Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No. 1 Single Reviews: "Disturbia" by Rihanna

Rihanna is a definite step up after Katy Perry (why did I launch my reviews during "I Kissed a Girl"'s inexplicable seven-week stranglehold on that No. 1 spot?), but "Disturbia" seems more like some record exec's pitch for a blockbuster single than something deserving of the spot.

It probably started its life that way; "Disturbia," like Rihanna's previous No. 1 "Take a Bow," was added as an extra track to a re-release of her blockbuster Good Girl Gone Bad. It might not be fair to downgrade these songs because they have gotten greater play than more deserving singles on the actual album if the songs didn't feel and sound so tacked-on. Like "Take a Bow," a mismatch of playful kiss-off lyrics to a guy with a melodramatic R&B ballad performance, "Disturbia" goes off in too many directions at once to have any emotional center.

"Disturbia" feels more like an excuse for a horror-movie themed video with a dozen costume changes than an actual tune. It's one of those songs where layers of vocals effects and a thick arrangement overwhelm the artist; you know, the kind where faceless back-up singers handle the melody while the star kind of dances around it with meandering melismas. This is most distracting with the "bum bum be-dum" hook, especially Rihanna's song-ending blowout. ("Bum ba da dee da DAAAAAAAAA-aaaaaa-aaaaaahhhhh oooooOoOoOoOooah oh-oh-oh-OH-OH-OH ooooooaaaaaAaAaAahhhh.")

Maybe it is fair to compare "Disturbia" to "Shut Up and Drive" or "Don't Stop the Music" after all. The album was re-released to include it, so why not? That makes "Disturbia" the sixth single off an album that's already been mined clean.

No comments: