Pulling inspiration from dancehall and reggae, Rihanna mixes her roots with a fresh upbeat sound that's taking the world by storm. Rihanna first exploded onto the music scene with 2005's # 1 Most Downloaded, song of the summer, "Pon De Replay." In 2006, Rihanna is poised to take her career and music to new heights. First up is the smash hit, "SOS," the lead single from her new release A Girl Like Me, which is sure to solidify Rihanna as one of pop music's rising stars.
With A Girl Like Me
, the Barbadian teen-queen Rihanna is looking to transfer all claims of royalty to the summertime pop charts. If anybody's going to rule them, she pretty much proclaims by way of "SOS," a song no less irresistible, intoxicating, and all-out cool than 2005's "Pon de Replay," off her debut, she's it. That's not to say this new disc is anything like its predecessor overall. Where Music of the Sun
was mostly what its title suggests--a romp through an anglo-friendly island with no sunscreen required--A Girl Like Me
is more reflective and a little rueful; you get the sense it was crafted in part to show her range, with executive producer Jay-Z guiding her through it gracefully. "Unfaithful" is a noir-ish testing of the R&B waters, and it goes so well that Rihanna wastes no time skinny-dipping her way into the deep end--"Final Goodbye," "P.S. (I'm Still Not Over You)," and "A Million Miles Away" all betray juicy bits of Beyonce. Back in barefoot bikini-girl land, though--a territory that covers roughly half this disc--the party's still going strong. Rihanna gives dancehall legend Sean Paul a run for his money with the bouncing "Break It Off," and "We Ride" makes you want to roll down the windows and stick your head out the passenger side. Crank it up and keep the sunglasses handy. --Tammy La Gorce