Rihanna had quite a year in 2007: Her album Good Girl Gone Bad was a tremendous hit, the single "Umbrella" (with its repetitive chorus "Umbrella/ella/ella/ella/ay/ay/ay/ay") was considered by many critics to be the song of the year, and her music videos and concert performance demonstrated why Victoria's Secret named her the Sexiest Female Musician. To follow up this success, she rereleased her most recent album with three new songs. Since I never got the album originally, Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded is all new to me, so I don't feel cheated as if I had to repurchase the album for a few bonus materials. I do wish the album were better.

The bulk of Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded is a combination of sex and synthesizers. For the majority of the album, Rihanna is flirting or more direct, whether using sexual automobile imagery (in "Shut Up and Drive") or being substantially more straightforward: "Come up to my room you sexy little thing/ And let's play a game, I won't be a tease/I'll show you the room, my sexy little thing." There are are also plenty of "men are scum" songs, from the tune "Breaking Dishes" (where she destroys the man's stuff and "I ain't gonna stop until I see police lights") to the new song "Take a Bow" which offers sarcastic praise to her cheating man's performance of sorrow. Synthesizes abound through the music, sometimes coming close to drowning out the music and often giving the songs a mechanical feel.

Rihanna does have some good songs here, and she does occasionally shine. The song "Hate That I Love You" is a smooth, skillful ballad with Ne-Yo that captures the challenge of being drawn back to someone you want to leave. "Don't Stop the Music" is a fun, upbeat club song, and the Rihanna-Maroon 5 collaboration "If I Never See Your Face Again" is solid pop. If Rihanna would worry less about making radio-friendly music and allow her voice to stand out, she could make some really outstanding pop music. As it stands, Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded is a mediocre album with as many forgettable songs as good ones.

Overall Grade: C

Reviewed by James Lynch

No comments: