Barbadian singer Rihanna blew up out of nowhere in 2005 with her dancehall-lite hit “Pon De Replay” then managed to secure another massive hit in 2006 with the ’80s electro of “SOS.” In an effort to maintain her hold on the popular consciousness, Def Jam is releasing a third Rihanna album in as many years. Whereas her two previous albums were very heavy on the syrupy ballads and Caribbean references, Good Girl Gone Bad takes its cues from “SOS,” playing with up-tempo ’80s flavors. The album often ventures into the cheesiest territories of pop music, but this is Rihanna’s strongest effort to date.
With artists like Beyonce and Ciara dominating the charts, it was only a matter time before Rihanna sexed-up her image and took it to the dance floor. The change works; Good Girl Gone Bad has several dance-oriented tracks that, while not as sharp as those of her competition, have a distinct sound and style. First single “Umbrella,” featuring Jay-Z, soars during its chorus into wild synthetic layers and is one example of the new adventurousness in Rihanna’s sound. The dance flavor is continued into the electro bass of “Push up on Me” and the potential gay-club anthem “Don’t Stop the Music.”
Timbaland adds his skills to three standouts: the mid-tempo “Sell Me Candy,” the marching-band funk of “Lemme Get That,” and the Justin Timberlake-penned “Rehab” (and, no, it’s not as good as Amy Winehouse). The album veers into more mainstream territory with two tracks penned by Ne-Yo and the Kelly Clarkson-esque “Shut Up and Drive.” The Ne-Yo tracks don’t necessarily gel with the more club-oriented material on the album.
In a short amount of time, Rihanna has produced three albums of varying quality, but she is also streamlining her style to find what works and what doesn’t. With Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna seems to be finding her way.
Label: http://www.defjam.com/Audio: http://www.myspace.com/rihanna