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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Three and a half stars for the beautiful Rihanna!
on June 8, 2007
Upon picking up Good Girl Gone Bad, the third and most recent album by the excruciatingly beautiful 19-year-old Barbados dancehall reggae singer Rihanna (born: Robyn Rihanna Fenty), I slightly cringed at the album's title, thinking she had gone the route of most pop diva starlets (i.e. Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Simpson, etc.) by thinking that growing older means one has to flaunt and exploit sex and sexuality in order to showcase how much older she's become. When's it gonna sink in, ladies? Growing older and more mature does not mean you have to talk dirty and dress in skimpier outfits. Luckily, although there are a few songs on this album that have many sexual innuendo, upon listening to the title track, "Good Girl Gone Bad," the last track on the album, I'm relieved to hear that the title doesn't mean what most audiences would think it to mean. And that's the exact theme that Rihanna uses throughout Good Girl Gone Bad. Not only is this green-eyed Bajan one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen (she should be People Magazine's top most beautiful person), but she's also shown with each album release that she's growing not only in age but artistically as well.
Anyone who's listened to contemporary pop/rock/R&B radio knows Rihanna from her earlier hit singles "Pon De Replay," "S.O.S.," "Unfaithful," and "Break it Off." Her first album, 2005's Music of the Sun was chock full of summer dance anthems, headlined by the reggae dance tune (in the tradition of Sean Paul or Daddy Yankee, both of whom I despise) "Pon De Replay" (which I surprisingly enjoyed) that would most likely be played in any teenage girl's radio with her convertible top down and on the way to either the mall or the beach. Last year's A Girl Like Me wowed many critics who passed off Rihanna as merely another pop teen sensation. The album blended the summer dance jams that most of her fans enjoy with ballads such as "Unfaithful," penned by Ne-Yo.
The first song and also the first single, "Umbrella," features Def Jam president and rapper extraordinaire Jay-Z in an intro that only lasts a little over thirty seconds, thusly not really deserving his "featuring" title in the credits (but he still gets this title because he's the president of the company and/or he's a big name in the music business). Supposedly, Mary J. Blige turned down the chance to record this song, and, after hearing Rihanna's version, I'm sure she's kicking herself for that. After Jay-Z's intro, drum beats bring on Rihanna's voice, which doesn't go as far as it could go in this song. But that's a good thing. I have the feeling that if she had tried to project her voice as high and as loud as she could, the song would've come off as some Mariah Carey-wannabe knockoff. This song is her best single to date and it's one of the best pop songs on the radio right now! Unfortunately, we're brought next to a song that starts to touch into that overtly sexual territory that I was talking about earlier. "Push Up On Me" is exactly how it sounds: a song littered with 80's beats and sexual suggestive lyrics that are a mere excuse to make a dance song so that girls can grind into guys' groins. The one good thing about this song is it automatically transitions into the - one I'm guessing will be - the next club hit, "Don't Stop the Music." With its techno beats and a sample of Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Something," "Don't Stop the Music," reminds me of the club beats I used to dance to back in the day. And I can already picture many remixes of this song on those Ultra Dance compilation albums (maybe volume 10?). Its infectious beats make me want to just move and dance; a good, catchy song.
Track four is "Breakin' Dishes," which I wasn't too impressed with (although it is catchy). Starting with gratuitous unifying girl-shouting chorus, the song just seems like some girl singing about her bravado in wanting to try and show how tough she is by saying she's not going home until the police show up and that she's gonna fight a man. Plus, the lyrics don't make much sense. I enjoyed the following track, "Shut Up and Drive," so much more. The song begins with a sample of New Order's "Blue Monday" guitar riffs before going into synthesizer beats and notes. The song has enough driving-and-sex metaphor to make even the most hardcore nasty rapper blush! But Rihanna sings it in her usual come-hither voice, automatically making a dance hit. The next track is a duet with her "Unfaithful" writer Ne-Yo, called "Hate That I Love You." It's a song starting off with acoustic soul guitar where each of the singers are addressing each other about the playfully annoying ways that they get on each other's nerves but recognize that that's exactly why they care so much for each other. The song is decent in a laid-back R&B acoustic soul way, but singers like Ne-Yo start to get all my nerves. I mean, take my generation's new jack soul R&B singers, who sound just like Ne-Yo: Tevin Campbell, Brian McKnight, R. Kelly, and Babyface. Look where those guys are now, Ne-Yo. `Cause you'll soon be joining their ranks in obscurity.
"Say It" is a mediocre song about a young woman's pleading to the man she loves to open up to her by talking more about his feelings and thoughts. The music stands out with an oriental-sounding influence (which is Mad Cobra's "Flex"), and with the multiple vocals (all supplied by Rihanna), sounding like En Vogue or Destiny's Child. The lyrics are so idealistic (almost to the point of naïve) that it's easy to recognize that Rihanna didn't write these lyrics; they were written by older men who have this conception of how young women her age feel. It should be noted that unlike her first two albums, Rihanna didn't do any songwriting on this album. "Sell Me Candy" again peeks into that naïve, sexual innuendo territory with Rihanna trying to convince this man she likes to drop his current girlfriend and hook up with her by singing sexually suggestive lyrics with candy references. Luckily, this song only runs a little over two-and-a-half minutes, and it goes into the extremely catchy "Lemme Get That." This song returns Rihanna to her dancehall reggae roots and it's a welcomed reception with the perfectly positioned use of horns. The lyrics speak of a woman who's using her sexuality to get the material possessions she wants. Ironically, near the end of the song, she sings "I'm not a gold digger." Well, actually, if you are using your body and sexuality to get material things and/or money, then you are. The song is catchy and good to dance to, but, sadly, I can see most young women embracing this song and "Sell Me Candy" as their anthems, blaring them in their cars as they sing along to the lyrics at the top of their voices.
From the dance-crazed oblivion of "Lemme Get That" to the next song, "Rehab," written by Justin Timberlake (who also supplies a few barely-noticeable background vocals), the album makes a sharp turn into more serious, profound subject matter. This song is about a girl realizing how wrong she was to devote her life and love to the guy she's dumping. She loved this man so much he was like a drug to her and the song is her getting over him, hence the title. This song is a slightly slower song and this is the song most women should be embracing. There are too many women today (particularly, young women) who date or go out with the biggest jerks who deep down are selfish and only want them for their own purposes. And the fact that this song both identifies that, but also delivers up proof that these women aren't alone and that they can get over these guys, is why this song is so much more important.
Next is "Question Existing," featuring a slow, sweeping beat and Rihanna's voice slightly digitally altered as if she's speaking in some dream. I admire her honesty and insight into her personal life and feelings. Even though she didn't receive any songwriting credit, I'm sure the singer gave some input to the writers for this song; especially with lines like: "I'm just like you/Do the mistakes I make make me a fool/Or a human with flaws/Admit that I'm lost/Round of applause/Take the abuse/Sometimes it feels like they want me to lose" and "Dear diary, it's Robyn/Entertaining is something I do for a living/It's not who I am/I like to think that I'm normal/I laugh/I get mad/I hurt/I think guys suck sometimes/I don't know who to trust/I don't know who wants to date me for who I am/Or who wants to be my friend for who I really am." Again, this isn't so much a song as it's a journal entry, with Rihanna unabashedly speaking her thoughts and feelings, and, in the process, showing other young women that they're not alone in their insecurities and doubts. After "Question," we come to the title track "Good Girl Gone Bad," which isn't about Rihanna transforming her image. No. It's an acoustic guitar-filled warning for all boys/guys/men out there that they should start being more respectful and gentlemen-like to girls/women. `Cause if they don't, as Rihanna warns, "once a good girl goes bad, we gone forever." In her own way, she's saying that not all girls are the superficial, gold-digging sluts that most likely once hurt them. I like this song and even though it's not the strongest song on the album (that goes to "Umbrella" and "Don't Stop the Music"), it's still enjoyable and a suitable finish.
If I had to rate this album from one to five stars, I'd give it a three-and-a-half. Rihanna is growing with each album release as each one showcases her ever-growing maturity; I can't wait to see what she's releasing in the next two to five years `cause I think her music will not only master the dance club genre but delve deep into the ballad territory. Even the unlikeable or questionable songs are catchy. Just like any teenager, she's got more to learn, but, unlike most teens, she knows it. And as long as she keeps out of the craziness of "celebrity" (i.e. marrying young to some deadbeat dancer, shaving her head, getting addicted to drugs/alcohol, partying all the time, making a sex tape only to have it leaked on the Internet, etc.), she'll do great with her voice and the songs that come her way. It seems like she's putting music out there that best personifies what she's currently going through in her life. As a musician and music lover, what more could you ask for? While Good Girl Gone Bad is not for everyone, it still doesn't keep it from being some catchy music and great to dance to.