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Album Review by Tom Beninate
Rihanna -
Unapologetic
Summary


Produced by (exec) Robyn Rihanna Fenty, RocNation, (co-exec) Evan Rodgers and Carl Sturken for SRP

Unapologetic is one of those exceptional records that gets released only a few times in a given year. The record consists of a well-constructed balance of pop, EDM, rap, R&B, and reggae music. Rihanna’s distinct and familiar vocals are instrumental in creating a tight sound that brings together these disparate genres.

Rihanna has no songwriting credits on the record, but as the executive producer, is essentially the one who picked the songs or had them written for her. “Diamonds” is one of the top ten songs of the year. “Stay” and “Love without Tragedy/ Mother Mary” fall close behind. Though there are a couple of weak tracks the rest of the album is pretty good.

This is an important record for 2012 and so everyone should give it a listen. Unapologetic will fit nicely into just about everyone’s CD collection.


Songs


01 Fresh off the Runway The excitement to this reasonably good dance track gets tempered quickly by the repetitive phases throughout. However Rihanna’s auto-tuned vocal weaving works well and saves the piece.

02 Diamonds This is the best song on the record and one of the best pop songs of the year. Rihanna seems to effortlessly pump out the vocals and convey the right emotion. The arrangement is just right and not overdone.

03 Numb featuring Eminem The basis of this rap track is good. It would have benefited with a better arrangement and less repetition.

04 Pour it Up The album tempo relaxes with this one. Once the mood is set, Rihanna convincingly delivers the right vocal.

05 Loveeeeeee Song featuring Future Continuing with the relaxed atmosphere, this really good song features Future and Rihanna taking turns with the lead. The two harmonize perfectly.

06 Jump This is another good song. It has a more traditional song structure. The hooks will hold most people’s interest.

07 Right Now featuring David Guetta Here, is the second David Guetta influenced dance track with plenty of sound effects – just like the album opener, “Fresh Off the Runway.” The chorus melody is reasonably good on this track.

08 What Now A solo piano makes the introduction on this tune. “What Now” begins softly and builds to a big ending. This is about as good a song can be without being a hit.

09 Stay featuring Mikky Ekko This is the second best song on Unapologetic. The ballad works well as Mikky and Rihanna trade lead vocals and nail the harmonies.

10 Nobody’s Business featuring Chris Brown Obviously, this song is about Chris Brown’s and Rihanna’s business (for those that are interested). For the rest of us, we simply get to listen to a good R&B pop tune.

11 Love without Tragedy/ Mother Mary Airy Synthesizers set the mood on this two-part track. Although it is almost seven minutes long, it seems to end too soon.

12 Get it Over With This tune also has thick airy background synthesizers. The vocal arrangements are excellent.

13 No Love Allowed Everything changes here with a distinct reggae beat. There are no drums but plenty of rhythm. The song is good and the chorus melody is strong.

14 Lost in Paradise Unapologetic ends with this action-pop tune. The chorus is decent and there are lots of hooks and kick.


Components


Songwriting As previously mentioned there are a number of songwriters and co-songwriters used for this album. As a whole, the songs are well-written and are better than average.

Arranging The arrangements range from good to excellent. Since no one in particular is mentioned within the liner notes, that responsibility then falls into the hands of the executive and co-producers if it hasn’t already been addressed by the songwriter(s). Good job, ladies and gentlemen.

Album Presentation and Artwork Ciarra Pardo is responsible for the art direction. Hugo Mario gets the credit for the illustration. With the CD you get a 9 ½ x 9 ½ piece of paper (folded twice) which contains the credits listing, and a 12-page booklet with photos of Rihanna. I’m sure people like the photos but I would rather have the lyrics.

Originality With so many artists contributing to this record the originality rating is all over the place. Some songs and/or parts of songs are very creative whereas others are in the average ballpark. 

Performance
The performances here are professional and the musicianship is the groove. It goes without saying that you get top performances (with attitude) from Rihanna. The icing on the cake is the outstanding harmonies and duets.
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Review date: August 10, 2013
Artist: Rihanna
Album Title: Unapologetic
Artist's website:
www.rihannadaily.com
©2012 The Island Def Jam Music Group

Rating:
out of 5

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