Single Review

Rihanna Shines Bright on “Diamonds” (Single Review)

It’s fall, which means two things in accordance with the laws of nature: The air’s getting cooler, and a new Rihanna era is beginning.

And just has she’s done for years now–with 2009’s “Russian Roulette,” with 2010’s “Only Girl (In The World),” and with 2011’s “We Found Love,” the Bajan beauty’s come guns blazing with a brand new beat for her Navy: “Diamonds,” penned by Sia and produced by Benny Blanco & Stargate.

From the very first moment, “Diamonds” presents itself as something entirely different from anything on the radio: It’s not the killer club cut many might have been expecting from the “We Found Love” songstress–instead, it’s a gorgeously soulful, triumphantly striding midtempo.

“Find light in the beautiful sea, I choose to be happy,” Rihanna confidently declares, showcasing her vocals in a way that she really hasn’t explored since…”California King Bed,” maybe? She sounds incredible. Her wailing toward the end of the song, especially, is a real triumph–no doubt thanks to the guidance of Sia.

Speaking of, that springy, silly Sia-inspired enunciation which Rihanna imitates throughout just cracks me up in the best of ways (“Shayn brayght like a diamond!”) This is very obviously a Sia-penned gem, and that shines through (like a diamond.)

Even the beat itself doesn’t feel like a “typical” Stargate or Benny Blanco production (just listen to Ke$ha‘s own Benny Blanco-produced comeback track from two days ago.) Instead, it’s a gorgeous dose of swagger (hearing Kanye West‘s “Flashing Lights”) meets soul (hearing subtle shades of Jessie Ware, Sade and Blood Orange, of Sky Ferreira‘s “Everything is Embarrassing”) that feels endlessly repeatable.

This is Rihanna leading the charge in pop, rather than simply following the trends: There’s no dubstep, no post-chorus beat breakdowns, no “radio-friendly EDM” whatsoever–she’s been there, done that.

“Diamonds” is a risk–and an absolutely brilliant one, at that.

“Diamonds” was released on September 27. (iTunes)