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Now you've gone somewhere else
I dunno if I will find you
But you'll feel my breath
On your neck
Can't believe I'm right behind you
I recently did my write-up for pop princess Rihanna's third studio album Good Girl Gone Bad, which was the first step she took to becoming a serious force to be reckoned with. And unlike many of the mainstream pop stars out there today, she is one of the few that I actually enjoy. Though she contributed to absolutely none of the lyrics or production of the album, she performed the material like a pro. This is not, however, to say that Rihanna is a great vocalist. She can merely care the tune and sing the words while doing so; but it does mean that she really tries to play the role handed to her. This time again, rather than a two-bit dance hall artist, Rihanna acted like she had actual artistic vision. And although she kind of didn't, she put on a pretty good show with fun dance songs like Don't Stop the Music and Umbrella. There was far more musical experimentation than they had been on her other records, and when she was good, she was good. A generally respectable pop effort. Well, following the unexpected mega-success of the album, Rihanna and her production team went back into the studio for a re-release of the album. With a differently colored album jacket, three new tracks and a bonus DVD (depending on the release you buy), the result was Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded, which, at first, just seemed like a really stupid idea. But this was also the beginning of Rihanna: The Video Artist. That and it gave fans the best track of the entire era.
In addition to the original twelve songs, three new tracks where tacked on to the bottom of the running list, each representing a different genre: dance, R&B, and rock. Going in order to the CD, the first track became a massive hit for the pop star, and that song was Disturbia, which was obviously more than just influenced by Michael Jackson's Thriller. The song is a tongue-in-cheek dance track with a catchy, hypnotic refrain before running into a slightly dull production. This b-movie-esque track runs similarly to Lady GaGa's later single Bad Romance, but Rihanna's song is obviously the superior of the two. That, unfortunately, does not mean it's all that good either. While it doesn't bother me musically, the song is also overrated. The video, which features cliques images of horror and fear, adds to the fact that this song was destined to kind of be mysterious a la a bad Halloween party. But unlike some of the other material on the album, this song is actually catchy, and it has a little replay value at that. The track that follows is the R&B ballad Take a Bow, which was, surprise surprise, another hit. It was pretty easy to see that RiRi was on fire. That said, this song kind of ...isn't. But on the bright side, for a generic pop ballad, the lyrics add to the theme of the entire album (unlike Disturbia). On this project, Rihanna kind of plays this pop star turned rich bitch, and Take a Bow is the epitome of disgust and a very flippant attitude. While I think the chorus is repeated a little too often, I enjoy the way Rihanna performs the song, which is full of atittude.
But neither of these tracks adds up to If I Never See Your Face Again, which is a reworking of the Maroon 5 song. With a Catch Me If You Can music video to match, Adam Levine and Rihanna play off of each other with complete skill. The songwriting, which was handled solely by two members of Maroon 5, is the best track from the era. While it has that typical Maroon-5 production, their warped version of lounge music mixes well with pop rock, and it particularly suits Rihanna's vocals-- in fact, I think it's her best vocal performance. It's probably the only song where her voice doesn't get on nerves at least once. The catchy bridge and chorus are two absolutely perfect pop hooks, which is exactly what a duet needs. And unlike some duets where the featured artist is buried by the guest (Madonna and Justin Timberlake anybody?), this one is a true exchange that just makes sense. And luckily, the album also ends on this track, which is the polar opposite to the hip hop opener Umbrella.
With three extra songs to listen to, I find myself thinking that these could have substituted some of the weaker material like Say It and Push Up on Me. But considering how this album sells for a decent price, it's a beter bang for the buck to get this "Reloaded" version of Good Girl Gone Bad. So, kudos to Rihanna.
(For ratings on the original album, please see my review below.)
13. Disturbia [3 Stars]
14. Take a Bow [3.5 Stars]
15. If I Never See Your Face Again (ft. Maroon 5) [5 Stars]
BEST / WORST: --
SCORE (new material): 4 STARS (3.8)
SCORE (overall): 4 STARS (3.5)
2007 - Good Girl Gone Bad [3 Stars]
2007 - Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded [3.5 Stars]
2009 - Rated R [3.5 Stars]