Just when you thought that a cocky attitude, near nekked pictures and twerk offs, was all that she had to offer, Rihanna pulls an absolute classic out of the hat proving once again that her position in the top ranks of the music hierarchy is more than pure hype, but the result of a genuine ability to deliver talent. She is the chameleon of the music industry, effortlessly absorbing every task that is thrown at her and making you believe it.
‘What Now’ is a fusion of ballsy rock and powerful ballads. I have no doubt that in years to come this song will find a place amongst her greatest hits. She conveys the honesty, vulnerability and conviction of hits like ‘Stay’ and ‘We Found Love’. It is a far cry from ‘Pour It Up’, which, may I add, I also love but for very different reasons. ‘What Now’ is more than just another fluffy sugar high, designed to shock, titillate and spark public ambiguity. Something in the lyrics conveys a message, which could possibly be more powerful and honest than anything she has done before. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this song was actually co-written by Rihanna, validating its authenticity. The lyrics and the melody to accompany it, is an accurate description of the confusion and downright frustration of love and the numb like feeling its absence can leave you with.
In an ironic twist of fate, the raspiness of Rihanna’s “sound” in the beginning verses, is reminiscent of Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’. Miley, who has been the subject of a plethora of media criticisms for the outrageousness of her recent reinvention, had also come under fire for aligning her style with that of Rihanna, but it seems they may both be inspired by one another as Rihanna throws the competition back at Cyrus this time round.
The video is simplistic and effective, with a handful of stock footage to promote the powerful theme without deviating to much from the main focus, which is Rihanna. The opening begins with shots of a subdued looking Rihanna, some of which involve her facing a wall as she is filmed through the lens of a CCTV camera. The videographer is hinting that she is the in-patient of a mental hospital. The cinematography is simple but used to great effect as the jerky, theme throughout gives you the impression of the instability she is experiencing. The idea is to offer viewers a voyeuristic insight into the mental state of the singer.
‘What Now’ comes at the right time as the tough girl action was a bit of a turn off for her more ‘conservative’ fans, it is refreshing to see Rihanna revealing a little more of a sensitive side.
There are only two changes of wardrobe throughout the video, which plays on the sense of honesty the video is trying to convey. She sports a mullet inspired by 70’s rock star predecessors David Bowie and Paul McCartney which, if her track record for setting trends is anything to go by, I am almost certain will be atop the head of half the planet’s population by this time tomorrow.
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