There are times when you have to step back and just marvel at what Rihanna has accomplished in popular music, before even reaching car-rental age. (In the States anyway, we have no idea what the Hertz policy is in Barbados.) 11 number one singles, five platinum albums, six Grammys, two Video of the Year VMAs, and most importantly, a catalog of pop classics to rival (and arguably better) the production of any other Top 40 fixture of the last ten years. And what's more—she never stops, not going a year without a new album since 2008, and filling around her LPs with countless re-issue bonus tracks, non-album releases and featured appearances

Well, maybe "countless" isn't the right word, because in fact, we've counted them all, and we've come up with a ranked list of the 125 commercially released songs that Rihanna has appeared on over the course of her seven-year career in music. (As with our Taylor Swift list, in the case of a song recorded in multiple versions, we just took the one we liked best, unless they were specifically listed as multi-part songs).

With today marking the physical release of her seventh LP Unapologetic, we figured today was as good a day as any to roll our list out. Come see where your favorites ranked, as well as the 15 new tracks of hers we're only hearing for the first time this week—then let us know your own ten favorites, an tell us in the comments section about your own rankings, and how we messed up in our rankings.


Found On: Music of the Sun

Hilarious title aside, there's not much to recommend this somewhat preposterous ballad off Rihanna's first album ("There's a thug in my life / How'm I gonna tell my Mama??"). Sure the Bronx contingent of Ri's Navy appreciate the 6 train shoutout though.

124. "BAD GIRL"

Found On: Non-Album Single

Rihanna has oft testified to being bad, though usually it's for reasons more compelling than her shopaholic tendencies. Chris Brown's guest verse is irritating, though not nearly as much as Ri's backing "I GOT A PROBLEM!!" shrieks. It's not surprising this one never made it to an LP.


Found On: Now That's What I Call Christmas! 4

Not a terrible rendition of the Christmas standard, but the production is a little low-grade and the vocal a little missing in personality. We're sure Ri will do a mean (and significantly less G-Rated) "Santa Baby" one of these days, though.

122. "RUSH"

Found On: Music of the Sun

A throwaway banger from Rihanna's first, and regrettably, not a cover of the early '90s Big Audio Dynamite alt-rock classic. Kardinal Offishall shows up to yammer in the background, as he was wont to do back in the mid-'00s.


Found On: Rated R

A mid-tempo lost-love ballad that should've just merely been forgettable, if not for showing up to add a totally out-of-place guest verse near song's end. Tip to Rihanna and all other concerned: If your song is anything but a goony, robo-friendly club anthem, chances are fairly strong will's presence will do little but bring it down.

120. "ROC ME OUT"

Found On: Talk That Talk

"I been a bad girl Daddy / Won't you come get me?" Not the first time Rihanna has made such a point or request, but usually she does it with a little more panache than the phoned-in-sounding "Roc." Big-sounding synths can only take you so far.


Found On: Music of the Sun (Japanese Bonus Tracks)

A lightweight bonus jam from Ri's first, notably only for its subtle Eastern influence. (A Notorious B.I.G. lyrical lift or two might've helped make this one a little more memorable, but Ri was still more reggae than hip-hop with her references back in those days.)


Found On: Promotional Release

Nice soulful guitar lick in this one, but the chorus of "Just as long as it makes you happy, if it makes you happy / Just be happy" is a little too flimsy to really stick. You could argue that the sentiment presages the "I choose to be happy" themes of recent single "Diamonds," though.

117. "RIGHT NOW"

Found On: Unapologetic

It's been mandated that all high-profile pop releases in the 2010s contain at least one hi-NRG dance song declaring the urgency of partying right now now NOW NOW because apparently the world is gonna end tomorrow (or we're just all going to be old by then, which is even worse), and this is Rihanna's off Unapologetic. If she wanted to set this one apart from the "Give Me Everything"s and "Die Young"s of the world, David Guetta was not the man to enlist to do it.


Found On: A Girl Like Me

The super-underrated second single off Rihanna's debut got a super-unnecessary sequel on her second album, which replaces the good-timey vibes of the original with a sinister-sounding flute hook that turns it into a second-rate "Naughty Girl" rip-off. Cory Gunz shows up for a guest verse, if you're into that sort of thing.


Found On: Music of the Sun

The Latin-tinged title track off Rihanna's first is torpedoed by some cheap, dated-even-back-then-sounding synths throughout, and the song was hardly one of her most memorable to begin with. Her voice would prove a good fit in the Latin pop mold though, which would result in better songs later in her career.


Found On: Elephant Man's Let's Get Physical

Rihanna appeared as a guest vocalist on a number of second-tier dancehall artists' albums earlier in her career, few of which have endured as classics. She helps make Elephant Man seem less annoying than usual on "Throw Your Hands Up," but even the most devoted officers in Ri's navy have probably forgotten about this one by now.


Found On: Talk That Talk

A decent mid-tempo groove here, but too much seriousness and too many tired love cliches on this one. "Some say love ain't worth a buck / But I'll give every dime I have left." You know, Rihanna, not a lot of people actually say stuff like that. Most people agree that love is kind of a big deal.


Found On: Rated R

Great opening line here: "Let me tell you something / Never ever have I been a size ten in my whole life." Unfortunately, the rest of the song is a mildly exhausting You Done Cheated Son ballad from an artist who's already got plenty of them, with a chorus that's kinda, well, stupid: "This is stupid / I'm not stupid / Don't talk to me like I'm stupid."

111. "SHOULD I?"

Found On: Music of the Sun

Another one of the less-interesting dancehall tracks from Music, though redeemed by a solid chorus and one of Rihanna's stronger vocal performances. Where the hell is J-Status at these days, by the way?

110. "POUR IT UP"

Found On: Unapologetic

Whatever Rihanna paid producer Mike Will Made It for the beat to this one, we hope she got her money back, since the song is a self-plaigiaristic copy of his previous beat for Juicy J's "Bandz a Make Her Dance," to the point where it may as well be a direct sample—and we already get plenty of "Bandz" on the radio as is, thanks. Maybe it'd be forgivable if Rihanna made some sort of "You say no to ratchet..." lyrical reference, but alas...


Found On: Rated R (Nokia Bonus Tracks)

With Rihanna and Justin Timberlake on the same track, you'd think you had a smash hit on your hands for sure. But "Hole" ended up just as a Rated R bonus cut, because Timberlake's contributions to the song are limited to some minimum-effort backing vocals, and Rihanna's endless testifying to how she goes crazy sometimes is surprisingly boring (and really reminiscent of "There's a Hole in My Bucket"—not necessarily a good thing).


Found On: Fabolous' From Nothin' to Somethin'

Yes, kids, there was a time when Fabolous had enough commercial clout for a Rihanna guest spot on his album to seem like a fair and equal pairing. Luckily those days are long over, so we won't get too many more super-average hip-hop love jams like this that reduce Rihanna to an Ashanti-lite hook provider. (Thank the lord that Ja never got a hold of her.)

107. "ROLL IT"

Found On: J-Status' The Beginning

Rather than just take the chorus, Ri gets an entire guest verse on this one, a reggaeton single from her early-days collaborator J-Status, singing "I bring the fire, you bring the heat." Not a classic by any means, and we'd be shocked if Rihanna even remembered a single line from her cameo here, but a fun little mid-'00s flashback nonetheless.


Found On: Non-Album Single

One of the two I Do Yours, You Do Mine remixes that Chris and Ri released to much internet consternation earlier this year, and certainly the less notable of the two, as Ri adds little to Brown's by-the-numbers club jam—though we'd probably like the song a whole lot more as an entire Rihanna release without Breezy's involvement at all. Unsurprisingly, the remix got little fanfare or airplay beyond its initial controversy.


Found On: Kardinal Offishal's Not 4 Sale

Updating Blondie is rarely if ever a bad idea, and Rihanna was certainly a smart choice for the chorus, but we can't help wishing the song had just been a straight cover by Ri, with maybe just a guest verse from lead artist Kardinal Offishal. Hearing Rihanna just do the hook and a brief "I'm not the kind of girl..." reference on the chorus is just kind of a tease.


Hearing that she had prominently sampled the XX, "Drunk" was one of the songs we anticipated the most off Talk That Talk. Unfortunately, the end result underwhelmed, as Ri's "I'm drunk on love / Nothing can sober me up" chorus was pretty uninspiring, and the fact that she basically lifted the entirety of "Intro" rather than using a more clever sample that actually twisted one of the group's sonically unique singles into something distinctively Rihanna was disappointing. Still an enjoyable listen, but it could've been so much cooler.

103. "SCRATCH"

Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad Live

Probably not a whole lot of direct involvement from Ri on this one, but this two minute instrumental used to kick off her live shows on the Good Girl Gone Bad tour is a pretty kickass piece of music just the same. After this one, not terribly surprising that Rihanna's next album would kick up the Superbad Guitar quotient by several hundred percent.


Found On: Loud

For one of the 37 singles pulled from Loud, Ri tried her hand at a more country-ish ballad, and it was the only one of the album's singles that failed to really connect. The gambit of fixating lyrically on an inanimate object as a relationship metaphor is pure Nashville, and Rihanna gives it her all, but something about it just doesn't click—the metaphor is too clunky, the inanimate object a little too obscure. Close enough to get Rihanna a gig at the ACMs, though.


Found On: The Lonely Island's Turtleneck & Chain

To the Lonely Island's credit, "Shy Ronnie" really does sound like a Rihanna outlaw anthem until one of the LI guys shows up as the titular character, speaking a little too low and eliciting Ri's "No one in the back can hear you!" and "Use your outside voice!" admonitions. The replay value here isn't super-high, and the song has at least one fake ending too many, but Rihanna's enunciation on the phrase "BONER ALERT!" is certainly a treat.

For songs #100-81, click NEXT.

Other pages: #80-71, #70-61, #60-51, #50-41, #40-31, #30-21, #20-11, #10-1

100. "LET ME"

Found On: Music of the Sun

Another Beyoncé-like jam from an era when Ri was still struggling to find her own identity a little, but this one's a much more fun one, thanks to a strong, horn-heavy Stargate beat—a pairing of artist and producer that would eventually produce a handful of the best and biggest pop songs of the 21st century. Plus, if she had to model herself after someone, Ri could have done a lot worse than aping mid-'00s Queen Bey.


Found On: Razah's I Am Razah

Razah's career never exactly took off—he doesn't even have a Wikipedia page currently—so this Rihanna collaboration probably ranks as her all-time most underexposed. It's a nice one, though, a sweet little love-in-question ballad that would've fit quite snugly on either of Ri's first two albums. Razah has over 120,000 followers on Twitter, anyway, so maybe he doesn't need Rihanna's help these days after all.

98. "FLY"

Found On: Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday

Nicki and Rihanna's second song together is a whole lot less fun than their first—to come much higher on this list—and you have to wonder if Pink Friday's super-serious anthem of achievement was the best choice of track on Nicki's debut for Ri to guest on. Still, Rihanna brings it on the chorus, and you're liable to get her "Fly-y-y-yyyyy"s stuck in your head for a long time after listening.

97. "NUMB"

Found On: Unapologetic

One of the craziest, most disorienting beats that Rihanna has ever worked with, courtesy of the Pop & Oak production team, but unfortunately, Ri doesn't really seem to know what to do with it, and the song is totally derailed by a subpar Eminem guest verse that includes one of the worst couplets in the history of popular music ("I'm the butt police / And I'm looking at your (RRRREAR! RRREAR! RRREAR!)") Beat's a hell of a thing, though.

96. "FADING"

Found On: Loud

Not a bad song by any means, but a piano-heavy mid-tempo number that's a little too innocuous to not get swallowed by the hit parade that is the Loud track list. Gotta like the matter-of-fact "Be gone / Bye bye / So long" kissing-off of the pre-chorus, though.


Found On: Talk That Talk

A fine big-finish closer to Talk That Talk, though not one that a lot of Rihanna fans are likely to pull up on its own out of context. "Somebody's gonna miss you / Somebody's gonna wish that you were here / That somebody's me." A touching sentiment, especially with Alex da Kid's booming drums sounding off underneath.

94. "G4L"

Found On: Rated R

The Ryde or Die Chick look isn't really the best for Rihanna—she's a badass and all for sure, but when it comes to actual talk of's just not the Ri that we prefer. Still, hard to argue the menacing groove of this one, courtesy of dubstep producers Chase & Status, and the first ten seconds or so of "G4L" are as badass as any on a Rihanna record. Nice shout-out to bossman Jay-Z with the "army, better yet the navy" lyric, too.


Found On: Music of the Sun

Little hard to believe there was ever a time when Rihanna urged her man to take it slow and not rush her into physical contact with a straight face—but then again, Ri was just 17 when Music of the Sun came out, and even Janet Jackson asked her boyfriend to wait a while before letting him know that anytime, anyplace was cool by her. Ironically, "Wait" might be the most sensual song on Ri's debut, with warm blankets of synths and a slow-and-low groove that probably soundtracked a couple events in direct contrast to the message of the song.


Found On: A Girl Like Me

A slight little reggae love song with an interesting lyrical framing of Rihanna deeming herself selfish for how much she wants from her beloved. Production hasn't held up brilliantly on this one, but the sweetness still comes through, and the horns are hard to deny.


Found On: Hope for Haiti Now compilation

A collaboration between Rihanna, Jay-Z and half of U2 that sounds alternately like a separate song by each of the three respective artists, "Stranded" is hardly the most coherent effort, but few charity songs of its type—it was recorded for a compilation to benefit the victims of the Haiti earthquake in 2010—generally are. It's still got a very nice chorus, and it's an interesting moment-in-time example of some largely disparate megastars coming together in the name of a larger cause than pop music.


Found On: Talk That Talk

Another Jay and Ri collab, though neither sounds like they're really trying their hardest on this one. The Stargate beat is appropriately big-sounding, but nothing else about the song gives off that strong an impression, and a couple of Jay's lyrics ("Had it by a bladder / She like 'Oh, I gotta pee'") are minorly perplexing. (The song underperformed on the charts accordingly.)


Found On: Music of the Sun

Another Latin-influenced ballad off Rihanna's first, though this one is a little more successful and striking. The way the song breaks down at the end of each verse, grinding to a near halt as Ri sings in one quick breath "But you walked on my pride / All these tears that I cried," makes for one of the debut's most memorable moments.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad Reloaded

"Face" might've shown up as a bonus track on Ri's Good Girl Gone Bad reissue, but there's no question that this is a Maroon 5 song first-and-foremost, with Robyn's contributions generally overwhelmed by the group's lite-funk stomp. How much you like the song depends on how much you go in for M5's sound—and we generally think it's pretty OK—but it's probably for the best that Rihanna never worked with the group again.

87. "HALF OF ME"

Found On: Unapologetic (Deluxe Edition)

The sole non-remix bonus cut off the deluxe re-issue of Rihanna's latest continues the singer's ongoing dialogue with her fans and critics about her personal life through her music. "Saw me on a television / Hanging out my dirty linen / You’re entitled to your own opinion / Sit and shake your head at my decision," sings Ri, knowing that we're all in fact doing just that, but pleading with us to realize that we only ever "saw the half of it." She never really explains the other half, but merely pointing out that it's there at all is a point probably worth us heeding.


Found On: A Girl Like Me

One of Rihanna's better dub excursions, with a strong bass groove, some awesome multi-tracked vocals on the chorus and a fine guest verse from whoever the hell Dwane Husbands is. Doubtful Rihanna or anyone else could have predicted how prevalent a theme hater-hating would become in both the singer's music and her personal life would become back in 2006, though.

85. "THAT LA, LA, LA"

Found On: Music of the Sun

Not another Jay-Z collaboration technically speaking, but the song is so littered with references to past Jiggaman hits—the "La, La, La" refrain from "Excuse Me Miss Again," the "better get it right" call-and-response from "Jigga My Nigga"—that S Dot may as well get a featured credit on the song. Not a bad thing, though—Ri's incessant big-upping of her mentor, on top of a slamming Full Force beat, makes for one of the more memorable songs on Rihanna's debut.


Found On: Unapologetic

Two words: "BASS SLAP!" If you remember nothing else from the closer to Rihanna's latest—and what the hell is this song doing as the Unapologetic grand finale, anyway?—you'll remember that Diddy-esque voice intoning that two-word phrase in the midst of the song's breakdown section. Not a whole lot else to talk about on "Paradise," but "BASS SLAP!" more or less guarantees this one keeper status all on its lonesome.


Found On: A Girl Like Me

Believe it or not, there was a time when Rihanna just seemed like another face in the Top 40 crowd, a possible dancehall one-hit wonder on par with the Lumidees and Wayne Wonders of the world. The compelling title track ballad of Ri's second album seems like the singer pushing back against that perception, protesting that she's not just one of the masses, and that "when the whole world's turning left, that's when I'm going right." May or may not be 100% accurate, but time would soon certainly prove that she was close enough.


Found On: Non-Album Single

The better of Rihanna's two multi-artist charity contributions, featuring Robyn holding her own against the likes of Beyoncé, Mariah, Mary and countless others. Tellingly, perhaps of all the dozen-plus singers featured on the song, "Just Stand Up!" sounds the most like a Rihanna song, showing just how inextricable the singer was to the sound of late-'00s pop music.


Found On: Talk That Talk (Deluxe Edition)

From the song's "Bohemian Rhapsody" fake-out intro to its rip-roaring guitar solo outro, "Fool in Love" is surprisingly fun for an excessively melodramatic bonus track, showing off both the vocal strength and larger-than-life personality developed by Rihanna over her still-young career. Wish we could've seen her performing this one with Brian May at the VMAs, too.

For songs #80-71, click NEXT.

Other pages: #125-101 #70-61, #60-51, #50-41, #40-31, #30-21, #20-11, #10-1


Found On: A Girl Like Me

The intricately plucked acoustic intro to this one makes it sound like it's going to explode into a Yes or Jethro Tull song, but instead, we get one of Rihanna's better early ballads, with an appropriately large build throughout, and a big-but-intimate-sounding chorus (which has a little "I Can't Make You Love Me" to it with its "Turn off the lights" instructing) to build around. Good early range from Ri, though we'd still like to her give "Roundabout" a spin one of these days.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

The least memorable song on Good Girl Gone Bad would still be a highlight on most other concurrent pop releases, with a typically popping beat and an absurdly catchy chorus. The lyrical conceit—"sell me candy" being a convoluted way to say "give me love"—just isn't strong enough for the song to stand out on an album so stacked with smashes, but if this song is your album's lowlight, chances are your album is as much of a classic as GGGB is.


Found On: Rated R

Another minorly convoluted central metaphor—Rihanna describing her love affair as a "cold case," in the CBS unsolved-mystery sense—redeemed by a strong production job by The Y's, a knob-twiddling supergroup including Justin Timberlake, giving the song just the right touches of strings and keys to keep it from getting too draggy. "Cold Case" certainly doesn't need to be six minutes long, but don't turn it off early—if you do, you might miss the awesome "In the Air Tonight"-esque drum fill that gives the song the momentum needed to get to its climax.


Another of the more striking early Rihanna ballads, with Rihanna proving she doesn't need more than a piano and some strings for accompaniment on her torch songs. The so-close-yet-so-far lyrical themes of "Million Miles" were later revisited on future single "California King Bed," but "Away" is much more enjoyable in its lyrical simplicity.


Found On: A Girl Like Me (Japanese Deluxe Edition)

A bonus track that easily could have made its way onto the proper tracklist of A Girl Like Me, "Coulda Been" is a splendid dubby expression of relationship disappointment, with Rihanna sounding like she's having too much fun to really be put out at her lover's under-performance. "You're a cheater and a li-ar, went and played with fi-ire...." Worth a listen if you didn't get your copy of Girl Like Me as a Japanese import.

75. "CRY"

Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad (Japanese Edition)

In the wake of the success of "Unfaithful," Rihanna apparently decided to up her stark piano ballads, and though "Cry" doesn't quite pack the emotional wallop of that hit, it certainly cuts with its melodramatic keywork and the weak-yet-defiant chorus declaration of "No matter what, you'll never see me cry." The rare bonus track excluded from the album proper because it wouldn't have fit—and it wouldn't have on Good Girl, not really—and not because it just wasn't a particularly strong song.


Found On: Loud

If you couldn't get enough of the dramatic fireworks of the original "Love the Way You Lie"—and based on how big a hit that song was, we wouldn't be surprised if you really couldn't—Rihanna included a sequel version as the closer to her Loud album. It's a worthy follow-up, and Eminem shows up to prevent Ri from totally getting the last word—though we can't help but think of the excellent solo piano version that songwriter Skylar Grey did of it while listening, and think that maybe going the stripped-down route was just the better way to go with this version of the song.

73. "WE RIDE"

The least-assuming of Ri's early singles, "We Ride" certainly isn't the first hit anybody thinks of when they think of Rihanna. Still, it's a fairly lovely song, a summer-love sort of anthem about a romance never meant to last, but one so sighing and nostalgic-sounding that it can't help coming off as sweet just the same. With a nice acoustic hook and a typical boom-clap Stargate shuffle, it's not one for Ri's inevitable Greatest Hits compilation, but it's the kind of Rihanna song that makes you go "Oh right, this song, this was a cool song" when you hear it today.


Found On: Unapologetic

"Keep thundering, thundering / Won't you just fucking rain and get it over with." Odd sentiment for a pop ballad, but "Get It Over With" is sort of an odd song to begin with, almost completely lacking in any production, with nothing but heavy synth waves and vocal harmonies fading in and out to provide sonic texture. Coming as part of a heavily emotional corner of Unapologetic, it actually comes off as fairly affecting, and shows how Rihanna has become increasingly willing to take chances with her music over the year—even if we sorta doubt it'll be pulled for a single anytime soon.


Found On: Rated R

A good year-plus before everyone and their hype man were racing to wub-wub up their pop songs, Rihanna was kicking off her album with "Mad House," a badass 90-second Chase & Status-produced dubstep intro track. It's too short and slight to rate much higher than this on our list, but it was pretty much the perfect way to kick off an album as off the beaten path as Rated R, and it has made Rihanna look super-far ahead of the curve in retrospect.

For songs #70-61, click NEXT.

Other pages: #125-101, #100-81, #60-51, #50-41, #40-31, #30-21, #20-11, #10-1


Found On: Unapologetic

Your ability to stomach "Loveeeee Song" will depend largely on your tolerance for the cartoonishly auto-tuned warbling of guest rapper Future (and your ability to overlook that fact that the title should really read as "Looooove" or "Lovvvvve," not "Loveeeee"), but personally, a couple listens to this song and we couldn't get his gargled backing vocals (to his own hook!) out of our heads. Either way, who would've guessed that on an album with Eminem, Kanye and Chris Brown all appearing as guest stars, it would be Future's cameo that would end up as by far the most memorable on Unapologetic?

69. "SAY IT"

Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

"Say It" doesn't really sound like it fits on Good Girl Gone Bad—its light, reggae-influenced production has it more in league with most of Music of the Sun or A Girl Like Me—but the song, a plea for Rihanna's boy to just admit that he wants her already—is so smile-inducingly happy-sounding that we can't really begrudge its presence any. The original's great, but don't sleep on the much funkier, salsa-tinged Soul Seekerz remix from the Good Girl Gone Bad: The Remixes collection either.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

"Easy for a good girl to go bad / And once we're gone, best believe we're gone forever." Yet another lyrical shoutout to the Jiggaman, perhaps, but also a sentiment that would come to have a heavy impact on the second act of Rihanna's career, both in musical and real-life terms. This song isn't as dramatic as all that, though, as Rihanna doesn't sound like she's lamenting her gone-badness, but rather giving the males of America a valuable lesson: Leave your girl alone, and she just might end up in the club wearing a freaky dress, or worse. Just ask Destiny's Child.


Found On: Rated R

Part of Rihanna's fascination with love-as-mortality on Rated R, as Rihanna asks "What if you wasted love and our love in time disappeared / And the sad song ends up being the last song you'll ever hear?" It's hard to blame Rihanna for being so heavy after the events of early 2009, and "The Last Song" packs the boundless emotion of someone who doesn't know how to understand or trust her own feelings anymore. Throw in another solid hair-metal guitar solo and "The Last Song" is an extremely worthy power-ballad closer to Rihanna's most idiosyncratic album to date.


Found On: A Girl Like Me

An important song in Rihanna's career development, as her first ballad single and the first song that showed the emotional depths she could plumb even in her big crossover hits. Of course, it also showed Rihanna's occasionally unfortunate tendency towards melodramatic extremes, as she compares cheating on her lover to literally killing him, claiming "I might as well take a gun and put it to his head, get it over with." Ignore the song's more overwrought qualities, though, and it's Rihanna's earliest stunner, and one that pointed the way to an artist capable of far more than catchy club bangers.

65. "REHAB"

Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

Another example of heavy-handed lyrics getting in the way of an otherwise excellent Rihanna song. The song's dusty production is perfect, and lines like "You're the reason why I'm thinking I don't want to smoke on these cigarettes no more," delivered by Rihanna with just the right amount of self-disgust, are extremely affecting. But the central lyric of "Rehab" ("It's like a checked into rehab / And baby you're my disease") is way too clichéd for Rihanna—not to mention that another major pop hit from around the same time used the title in a manner that was far more relevant. Still, a fine song on the whole, and you gotta love JT and Rihanna in the video.

64. "WHAT NOW"

Found On: Unapologetic

From the piano on the intro, you'd think that "What Now" for sure was just another dolorous Rihanna heartbreak ballad. Credit producers Parker Ighile and Nathan Cassells for the fake-out, as the song's slamming—and we mean slamming chorus—takes the song to far greater emotional heights than a mere piano torch song would have, and Rihanna is up for matching the beat with her own intensity, as she hits notes on the chorus we'd never before known her capable of. Imagine this one will be a certain highlight of the upcoming live tour.

63. "NOW I KNOW"

Found On: Music of the Sun

There aren't a ton of gems to be found on the second side of Rihanna's debut album, but the best is unquestionably "Now I Know," Ri's earliest big ballad number, and one with one of her best choruses: "Now I know that love ain't meant to be a play thing / Now I know it's not an ordinary everyday thing / Now I know that when it's right, it's so amazing / But when it's wrong, you gotta let it go / Now I know." (Probably a lot of people out there who wish she'd take her own advice on that one.) It's an impressively moving song, and the type that would probably win Rihanna a Grammy if she released it today.


Found On: Non-Album Single

Rihanna has worn her love for Bob Marley on her sleeve—her whole bathing suit, actually—her whole career, but she finally put her voice where her mouth is (or something) with a cover of Marley's classic "Redemption Song" as one of her two contributions to Haiti relief efforts. It's a little hard to mess up a song as great as "Redemption," and luckily, Rihanna does it justice, toning up her native accent (which has come and gone for Rihanna throughout her career at her convenience, which we have absolutely no problem with) and hitting high notes Bob would never have reached for at the end. We wish she'd had the good sense to leave the song as just her and guitar, as the song's drum-and-piano beat adds little to it, but it's a strong effort regardless.


Found On: Rated R

"Fire Bomb" could have very easily ended up as a Ryan Tedder-like mid-tempo ballad, but it's saved from such mediocrity by two primary factors—an impossibly distorted, chugging guitar riff that would've been deemed too grimy for 95% of pop-punk bands, and an outro that features Rihanna's voice getting swallowed in auto-tune a year or so before Kanye West used the same gambit to far more self-indulgent effect on the outro to one of his own hits. The fire-engine sound effects are a pretty nice touch, too.

For songs #60-51, click NEXT.

Other pages: #125-101, #100-81, #80-71, #50-41, #40-31, #30-21, #20-11, #10-1


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

"Got a house but I need new furniture / Why spend mine when I can spend yours?" Doubtful even four years ago that Rihanna would have needed any kind of financial assistance from any man, but the lyrical gambit allows Rihanna to do some nice lyrical tangoing with an anonymous male co-star over bills, bills, bills-paying. The song is buoyed by a marching-band-style beat—which, lest we forget, were all but obligatory for pop stars in the mid-late-'00s—courtesy of super-producer Timbaland, probably the best work that the two did together.

Best Moment: "A girl need a lot / The girl need some stocks / Bonds is what I got / Bonds is what I got!" Hopefully some entrepreneur heard Rihanna's cries for help and gave her valuable advice on how to expand her portfolio.

59. "ROCKSTAR 101"

Found On: Rated R

The rock influences are all over Rated R, but nowhere more explicitly than on "ROCKSTAR 101"—still fairly far from a conventional rock song, but with its filthy production, waves of imposing, sinister guitars and synths, and Rihanna not really giving a fuck, it was probably harder hitting than all but a couple of the biggest hits on rock radio in 2009. ESPN nearly ruined the song with overuse on endless montages and commercials, but today the song endures as one of Ri's slitheriest (no Velvet Revolver).

Best Moment: The first five songs, with Rihanna declaring "I told you, baby!" as the first super-distroted power chord hits. Almost "No Sleep Till Brooklyn"-worthy.


Found On: Talk That Talk

Yeah, the full-length version with Chris Brown on it got a whole lot more attention, for obvious reasons, but give us the Talk That Talk original anyday—78 seconds of alarms, shrieking synths, popping bass, relentless hand-clapping, and of course, Rihanna's seductive cooing—"And it's not even my birthday / But you wanna put your name on it." When we first heard it, it left us craving more—and turns out, 78 seconds was really all Rihanna and producer The-Dream needed to get their point—which might not be much more eloquent than "CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE," but still—across, and then some.

Best Moment: How many other songs declare "I wanna fuck you right now" just as they're starting to fade out? Brilliant.


Found On: Cham's Ghetto Story

Probably the finest of Rihanna's guest appearances on contemporaneous dance singles was her cameo on Jamaican singer Cham's "Boom Boom," with Ri playing the simple supporting role of taking the "Boy, you make my heart go 'Boom, boom, boom'" hook," and getting some words in on the bridge as well. Nothing super-notable about this one, just a supremely catchy and sweet pop song that probably should have been a bigger hit than it was—or a hit at all, really.

Best Moment: Ri on the second bridge: "Feeling weak / In the knees / Lost my mind / Baby, PLEASE!!"


Found On: Music of the Sun

An obvious choice of remake for Rihanna in her early days, Dawn Penn's mid-'90s reggae classic made a fine jumping-off point for Rihanna and dancehall star Vybz Kartel to banter over. As much as Rihanna brings it on the verses, though, it's Vybz that really adds the spice to the song, chiming in on the background "CAAAAANT LETCHU GOO!!!!" and "I LUV YOU WITH ALL MY HAAARRRRT!!" Don't get why they couldn't have incorporated the awesome horns from the original a little, but I guess you gotta leave something for people to go back to with the older version.

Best Moment: Any time Vybz pipes in over Rihanna's hook, really.


Found On: David Guetta's One Love

Before Rihanna hit paydirt collaborating with a different EDM mega-producer, she had found modest success as a guest siren on David Guetta's "Who's That Chick?" The song doesn't quite reach the euophoria of her later club workouts, but they demonstrate Ri's considerable disco diva potential—she even refers to herself as a "disco diva" in this one, in case you weren't convinced. Coming just before Guetta officially entered the phone-it-in phase of his musical career, "Chick" also stands as one of his the French DJ's more gleeful productions, with an addictive synth riff he'd rip off endlessly in later in later iterations to lesser effect.

Best Moment: Ri's repeated "Beat it like a disco drum" phrase, followed with the music cutting out entirely minus a heartbeat sound, then kicking back in with the synth riff. Well played, Guetta.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad (Japanese Edition)

An appropriately named ballad, a chilling number with one of the best lyrics on a Rihanna song, in which Rihanna admits defeat trying to win her current man away from the memory of his ex. (Don't think she's actually dead, Rebecca-style, but the song's no less affecting for the lack of legit paranormal activity.) Rihanna's heartfelt vocal is complemented superbly by a stately guitar riff, a chugging drum beat, and some piercing synth strings which manage to stay just on the good side of grating. An underrated gem, here.

Best Moment: Rihanna's spoken "And ain't nothin' I can do about it" at the end of the bridge. Diana Ross would approve.


Found On: Loud

"Complicated" does an impressive job not showing its hand early, as its not until after a whole chorus and verse that the song really kicks into full gear. The slow build does well for "Complicated," creating a remarkable amount of tension for a song that already was pretty damn nervy to begin with, Rihanna yelping "Why is everything with you so COMPLI-CAAAAAATEEEEED???" Well handled by writer/producers Tricky Stewart and Ester Dean, turning a song that might not have stuck out as more than filler into an album highlight. Of course,

Best Moment: Rihanna's spoken word "Uh-huh / Life's like this..." in the intro. Oh wait...never mind. (Seriously though—what are the odds that a song on Loud would prominently sample an Avril Lavigne hit...and it wouldn't be the song called "Complicated"?)


Found On: Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto

Rihanna had seemingly collaborated with a leading light in every single major genre before finally checking arena rock off her list last year with the Coldplay duet "Princess of China." Expectations for the song may have been a little too high, as the song never really crossed over to either artist's primary market, but it was still an exceedingly enjoyable listen—hamstrung by some cheesy and borderline non-sensical lyrics ("I could have been a princess / You'd be the king"), but tied together with an absolutely incredible arpeggiated (or just chopped-up, hard to tell) synth riff and a Tomahawk Chop-worthy wordless sing-along chant that made a highly worthy addition to both artists' catalogues.

Best Moment: The loose scrap of guitar (synth?) that flutters across the end of the song's breakdown section, just before the beat and chant kick back in.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad (Japanese Edition)

The final of the fine ballads on the Japanese reissue of Good Girl, "Who Ya Gonna Run To?" is a quality hold-you-down ballad in which Rihanna basically tells her guy that he can "go your way / I know the world is calling your name," because she knows that he'll come back to her sooner or later. It's not quite as emotional as Mariah Carey's similarly themed "Always Be My Baby," but there's something impressively solid and understated about it, with its subtle piano and strings and relaxed groove, that makes it nearly as effective.

Best Moment: Ri repping for life on the song's closing: "When there's nobody else in the world you can put your trust in / And you find all the haters around you, they don't mean nothin' / Who you gonna run to?"

For songs #50-41, click NEXT.

Other pages: #125-101,#100-81, #80-71, #70-61, #40-31, #30-21, #20-11, #10-1


Found On: Talk That Talk

A bubbly, catchy pop number courtesy of the normally much more grandiose-sounding Hit-Boy ("Niggas in Paris," "Mercy"), in which Rihanna gleefully prepares to give her guy head, then instructs him to return the favor. Rihanna's nastier sex jams usually tend to be equally nasty in sound, so it's refreshing to hear her do it, do it, do it, do it over a beat that actually sounds fun and playful. It can't always be grime and filth, you know.

Best Moment: "Just because I can't kiss baaaack / Doesn't mean you can't kiss thaaaat." Point taken.


Found On: Eminem's Recovery

One of the biggest hits of the 2010s is still something of a mixed bag in terms of quality, with the song's obvious surfeit of emotion occasionally being undercut by the over-the-top production and a couple Eminem lyrical clunkers—namely, "You get to watch her leave out the window / Guess that's why they call it window pane"—that remain totally unforgivable. Still, helped out by a strong Rihanna chorus and an instantly iconic video, "Love the Way You Lie" is inarguable as an amour fou standard, and its flaws are just part of its own mythology at this point.

Best Moment: Em's opening salvo: "I can't tell you what it really is / I can only tell you what it feels like / And right now, it's a steel knife in my windpipe." If the rest of the song's lyrics were that vivid and brilliant, it'd be at least 40 spots higher on this list.


Found On: Unapologetic

"I chose to be happy / You and I, we're like diamonds in the sky." Rihanna's Unapologetic lead single isn't a slam dunk smash like "We Found Love" or "Only Girl (In the World)" were, but in its own slow-burning way, it's almost as effective, moody and evocative rather than euphoric and addictive. It's helped by Rihanna's singular pronunciation of the titular phrase ("Shine brite like a di-a-monnn...") and an intro that reminds a whole lot of M83's underground pop classic "Midnight City"—which we refuse to believe wasn't an intentional lift on Rihanna's part. She's savvy, that one.

Best Moment: The escalating "Shine bright like a diamond!" exhortations at song's end, turning a relatively ambiguous phrase into something approaching anthemic.


Found On: Rated R: Remixed

We'd stop short of calling the Rated R: Remixed release essential listening, but Netherlands DJ Chew Fu really does a good job crafting club jams from a number of difficult Rated R cuts. The most impressive one is probably his spin on the somewhat clunky R single "Wait Your Turn," turning the song's original down-tempo groove into a more traditional four/four house anthem, adding some catchy synths and fun mini-drum breaks and achieving lift off with a fairly earthbound single in the process.

Best Moment: The best moment is the one that isn't on the remix at all—the fact that Chew Fu had the good sense to excise the terrible "Fumble, don't you fumble, that's a flag on the play" from the original version.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

Rihanna's electro flirtations were sadly limited to just a couple songs on Good Girl Gone Bad—perhaps she figured that Ciara had that territory covered on her own, which we suppose would be fair enough. Still, electro-pop was a good look for Ri, as evidenced by the compulsively danceable "Push Up on Me," which rides a Krfatwerk-like beat into near-freestyle territory, as Rihanna spots a guy in the club and decides to lay it all on Front Street for him: "The way you stare starts a fire in me / Come up to my room, you sexy little thing." Over that beat, who could resist?

Best Moment: "Baby who you think you're fooling? / You wanna come and get me out of my dress." Ugh, fine, you win, Rihanna.


Found On: Unapologetic

A song that could probably have fit in easily with the reggae-tinged jams on Rihanna's first two albums, with one crucial difference: There's no beat. Well, that's not totally true—there's rhythm, certainly, provided by the song's percolating bass line and on-the-down-beat guitars, which give the song an obvious dub feel. But the drums are completely absent, giving the song a disorienting, almost eerie feeling that really brings out the heartbreak of the lyrics ("I'm screaming murderer / How could you murder us? / I call it murder / No love allowed") and makes the song a standout of the second side of Rihanna's latest.

Best Moment: Every time at the end of the measure, when that echoey little guitar effect pangs across the song. It's all the hook that the song needs to be absolutely unforgettable.

44. "THE ONE"

Found On: Memphis Bleek's 534

Released on Bleek's 534 album a week before she released breakout single "Pon De Replay," it probably registered as a favor from Memphis to Jay to put Jigga's new protege on his LP. And actually, the song is a total jam—not released a single for reasons unknown, but a super-bouncy love jam from Ri and the third-tier Roc rapper, with an excellent horn-laden beat from lost '00s producer Bink really taking center stage. Of the many "oh shit, I totally forgot about that one!" collabs from Ri's early career, this one has probably aged the best.

Best Moment: Memphis' chuckle-worthy-in-retrospect introduction of Ri before track's start: "Got the young lady by the name of Rihanna with me / Straight from Barbados!" The idea that Memphis would ever be the one explaining who Rihanna was is just...

43. "S&M"

Found On: Loud

Rihanna had long been hinting at a song like "S&M" before finally unleashing it on her Loud album—a straight up ode to rough sex the likes of which had not much been heard on pop radio since Madonna's early-'90s heyday. The song stops short of just being explicit, but still packs a giddy rush with lines like "Sex in the air, I don't care I love the smell of it" and "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me." (Those are both on the chorus, natch.) The song is saved from cheap-thrill status by an absolutely stomping Stargate beat that matches the aggressiveness of the lyrics verse-for-verse and helped make the song exciting even to audiences who don't usually need to set up safewords for their night-time horseplay.

Best Moment: When Rihanna's voice goes soft, for the only time in the entire song, on the bridge: "And meet me in my bou-doir..."


Found On: A Girl Like Me

No Queen-related complaints necessary—this "Crazy Little Thing" is all Rihanna, riding a lithe dancehall beat with one of her sweetest pop lyrics to date. "Boy you got me catching feelings / Got me thinking maybe you're the one..." We understand why Rihanna had to evolve past songs like this fairly early in her career, but would it kill her to revisit it every once in a while? One time per album/tour would be fine by us.

Best Moment: "My best friends tell me 'Rihanna, what's got into you?' / I said 'Leandra, I can't explain these feelings I'm going through.'" What's Leandra up to these days, anyway?


Found On: Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3

You only get one or two songs a year with as much star power as "Run This Town," featuring Jay-Z, Kanye West and Rihanna, so you just hope those involved don't waste their opportunities. "Town" falls just short of being a true classic, but it was still one of the baddest singles of the late-'00s for sure, with Rihanna holding down the chorus as Jay-Z declared "all black everything" for all-time and Kanye pleaded "next time I'm in church, please no photos" on the verses, all over one of Kanye's coldest beats. Hell of a video, too.

Best Moment: Probably Rihanna's wordless "Hey-ey-ey-ey"s chant in between choruses and verses. With titans of industry like the three of them, what else do you even need to say, really?

For songs #40-31, click NEXT.

Other pages: #125-101, #100-81, #80-71, #70-61, #60-51, #30-21, #20-11, #10-1


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

"Shut Up" was the first real hit of Rihanna Mach II, the uninhibited, pedal-to-the-medal sex kitten—though "kitten" probably implies a feline far more docile than RiRi intended on being at this point. The song is a little obvious in its car-sex metaphor-izing ("Get you where you wanna go if you know what I mean"—yeah, we think we read you on that one, Rihanna) and its "Blue Monday"-interpolating hook is a bit more leaden than it should be, but the song is still a blast, and to try to resist a chorus that peaks with the couplet "'Coz I'm zero to sixty in 3.5 / Baby you got the keys, shut up and drive" is a pretty futile and pointless thing to do.

Best Moment: The breakdown section, where the song's streamlined synth-rock sound gives way to a skittering electro beat, as a double-tracked Rihanna coos "Ain't no Ferrari, huh, boy I'm sorry / I ain't even worried / So step inside and ride..."


Found On: A Girl Like Me

Kind of like Rihanna's version of "Back to December," where she says What's Up to an old ex, asks him how things are going, and admits she wishes they were still together. (The main difference being that Rihanna frames her admission in the precept of writing her old guy a letter, hence the "PS" of the title.) It's an extremely tender song, which eschews big-budget drama for a smaller, more sighing kind of resignation, which is possibly why the song was never released as a single, but it remains fairly affecting in its low-key soulfulness and its easily relateable story of failure to get over somebody from your past. Plus, how great is "P.S. (I'm Still Not Over You)" as a song title?

Best Moment: "How's your mother? How's your little brother? / Does he still look just like you?" Details. Always the details.


Found On: Loud

Not quite the timeless classic that the Weather Girls forecast three decades earlier, but pop thrills don't come much purer than two of the baddest bitches in the game teaming up for a song about how thoroughly fungible members of the opposite sex are to them. With a hyperactive, synth-swashed beat to work with, Rihanna and guest rapper Nicki Minaj do their best to out-unimpressed one-another, Rihanna declaring herself a "two times five" and chastising her guy "set your standards lower, you're aiming too high" while Minaj rebuffs her guy for the disparity in their genital prowess (rhyming "tightest hole" with "microscope"—you can probably figure out the rest from there). The Weather Girls were endlessly grateful for the male precipitation, but Ri and Nicki seem like they might be better off just staying indoors. Respect.

BEST MOMENT: Nicki's closing couplet: "Lay down on the beach, they be feeding me my catfishes / 'Coz it's RAIIIIIIINING MEN / Fat bitches." Great rhyme, but we wonder what Martha Wash has to say about that quasi-subliminal dis.

37. "YOU DA ONE"

Found On: Talk That Talk

Ri took a break from all the Cockiness and Cake Cake Cake Cake on Talk That Talk for one G-rated—well, PG, anyway—bubblegum love song, the Dr. Luke-helmed "You Da One." While not nearly as exciting as Talk's lead single, which we'll of course get to much later in the list, "One" is nearly as much fun, with its good-timey production, its thankfully subtle dubstep breakdown, and its endlessly addictive "You da one that I think about all day-ay-ay..." chorus hook. We still believe that the reason this song wasn't a massive hit was simply that it was released in the wrong season—if it had come out in the summertime, this song would've shimmered on Top 40 radio until late October.

Best Moment: The breakdown is nice, but there's nothing about this song that sticks quite like that irrepressible chorus hook. You've got it stuck in your right now, admit it.


Found On: Unapologetic

Hard to think of too many album openers of recent years that get things in flight from the jump quite like this one. With shredding synths like something out of an early-'90s rave anthem and one of Rihanna's cockiest-ever vocals ("Walk up in this bitch like I own a hoe," she notably repeats in the song's bridge), "Runway" starts Unapologetic off already seeing red, a delirious and id-fueled statement of intent that out-swags just about anything else released in 2012. Never mind that it's far too abrasive to ever get played at Fashion Week—if supermodels don't hear this song in their heads while on the catwalk, they're in the wrong profession.

Best Moment: "How could you be so hood, but you're so fucking pop? / How could you be so fun, but sound like you're selling rocks?" Worthwhile questions.


Found On: A Girl Like Me

More of a Sean Paul song featuring Rihanna than the other way, as Rihanna is mostly used just for the hook on this one. The two still deserve double billing, though, as it's Rihanna's intonation on the hook—the way she spits out the "Brick it off" of the song's title is what really gives the song its juice, with Paul's verses mostly coming and going without much impact. Still, the hook (as well as Rihanna's later bridge) is enough to make the song tremendously exciting, especially with Paul chiming in with exhortations like "Sing it!" and "Instantaneous!" throughout Ri's vocal. The song is a full 3:30, but the beat is so tight and the hook so hypnotic that it doesn't feel nearly long enough.

Best Moment: Paul's "Moost de-fi-nite-lee!" response to Ri's initial "I wanna know, boy, if I can be your shorty?" on the opening chorus. Why did these two never work together again?


Found On: Music of the Sun

The swingiest, most delectable of Rihanna's early reggae songs, with a horn-and-synth hook that makes the song as irresistible as the relationship described in the song. Speaking of Sean Paul, the song whose appeal is most similar to this one is Paul's roughly concurrent duet with Sasha, "I'm Still in Love With You," with a little more of a conventional pop structure, since this is a Rihanna record after all. Guest star J-Status is no Sean Paul, of course, but then again, Sasha was no Rihanna.

Best Moment: The first time Rihanna hits the unexpected high note in her verse—"And I guess that I forgot just how you make me feel when you're around." Too good.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

One of the first showings of Rihanna's introspective side, as evidenced by a title far more meditative than the "Shut Up and Drive"s and "Push Up on Me"s otherwise found on Good Girl Gone Bad. Far from Rihanna's catchiest or most anthemic song, certainly, but an excellent example of Rihanna's ability to go a little deeper in her music, especially in the song's transfixing spoken-word "Dear Diary" section, in which she testifies "Entertaining is something I do for a living. It's NOT who I am. I like to thing...I'm pretty normal." It's one of the only pre-2009 signs that Rihanna would one day very soon make an album like Rated R.

Best Moment: The end of Robyn's diary confessional, in which she admits "I don't know who to trust. I don't know who wants to date me for who I am...or who wants to be my friend, for who I really am." Some real talk right there.


Found On: Talk That Talk (Deluxe Edition)

Of Rihanna's many dubstep flirtations, "Red Lipstick" reigns unquestionably as the best. Of course, it's kind of a cheat, since she just took basically the entirety of regular producers Chase and Status' best-known dubstep anthem, the pulsating, whirring "Saxon"—previously worked over by Nicki Minaj—for the song's instrumental. But there's no arguing with results, and even though it might have roots in the works of others, "Red Lipstick" is one of the most Rihanna-sounding Rihanna songs yet—sexy, grungy, more than a little bit dangerous and absolutely intoxicating. Few others among the many pop stars who have dabbled in dubstep have come up with an end product that sounds anywhere near this natural—or anywhere near this good.

Best Moment: "DO YOU RIGHT HERE WHILE THE WHOLE WORLD'S WATCHING!" It almost sounds like a threat, and we guess that's kind of the point.


Found On: A Girl Like Me

Good as many of Rihanna's early reggae efforts were, most of them sounded a little light-weight, flimsy and occasionally even cheap-sounding. Not so with "Kisses Don't Lie," maybe the rawest, most muscular reggae song RiRi ever recorded, with crunching guitars and bass, hard-hitting drums, and one of her strongest early vocals to match. Listen to Ri shriek over the song's absolutely deadly groove in the pre-chorus: "Show me how, tell me now / Should I stay or should I go? / 'Coz I'm caught between yes and NOOOO-OOOO!" More than just about anything else on her sophomore album, this song was the evidence that Rihanna wasn't just a passing teenage phenom, but a legit star who was going to be around for a long time.

Best Moment: Hell of a note Ri hits on that "yes and NOOOO-OOOO!" section.

For songs #30-21, click NEXT.

Other pages: #125-101, #100-81, #80-71, #70-61, #60-51, #50-41, #20-11, #10-1


Found On: Loud

Helped immensely by an inspired lift from the bridge to Avril Lavigne's "I'm With You"—and an always-appropriate "freakin' weekend" borrowing from R. Kelly's "Ignition (Remix)"—Rihanna made one of the second-best drinking song of 2011 with "Cheers (Drink to That)." (Sorry, Ri—there's just no competing with Toby Keith on that one.) The song just has the perfect feel for a bar sing-along—it's got the ideal laidback tempo for putting your arms around your friends and swaying in time, but is propulsive enough that it doesn't feel too draggy for beer raising either, if that's more your thing. And Rihanna is in total command throughout, setting the tone with her "It's getting Coyote Ugly in here, no Tyra / It's only up from here, no downward spiral" declarations, and taking no prisoners with her "THERE'S A PARTY AT THE BAAAAR SO EVERYBODY PUT YOUR GLAAAASSES UP!" demands.

Best Moment: Hard to go against Avril's "Yeah yeah, yeah yeah!"s, but you gotta love that the producers (Orlando duo The Runners) were smart enough to include an actual crew sing-along portion before the final chorus—as if the listeners needed any extra motivation to join in the fun.


Found On: Talk That Talk (Deluxe Edition)

Who else besides Rihanna would record a song that basically urges a lover to be unfaithful to her—and make it sound sweet and wistful in the process? "See I know you like being around chicks / And looking at her hips / In her little outfit / Hey, what can I say? / That's what I love about ya babe." Ri acknowledges that her boy is "too sexy to ever be shy," and that she probably can't stop him from playing the field, but that she knows there's a difference between lust and love, and she's gonna continue to hold him down regardless, prodding him to just do his thing. The song could've sounded insecure if done by a lesser performer, and depressing if soundtracked by a lesser producer, but in the hands of Rihanna and The-Dream, it's a love song that's actually kind of beautiful in its understanding and affection. How it missed the cut on Talk That Talk is absolutely perplexing.

Best Moment: Rihanna's repeated "That's what I love about you, babe" conclusion in the song's chorus. You can hear her smiling despite herself as she sings it.


Found On: Unapologetic

A very, very different sort of Rihanna-Dream collaboration than our #28, the two-part climax to Unapologetic reaches emotional depths that Rihanna rarely before dared dive into, and the result, while a little overcooked and difficult, is one of the most fascinating things Ri has ever recorded. The suite is almost Weeknd-esque in its ice-cold, piercing sonics, and lyrics focusing on a combination of love, guilt and confusion. "Tragedy" is the headline-baiter, with lyrics almost certainly referencing Rihanna's tumultuous relationship with Chris Brown ("Who knew the course of this one drive injured us fatally?" "What's love without tragedy?") but the really compelling part is "Mother Mary," where Ri simply admits "But I'm from the left side of an island / Never thought this many people would even know my name."

The whole thing is seven minutes long, easily the longest song recorded by Rihanna to date, but the running time feels earned, even necessary. If Rihanna and The-Dream ever dared to make an entire album together, that might just be the end of everything.

Best Moment: The moment when the song turns over from one guitar lick to another—fluid, but still extremely jarring, just like one of the Weeknd's finest musical moments.


Found On: Unapologetic

And for the third-straight Rihanna-Dream collaboration on this list, "Nobody's Business" is yet another change-of-pace for the duo, as this one shows Dream providing Rihanna with a far less cutting-edge backing track, rather indulging his retro sort of '90s house groove. The result is just as sublime, though—almost regrettably so, as the song also features the contributions a third party—Chris Brown, Ri's embattled ex, who appears to be singing with his on-again, off-again belle about how everyone should just leave them the fuck alone and let them do them. With a track this shimmering and head-nodding, it's harder than usual to contradict the two of them.

Best Moment: The song's MJ-aping chorus, in which the duo declare "It ain't nobody's business but mine and my babe's." Frustrating, but no less catchy for being so.

26. "TAKE A BOW"

Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad Reloaded

There is one reason and one reason only that "Take a Bow" is not looked at as one of Rihanna's all-time great songs: Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable." Without that song—one of the all-time greatest hit-the-road-Jack numbers in pop music history—"Take a Bow" would've easily reigned as the best kiss-off song of its moment, and might've become a karaoke standard and spawned a catchphrase or two. Unfortunately for Rihanna, "Bow" was released just shortly after "Irreplaceable," and was a little too similar in sound and theme for some to be looked at as such a classic.

Fair enough—the two do share some fairly striking similarities—but to completely disregard "Take a Bow" as a result would be a damn shame, since it's still damn great in its own right. The really striking thing about "Bow" is just how damn final the whole thing sounds—when Rihanna sighs "But it's over now," over the light strings and melancholy piano of the stellar Stargate / Ne-Yo production, you just know that dude has no choice but to do as instructed and take his final curtain call. Rihanna doesn't even sound all that mad or put out in her vocal, and only on the bridge does she even but any real oomph into it—she just sounds done, which is far more effective in getting her point across.

Best Moment: Undoubtedly Rihanna's super-unimpressed exhortation of "Please!" when hearing her man's protestations during the verses. "What else is on?"

25. "SKIN"

Found On: Loud

"Why you standing over there with your clothes on?" Always a relevant question with Rihanna, especially on a song like "Skin," the slowest, sultriest ballad on Loud, and possibly of Ri's whole career. "No shirt, no shoes, no skirt, all I'm in is just skin" Rihanna matter-of-factly declares over a super-bass-heavy lurch, which would make the theme of the song obvious even if it was just an instrumental. The song was used on the Last Girl on Earth tour for Rihanna to give a lapdance to a man or woman in the audience during the outro, and it's hard to imagine that too many other artists out there have a better song in their arsenal to pull out for such purposes.

Best Moment: Probably the ending guitar solo. Comparing it to an orgasm would probably be a lazy and kind of gross thing to do, but...well, we've already probably said too much in that case.


Found On: Music of the Sun

Rihanna's second single stiffed on the charts, peaking at just #36 after debut "Pon de Replay" made it all the way to #2, suggesting that consumer interest in the dancehall movement of the mid-'00s no longer extended far enough to allow artists to have multiple hits. In retrospect, though, "Lovin" was an extremely worthy follow-up to "Replay," fun and breezy and sweetly romantic in the same way that Diana King's "Shy Guy" was a decade earlier. Rihanna was savvy enough to switch up the musical script for her next album, so the commercial failure of "Lovin" registers not quite as a tragedy, but a considerable injustice just the same.

Best Moment: The chopped up backing vocals exclaiming "Swear! Swear! Swear! Swear! Ooo-ooo-ooooo-ooooohhh...." on the chorus. Not totally sure what they have to do with the rest of the song, but they make for quite the earworm.


Found On: T.I.'s Paper Trail

Rihanna's first chart-topper as a featured performer, and one of her all-time best supporting appearances. Admit it, when you think of "Live Your Life," you can only really remember one or two lines tops from T.I.'s self-righteous verses—far more likely, your impressions of the song are all based around the Numa Numa-sampling hook and Rihanna leading the "Ey-ey-ey-ey-ey-eyyyyy"s on the chorus. The song cemented Tip as arguably the biggest rapper in the country, but really, it was a credit to Rihanna's undeniable star power that the song was half as big as it was.

Best Moment: Ri emphatically declaring "Until the game ends, until the clock stops, we're gonna post up on the top spot" on the song's chorus. Keep living your life, girl.

22. "RUDE BOY"

Found On: Rated R

Rated R was mostly notable for its weirdness, but Ri couldn't resist including one undeniable pop smash in the set, and so we had "Rude Boy," a typical Rihanna challenge to a lover to get on her level in the bedroom, almost taunting him on the chorus "C'mere rude boy, boy can you get it up? / C'mere rude boy, boy is you big enough?" Of course, Rihanna could never sound antagonistic over a Stargate beat, and the Swedish super-proudcers came up with one of their catchiest hooks with the trance-y synth line here, making Rihanna's invitations seem more playful than frustrated. "Rude Boy" kept Rihanna at the top of the charts during her "difficult" period, and ensured the seat on top was still warm for her when she returned with the far more populist Loud album.

Best Part: Rihanna's matter-of-fact warning on the bridge that "Baby, if I don't feel it, I ain't faking, oh no." We never would have presumed anyway.

21. "TE AMO"

Found On: Rated R

The video for "Te Amo," featuring French supermodel Laetitia Casta, would make you think the song was a lot more titilating than it actually is. Rather, it's actually a far more captivating narrative of Rihanna acknowledging the romantic intentions a female friend has for her, even though she can't reciprocate her feelings. The song's semi-bi-lingual chorus, in which Rihanna iterates her would-be lover constantly repeating the titular phrase, seemingly in increasing frustration and desperation, is affecting for relatively unerotic reasons, as is Rihanna's pained response on the song's bridge "I feel the love / But I don't feel that way." Rather than the Spanish phrase just being deployed to court an international audience, the lost-in-translation sentiment adds brilliantly to the song's sense of emotional confusion and longing. Hot video, better song.

Best Moment: Probably Rihanna's pronunciation on the "Then she put her hand around me waist" line in the chorus. Again, the accent comes and goes with RiRi, but when it's on, it can be oh so effective.

For songs #20-11, click NEXT.

Other pages: #125-101, #100-81, #80-71, #70-61, #60-51, #50-41, #40-31, #10-1

20. "JUMP"

Found On: Unapologetic

The most purely exciting song on Rihanna's new one, "Jump" is mostly successful for two reasons—her steal of the chorus to Ginuwine's Magic Mike-approved mid-'90s classic "Pony," and the ensuing dubstep/house breakdown that the chorus triggers. There's not terribly much of a song surrounding those two factors—Ri's lyrics concern trying to convince a straying or maybe just unconvinced lover of her prowess, Kanye shows up for what might be the least impressive eight bars of his rapping career—but there doesn't need to be one, because the combination of chorus and break is so fucking invigorating that all the rest of the song needs to do is kill time until it can wind up for the chorus again. It's a much-needed boost of energy to NBA's jump ball music canon—Kriss Kross and House of Pain were getting mad tired.

Best Moment: The final break, where chorus and break join forces for about 20 seconds of the most obligatory head-banging music of the year.


Found On: Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

One of the most compelling songs on Kanye's flawed 2010 masterwork, in which he summons all the world's wattage to shine light on his imaginary domestic troubles ("I slapped my girl, she called the feds," "Restraining order, can't see my daughter") over a hyperactive drum shuffle and some absolutely epic horns. Rihanna provides some nice vocal contrast to Yeezy's mania on the song's hook, calmly singing "Turn up the lights in here baby, extra bright I want y'all to see this," but despite her presence (and contributions from about a dozen other big-name guests over the course of the song, including Fergie and even Elton John) this is clearly Kanye's show—which is why the song, fascinating and adrenalizing though it is, misses the top ten on this list.

Best Moment: Gotta go with the opening "ALL OF THE LIGHTS!" yelp, followed by the introduction of those booming horns. That's how you take a song from 0 to 10 in about five seconds.


Found On: Non-Album Single

One of the craziest beats Rihanna or anyone else has worked with this decade, an irrepressible Bangladesh production built around a truly ingenious sample of Billy Stewart's '60s rendition of the old musical standard "Summertime." That twisted, chattering sample provides the song's backbone, and Rihanna rides it like a champ, declaring "I want you to be my sex suh-lave," and "She may be the queen of hearts, but I'ma be the queen of your body parts." The primary vocal hook might be Rihanna's worst double-entendre yet—"Suck my cockiness, lick my persuasion"—but it's so cheesy, and the beat is so over-the-top as is, that it's more lovable than grating anyway. The A$AP Rocky verse on the remix doesn't add a ton, but his voice is a good fit for it, and it does give us an extra half-minute with that absolutely nutso beat, for which we are grateful.

Best Moment: Easily when the beat temporarily drops out for Ri to proclaim "NO ONE CAN DO YOU THE WAY THAT I DOOO / BOY I WAH-AH-AHHHHNT....." as her sentence is answered by Stewart's yawped "YOUUUUUU!!!!!!" Totally insane, and totally awesome.


Found On: Rated R

Probably the most intense song Rihanna ever recorded, and one of the strangest lead singles released by a major pop artist of recent years. Yes, this creepy, melodramatic ballad—which features Rihanna pleading for her lover to "just pull the trigger" amidst gun-barrel-spinning sounds throughout, and ends with a gunshot, presumably aimed at Rihanna's own head—was the first song released from Rated R, reflecting what an exceedingly vulnerable the singer was at in this point of her career—just a half-year after the incident of Grammy Night 2009, natch. You can almost feel her trembling as she sings "You can see my heart beating / You can see it through my chest," an absolutely unnerving hook whose tension is amplified by the menacingly pulsating beat and relentless gun sounds.

The song underperformed commercially compared to her string of Good Girl Gone Bad smashes, but it established Rihanna as an artist unafraid of taking some very real risks with her music, and it stands today as one of her most impressive musical achievements.

Best Moment: Probably the final gunshot, a disturbingly welcome release after the song's borderline-unbearable tension throughout.

16. "STAY"

Found On: Unapologetic

One of Rihanna's best ballads, an intimate, personal-sounding romantic plea that sounds like it could have been a lost cut from Adele's 21. Without much musical accompaniment—only a Radiohead-like piano hook provides musical accompaniment for the majority of the song—the songwriting and Rihanna's vocal performance really shine through, an absolutely gorgeous effort that show how far Rihanna has come as a vocalist and artist from her early days—no way would she have been able to do what she did a few weeks ago on SNL with this song five years ago. The largely unknown and mysterious Mikky Ekko shows up as Ri's duet partner, but though he provides some nice harmonies on the bridge, the song is better as a one-woman show, and Rihanna's specifically.

Best Moment: Maybe the final couple extended "Stay"s, followed by Rihanna's soft "ooooh" falsetto. Emotional stuff.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

Rihanna's first single to demonstrate she could be just as effective on club-based jams as hip-hop-based ones, a kinetic anthem of lust and dancefloor energy—keyed, of course, by another Michael Jackson lift, this time the perennially sampled "Mama-say, mama-sa, ma-ma-ko-ssa" hook from "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" (via Manu Dibango, who sued Rihanna for her interpolation of his original lyric.) The connection between the dancefloor and the bedroom would be one visited by Rihanna throughout her career, but probably never better than here, where the acts of dancing and fucking basically become one under seductively drawled lyrics like "Do you know what you started? / I just came here to party / But now we're rockin' on the dancefloor, acting naughty." With that relentless MJ sample, the Stargate beat keeps things from ever getting monotonous, and begins Ri's career path to being perhaps the greatest house diva of her era.

Best Moment: When the heavily filtered "Mama-say" hook first pops up in the pre-chorus, getting gradually cleaner and cleaner until it finally explodes undisguised in the first chorus.


Found On: Music of the Sun

The song that started it all for Rihanna, and a dancehall classic of the '00s. Rihanna doesn't do a ton of showy vocalizing on this one, instead letting the song's relentless groove take center stage—smart, considering how insanely catchy the beat to this one was. Adorned by Rihanna's incessant pleas for the DJ to turn the music up—which seemingly go for the entire song, without Ri so much as taking a break to breathe—the shuffling "Pon de Replay" beat became one of the most unavoidable sounds on radio during the summer of 2005, hypnotizing from the very first listen. It didn't do much to showcase what made Rihanna unique as a performer and a pop star, but there would be time enough for that later.

Best Moment: The way Rihanna spits out the word "sneak-ahs" in the "Let the bass from the speakers run through ya sneakers" line. The first of many super-cute, super-awesome vocal tics Rihanna would make unforgettable over the course of her career.

13. "LIVIN' A LIE"

Found On: The-Dream's Love/Hate

The most under-appreciated duet of Rihanna's career, and the only time she and longtime collaborator The-Dream shared a microphone. A forbidden-love anthem, in which Ri and Dream bemoan that they're unable to make their romance known to the world (for unspecified reasons, though it's probably not fidelity-related, as made clear by Dream's super-memorable "This feels worser than cheating" lamentation), the 2007 song feels oddly prophetic for another real-life high-profile romance of Rihanna's that the world could never understand. Regardless, the vocal urgency of the song is really put across by the two performers, getting increasingly desperate as they shriek "I wanna be near you!" "I wanna be near you too!," but always coming back to the gorgeously harmonized central issue: "We out here livin' a lie." Stunning stuff.

Best Moment: Ri and Dream's "It feels like I ain't breathing" / "This feels worser than cheating" lyrical trade-off on the first verse, probably, but it's a song full of highlights.

12. "HARD"

Found On: Rated R

When talking of hit songs of the last five years that nobody but Rihanna could have done successfully, "Hard" has gotta be at the top of the list. Whether declaring that her "runway never looked so clear," bragging about her "fanmail from 27 million" or challenging "Where them girls talking trash / Where they at, where they at, where they at?," all over The-Dream and Tricky Stewart's booming, militaristic beat, the song is 100% Rihanna—aside from the well-chosen Young Jeezy guest verse, anyway—and 100% badass. And of course, the song's primary chest-puff—of Rihanna proclaiming over and over again "I-I-I'm so hard / Yeah-yeah-yeah, so hard," while in essence totally meaningless, does kinda define Rihanna Mach II, cementing her evolution from underage songstress to unfuckwithable pop icon.

Best Moment: We can't help but be partial to the "Where them bloggers at? Where them blogger at?" callout in the bridge, for obvious reasons.

11. "MAN DOWN"

Found On: Loud

Rihanna had done so much stylistic evolving in the four years since second album A Girl Like Me that it was almost shocking to hear Rihanna return to the reggae world that provided the core of her sound in her early days on fifth album Loud. Luckily, she did so with one of the best songs of her career, the murder ballad "Man Down," which involves Rihanna gunning a man down "in Grand Central Station, in front of a big old crowd," for largely unspecified reasons (though in the song's controversial music video, the murder is in response to a sexual assault). The song's beat is a lot more full-bodied than the relatively thin grooves Ri used in the past, and the song's content is surprisingly emotional for such an obvious fiction, Rihanna sounding legitimately pained as she testifies "I didn't mean to hurt him / Coulda been somebody's son!" And of course, the song's hook—Ri's tongue-rolled "Rum-pum-pa-pum...Man Down!"—was an instant classic.

Best Moment: Probably any instance of the song's signature hook, though the subtle introduction of the police sirens at the song's beginning is also a nice touch—although it makes the song frightening music for car rides.

For songs #10-1, click NEXT.

Other pages: #125-101, #100-81, #80-71, #70-61, #60-51, #50-41, #40-31, #30-21


Found On: Talk That Talk

Rihanna and Calvin Harris' second hookup was a little more of a slow burn than their first, but only barely—the song is still a tremendously invigorating sound on pop radio in 2012, and proof of the considerable musical chemistry between performer and producer. Unlike "We Found Love," which puts its primary hook front and center, "Where" starts off misleadingly, sounding more like a ballad from its opening "I've Been Everywhere"-referencing bars, until the song achieves flight with Rihanna's "Wheeeere have you been all my laiiii-iiiife??" cries in the pre-chorus. There's no real actual chorus, though—instead, there's one of the dirtiest, funkiest breaks we've heard in 2010s dance-pop, which the song does an admirable job recovering from, eventually ending right where it began. Not Rihanna's most euphoric dance song, but one of her most mysterious and exciting.

Best Moment: Gotta be the first time that that break drops, after the synths cut out and a short drum fill provides the transition.


Found On: Loud

Ahh, there's the dance floor euphoria. After the relative oddness of the Rated R album, "Only Girl (In the World)" was a pretty clear signal from Rihanna that she was getting back to her maximalist ways, and with a song this good and this big, no one could possibly begrudge her that call. "Only Girl" feels huge the way that "Don't Leave Me This Way" or "I Will Survive" did back in the disco era, scaling the same kind of heights as those classics on the chorus, as Rihanna emphatically proclaims "I want you to make me feel / Like I'm the only girl in the world." (She pauses between most of the words in the first line, as if she wanted to make sure that there were no possible mixed messages being conveyed.)

With a shimmering, pounding house beat from Stargate and one of her most powerful vocals to date, "Only Girl" was the sound of Rihanna reclaiming her place on top of the pop pecking order, not yet vacated in the couple years since.

Best Moment: Probably just the opening of the first chorus, when the synths kick in and Rihanna goes full-on siren. She sounds like the only girl in the world, at least.


Found On: Drake's Take Care

Of all the many male collaborators Rihanna has had over the year, the chemistry is never better than it is with Drake. Maybe it's the fact that intimacy (both sonic and lyrical) is such a large part of the appeal with both artists, maybe it's the fact that their relationship was briefly taken off-record, maybe it's just that they're both really good at what they do, but the couple times they've gotten together, the results have been electric. Such is certainly the case with "Take Care," a beautiful, tense, slippery love song about trust and loneliness and commitment, with a dance beat that never quite takes off, that made for sort of an unlikely smash hit off Drake's album of the same name, but one ultimately too compelling to deny.

Rihanna's role on the song is small but critical. In between Drake's verses of getting high on his birthday and wishing that he dies real, Ri sings the song's basic hook, originated by Gil Scott-Heron: "I know you've been hurt by someone else / I can tell by the way you carry yourself / But if you let me, here's what I'll do / I'll take care of you." She imbues the lines with such tenderness and compassion that they sound lyrical and poetic in their simplicity, and their assuredness contrast brilliantly with the confusion and insecurity of Drake's verses, resulting in one of the most emotionally unique pop songs in recent memory.

Best Moment: When the ending of Drake's second verse ("Somebody shoulda told you something to save you / Instead they said...") erupts in a cacophany of Gil-Scott's voice from the original, scat-singing "Don't / tell me / I don't care / if you hurt..." It's a mind-bender, for sure.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad Reloaded

The beginning of Rihanna's dark period? Well, "Disturbia" isn't actually that dark musically, but its video had goth to spare, and the lyrical themes of paranoia and psychosis and feeling like a monster certainly represented the start of a trend for Rihanna. Luckily, the song was so darned catchy with its "bum-bum-bee-dum-bum-bum-dee-dum-dum" chorus hook and titular lyric working off the name of a concurrent movie that the song didn't actually have a lick to do with that it was a deserved pop smash just the same. In retrospect the song seems a little tame and gentle for Rihanna, but upon its 2007 release, it was a real eye-opener for an artist whose increasingly diverse work in both the darkness and the light was getting more and more impressive.

Best Moment: The song sets the mood instantly, with a distant shout echoing in the background giving way to the song's bum-bum earworm, and Rihanna wondering aloud to herself "What's wrong with me? Why do I feel like this?" Ten seconds in, and you're totally hooked.

6. "S.O.S."

Found On: A Girl Like Me

"Pon de Replay" was Rihanna's first smash hit, but "S.O.S." was her first true classic. It takes a strong fucking pop song to take a sample as iconic as the synth line to "Tainted Love" and not let it overwhelm the new product, but "S.O.S." used the sample to build an entirely separate song, one nearly the equal of Soft Cell's synth-pop standard. Of course, it helped that the song was on a similar theme of love-induced mania, though Rihanna twists it to be about a love that's too good, rather than too bad. (In both songs, it results in tossing and turning and the inability to sleep at night—a clever lyrical steal and deserved shoutout to the original.)

Ri uses the litheness of the sample as a jump-off for one of her bounciest vocals, having fun almost despite herself on lines like "You got me stressing / In-cess-ant-ly pressing the issue..." The vocal turns urgent on the chorus, one of the best of Ri's career, where she pairs lines like "S.O.S. please / Someone help me" with "Y.O.U. are / making this hard" and "someone come and rescue me" with "got me looking for the rest of me," subtle lyrical callbacks that double down on the song's catchiness without sacrificing coherence or emotional connection. The result is a truly immaculate pop song, and one that dispelled any possible thoughts of Rihanna as a one-hit wonder.

BEST MOMENT: When Rihanna's double-tracked vocal splits in different directions on the final chorus, hitting the next level without costing the song any of its hard-earned catchiness.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

"Hate" got a little lost in the shuffle upon its original release amidst a swarm of bigger hits by both Rihanna and duet partner Ne-Yo—not to mention a bunch of similar-sounding Stargate productions. But the song has endured as one of the most touching by either artist, a song whose light shuffle and relatively understated hook doesn't stun exactly, but kinda crawls its way under your skin over time, until you find yourself breaking down a little with every pained "And I you, boy/girl." The song hits all the right notes emotionally, and Rihanna and Ne-Yo are the perfect vocalists to carry the song, to carry the song's content and feel without overwhelming it with their oversized personalities.

And as for Stargate...well, at the time, it was really easy to get exhausted with their spate of soundalike acoustic mid-tempo shuffles, whether it be Ne-Yo's "Sexy Love," Chris Brown's "With You" or, again, Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable." But looking back on them now, when there's really nothing like them in pop at the moment (and Stargate themselves have moved on to pounding, synth-heavy floor-fillers), they all sound so sweet and unassuming and lovely in retrospect—and none moreso than "Hate That I Love You." Guess it was just too much of a good thing back then, but we'd personally like to issue the Swedish production team an apology for taking their distinctive sound so very much for granted.

Best Moment: On the wind-up to the song's final chorus, where Rihanna comes in with a familiar "and I hate that I love you..." before being joined by Ne-Yo in gorgeous harmony for the climactic "SOOOOO-OOOOO!!!!" as the chorus kicks in again. Beautiful moment.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

Rihanna and her people have generally hit with most of their single choices and snubs, but they missed big in passing this one over. Maybe "Breakin' Dishes" was just a year or two ahead of schedule for Rihanna, as we were still perhaps too used to the sweet girl of "S.O.S." and "If It's Lovin' That You Want" to have accepted Rihanna putting her heel on our throats like this, but holy shit is this song too good to be kept to mere album-track status. A stomping (in more ways than one, and even still that's probably putting it too mildly) revenge track, "Dishes" was an early-ish sign in Rihanna's career that she had the potential to be the baddest of pop badasses, not just an innocuous hook girl.

Taking Kelis' "Caught Out There" to the next level—and don't get it twisted, that was not a song that really needed to be taken to any hgiher level than it was already at—"Dishes" features Rihanna in complete control, singing about being completely out of control, as she prepares to confront her man for stepping out on her. The Dream/Stewart beat is a zooming juggernaut, the coldest, most imposing thing this side of Timbaland's beat for Nelly Furtado's "Maneater," but Ri picks her teeth with Nelly vocally, getting into the red for lines like "I'm roasting marshmallows on the fire / And what I'm burning is your attire," and the chorus declaration of "I'm breaking dishes up in her / All night / I ain't gon' stop until I see police lights."

Best Moment: We can't get enough of the way Rihanna pronounces the word "marsh-mell-lowwwws" in the second verse, though the entire bridge (including Ri's threats to "huff and puff and blow this, blow this whole house dowwwwwwn) is a worthy challenger.


Found On: Loud

The first hook-up between Drake and Ri, with chemistry even more scintillating than on "Take Care." Watching them in the video for this, or performing the song at the NBA All-Star Game, and you knew there was something there than mere professional respect. Though Drake is only present for one verse here—though a memorable one, for reasons bad ("The square root of 69 is eight-something...") but mostly good ("Only thing we got on is the radio," "The things we could do in 20 minutes, girl..."), the spark is evident for the whole song, as Rihanna challenges him to "go long-time with a girl like me" and coos one of her all-time catchiest hooks in the oft-repeated "Oh na na / What's my name?" We're counting down the days until these two work together again.

Best Moment: The song's bridge, in which a rapturous Rihanna exclaims "You're so amazing / You took the time to figure me out / That's why you take me / Way past the point of turning me on." Doesn't rhyme, but that's cool.


Found On: Talk That Talk

Sometimes it all comes together. Rihanna had been working in the field of dance music for a number of years before "We Found Love," but she'd never worked with a true house producer like Calvin Harris, and the pairing couldn't have worked more perfectly—just as the EDM sound was starting to crest in America, no less. Their first collaboration was a pop classic almost instantly, though a VMA-winning, controversy-baiting video certainly didn't hurt any. Unusually cheery for a Rihanna Mach II single—ecstatic, some would say—the song came up with a catchy two note riff and deployed it relentlessly from beginning to end, pausing only for a couple of the most epic build-up-and-drop sections we've ever heard. With the possible exception of "Don't Stop the Music," Rihanna jams before "We Found Love" were always dancing-optional. "Love" affords the listener no such flexibility.

Rihanna's contributions to the song are not as considerable as they are on many of her other hits—there's a reason why this song actually co-credits Calvin Harris as a performer, not just a producer—but she's still a perfect conduit for the song's blissed-out lyrics. The way she sighs her way through the "It's the way I'm feeling, I just can't denyyyyy..." on the verse, you can almost see her floating on the clouds, unsure whether it's the love or the drugs or both that have gotten her there. "We found love in a hopeless place" is an oddly stated sentiment to be anything resembling a catchphrase, but delivered by a performer as assured as Rihanna, just about any lyric has a chance to become iconic.

Best Moment: The first time the build-up-and-drop hits, and the hook comes back in at fuller force than ever before. If only all of music/life could be so sweet.


Found On: Good Girl Gone Bad

"S.O.S." was Rihanna's first pop classic, but it was "Umbrella" that truly made her a star. From the sound of the first hi-hat drop on the song, it was clear that something special was going on, and that the career of a true great of popular music was really getting underway. Jay-Z paved the runway for his protegé with his intro verse, mostly notable for its fine introduction of Rihanna (shouts of "Good girl gone bad!" and the verse-ending callout "With Little Miss Sunshine / Rihanna, where you at?"), and Ri takes off from her opening line, "You had my heart / And we'll never be worlds apart..." And once that classic chorus hits—"When the sun shines, we'll shine together, told you I'll be here forever," c'mon, you know the words!—it was just about Game Over.

The remarkable thing about "Umbrella" is that when you get down to it, it's a pretty simple record. The song's unforgettable Dream/Stewart-produced drumbeat was really just a slowed-down GarageBand loop, the structure is your textbook intro/verse/chorus/bridge/outro foundation, and Rihanna's hook really comes down to her pronunciation of a single word—"Uhm-buh-rel-la." But that simplicity is what allowed the song to become so transcendent, as it sounded instantly familiar and right and perfect, and it hit on all the details, from the subtly interlocking layers of synths on the chorus, to the way Rihanna's second chorus adds muscle by supporting her vocal with a double-tracked harmony, to the "Because!" exhortation that allows Ri to transition from the song's bridge breakdown back to the climcatic chorus.

In 50 years, we'll probably still remember Rihanna for "Umbrella" first and foremost. And that's a pretty cool thing for her.

Best Moment: That first hi-hat hit, still one of the most exciting sounds you're likely to hear in an any average day of radio listening over the last five years.

Thanks for reading through our ranked list of every Rihanna song! To take a quick glimpse at our list from #125-1 in its entirety, click NEXT.

Ranking Song

125 There's a Thug in My Life

124 Bad Girl

123 A Child is Born

122 Rush

121 Photographs

120 Rock Me Out

119 Hypnotized

118 Just Be Happy

117 Right Now

116 If It's Lovin' That You Want (Part 2)

115 Music of the Sun

114 Throw Your Hands Up

113 We All Want Love

112 Stupid in Love

111 Should I?

110 Pour It Up

109 Hole in My Head

108 First Time

107 Roll It

106 Turn Up the Music

105 Numba 1 (Tide is High)

104 Drunk on Love

103 Scratch

102 California King Bed

101 Shy Ronnie 2: Ronnie & Clyde

100 Let Me

99 Where Do We Go

98 Fly

97 Numb

96 Fading

95 Farewell

94 G4L

93 Willing to Wait

92 Selfish Girl

91 Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour)

90 Talk That Talk

89 The Last Time

88 If I Never See Your Face Again

87 Half of Me

86 Dem Haters

85 That La, La, La

84 Lost in Paradise

83 A Girl Like Me

82 Just Stand Up!

81 Fool in Love

80 Final Goodbye

79 Sell Me Candy

78 Cold Case Love

77 A Million Miles Away

76 Coulda Been the One

75 Cry

74 Love the Way You Lie (Pt. II)

73 We Ride

72 Get It Over With

71 Mad House

70 Loveeeeeee Song

69 Say It

68 Good Girl Gone Bad

67 The Last Song

66 Unfaithful

65 Rehab

64 What Now

63 Now I Know

62 Redemption Song

61 Fire Bomb

60 Lemme Get That


58 Birthday Cake

57 Boom Boom

56 You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)

55 Who's That Chick?

54 Haunted

53 Complicated

52 Princess of China

50 Watch n' Learn

51 Who Ya Gonna Run To

49 Love the Way You Lie

48 Diamonds

47 Wait Your Turn

46 The One

45 Push Up On Me

44 No Love Allowed

43 S&M

42 Crazy Little Thing Called Love

41 Run This Town

40 Shut Up and Drive

39 P.S. (I'm Still Not Over You)

38 Raining Men

37 You Da One

36 Phresh Off the Runway

35 Break It Off

34 Here I Go Again

33 Question Existing

32 Red Lipstick

31 Kisses Don't Lie

30 Cheers (Drink to That)

29 Do Ya Thang

28 Love Without Tragedy / Mother Mary

27 Nobody's Business

26 Take a Bow

25 Skin

24 If It's Lovin' That You Want

23 Live Your Life

22 Rude Boy

21 Te Amo

20 Jump

19 All of the Lights

18 Cockiness (Love It)

17 Russian Roulette

16 Stay

15 Don't Stop the Music

14 Pon de Replay

13 Livin' a Lie

12 Hard

11 Man Down

10 Where Have You Been

9 Only Girl (In the World)

8 Take Care

7 Disturbia

6 S.O.S.

5 Hate That I Love You

4 Breaking Dishes

3 What's My Name?

2 We Found Love

1 Umbrella