Sex Isn’t Selling You, Rihanna

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I owe Rihanna a heap of praise for her new album. When I initially listened to Rated R no particular track stuck out to me the way her collection of singles called Good Girl Gone Bad did. Then it hit me that for once, the girl actually decided to be cohesive in theme during the recording process and offer something that actually resembles a real album – an anomaly these days, particularly among those in her age group.

Sounding a lot more confident vocally (at least in the studio anyway) and amassing a team of writers and producers to piece together the darker direction she’s opted to go in Rihanna has managed to release something that proves that she can be more than merely a singles artist.

But chances are you wouldn’t be thinking about that because you’re partaking in the Chris Brown backlash or completely turned off by the hoe shit antics.

Each time I post thoughts on this topic I feel like I’m coming across as a prude.

I’m really not, though.

I don’t mind Rihanna talking about sex. She’s a young woman, sex matters to everyone whether they admit it or not, and her whole shtick is that she’s some bad ass so it’s to be expected that she talk about sex.

Yet, is that all she has to talk about? In two weeks I’ve heard nothing from her but denials that she’s sucking Satan’s cock for spins, but she sure does like sex period.

All she wants for Christmas is great sex and good food. If she doesn’t get that, she’s going to take care of herself (I bought T-Boz’s single, too, Rih-Rih). Oh and if you don’t have a peen to push to her, make sure it’s big because she’s a size queen.

This isn’t just one interview. I’ve collected these thoughts from several in a very short amount of time — shorter than my patience for this girl solely talking about being sexed.

It’s like…we get it.

You like to smash. Do you want a cookie for Christmas? No wait, maybe I should opt for a chastity belt so she can calm herself down.

One more interview from her about sex and I swear I’m going to ask INS to put her on a banana boat back to Barbados.

Some people will say, “Well the interviewer asked her the question.”

I say, only because she’s the one who’s been throwing all of the sex talk out there.

I imagine she thinks it makes her look edgier and bold but in actuality it makes her look vapid, horny, and desperate for attention. Attention she already has considering both who she is and what’s happened to her this year. Speaking of that, it kind of makes me even more irritated.

Let’s be honest: Rihanna is a very pretty girl who has benefited from being a very pretty girl with some nominal level of talent. But it’s not talent that’s made her who she is. It’s essentially been an accessory to the overall package – a package largely focused on her aesthetic attributes.

Such is how the world works, but most people who simply rely on pretty don’t last long. There has to be something that gives them depth, a reason for people to care about them otherwise they’ll end up needing really TV to maintain some level of relevance. Ask Paula Abdul and Ashanti. Both are cute, both had some catchy songs, neither had given audiences any reason to care about them. It’s the difference between them and the likes of Janet and Beyonce.

What happened to Rihanna was horrible, but tragedy often breeds opportunity. In Rihanna’s case she could’ve taken domestic violence and use it as a vessel to both save lives and add some depth to her overall persona.

Some sort of story. Something. Anything.

Yes, she’s done interviews but I’ve heard more about her penchant for pumping and sweating than her contempt for unprovoked punches.

She’s been dressing like a dominatrix for years now, so the fact that she’s seemingly horny often is no shocker. Should she choose to talk about it, I’m not mad.

I don’t mind lyrics such as: “Take me in, I disobey the law. Make sure you frisk me good, check my panties and my bra.”

In fact, I enjoy them.

But is that all you got to talk about, Rih-Rih?

Have you looked at the charts lately?

Susan Boyle just murked you something terrible. Lady GaGa’s two releases (a re-release and an EP sold separately for those who opt to spend less) sold more than you.

Your label can champion the fact that you just achieved your best first week sales ever, but there’s a reason you sold your album on a Monday during the week of Thanksgiving and it wasn’t to sell only a 180k the first week of release.

And I gather projected sales of 60k the second week wasn’t planned either.

GaGa walks around without pants all day long, but she also talks about issues greater than herself and her creative process.

Point is she’s not one dimensional.

And neither were the original pop pussy poppers Madonna and Janet Jackson.

Both used sex, but both had more to say behind that.

That lesson seems to have missed most of the women who come a generation after them. And shocker, their fan bases can’t begin to match the others. The only ones who come close, Lady GaGa and Beyonce, are surprise, surprise, the only ones with brands that seem longstanding.

In the end, Rihanna will release 92 different versions of Rated R in order to push her over the two million mark so both she and her label can save face.

Def Jam will do what it has to do with its investment. But there’s gonna come a time when the label looks for a trade in.

Her voice is still an acquired taste, she still can’t wow audiences as a performer, and as stylish as she may be, recent responses to her hair and attire show even that can get old after a while (Hi, J.Lo.).

I may be overthinking it, but I think it says a lot when a woman who should’ve had the world eating out of the palm of her hand this year seems to be struggling to sale in the one quarter artists still manage to move units.

It’s not like her career is over. Not even close. But, it’s going to take more than just sex talk to give people a reason to care about her long term. This album makes for a good start, but her posturing doesn’t seem to be enticing many to listen to it.

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