Rihanna Gets ‘Loud’ with New Music and Image

Rihanna is serving as this week’s Billboard cover girl, and is delving into everything from the sound of her forthcoming album Loud, to the state of mind she was in during the recording of her last album, Good Girl Gone Bad. It’s no secret that over the past two years, the pop star has had her fair share of good and bad publicity, but this time she plans to focus on the positive. Focusing on the positive is apparent with the singer’s new hairstyle, which are shoulder-length fire-engine red curls, giving her a softer look from the previous short black ‘do. The first single from Loud, due in stores Nov. 16, “Only Girl (In The World),” shows Rihanna’s confidence with her singing over synths and bass, and demanding the full attention of her significant other. The song is produced by Norwegian duo Stargate, and two weeks ago it hit #3 on the Hot 100, making this the 22-year-old’s 16th top 10 hit. “This is the truest Rihanna album yet because it sounds the most like her first one,” said Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Island/Def Jam Music Group (IDJMG) chairman/CEO. “‘Pon De Replay’ [2005 debut single], that was obviously Rihanna at her purest, with that Caribbean-flavored dance-pop music. After that, she went in many different directions only to find herself right back where she really started. Though I think the songs are much better now, her growth as a vocalist is really evident.” Loud is shaping up to be an important album for Rihanna, after Rated R’s less than stellar album sales with 980,000 copies sold. Her 2005 debut, Music of the Sun sold 594, 000 copies, making 2007’s Good Girl Gone Bad her best-selling album to date, selling 2.6 million copies. “Rated R shows that I wasn’t a shallow artist,” said the singer. “I have some depth. There was definitely some growth, going through that dark moment in my life.” Rihanna has had the most success in the mainstream top 40, and since “Pon De Replay,” she has had 21 entries on Billboard’s Mainstream top 40 chart, with six #1’s. “She’s clearly multi-format, but the challenge is, which format is hers?” said Reid. “I think she owns rhythm and top 40, but we do suffer a little because we don’t have urban on lock. When you have a black girl from the islands, you want to have urban on lock. So on of the goals that we had was to not force that, but to try and make records we thought were hits and where she could shine.” “The challenge is complicated when you’re making music that sonically appeals to a dance/top 40 audience,” said Ebro Darden,WQHT (Hot 97) New York Program Director. “When Rihanna makes music that fits the appeal of hip-hop we play it.” On Loud, Rihanna collaborated with songwriter Ester Dean, whose recent work includes Usher’s “Hot Tottie,” on the songs “S&M,” “Fading Away,” and the album’s second single “What’s My Name.” A remix of “What’s My Name” will feature rapper Drake. Deans says that Rihanna only tries to sound like herself and sings songs because she loves them. To aid in the songwriting process for this album, Rihanna and her team held songwriting camps in Los Angels and Miami where 100 writers and producers were invited to collaborate on songs for consideration on Loud. With this new album, Rihanna is making it a priority to connect with her fans, by allowing herself to be more accessible. This past August, she took over her Twitter account, which was only being used by the record label for announcements. She chose to debut the title of her album on her fansite, RihannaDaily.com, and posted images of her album cover and artwork on Facebook and Twitter which directed fans to her official website RihannaNow.com. In the coming months Rihanna fans can expect a contest to find the “loudest fan in the world” and a Doritos campaign will be launching in the coming weeks. She will also be launching her first fragrance called Reb’l Fleur, which is taken from the tattoo on her neck which reads “rebelled fleur.”

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