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   Wednesday, August 5, 2020 

Good Girl Gone Bad - Rihanna, From Reggae To A Genre Of Her Own

By Gen Wright


Rihanna exploded into American music in 2005 with "Pon de Replay", the superhit single from her debut album Music of the Sun. At this early stage, AllMusic's critics thought it safe to rate her as someone who fuses Caribbean beats with the "urban dance-pop", and is also influenced greatly by dancehall, pop rock and reggae.

The success of "Pon de Replay" was repeated with the singles "SOS", "Unfaithful" and "Break it Off" from A Girl Like Me(2006), Rihanna's second album which managed to avoid the "second album slump" astonishingly well. The young artist, merely 18 years old, was making waves in the music industry. The album reached the 5th slot on Billboard 200, selling a massive 115000 copies in the week after its release, nearly doubling the considerable sales of Music of the Sun which had sold 69000. Critics reported that Rihanna was maturing and incorporating more urban and popular influences into her music, as well as the dark tones that emerge most beautifully in "Unfaithful", where the singer compares adultery in relationships to murder.

The dark undertones that are subdued and dormant in A Girl Like Me emerge to perfection in Rihanna's third album, the chart-topping, globally famous Good Girl Gone Bad(2007). This album, which hit #2 on Billboard 200, featured five smash-hits, including "Take a Bow", "Disturbia", "Don't Stop the Music" and the strangely hard-hitting, pop/hip-hop hybrid "Umbrella". By this point, Rihanna could no longer be slotted neatly into the existing categories. While some critics had claimed that she was becoming too much like Beyonce during the release of A Girl Like Me, they had to admit that a new and exciting talent had risen by the time Good Girl Gone Bad rolled around. Rihanna's sound had changed from her reggae-dancehall origins to a more uptempo yet soulful style that was heavily molded by Sean Garrett, and Timbaland, resulting in something that resembled pop rock more closely than any of her previous genres. It will be exciting to see what Rihanna comes up with next, as her musical style continues to grow and evolve.

There are multiple influences that play a great part in Rihanna's compositions, from her childhood to the present day. At her hometown in Barbados, she grew up listening to reggae and Caribbean music, which showed its fresh and energetic influence clearly in her debut album. Upon entering the United States, she began exploring other forms of music, and added several new facets to her own compositions in the process. One of her most beloved idols is definitely Mariah Carey, and Rihanna's cover of "Hero" in a high-school talent show is famous among her fans even now. Beyonce Knowles' influence has also grown on her, from the days of Destiny's Child to her solo career that has almost single-handedly revived R&B in the field of American pop. Other major music names as diverse as Bob Marley, Celine Dion, Gwen Stefani and Alicia Keys have also contributed to making Rihanna the household name she is today.

 About the Author     

Read more about Rihanna and browse Rihanna Photos.

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    Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.

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