The world's longest seven-day tour is over.
After last night's boisterous New York show, the Rihannaplane 150 have all gone back to their homes to rehydrate and rest. Later today, I plan to go to the grocery store and marvel at the fresh fruit I took for granted in pre-tour life, like someone newly returned from several years on a desert island.
And as the brain-fog of jet lag clears, it's easy to start asking questions. "Do I have scurvy?" "Is that a normal color for my pee to be?" And perhaps most importantly, "What the hell just went down here?"
In theory, the reason for inviting dozens of journalists and fans onto a plane for a week's worth of shows in different cities was so that an artist with an album to sell to interact with fans, give journalists a story, and to reap the publicity-fruit of our appreciation. Although, since there was barely any interaction and and the press was mostly negative, it's difficult to say.
One thing is eminently clear though: Rihanna still came out smelling like Reb'l Fleur.
"Diamonds" is at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, giving her a twelfth #1 and, according to a release from Def Jam, putting her ahead of Whitney Houston in chart topping singles. (Kind of an unfortunate comparison to point out, considering, but never mind.)
But I guess you can't say Rihanna didn't warn us. She's a capital B, capital G Bad Girl, don't forget. The album is called Unapologetic, for Hov's sake. Man, what were we thinking, getting on that plane? (That's Alex and me below, when we were still full of hope.)
Well, maybe that labels usually spend a ridiculous amount of money for GOOD publicity. But maybe that's not really important anymore.
Yes, sure, okay, all Good Girl Gone Bad press is good Good Girl Gone Bad press. But given the fact that the Island Def Jam team on the plane seemed as harried and exhausted as we were makes it unlikely that this whole thing was a planned PR disaster.
Maybe "disaster" isn't fair. Rihanna did do seven shows in seven days. Nobody died. (Physically, anyhow.) The album's doing great. But if Rihanna doesn't care what journalists and fans think, why bring them on her magic plane?
The best thing I can liken it to is being set up on a date with a beautiful, talented girl who doesn't wear pants. At first things are going great. She orders the calamari to split. Great! Who doesn't love calamari? This is going to be fun. Then, she takes the calamari and disappears in the bathroom. Also, Diddy is in the bathroom. Man! It's probably fun in that bathroom. Why did you ask me out if you were not going to invite us into the fun Diddy calamari bathroom? What time is it? I'm so tired.
If it had been another pop star in another year—say, the Taylor Swift Hovercraft Extravaganza to promote the album Extra Grateful—things might have been different. Taylor probably would have sat down to family-style dinners with us and individually served hot strawberry muffins, because tour-shmour, you make time to bake. But maybe that's the point: Rihanna isn't Taylor Swift.
It's hard to say what effect the tour will have on sales, if any. Maybe they didn't know what was going to happen up there, either. Still, that was a big, costly "experiment."
It's possible that we no longer need our pop stars to be good people, too, as long as they put out good music. (For the record, I think the album is great.) It used to take a few years, several scandals and a couple publicists resigning before "I'm just a nice girl who's all about the fans" became "I don't owe you people shit. #Crunkkkkkk."
But even that admission, as we know, rarely keeps us from buying albums. Maybe this was just a way of dropping the act.
Last time … the bitter end comes into view.