Album: Talk That Talk
Label: Def Jam
Not that I’d ever hop on the ‘oh won’t someone please think of the children’ bandwagon, but Rihanna’s influence on the younger peeps actually concerns me. Even more so now I’ve had to listen to a whole album at once. When I was growing up, I had the Spice Girls to look at. The odd dodgy revealing outfit aside, they were perfectly respectable icons, preaching about girl power and loving your mum and even safe sex (a message fantastically buried in a Christmas song). The youth of today have Rihanna, who essentially wants to shag everything around her and, memorably, was asked the other month to put more clothes on by a Northern Irish farmer whose field she was using to shoot her latest video. I’m not prudish, but is there really something so bad about wanting your pop stars to wear some clothes? Really? Some corners of the internet (I’m looking at you tumblr) might call this thinking anti-feminist. But if that’s what feminism has become in this day and age, I’m horrified.
The gaudy sexuality Rihanna displays is, at this stage, so forceful as to be ludicrous. Is it some kind of empowerment kick after the whole Chris Brown saga, or are insiders really that desperate to sell records? Is it all an attempt to distract us from the fact her voice sounds like a blunt chainsaw in heat? Talk That Talk is a competent, if banal, offering from this most ubiquitous of pop stars, replete with all the lurid imagery and club beats you’d anticipate. Its catchier songs are decent, its explicit songs woeful, and her emphasis on disarming sex appeal actually devalues the odd song that’s just alright. It all gets lost in the X-rated mire.