These are the moments that make life worth living: On Saturday afternoon, Rihanna, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney shocked the world by debuting their new song, "FourFiveSeconds," out of nowhere. But perhaps even more shocking than the surprise release itself is the track's stripped-back acoustic sound. There isn't a beat or a bass line in sight! Wow. I definitely didn't see that coming. Fans have been waiting a long time to hear new music from Rihanna, and I'm overjoyed that it's finally here — but I'm feeling a little conflicted at the moment. "FourFiveSeconds" is a great song (I've had it on rihpeat for the past two days), and it doesn't sound like anything else Rihanna (or West, for that matter) has ever done before — but is it a smart choice for the lead single from Rihanna's upcoming new album, R8? I'm not convinced.
Since Saturday, there's actually been some confusion as to whether or not "FourFiveSeconds" is Rihanna's official lead single. While the singer initially called the track a "first glimpse" of her new music on Twitter, she later referred to it as her "first single," so that should clear things up for all those who are wondering. Listen to the song below.
Here's where my conflict comes in: on the one hand, "FourFiveSeconds" is incredibly refreshing. It tells a story, and the simple arrangement puts Rihanna's voice front and center. She sounds fantastic. On the other hand, it's not super radio-friendly. It doesn't follow the "typical" pop song structure (which can make it difficult to sing along with), and West's vocals aren't quite up to par. Will top 40 radio embrace a song like "FourFiveSeconds?" I'm not sure.
After such a long break, I wanted Rihanna to come back with a massive, undeniable smash hit that would take over the airwaves for months. I wanted her to add another No. 1 record to her already impressive collection. I wanted her to scream to the world: "Here I am! Did you miss me?"
"FourFiveSeconds" certainly makes a statement — I just don't know if it's the kind of statement that the general public is going to get behind. I applaud Rihanna's willingness to try new things, but this isn't exactly the explosive rihturn I was hoping for.
Of course, my hand-wringing over this decision could be totally misplaced. Maybe "FourFiveSeconds" will go No. 1. Maybe Rihanna will start a new trend in pop music. Maybe this really is the musical direction she's heading in on R8! My fingers are crossed that it all works out.
In the meantime, I'll try to stop worrying and just enjoy the music.