If more people admitted when they were wrong, then maybe the world would be a better place. Or some people would be bearable to be around. Who knows. I’m wrong most of the time. This is part apology and part appreciation. I’ve wanted to write this for some time, and I guess right now is the time to do it.
Honestly? I’ve never really been a fan of Rihanna. I don’t know her so I won’t judge her as a person but even if I did know her- I still wouldn’t. I always dismissed her music. There are some songs I liked and there are a lot that remind me of easier times/being drunk with my best friends. I’ve grown up. They say when you get older your tastes change. I think that’s true. Aged 31, I’m happy to say that I’m a fan of Rihanna. What changed my mind? Anti. Her eighth record was released last year. I remember Jamie from The Kills saying if you didn’t like that record, you don’t like music or something similar. I wanted to dismiss that statement. But, he’s someone I admire so I gave it a chance. The Kills covered Desperado. Their version of it feels like it is theirs but when I heard the original I immediately was disappointed that it took me this long to hear how great Rihanna is.
Anti was one of the most underrated records of 2016. It’s one of the most underrated records ever, to be honest. Do you remember when Aaliyah released her records and everyone was in awe of how ahead of its time they all were? There are two singers since her that have brought on that feeling- Banks and Rihanna. All three of them are ahead of us all in so many ways. I think Aaliyah just started it all to be honest. She was strong in ways that could only be admired and not emulated. Banks and Rihanna are exactly like that. What makes Anti so great? Well, after one listen of it I went back and listened to all of her previous records and for me, Anti sounds like the record she always wanted to make. It sounds like something that is completely and utterly her. Some of her records before may have sounded quite similar but Anti is something else. It’s out there and it’s unlike anything else. If I was growing up now, I’d definitely have Anti as an inspiration and a beacon of strength. It’s just such a strong record that has such a powerful and unique sound. I’m really glad that my girlfriend and her sister forced this record upon me because it is easily one of the best things I’ve heard in such a long time.
Her vocals on Love On The Brain are my favourite. If I was going to try convince someone who was like me and pretty dubious about her music, this would be the song I’d make them listen to. The whole record is really vulnerable but powerful. Love On The Brain allows you to hear the cracks in her voice and it is just a real intense listen. You can hear something in her voice that you’ve never heard before. I honestly haven’t heard that in a long time, and the way she sings it just leaves you covered in goose bumps. You can’t help but listening to it on repeat because you want every raw emotion to hit you again and again. I could happily write an essay about this song- maybe one day I will.
I think Needed Me is probably my favourite Rihanna song ever. There is something about it that just blows my mind every single time I play it. It’s one of my most played songs. Remember when she released S&M and everyone was shocked? Needed Me has that same level of independence to it, and when Rihanna has songs like this, that’s when she really shows us how fucking brilliant she is. It’s the songs that show how strong she is that make you just love her. Looking back, I really don’t get why I was so quick to dismiss her. If she released this at the start of her career maybe I’d love her music as much as I do now. What I love about her is that she doesn’t let anything or anyone control her- and you really get that from Anti. Especially on songs like Woo and Needed Me. I love how every song on this record feels like it could be part of a film. It feels like a film score and an exploration of the perfect body of art. It is truly a masterpiece, and it is criminally underrated.
Her cover of Same Ol’ Mistakes (originally by Tame Impala) is insane. If you listen to it without realising it is a cover, you can’t help but cling onto every word Rihanna sings- she truly makes it her own. With this cover, she does what is supposed to be done with a cover- she makes it unrecognisable and makes you believe it is her song. It is so euphoric and so gorgeous. It’s one of those songs that you play and let yourself just escape. It is such a fantastic cover, and I honestly can’t praise it enough. It’s 6 minutes of bliss and it really does soothe the mind, and ease the soul.
Close To You is another real stand out moment on the record. I think if someone listens to this and doesn’t get choked up, then maybe they are made of stone. The line, “I know you don’t need my protection” has so much weight to it, and for some reason it always gets to me. It’s one of those songs that is so beautiful but hard to listen to because it really hits you in the gut. It is such a powerful song and the lyrics are so painfully honest. Again, I could write an essay about this one too.
Anti is a timeless record, and when I first played it in full I was just in awe of everything about the record. From the lyrics to the vocal arrangements to the production. It is such a perfect record, and every song stands out in its own way. It honestly does feel like the record she was always supposed to make, and I honestly hope she keeps doing exactly that. It feels like a fuck you to anyone who wanted to try control her career or try get her to go in a certain direction. It is powerful, it is fragile and it is nothing short of a masterpiece.