Rihanna, the superstar from Barbados, is truly the Queen of Pop in the 2000s. With her 12th Hot 100 topper (Diamonds), Rihanna ascends higher into rarefied historical chart air, as she ties Madonna and the Supremes for the fourth-most leaders in the ranking's 54-year history. Only the Beatles (20), Mariah Carey (18) and Michael Jackson (13) have sent more titles to the top. As far as album chart is concerned, 2012 is also the year when she finally notched her first No. 1 album on Billboard 200 with Unapologetic. With so many great songs in her repertoire, there is no problem in choosing songs to fill the song listing in her concert. The problem is what songs to leave behind.
The Loud Tour was her fourth world tour, in support of her album Loud. The tour ultimately grossed an estimated value of US$90 million from 98 reported shows and a total audience of 1,200,800. The Loud Tour became the 7th highest grossing tour of 2011. The Loud Tour desceneded into Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on June 6 and 7, 2011. The concert in this disc was filmed in the O2 Arena in London.
The track listing (with chart position and year in US & UK) is as follows:
01. "Only Girl (In the World)" (US 1/2010; UK 1/2010)
02. "Disturbia" (US 1/2008; UK 3/2008)
03. "Shut Up and Drive" (US 15/2007; UK 5/2007)
04. "Man Down" (US 59/2011; UK 54/2011)
05. "S&M" (US 1/2011; UK 3/2011)
06. "Skin" (from album Loud)
07. "Raining Men" (US 111/2010; UK 141/2010)
08. "Hard" (US 8/2009; UK 42/2009)
09. "Breaking Dishes" (from Good Girl Gone Bad)
10. "Unfaithful" (US 6/2006; UK 2/2006)
11. "Hate That I Love You" (from Good Girl Gone Bad)
12. "California King Bed" (US 37/2011; UK 8/2011)
13. "What's My Name?" (US 1/2010; UK 1/2010)
14. "Rude Boy" (US 1/2010; UK 2/2010)
15. "Cheers (Drink to That)" (US 7/2011; UK 15/2011)
16. "Don't Stop the Music" (US 3/2007; UK 4/2007
17. "Take a Bow" (US 1/2008; UK 1/2008)
18. "Love the Way You Lie" (US 1/2010; UK 2/2010)
19. "Umbrella" (US 1/2007; UK 1/2007)
20. "We Found Love" (US 1/2011; UK 1/2011)
(1) The song selections are very solid, covering her entire career. Her voice is at the top of her game. Although some of her major hits are as featured artists, she did very well on her own in songs like Love The Way You Lie and We Found Love, without Eminem and Calvin Harris respectively. She is the only artist who can get away with letting the audience sing the first half of the song (Take A Bow). In Raining Men, the uniforms and dance routine reminded me strongly of Janet Jackson in Rhythm Nation. If you like to see Rihanna singing seductively while tied to chains, S&M is the ideal song. Performance (5/5)
(2) The colour is quite good sometimes, especially her red shoes with yellow heels, her multi-coloured bikini uniforms, and her gorgeous yellow gown in Hard. The skin tone was also natural.
Video: This blu ray disc comes with the primitive MPEG-2 encode. When MPEG-4 AVC encode is readily available, I really don’t know what the people at Def Jam are thinking, rushing this gorgeous concert out, using such inferior encode. The result is very poor image with no details. I remember seeing the little holes in the net-stocking of Lady Gaga and Madonna, here, there are no such details. Although there are bright colours, they simply do not pop. This poor video transfer is totally unforgivable, with the availability of the current state of technology. (2.5/5)
Audio: There is no lossless track here, no DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. On the cover, it clearly stated DTS. But in the concert, DTS is no where to be found. The only options are Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1. The resultant sound is simply terrible, with no bass at all. There is no music from the surround channels, only with occasional audience participation. I have her Good Girl Gone Bad Live on blu ray from 2009, when both the video and audio were great. Again, what are the people at Def Jam thinking, giving us such poor audio. (1.5/5)
Packaging: Besides the mislabelling of information about DTS on the back cover, which is misleading, worst of all, there is no song listing at all. No description of the concert. If you are dreaming of a booklet inside, dream on. The only correct label in the covers is the Parental Advisory Explicit Content label…yes, Rihanna did use a few F-bombs (not as much as Adele though)
The video album was directed by Nick Wickham and produced by Ciarra Pardo and Emer Patten. These 3 people should be fired. But I think the problem is deeper than that. It all goes back to the root of the problem: Def Jam, the company itself!!!
Def Jam: In 1999, L.A. Reid appointed Jay-Z as the president. Under Jay-Z's leadership, Def Jam launched new successful acts such as contemporary R&B singers like Rihanna, Ne-Yo, and Kanye West. Jay-Z's contract as president of Def Jam was not renewed, forcing him to step down at the end of 2007, remaining with Roc-A-Fella Records and Def Jam Recordings as a recording artist. Following Jay-Z's resignation as president, L.A. Reid took over leadership of the label, as opposed to hiring a replacement, and promptly signed rapper Luke Death, who was dropped months later, before releasing any music. It was announced in early June 2008 that Def Jam A&R executive Shakir Stewart, credited with bringing Rick Ross to the label, would take over as vice president of Def Jam. Stewart committed suicide on November 1, 2008. The company was basically rudderless. On March 14, 2012, it was announced that former Warner Bros. Records executive Joie Manda will become the first President of Def Jam since Jay-Z.
Def Jam, you are a good label with many great artists. Your company needs to hire the proper personnel to make sure the final products coming to the market are of the highest quality. Mr. Manda, you should get some top people to redo this concert, giving us the proper video and audio transfer that it deserved. Then, be decent enough to give us a replacement program (like what I got for the West Side Story box set).
CHART ACHIEVEMENTS IN 2012:
In the Year-End Billboard magazine where all the year-end charts are listed, Rihanna was the No. 1 Hot 100 Artist, beating out Flo Rida, Nicki Minaj and Maroon 5, and No. 1 Hot 100 Artist (female), beating out Nicki Minaj, Adele, and Katy Perry, and also the No. 1 Hot 100 Airplay Artist.
I love Rihanna, who has so many great songs and a fantastic stage presence. Even though the video and audio transfers are both bad, but watchable and listenable, and replacement may only be a dream on my part, this set is reluctantly still recommended.