We're not sure when we'll get the next album, but our love for Rihanna is timeless.
If the fact that it's been over four years since Rihanna released ANTI isn't completely unsettling to you, how do you feel knowing that last week marked a decade since her fifth album, Loud?
At 32, the ever-elusive, always iconic Barbadian singer has quite an impressive resume. Rihanna's eight studio albums have sold over 250 copies worldwide, making her one of the best-selling musicians of all time. She's scored 14 No. 1 hits and nine Grammy Awards. Her mix of dance music with Caribbean and reggae influences have made her a singular force in mainstream pop.
But Rihanna's accomplishments extend far beyond the music world. In addition to her various humanitarian efforts, she's also a highly successful businesswoman, with coveted cosmetics and lingerie lines under her belt. Altogether, Rihanna's various revenues have accumulated a net worth of over $600 million, making her the wealthiest female musician in the world. "Work, work, work, work, work," indeed.
To celebrate ten years of Loud and our everlasting adoration of Rihanna, we've assembled a list of the 15 best songs in her expansive discography.
Before Cardi B and Megan thee Stallion raised eyebrows with "WAP," and before Fifty Shades of Gray became the butt of infinite sex jokes, Rihanna released her own ode to pleasure with "S&M." With a persuasive "na na na, come on" chant and a thumping synth riff, "S&M" throws the expectations of late-night slow jams out the window.
14. “Take a Bow”
Though Rihanna was better known as an upbeat pop starlet at the time of Good Girl Gone Bad's release, "Take a Bow"—added onto the reissue of the album—was one of the first times we'd seen the singer's tender side. But the mellow, somber nature of "Take a Bow" doesn't mean Rihanna was entirely heartbroken: "That was quite a show," she mocks, equating the fizzled relationship to a shallow performance.
13. “Kiss It Better”
ANTI is easily Rihanna's best project to date, chock-full of highlights that cemented the singer as an irrefutable fixture in today's pop landscape. One such song is "Kiss It Better," a funk-infused groove in which Rihanna grapples with her attempts to mend a broken relationship.
Although the spooky-pop jam "Disturbia" has become inextricable from Rihanna's legacy, the song was originally intended for another artist: her then-boyfriend, Chris Brown. Thankfully, he decided it would be better suited for a female voice. Rihanna recorded the song for Good Girl Gone Bad, and decided she wanted it to be released as a single. Those decisions played out well: it earned Rihanna a No. 1 hit and a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording.
11. “What’s My Name?” [ft. Drake]
While Drake was already on a high in 2010 leading up to his breakthrough record Take Care, a feature on what would become one of Rihanna's hits helped seal the deal for one of his biggest years to date. Featuring ska and reggae embellishments, "What's My Name?" feels like a nod to the island-pop of Rihanna's early music, sounding just as good in a dance club as it does on a beach sipping fruity cocktails.
10. “Love On the Brain”
Fans of Rihanna know that the singer has taken many forms throughout her lengthy career. But the ballad "Love On the Brain" especially came as a shock; how could the Rihanna who gave us reggaeton and EDM-inspired hits also belt in a doo-wop song? "Love On the Brain" further proves RiRi's versatility—as if the numerous business endeavors weren't enough of an indication.
9. “Shut Up and Drive”
One of the more rock-focused songs of her career, "Shut Up and Drive" was catchy and guitar-heavy enough to lure in any unsuspecting Rihanna skeptics. Taking cues from '70s and '80s new wave, the song showed Rihanna staking her claim in the cars-and-romance song category—think Aretha Franklin's "Freeway of Love," Michael Jackson's "Speed Demon," or most songs by Charli XCX. "Shut Up and Drive" is Rihanna at her most sassy and playful.
8. “Cheers (Drink to That)”
Unexpected samples can make or break a song. In the case of "Cheers (Drink to That)," producers Andrew Harr and Jermaine Jackson turned Avril Lavigne's yearning, walloping "yeah-yeahs" into a moment of celebration. It's unclear what Rihanna is celebrating in "Cheers"—besides it being the freakin' weekend, of course—but the song is intoxicating enough to help you find your own reason.
"Umbrella" marks another case of a Rihanna hit that wasn't written with her in mind. Co-writers Jay-Z and The-Dream originally penned the rain-glorifying tune with the idea that Britney Spears would provide lead vocals. However, Spears' record label denied the song, an unfortunate move for them considering it propelled Rihanna to pop superstardom. "Umbrella" became one of the best-performing songs of the first half of the decade, even prompting suspicions of a "Rihanna Curse" when its peak popularity coincided with rainstorms and flooding in the U.K. and New Zealand.
6. “Pon de Replay”
Rihanna has come a very, very long way since her debut single, but that doesn't mean it doesn't still hold up. Upon its release in 2005, "Pon De Replay" served as a perfect introduction to Rihanna, with its title (translating to "play it again") nodding to her Barbadian heritage. A perfect blend of reggae and Western pop, "Pon De Replay" is the type of song we'd ask a DJ to play again and again, even 15 years later.
While the sample of Soft Cell's 1981 hit "Tainted Love" is prominent in "S.O.S.," the latter feels like a total reinvention. Despite its roots in '80s pop, "S.O.S." feels like a burst of quintessential 2000s bliss, and boasts easily one of the coolest, catchiest beats in Rihanna's catalog. "S.O.S." also became Rihanna's first No. 1 hit in the U.S., solidifying her staying power as an artist.
4. “Don’t Stop the Music”
"Don't Stop the Music" marked perhaps one of the earliest instances of dance music entering the U.S. mainstream. The Grammy-nominated song reads as a darker version of "Pon de Replay," begging for music and dance as an escape from the harsh realities of life outside the club.
3. “Same Ol’ Mistakes”
The music of Tame Impala isn't reserved for the generic indie boys who ignore your texts; Rihanna's a fan, too. After hearing the Currents closing track "New Person, Same Old Mistakes," Rihanna's voice was perfectly suited to put her own spin on the psych-rock tune, simplifying the title to "Same Ol' Mistakes." Kevin Parker, the mastermind behind Tame Impala, was apparently "more than happy" when Rihanna reached out about recording a cover. Of course, who wouldn't be?
2. “We Found Love” [ft. Calvin Harris]
2011 was a strange year for pop hits. Artists like LMFAO and David Guetta monopolized the radio, initiating an EDM-crossover that we've probably all tried to push out of our memories by now. But in the midst of corny club bangers was "We Found Love," Rihanna's collaboration with Scottish DJ Calvin Harris. It's a straightforward house track with a repetitive syncopated synth pattern, and though it might be simple, it's aged surprisingly well over the years.
1. “Needed Me”
The centerpiece of ANTI, "Needed Me" remains a crowning achievement of Rihanna's discography. With a foundation of woozy, dubstep-tinged production, the downtempo slow-jam reads as Rihanna's epic kiss-off to a nameless, insignificant fling who's become considerably obsessed with her; in typical RiRi fashion, she couldn't care less. But "Needed Me" isn't just a single ladies' anthem: It's a reclamation of Rihanna's independence after spending a decade in the spotlight, and perhaps even a jab at colonialism. "F*ck your white horse and a carriage," she quips, both a rejection of a dime-a-dozen Prince Charmings and a potential callout of the imperialism that's impacted her Carribean home country.