This weekend we’re roaring back through Rihanna‘s immaculate discography in search of the 12 best non-singles – a task which, in a surprise to no-one, is EXTREMELY HARD in terms of narrowing down.
Remember these are in no particular order…
Consideration (with SZA)
ANTI gets off to the best possible start with Rihanna teaming up with a pre-CTRL SZA; the pair of them working some flawless vocal magic over a massive beat, both sounding absolutely brilliant. God what I wouldn’t give for another collaboration between these two now…
So iconic an album track, I keep forgetting it’s not one of Good Girl Gone Bad’s many, many hit singles. This was on my 30th birthday party playlist and was, obviously, a highlight.
No Love Allowed
A late-tracklist highlight from Unapologetic, I love the production on this – it’s chilled-out but somehow also highlighy danceable; and Rihanna is an absolute master by this point, driving the whole thing with a captivating vocal delivery.
Loud was a proper blockbuster of an album and this pop/R&B semi-ballad is one of its many highlights. Rihanna nails the tear-stained-but-looking-forwards tone of the lyrics, and the almost baroque-like intro on the production side is a nice touch.
Do Ya Thang
A deluxe edition bonus track from Talk That Talk, this was cooked up solely by Rihanna and The-Dream, and it’s the perfect example of an early-2010s little gem with a glossy electronic finish. When I think of Rihanna songs I love, I somehow always forget this one – but I’m never not glad to hear it.
Only two minutes long, this, but what an impact it makes in such a short time!! “This whisky got me feeling pretty,” she sings in the first line – and there’s a brilliantly woozy feel to the whole thing that just works so goddamn well. Those VOCALS!! Ugh!!!!
Willing To Wait
I’ve neglected the first two albums, I know, so here’s a corker from Music Of The Sun; a stunning, sexy song about… not being stunning and sexy (at least not yet). The layered vocals are luscious, and on a debut album that has such a brilliantly upbeat feel, it’s an effective moment of relative calm.
Drunk On Love
The xx sample may well turn a lot of people off, but I think it’s utilised really well – and, even though it’s very different to Willing To Wait above, it serves a similar purpose in the context of the Talk That Talk album, in that provides a nice bit of tonal variety against the uptempo floorfillers elsewhere.
Love Without Tragedy / Mother Mary
Kinda cheating here, given the whole well-it’s-technically-two-songs thing, but as a whole ‘production’, it’s just exquisite. Yes, EXQUISITE. I adore the instrumentation under the Love Without Tragedy section, wonderfully offset against Rihanna’s vocals (honestly, how can she do everything from emotive and heartbroken to Queen Of The Fucking Party SO well?!); and the transition into the disarmingly confessional Mother Mary is juuuust a dream.
The DRAMA of that atonal riff!! This song is a whole mood, and with a title like that, how could it not be?! The distortion, the beat, the sheer calm and controlled spite… a 10!
P.S. (I’m Still Not Over You)
A Girl Like Me is the album I always neglect, and I feel like that’s a crime a lot of pop stans commit. But there’s loads to love about it… this song in particular really isn’t a million miles away from Unfaithful (also on this record) but I love it anyway. It’s very ‘of its time’ with the acoustic guitar/sparse R&B beat/yearning vocals; and as a hidden treasure from the forgotten era of Rihanna’s discography, I’ve always had a soft spot for it.
The Last Song
You could easily make a case for many, many other tracks being in the list over this one, I know. But I used to get my life to this a lot when Rated R came out. Forget Princess of China, this is the real Coldplay x Rihanna intersection (in a good way!!!).
Honourable mentions: Cold Case Love, Phresh Out The Runway, As Real As You and Me, Skin, Pose, Fire Bomb