her music is like eating a bologne sandwich with no honey mustard or spicy mustard. We all need mustard added to these songs if you know what I mean, MM.

Anywho! I like Chris Brown probably b/c he slapped her...

Barbara Clamtree said...

I had mad respect for Rihanna until she made that music video with M&M about domestic violence. SHe should spoke against it not just putting that in her video. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS NEVER OKAY! After that video I deleted all her songs from my ipod and will never buy another song of hers again. SHAME on her!