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First listen: Rihanna scales it back for 'Diamonds'

September 26, 2012|By Gerrick D. Kennedy
  • Rihanna onstage at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas on Sept. 21.
Rihanna onstage at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas on Sept.… (saac Brekken/Getty Images…)

Love her or hate her, Rihanna doesn’t seem to want a respite from her omnipresence on the pop charts.

Though her previous album, “Talk That Talk,” was released less than a year ago, she’s already moved on and started drafting her next record. On Wednesday, the singer issued “Diamonds,” the lead single from what's expected to be her seventh album in as many years. (Listen to the track below.)

“Diamonds” trades in the thumping, heavy-duty backbeats of recent singles “Where Have You Been” and “We Found Love” for something more scaled down. The song still keeps a slight stomp at its core for the kids in clubland, but this is what the DJ spins when the ecstasy in the air has wavered and the strobe lights have become a confusing neon nuisance.


Written by former Zero 7 vocalist Sia and produced by Rihanna's longtime collaborators, Stargate and Benny Blanco, the lush mid-tempo track, much as with “We Found Love,” explores the intoxicating pull of a love that shines bright. Crafted around an orchestration of synthesizers, this is Rihanna at her most laid-back.

"Find light in the beautiful sea / I chose to be happy, you and I / You and I, we're like diamonds in the sky,” she sings. “You're a shooting star I see / A vision of ecstasy /When you hold me, I'm alive / We're like diamonds in the sky.”

Here, Rihanna's vocals, which sometimes get lost to overproduction, do the heavy lifting -- a rarity for one of her singles. There is a confidence in her voice that critics should appreciate, and Sia is likely responsible for the experimentation with the different tones in her voice that add textures that build into the second half of the chorus. 

The single comes as Rihanna has become more relaxed with her image. The self-proclaimed "good girl gone bad" has morphed a bit over the years since her break with Chris Brown.

For those following her on Twitter and Instagram, Rihanna seems looser and more lively with her words. While her recent interview with Oprah Winfrey was the singer at her most revealing, she's more fascinating when posting pictures of strippers, bragging about her blunt-rolling skills and experiencing what most other pop stars are only reading about in "Fifty Shades Of Grey."

Although a break between albums might allow Rihanna to experience that much more, and harness that material into her music, she still keeps pop interesting. Rihanna has named her 2013 world tour after her new single, and while no official release date has been given for the upcoming album, her last three have been released in November.


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