Rihanna and the case of the sexual no-no’s

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I’ll admit it – I loathe Rihanna.

I think she’s a talentless mass-marketed product produced simply to sell sex to the general public in as non-threatening a manner as possible. Has she ever even performed a song that contained more than a few words repeated endlessly until they lose all meaning? That being said, I was stunned by the backlash her newest single has received. After all, hasn’t she been doing the whole bondage/dominatrix/whore thing for her entire career?

But apparently something about ‘S&M’ got under people’s skin to the extent that there are reports of it being banned. It can’t be the explicit lyrics or sexual tones – that’s why the public loves her. It must be the mention of the mass media “sexual no-nos” – sadomasochism. A point proved by the changing of the song title for the UK – apparently the totally bland and unoriginal ‘S&M ’is unacceptable, but the equally bland ‘Come On’ is OK. So in the interest of working out if the song and film clip are worth the fuss, I’ve decided to do some complaint sandwiches! My mother would be so proud.

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10 Responses to Rihanna and the case of the sexual no-no’s

  1. Princess Stomper February 10, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Not seen the video yet and can’t until this evening, but I’d take issue with Rihanna (or, probably more accurately, her producers) being “talentless”.

    Good Girl Gone Bad was a fine album – one of my top 5 pop purchases, and far superior to Nelly Furtado’s Loose, for example (which I loved). Umbrella was a very cleverly-written song designed purely to make it go round your head while you were still listening to it, and benefits from a memorable production as well as beautifully-arranged chord progressions.

    You said that you don’t equate style with substance and yesterday I was thinking about how most pop is pure “style”, to the extent that even basic songwriting structures are ignored in favour of slick production. If you really, genuinely are genre-blind when it comes to music then listen to Good Girl Gone Bad now and see how it contrasts with that – how it’s an extremely solid album with only one or two weak spots. My minimum standard for an album is three great tracks, three OK songs and up to three bland fillers (or ratio thereof). A good album has five great tracks. Good Girl Gone Bad has at least six, making it the equal of, say, Madonna’s Ray of Light.

    She’s also a very competent singer with a distinctive voice.

    I haven’t heard the new single, and the past few have passed me by, so it’s as possible that she’s reverted to bland and lazily-written tracks as it is that I’m missing out on something special.

    No comment on the video yet as have not seen, but do give that album a listen.

  2. Wallace Wylie February 11, 2011 at 3:59 am

    It pretty much sounds like every song on mainstream radio right now, where songs have to either be about sex or having a good time TONIGHT. You know, going wild, going crazy, etc, etc, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    I’m not sure it’s even worth breaking down the video in terms of messages it sends out, the role of women in the media, the press………it looks like her PR team saw the fame given to Lady Gaga as a result of her pervy imagery and tried for a slice. That’s about it.

  3. Everett True February 11, 2011 at 4:49 am

    Hey Princess, did you catch the previous Rihanna/Collapse Board article I linked to there? Well worth a read.

  4. Princess Stomper February 11, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Yes, thanks, I did.

    I’m disappointed with the S&M song because it’s compositionally very weak by her standards. The one Meg links to is a bit more interesting, but nowhere near the standards of Good Girl Gone Bad.

    This is one of my favourite tracks, Sell Me Candy – one of the few that wasn’t a single.


    Of course, the arrangement’s very slightly different live (namely: guitars), but the try-to-keep-up syncopation and catchy melody are intact. Note that she’s been into fetishy stuff for at least 4 years, image-wise – though as you note, you should approve more of the “sexy leather-bound dominatrix” she portrays in this clip.

  5. Everett True February 11, 2011 at 7:55 am

    (I didn’t write this post – Issy did.)

  6. Princess Stomper February 11, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Oops, sorry, Issy! Well, you’ve inspired a post on my own blog, anyway 🙂

  7. Issy February 11, 2011 at 11:21 am

    hahaha thats okay Princess Stomper – I’m glad you’ve been inspired! 🙂
    And while I agree that Rihanna isn’t worth much effort Wallace, I figure we can end up being a little too lazy when it comes to reviewing songs. Thought I would try and actually find some good points lol

  8. Wallace Wylie February 11, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Agreed. I’ve been greeted with the reply “Why do you even care?” after ranting on about something too many times, so yeah, a little effort is always worthwhile.

  9. Colin February 12, 2011 at 3:09 am

    Totally talentless. A corporate concoction. I detest the mainstream so fucking much, sometimes.

  10. jen gay February 12, 2011 at 3:30 am

    Rhianna sings bumper stickers.
    I think the playfulness of the video, plus her inability to convey any real looking emotion on camera kept any creepy vibe out of it for me. It’s just sex shop dress up. Still, I LIKE her, and it’s not for the silly songs or outfits. I guess that’s why she’s pop magic.

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