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O Rihanna, Where Art Thou?

Sure, there's still the chance that the record will drop overnight and the whole world will collapse in a frenzy of world-class pop consumption, but we'rebeginning to smell panic over at Def Jam and here are three reasons why.

Performance anxiety.

Simply put,Rihanna is no longer the force she once was. It's a well-known fact that every pop star has their imperial phase (Neil Tennant) and hers lasted an unusually long time. But 2012's Unapologetic showed that it was perhaps over, and only really yielded one giant hit ('Diamonds') and one biggish hit ('Stay'). Everything else kind of flopped. At this point somebody at the label probably said "Maybe Ri-Ri should take a year off, she's overexposed and needs a bit of a rest." This probably seemed like a good idea at the time but then Beyonc Beyoncd all over the place in 2013 and we forgot about Rihanna because a year is a long time in pop.

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Rihanna's 'Unapologetic' is almost ancient by pop standards.

Taylor Swift.

If you we're wondering why the pre-Christmas release schedule was looking a bit thin on the ground in terms of female superstars, it's basically all Taylor's fault. Quite sensibly, most ladies of pop have backed out of the fight (side-eye at Madonna,) because a) 1989 is a towering achievement and b) unless you're going to shift 1.3m copies in your first week you're going to look like a terrible, terrible failure. Please note that Rihanna's best first week sales figure to date is 238,000. Taylor does that in a DAY and still finds time to dance awkwardly at awards ceremonies.

Impact.

How do you make an impact these days? Now that Beyonc is a verb as well as an icon, you can't just shove your album on iTunes and say "surprise!" And as U2 discovered, you can't give it away to the entire planet without inviting the cosmos to retaliate and have Bono fall off his bike. It's likely much of the delay is down to corporate types trying to think of a strategy that will somehow make "doing a Rihanna" a thing.

Of course there's always the possibility that by the time you read this Rihanna will have directly downloaded the album of the century into your brain via exciting and rigorously tested nano-technology, and none of us will have anything to worry about ever again because it's that good. Here's hoping, eh?

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Posted in Music Post Date 02/05/2017


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