Only Girl (In the World)


Let’s take a break from the arty and obscure and just enjoy a shot of pure, uncomplicated pop. Yep, simple and uncomplicated with no problematic baggage to unpack or intricate social context to parse- Oh wait! Never mind, this is Rihanna. No pop star in her echelon has more contextual baggage. If you want to ask why I would be a fan of Rihanna, one of the queens of the corporate pop machine, the short answer would be, she’s so damn good at being a pop star. She can dance in a negligee and deliver a mindless song like she really believes in it. She’s great at being glamorous. She’s an unrepentant ‘bad girl’ with very little interest in maintaining a ‘likable’ reputation. And as for the heavy baggage of being a woman of color in the stereotype-driven pop world, of having her difficult personal past made into another item of public consumption, of trying to have a creative voice and control her image in an industry that gives its biggest names the least amount of freedom? She carries it all with remarkable grace. I call it the grace of having no fucks left to give. She’s damn good at what she does, she’s not ashamed to profit from the industry that profits from her, she’s not afraid to reclaim images of black womanhood that ‘cleaner’ stars would shy away from as too loaded, and she will not be a part of anyone’s cheap victim narrative.

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