15 Best Rihanna Videos
In an industry constantly itching for the next big thing, Rihanna not only keeps her head above water, she’s re-invented herself and emerged as a both a certified hitmaker and trendsetter. Her first re-birth came by way of 2007′s ‘Good Girl Gone Bad,’ an album that spawned so many hits, she released nearly every track off the project as s single.
As recognized as she is for her fashion and music, there’s also controversy that surrounds some of the music videos she premieres. Most recently, the 23-year-old was blasted by an Irish farmer, who demanded she cover up during the shoot for the forthcoming visuals to her new single, ‘We Found Love.’ The Grammy-winner chose the farm in Bangor, Northern Ireland as the location for the lead single off her forthcoming sixth album, but her love for scantily clad clothing didn’t go over to well with the locals. Reports claim that Rihanna went completely topless at one point, offending the deeply religious farmer. This may come off to some as disrespectful or shocking, but in RiRi’s world, it’s just another day at the office.
While the pop star preps the visual debut of ‘We Found Love,’ The BoomBox takes a look back at 15 of her best music videos. From sultry and sexy to sporty and flirty to jaw-dropping and risqué, the Bajan songstress embraces her art in motion.
Jay-Z said, “once a good girl’s gone bad, she’s gone forever,” and once he helped RiRi tap into her dark side, she hasn’t looked back since. Kicking off her new image by way of 2007′s ‘Umbrella,’ the lead single off ‘Good Girl Gone Bad,’ the singer re-emerged out of the shadows of cookie-cutter pop acts by way of a jet black bob haircut, while she sauntered onscreen in everything from fishnets to silver body paint.
Judging by its name, the music video for the Chris Brown-penned ‘Disturbia,’ the third single off ‘Good Girl Gone Bad,’ had to be extremely out-of-the-box. Beginning in a torture chamber, Rihanna is dressed in all black, with long, dark nails playing the piano. From there, she enlists the help of goblins, critters and anything else she could think of to pull off the video’s creepy concept. She even pays an unofficial homage to Michael Jackson‘s ‘Thriller’ with a zombie-esque dance sequence.
Nobody sends out an S.O.S. quite like Rihanna, in this jungle themed visual, which was one of three versions released for ‘S.O.S,’ off 2006′s ‘A Girl Like Me.’ The official video, which was directed by Chris Applebaum, showed a sexier side of Rihanna and laid the groundwork for her musical takeover. The J.R. Rotem-produced single was a huge cross-over hit earning Rihanna her first No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts.
Being sexy is second nature to Rihanna and in the video for ‘S&M,’ off her ‘Loud’ album, she takes her appeal to new heights. Like the lyrics suggest — “’cause I may be bad but I’m perfectly good at it” — the singer isn’t shy about being naughty and dabbling in sadomasochism. She becomes a whip-wielding dominatrix in a skin-tight pink vinyl body suit in the clip, directed by Melina Matsoukas. The paparazzi darling also takes shots at the media prying into her personal life during the visuals.
This 2010 single was not only a game changer for Eminem but it allotted Rihanna another opportunity to address the topic of abusive relationships. Though she was personally affected by an abusive past relationship with ex-boyfriend Chris Brown, she takes a back seat to the drama in the video, leaving actress Megan Fox, who is involved in a bad romance with actor Dominic Monaghan, to handle it. In between shots of the pretend couple’s destructive relationships, the Bajan beauty stands firmly in front of a burning house while belting out the lyrics to the emotional single.
Having been involved in a very public domestic altercation with Chris Brown, Rihanna tackles the issue of violence against women in her controversial ‘Man Down’ video, off her ‘Loud’ album. Shot in Jamaica, the red-haired beauty plays a rape victim who takes matters into her own hands by killing her attacker. Advocacy groups blasted the singer for the video’s graphic nature, but Rihanna refused to apologize, stating that she wanted to bring awareness to the issue of rape.
All eyes were on Rihanna after she released the 2009 single ‘Russian Roulette,’ the first release off her ‘Rated R’ album. The single marked an opportunity for her to musically address her past relationship with Chris Brown, which fizzled out the same year the song debuted. In its own way, ‘Russian Roulette’ spoke volumes about her mind-set at the time. Like the track’s premise, the visuals were a play on “good cop, bad cop,” likening the breakup of a relationship to playing Russian roulette.
Coming off her not-so-secret rebound fling with Drake, Rihanna fed more public speculation of a possible rekindled romance when she commissioned the Young Money MC for the second single off ‘Loud,’ titled ‘What’s My Name.’ In the video, art imitated life for the 23-year-old as she played the roll of Drizzy’s love interest, playfully doting on him for his sexual superiority. If you ask us, they looked pretty comfortable getting extra close, so maybe they should give their “relationship” another shot.
She may travel the pop route these days, but Rihanna never forgets where she comes from, which makes all her reggae-tinged odes to her West Indian roots that much sweeter. The 2009 single ‘Rude Boy’ was a hint of sunshine on the mostly dreary ‘Rated R’ LP and the colorful video looked as fun to shoot as it was to watch. Although, there was one person not impressed with the clip: Beyonce’s younger sister, Solange, who accused RiRi of biting the concept off her 1960s-inspired ‘I Decided’ video. Critics also claimed she took a page straight out of M.I.A.’s handbook for her ‘Boyz’ video, which looks strikingly similar to ‘Rude Boy.’
The song ‘Unfaithful’ and its music video marked a growth point in her career. Penned by Ne-Yo for her sophomore release, ‘A Girl Like Me,’ the song allowed Rihanna to show her vocal range — albeit limited at times — could hold its own on a ballad just as easily as a dance track. For the video, she tested out her acting skills, playing a girlfriend riddled with guilt over her cheating ways, despite the fact that her boyfriend is aware of her infidelity.
Every female singer worth her weight in chart-toppers needs a good redemptive, breakup anthem and Rihanna’s 2008 song, ‘Take A Bow,’ from her ‘Good Girld Gone Bad’ re-release, was a perfect fit. For the video, she appears more mature, confident and ready to kick her cheating lover to the curb. With her black hair chopped off even shorter, the usually fashion-forward songstress kept the wardrobe choices for the visuals simple, pairing a black tank top with jeans.
She may be feminine, but Rihanna has also got some balls. In the video for her Young Jeezy-assisted single ‘Hard, off ‘Rated R,’ RiRi straps on army gear for the video, shot in a Southern California desert. Despite the dusty location, the chanteuse still plays up her fashion sense, wearing couture outfits and swapping out army fatigues for leotards and pantyhose. Leave it to Rihanna to take a military concept and make it both chic and fashion forward.
Rihanna’s singles are perfect for the club, so it was only a matter of time before she cut out the middle man and made a song about the club. Released off her ‘Good Girl Gone Bad album, ‘Please Don’t Stop the Music’ was shot in a nightclub in Prague. The concept is as simple as it gets but fans responded positively to the video, pushing it to No. 2 on MTV’s former video countdown show ‘Total Request Live.’
Looking back, its hard to believe that this pop star, who’s always in the spotlight, was once a shy island girl. Yet, on her single, ‘Pon de Replay,’ the first track off her ‘Music of the Sun’ debut, she was a sweet-faced newcomer. The then-teen was equal parts tomboy and budding fashion icon, rocking baggy jeans and a midriff top for the visuals. Rihanna’s look ran eerily close to that of Beyonce’s at the time, stirring the pot of what would blow up to be a rumored rivalry.
Coming off the serious nature that was the ‘Rated R’ LP, by the time Rihanna announced the 2011 release of her fifth studio album, ‘Loud,’ she knew she needed to lighten the mood. On the Stargate-produced lead track ‘Only Girl In The World,’ RiRi lets loose, trading in her short haircut for longer, bright red locks. The video, directed by Anthony Madler, was a cocktail of coquettish scenes, of which Rihanna stars as the only girl in the world.