Rihanna in a screenshot of her video for "Diamonds." (Vevo / Universal )
"Shine bright like a diamond," Rihanna sings, filmed in black and white, her hand bathed in the precious stones during the new video for her song "Diamonds." Taken from her forthcoming album, "Unapologetic," due to come out Nov. 19, the aspirational pop song reaches for profundity in the new clip through a series of beautiful, elemental non-sequiturs. (Watch it below.)
There are diamonds, of course, so many that they look like mercury flowing over the singer's hand -- and there are wild horses. There is also fire, water and the smoke of something-or-other that slowly flows out of the singer's mouth, looking as pure as snow.
Tattooed forearms clasp, a familiar reference to anyone who knows Rihanna's turbulent relationship with a certain singer. Over the course of the video, they slip from each other's grip -- barely.
Images of perfection abound, mixed in with others that portend tragedy.
"With every song it's a different story, so the visuals are very specific to that story and that world," Rihanna explained in a promotional video to accompany "Diamonds." "With 'Diamonds,' it was just a series of vignettes that we put together to help get the emotion across throughout the song," she said, adding that she and director Anthony Mandler wanted "little cutaways of interactions that would give you the right emotion."
And what is that right emotion? A soundtrack to success in high definition, "Diamonds" lies somewhere between an ad for Chanel and a Victoria's Secret campaign (I was hoping for a Bob Dylan cameo.) Wind blows. Shattered glass slips back in time to become whole again. Rihanna runs down a dark road, headlights of a car giving chase. She looks afraid, and yet as she's running she's shedding layers of clothing. She looks to the sky, and perhaps the Northern Lights -- maybe a UFO is involved? "You're a shooting star I see, a vision of ecstasy," she sings.
Two-thirds of the way in, the first galloping horse arrives, and Rihanna seems to have been waiting for it while either putting on or taking off a sweater in the desert. However, the horse arrives to see another of its kind laying on the ground, either asleep, passed out or dead.
The horse rears back toward the sky, scratches its hoof in the dirt, and the other horse rises. A flaming rose glows orange, and the horses nuzzle and gallop off. "Shine bright like a diamond," Rihanna sings somewhere nearby as snare drums march the song forward.
Near the end, during some sort of post-apocalyptic gathering or riot, a man on fire casually walks down the street and Rihanna placidly floats in a deep blue sea.
What does it all mean? What just happened? What do the horses have to do with open water, and where do the diamonds fit in? Why is there a shot of Rihanna smoking something? Who's the burning man? Did Rihanna go to Burning Man? Is this all a hallucination? A fantasy? Is she lost in the desert, or floating in the ocean? Maybe we'll never know.