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, will.i.am 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.
Read more about Rihanna and browse Rihanna Photos.
More Articles by Gen Wright
More Articles about Barbados
More Culture & History Articles
Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.