The Evolution of Rihanna

The MSU Spokesman

Barbadian beauty Rihanna signed to Def Jam records at just 16 years old seven years ago. Since then, she has released a number of hit singles. Today she is arguably one of the biggest pop stars in the world. With the release of her latest album on November 19, we take a look at Rihanna’s past album success and how she managed to climb that ladder.


Music of the Sun

Rihanna broke into the music scene in July 2005 with her first hit “Pon De Replay,” reflecting her Caribbean roots. The song reached the top single charts in several countries, including the U.S., Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the U.K. Her debut album, “Music of the Sun,” was released just a month later. Though her first single was a hit, the album was not.


A Girl Like Me

No other singles were released from “Music of the Sun,” but in April 2006, nearly eight months later, Rihanna came out with her sophomore album “A Girl Like Me.” Her second single “If It’s Lovin That You Want,” failed to achieve the same amount of success and commercial play as “Pon De Replay,” but the island beauty made a comeback with her third release, “SOS” that same year. “SOS” was a pop-oriented single, and the beginning of Rihanna’s entry into the commercial market. Along with global billboard success, campaign videos were created from the song with Nike and lingerie brand, Agent Provocateur. Other singles from the album were “Unfaithful” and “Break It Off.”


Good Girl Gone Bad 

In 2007, with the singer’s third album “Good Girl Gone Bad,” Rihanna switched full gears and went from dancehall to pop.  Her lead single off the album, “Umbrella,” featured her then record label manager and mentor, Jay-Z. The single, which revealed a grown-up Rihanna, topped the charts in 13 countries. “Umbrella” was named one of the best-selling singles worldwide and sold over 6.6. million singles since its release. The album prevailed with assistance from top producers Timbaland,, Sean Garret, The Dream and Ne-Yo. Other hits off the album included “Shut Up and Drive,” “Don’t Stop the Music,” and her popular collaboration with Ne-Yo, “Hate That I Love You.” The album also went on to top the charts globally and peaked at number two in the U.S. and Australia. Three months later, the pop star embarked on a world tour with almost 80 shows. That same year, she became a spokesman for CoverGirl, and appeared in a few TV commercials. In 2008, Rihanna re-issued her album as “Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded,” with new songs “Take a Bow,” “Disturbia,” and a duet with Maroon 5 titled “Never See Your Face Again.” All three singles reached the charts in several countries.

Rated R

Rihanna transitioned again to a more edgy style with the release of “Rated R” in November 2009.  Earlier that year, in Rihanna was brutally assaulted by her then boyfriend, pop star, Chris Brown. Photos of the incident were leaked and revealed by gossip site TMZ. “Rated R” was viewed as the singers “venting album,” and was quite dark compared to her previous albums, with songs like “Stupid in Love” and “Fire Bomb.” In February, she spoke about her album openly with MTV. “This album is an expression of all those feelings that I went through in the last eight months, just different emotions,” said Rihanna to MTV News. The album’s lead single “Russian Roulette,” were followed by singles “Hard,” “Rude Boy,” “Rockstar 101” and “Te Amo.” The album debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 chart, and reached peaks in the U.K., Sweden, Greece and Canada in 2010.



Released in 2009, “Loud,” was the return of Rihanna’s up-tempo and pop style, mixed with a bit of her Island flavor as well. Its hit singles were “S&M,” “Only Girl in the World,” “California King Bed,” “Cheers (Drink to That)” and “Man Down.” Rihanna’s fourth album was number one in the US Billboard 200 chart. It reached more international success, and hit number one in Canada, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Scotland and Switzerland and was among the top five in Australia, Denmark, France and Germany. In February 2011, “Only Girl in the World” won a Grammy for best dance recording.  In June 2011 Rihanna plunged into her third world wide tour and held 101 shows.


Talk That Talk 

Despite touring for her last album, Rihanna recorded a sixth album. The pop-style album was released in November 2011. Singles released off the album were “We Found Love,” “You Da One,” “Cockiness,” “Birthday Cake,” “Where Have You Been” and “Talk That Talk.” The album is number three on the US Billboard top 200 chart and number one in Austria, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.



Rihanna’s seventh album “Unapologetic” released on November 19, 2012. The current lead single “Diamond” debuted number two on the Billboard top 100 chart, landing Rihanna her 12th Hot 100 single. On November 16, 2012 she set off on another tour titled “777” to promote her new album n seven countries in seven days. Unapologetic is now the pop star’s best selling album, and her first number one album in the US, with 238,000 copies sold. The album includes 14 songs, including a collab with her ex-boyfriend Chris Brown.