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|2. What's My Name' (featuring Drake)|
|3. Cheers (Drink To That)'|
|5. Only Girl In The World'|
|6. California King Bed'|
|7. Mad Down'|
|8. Raining Men' (featuring Nicki Minaj)|
|11. Love The Way You Lie Part II' (featuring Eminem)|
Loud certainly (if intermittently) lives up to the singer’s promise. It is brilliantly sassy and exuberant at times – the enormous synth and shout-along chorus of Only Girl (In the World) is about the measure of it, while Nicki Minaj makes for a superb partner in crime on Raining Men, her wild, kinetic flow complementing Rihanna’s steely delivery to wicked effect.
Disappointingly though, the knowing strangeness that coloured even Rated R’s most chart-friendly moments has been toned down in favour of a brazen sexuality that sits at odds with what Rihanna is trying to accomplish here. Since when was ‘flirtatious’ synonymous with ‘sadomasochistic’? As bracingly huge and catchy as it is, S&M doesn’t deviate much from its blunt title: lyrics like "Sticks and stones may break my bones / But chains and whips excite me" feel forced, not daring. Similarly, her insistence that "I like it rough" on the comparatively restrained Skin can’t help but come across a little uncomfortable in the light of her personal history.
But the argument over whether songs like this subjugate or empower their female performers is one for another time, or maybe one not worth having at all – not when the songs are this good, the singer’s voice this powerful. What’s My Name? features the similarly young and talented Drake mulling the "square route of 69" over choppy Caribbean rhythms that reappear on Man Down, where Rihanna relays a break-up as murder metaphor in thick Barbadian patois. Love the Way You Lie (Part II) even bests the original, Eminem’s verse exuding the kind of volatile, simmering menace that got everyone so excited about him in the first place. But it is Rihanna’s vocal – at once commanding, soulful and vulnerable – that anchors the song, and Loud itself, elevating it from a hit-and-miss collection into something oddly arresting.
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Fantastic CD! Bought this to play in my new car. Myself and the kids turn the volume up and we all enjoy singing along to it! This is Rihanna at her best!Published 1 month ago by Beau