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|Studio album by Rihanna|
|Released||November 20, 2009|
|Singles from Rated R|
|Studio album by Rihanna|
|Released||November 20, 2009|
|Singles from Rated R|
Rated R is the fourth studio album by Barbadian recording artist Rihanna, released in November 2009 by Def Jam Recordings. Recording sessions for the album began in April 2009 and took place at several recording studios throughout United States and Europe. Rihanna together with Antonio "L.A." Reid and The Carter Administration was the executive producer of the album and worked with many record producers, including Chase & Status, StarGate, The-Dream, Ne-Yo, and Brian Kennedy. The record featured several vocalists and instrumentalists, including Young Jeezy, will.i.am, Justin Timberlake and Slash who played the guitars in "Rockstar 101".
Musically, the album represents a departure from her 2007 effort Good Girl Gone Bad, which contained up-tempo and ballad-oriented songs. Conceived after Rihanna's assault by her then-boyfriend, singer Chris Brown, Rated R features a foreboding and atmospheric tone in terms of musical and lyrical direction. It incorporated elements of hip hop, rock, and dubstep. It also explores other genres, such as dancehall in "Rude Boy" and Latin in "Te Amo". Rated R received positive reviews from music critics, who commended Rihanna's mature performance and called the album her most layered and heartfelt effort. In the United States, the album debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 chart and sold 181,000 copies in its first week. It also attained top ten positions in over twelve other countries.
The album produced six singles, including the international hits "Russian Roulette", "Rude Boy" and "Te Amo", and in addition the US release "Hard". "Russian Roulette" was released as the album's lead single and managed to reach top-ten in seventeen countries and topped the charts in Norway and Switzerland. "Hard" reached number nine in the United States and became her thirteenth top-ten single re-tying her with Beyoncé Knowles as the female artist with the most top-ten hit singles in the country. "Rude Boy" was a commercial success and became the only single from the album that topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks. To further promote the album, Rihanna embarked on her third worldwide concert tour titled the Last Girl on Earth Tour.
Rihanna's previous album Good Girl Gone Bad (2007) was a commercial success and received generally positive reviews from most music critics. The album featured five top ten hits—three US number one hit singles—including the international breakthrough single "Umbrella". Following the assault of Rihanna's boyfriend Chris Brown on her, there was much speculation as to whether any song featured on the upcoming album would be about him. In an interview with MTV News, regular Rihanna collaborator Ne-Yo clarified that he would not write a song for Rihanna about Brown, because he considered the idea unnecessary. Producer Chuck Harmony mused that no matter what song Rihanna released as the lead single, it would immediately be looked at as a song about Brown.
During an interview with Marc Malkin at the MTV Video Music Awards, Ne-Yo stated that listeners should expect an edgier and angrier Rihanna on the album. He later told In Touch Weekly that the album is definitely more menacing than Rihanna's prior work, describing the album as "liberated". American singer Akon, on the other hand, stated that he was "going to lighten her up" and didn't want an angry Rihanna. With the success of her last album, Rihanna wanted to make sure that she didn't fall into one sound or vibe. At the "Justin Timberlake & Friends Concert in Las Vegas", Timberlake told MTV News that the Rated R is a whole new sound and that the new songs are not just a rehash of what fans heard on her last album. "She broke onto the scene so hard with the last record — to have that many songs on the charts is impressive. I think that the smartest thing she's doing is not trying to emulate what she did but move forward", Timberlake explained.
After the release of the lead single, "Russian Roulette", Harmony was aware of the mixed reaction from fans who had heard the track. He assured fans that the song was not fully representative to the rest of the album, though it reflected Rihanna's growth as an artist. In an interview with Rap-Up, Tricky Stewart announced that he had collaborated with The-Dream on the project. He described the album as a whole as "uptempo and edgy", stating that the album is different from her past works. In February 2010, Rihanna expressed a positive opinion on the album, but commented that her future work would be less intense. She asserted, "I really like the bottom, the grime of it. But if I were to combine that with more energetic, up-tempo pop records, then I think that would be a happy marriage. And that's where we'll probably go next". When asked what the most important song to her was, she stated that she doesn't have one, however, "Fire Bomb" and "Cold Case Love" were cited as her favorites.
Rihanna began recording songs for the album in March 2009. The recording sessions for the album took place at Milk Studios in Manhattan, New York, Metropolis Studios in London, England, Studios Davout in Paris, France and at Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, California. Rihanna worked with several different song-writers and producers on the album, including Chuck Harmony, The-Dream, Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, Chase & Status, StarGate, Demo, and Justin Timberlake. Rihanna wanted the album to be less influenced by synthpop, attempting to avoid the lighthearted commercial pop of her previous albums. By doing so, she incorporated a production style with more bass, and utilized Gothic imagery. In the early stages of the production, she worked with Adonis Shropshire, who stated that Rihanna had brainstormed a large amount of ideas over the course of a few weeks. Rihanna also worked with Norwegian producer duo StarGate, who mused that the collaboration was "very rewarding" and "inspiring for us", commenting: "I don't think we should talk about titles just yet. We don't really know which songs are gonna make it, but it feels exciting." It was later revealed that StarGate originally produced a collaboration between Rihanna and Canadian rapper Drake. However, the song did not make the final cut for the album.
Rihanna was involved with writing most of the lyrics on the album with the help of Timberlake and Ne-Yo, who helped the singer to translate her emotions into the songs. She worked with Ne-Yo on a number of songs although he was often unclear as to which songs would actually make the album. While working together, he felt that Rihanna wasn't the same girl as the one he worked with a few years before, complimenting her growth musically. In terms of musical direction, Rihanna requested more somber songs for the album. Ne-Yo and Harmony co-wrote the lead single, "Russian Roulette", pushing a darker and more morbid aesthetic. Rihanna responded positively to the darker style and lyrical content, wishing to replicate the style throughout the entire album.
After listening to the track "Saxon" performed by Nicki Minaj and production duo Chase & Status, Rihanna got in contact with the latter and wanted to collaborate. Chase & Status had a pair of sessions with Rihanna and worked together for a few weeks in an undisclosed location. The songs they worked on had a dubstep vibe, although Rihanna had some disagreements with the duo. In October 2009, she concluded recording sessions with Tricky Stewart and The-Dream. Dream and Tricky flew out to Paris and played a few songs for Rihanna which included "Hard" and "Rockstar 101." "Hard" stood out from all the songs because she felt that it had such an arrogance in it. In the song "Rockstar 101," guitarist Slash contributed a bass guitar on the track while "Photographs" is a duet with singer-songwriter will.i.am. In addition, Ester Dean co-wrote the fourth single from the album, "Rude Boy". "The Last Song" was one of the last tracks crafted for the album. Rihanna recorded the song within the final twelve hours of the album's conception; "when the label finally said we had 12 hours to turn in the album, I was like, Okay, I have to do it. I just drank some red wine, dimmed the lights, got in the booth and sang it", she explained.
A 22-second sample of "Russian Roulette", which features the album's bleak, gothic production style, incorporating a minor-key melody.
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Rated R features a darker and more foreboding tone than Rihanna's previous albums. Primarily a(n) pop and R&B album, it also incorporates musical elements of hip hop, rock, and dancehall. The album's production is typified by a sleek sound and incorporates ominous synthesizers, intertwining guitar licks, tense beats, minor-key melodies, and polyrhythmic vocal harmonies. Songs such as "G4L", "Mad House", and "Wait Your Turn" incorporate elements of dubstep, including brooding synths and grumbling basslines. The album also incorporates other musical genres, such as dancehall in the Jamaican inspired "Rude Boy" and Latin in "Te Amo". Rihanna discussed the musical direction of the project in an interview for Glamour magazine, stating "The songs are really personal. It's rock 'n' roll, but it's really hip-hop: If Lil Wayne and Kings of Leon like my album, then I'll feel good."
The lyrical content of the album features generally bleak views on love and boastful lyrics concerning perseverance and overcoming adversity. Its lyrics are characterized by grim, raw and angry tones, and songs that contain boastful and persevering themes are characterized by images of violence and brutality. Its lyrics are also distinguished by prominent profanity. While several music writers perceived its lyrics as allusions to Rihanna's assault by Chris Brown, journalist Jon Pareles wrote that the album "doesn't specifically address those events, but it hardly ignores them". According to music writer Ann Powers, regret is a significant theme on the album: "The songs on 'Rated R' never have their singer apologize for the man who so seriously wronged her, but they do acknowledge the other emotions that come with separation, even from a partner who's also a perpetrator. Those feelings include regret, tenderness and deep sadness".
On October 8, 2009, Rihanna shot promotional pictures in Berlin in a nude body suit and white fur coat. The photos were initially thought to be on the front cover or booklet of the album. The final image from the photoshoot for the album was made by fashion photographer Ellen von Unwerth, who stated that Rihanna was looking to create "something a bit new for the look of the album." Von Unwerth, who has also shot other album covers such as The Velvet Rope (1997) by Janet Jackson, Back to Basics (2006) by Christina Aguilera, and Blackout (2007) by Britney Spears, went on to say that Rihanna was involved in every aspect of the shoot and was ready to push content boundaries. The album cover was released on October 27, 2009 and features Rihanna in a moody, contemplative pose wearing a leather top with her hand covering her right eye and each finger wrapped in an intricate set of rings. The black-and-white cover was compared to the 1980s album covers by singer Grace Jones.
The brand and styling of Rated R was conceived by British artist and director Simon Henwood, who also was a creative director of the promotional campaign. "We spent a lot of time developing ideas, yes. We went to Paris for Fashion Week, met with designers, sat and made drawings/designs together for the photo shoot/costume pieces, etc," Henwood revealed in an interview with MuuMuse. "Everything comes from the music, and this is her most personal album to date—so everything draws from it in one way or another." For the visual creation of the era, Henwood took inspiration from the film The Omega Man and the book The Lathe of Heaven, "We wanted to create her a world that was personal... The whole thing was a dark dream; a chance for her to express all these things without being specific/literal." Henwood also conceived the look and feel of the album's artwork, videos and TV spots, and also contributed to Rihanna's Last Girl on Earth Tour, including the show's stage design, costumes and background visuals.
On October 15, 2009, Rihanna released a statement along with a picture of a metal 'R' on her official website saying, "The Wait is Ova. Nov 23 09", indicating the release date for Rated R. The following day, Rihanna shot a music video for "Wait Your Turn" which premiered on her official website on November 3, 2009. A snippet of the song with the title "The Wait is Ova" also appeared as background music for a promo video of the album as well as a countdown clock on her website. On November 5, 2009, Rihanna's first televised interview since her altercation with Brown aired on Good Morning America in support of the album. In addition to appearing on Good Morning America, the interview continued the following day on ABC's 20/20. Rihanna appeared in the December 2009 issue of Glamour magazine, the January 2010 issue of GQ magazine, and the February 2010 issue of W magazine.
In November 2009, Island Def Jam convened with Nokia for a special promotional concert held on November 16, 2009, in the United Kingdom. Rihanna shot a promo video for the event which took place at the Brixton Academy in London. She premiered songs from the album during the event which was her first solo concert since the incident with Brown. Nokia gave away free tickets to fans for the show and hosted listening parties around the globe on the same date of the event. The Nokia Music Store offered an enhanced version of the album on its release date, with exclusive cover art, a remix and exclusive track titled "Hole in My Head" which featured Justin Timberlake. Rated R was released on November 23, 2009, in North America and the United Kingdom.
On February 4, 2010, Rihanna performed at the Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam on VH1 along with performers Timbaland and Justin Bieber. Rihanna performed "Hard", "Rude Boy" and "Don't Stop the Music" at the Kids Choice Awards on March 27, 2010. To further promote Rated R, Rihanna embarked on her third concert tour titled Last Girl on Earth Tour (2010—11). It started on April 16, 2010, in Belgium, Europe and also visited North America and Oceania. Several singers including Pixie Lott, Kesha and Travie McCoy served as opening acts on different concerts from the tour. Ten songs from Rated R were remixed by New York based electronic disc jockey Chew Fu and released as a remix album under the title Rated R: Remixed. It was released on May 8, 2010, in Europe and on May 24, 2010, in the United States. The majority of the remixes were remastered to draw influence from the genre of house music, and incorporate heavy usage of synthesizers as part of their instrumentation. The album peaked at number 158 on the US Billboard 200 chart and as of July, 2010, sold over 13,000 copies in the country alone.
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"Russian Roulette" was sent to US radio stations on October 27, 2009 as the lead single from Rated R. It was released to download digitally on November 2, 2009. The pop ballad garnered positive reviews from music critics, many of whom praised Rihanna's vocal performance and its lyrics. In the United States, it peaked at number nine on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, and at number one on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart. In the United Kingdom, it peaked at number one on the UK R&B Chart and number two on the UK Singles Chart. Rihanna performed the song live on the series six of The X Factor in the UK and on the Late Show with David Letterman in the US.
"Hard", which features rap vocals by Jeezy, was released as the album's second US single, being sent to radio on November 10, 2009. Rihanna decided to record the song as she felt it was different from the pop songs which she usually performed. Critics praised the singer's vocal performance and the decision to include Jeezy as a featured artist. It became Rihanna's thirteenth US top ten Hot 100 single, peaking at number eight, and Rihanna equaled Beyoncé Knowles as the female artist with the most US top ten hit singles since 2000. The song reached No. 1 on the US Hot Dance Club Songs chart on March 6, 2010. To promote the song, Rihanna performed "Hard" live at the 2009 American Music Awards on November 22, 2009, at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, California, as part of a medley with "Wait Your Turn", and on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on February 1, 2010, where she also sang "Don't Stop the Music".
The album's third single, "Wait Your Turn" was released three days after "Hard" on November 13, 2009, in Australia, Brazil and select European countries. Co-written by Rihanna with Stargate and Chase & Status, it is a hip hop and dubstep song with sees Rihanna adopt a Bajan vocal style. Anthony Mandler shot the song's accompanying music video, which was filmed in a black and white grainy fashion. Aside from the 2009 AMA live medley with "Hard", Rihanna has performed the song Good Morning America and at BBC Radio 1's Hackney Weekend. "Wait Your Turn" peaked at number 17 on the UK R&B Chart. "Rude Boy", the album's fourth overall single and third international single, was released to US urban radio stations in the US on February 9, 2010, and was released via digital download on February 19, 2010. Reception of "Rude Boy" was mixed to positive; some reviewers criticised the masculine demeanor of the song Rihanna's "icy" vocals while others complimented the "ragamuffin-style". The song reached the top ten in 28 countries, reaching number one in Australia, on the UK R&B Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Rihanna equaled Paula Abdul and Diana Ross as the female artists with the fifth-most number one singles on the Hot 100 chart in its fifty-one year history. The singer performed the song on several televised shows, including Alan Carr: Chatty Man in the UK and at the 2010 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards in the US.
"Rockstar 101" was released as the fifth single overall on May 18, 2010. The song garnered a mixed response from critics, who labelled it as "aggressive" and criticized the inclusion of Slash as a featured artist, and labelled it an "afterthought". The song peaked at number 24 in Australia and number two on the US Hot Dance Club Songs chart. An accompanying music video was shot in April 2010 and was directed by Melina Matsoukas, who had previously directed the videos Rihanna's previous singles, "Hard" and "Rude Boy". Rihanna has performed the song live on the ninth season of American Idol on April 7, 2010, and was joined on stage by Portuguese guitarist and singer-songwriter Nuno Bettencourt "Te Amo" was released as the sixth and final overall single from Rated R. The song was sent for mainstream airplay in Canada on June 7, 2010, and released via digital download in Australia, Italy and New Zealand one day later, through Universal Music. The Latin American music song garnered positive reviews from critics. "Te Amo" peaked inside the top ten of national charts, including the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, and attained top forty positions in Australia, The Netherlands and Slovakia. It has been certified gold in four countries. Rihanna performed "Te Amo" for the first time at Radio 1's Big Weekend 2010 on May 23, 2010 in Bangor, Wales, where she performed the song as part of a set list.
The non-single track "Stupid in Love" peaked at number seven on the South Korea Gaon Single Chart upon the release of the album due to strong digital download sales. It was written by Shaffer Smith, under his stage name Ne-Yo, and Mikkel S. Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen, under their production name Stargate. Ne-Yo served as the assistant producer. In an interview with USA Today, Ne-Yo revealed that the song was written two days before Rihanna and Brown's altercation, citing it as "a premonition." "Stupid in Love" is a pop and R&B power ballad. Some critics praised Rihanna's emotional delivery of the song whereas others criticized it as being overly dark.
Rated R debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 181,000 copies in the United States, giving Rihanna her highest first-week sales in the US at that time. It surpassed the first week sales of her previous album Good Girl Gone Bad, which debuted at number two on the chart in 2007, with sales of 162,000 copies sold. Rated R was also Rihanna's fourth top ten album in the country and her second highest album chart position. It topped the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, her first to do so. On January 8, 2010, Rated R was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting shipments of more than 1,000,000 copies sold. The album had sold more than 1.11 million units in the US as of November 2013.
In the United Kingdom, the album debuted at number sixteen and was certified gold in just four days. The album has so far shipped at least 600,000 copies and has been certified double platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on October 15, 2010. On the issue dated January 24, 2010, the album rose to number thirty having been at thirty-four the previous week. The following week, it rose again from number thirty to twenty-seven. On February 21, 2010, the album rose from number thirty-one to number twenty-six, and then climbed even further the following week to its debut and peak of number sixteen. It was also the highest climber that week. On the issue dated March 7, 2010, the album broke into the top ten, landing at number nine in its fifteenth week. The following week, the album rose to number two on the R&B chart. It was Rihanna's fastest selling album of her career at the time in the United Kingdom, receiving a platinum certification in just over two months of its release. This beats her previous album, Good Girl Gone Bad, which went platinum in just over three months. As of August 1, 2010 the album had been on the UK Albums Chart for 36 weeks. As of June 26, 2011 the album has sold 656,527 copies.
Despite debuting at only number fifteen in Australia, the album was certified gold its second week on the chart. In August, the album was certified Platinum after shipping 70,000 units. With the release of the album's third single, "Rude Boy", Rated R set a new high of twelve on March 7, 2010. In Poland, the album peaked at number five and received a gold certification, selling 20,000 copies in just one month, beating Good Girl Gone Bad's sales of 20,000 in two years. In Sweden, Rated R rose dramatically to a peak position of number nineteen on the issue dated January 29, 2010, after being at thirty-four its previous week. In New Zealand, the album debuted at number fourteen and in Finland it debuted at number twenty-eight eventually climbing to number fifteen. In April 2010, the album soared from number fifty-nine to its new peak of eighteen on the Dutch Albums Chart. In June 2010, the album re-entered the Greek Albums Chart to reach a new peak of number six. In addition to the studio release, a remix album, Rated R: Remixed, was released in May 2010. It managed to chart at number 158 on the Billboard 200. In the same week it also debuted at number six on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart. It also made its debut on the Canadian Albums Chart at number 84, making it Rihanna's first remixed album to appear on the chart. In June 2010, the remix album debuted at number eleven on the Greek Albums Chart. Worldwide, Rated R has sold over three million copies, as of November 2010.
|The A.V. Club||C+|
|Los Angeles Times|||
Rated R received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 75, based on 21 reviews. Ed Potton of The Times viewed it as Rihanna's best album, and Jody Rosen, writing in Rolling Stone, called it one of the year's best pop albums. Allmusic's Andy Kellman said that Rated R is exaggerated, but "compelling" and performed convincingly by Rihanna, who sings "many memorably belligerent lines". Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune called it "powerful and moving art" that Rihanna personalizes in a way that suggests she had more creative input than on her previous albums. Jon Pareles of The New York Times, said that, although its personal subject matter is brave, it does not compromise the creativity of the music.
Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times called the album "a complex and fascinating portrait" of an abused woman's emotional range and resolve. Alex Macpherson of Fact said that, apart from its interesting music, Rated R is important for how Rihanna has "seized back control of her public story" during "our current panoptic age". Sarah Rodman of The Boston Globe praised it as a brief look at both Rihanna's development as an artist and "the confluence of tabloid culture and pop art". MSN Music's Robert Christgau gave the album a two-star honorable mention, indicating a "likable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well enjoy." He cited "Hard" and "Rude Boy" as highlights and credited Rihanna for "concocting a persona of interest out of one dynamite musical trick and a bad patch I wouldn't wish on Lindsay Lohan".
In a mixed review, Sean Fennessey of Spin felt that the album does not suit Rihanna's ballad-based strengths and found her voice too flat and unexpressive to convey the anger of the songs. Pitchfork Media's Ryan Dombal similarly said that her "artistic aspirations are currently loftier than her abilities". Michaelangelo Matos of The A.V. Club viewed the music as bloated and compared its lyrics negatively to "excerpts from a therapy session". Alexis Petridis, writing in The Guardian, criticized its allusions to Chris Brown's assault of her and said that the album does not offer anything beyond "the public's prurient interest in her private life." Rob Harvilla of The Village Voice found the subtext uncomfortable and commented that the album's highlights, "thrilling as they are, might make you feel even worse" than the low points.
Rated R was included in three top-10 albums lists by critics for 2009. In her year-end list of best albums, Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt named it the best pop album of the year. Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune ranked it number eight on his list of 2009's best albums. Jonah Weiner of Slate ranked Rated R number 10 on his list and hailed Rihanna as one of the "women who have a stranglehold on the pop zeitgeist."
|2.||"Wait Your Turn"||3:46|
|3.||"Hard" (featuring Jeezy)||4:11|
|4.||"Stupid in Love"||4:01|
|5.||"Rockstar 101" (featuring Slash)||4:00|
|9.||"Photographs" (featuring will.i.am)||4:46|
|12.||"Cold Case Love"||6:04|
|13.||"The Last Song"||4:16|
|Nokia Music exclusive bonus tracks|
|14.||"Russian Roulette" (Donni Hotwheel Remix)||3:01|
|15.||"Hole in My Head" (featuring Justin Timberlake)||4:05|
|iTunes Store bonus videos|
|14.||"Russian Roulette" (Director's Cut)||4:31|
|15.||"Wait Your Turn" (Director's Cut)||4:02|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Platinum||80,000^|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||Platinum||30,000x|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||2× Platinum||600,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,110,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
|Australia||November 20, 2009||Universal Music||CD, Digital download|
|United Kingdom||November 23, 2009||Mercury Records|
|United States||Def Jam Recordings|
|Brazil||November 24, 2009|
|Argentina||November 26, 2009|
|Chile||December 31, 2009|