This is – without question – the most important music video Rihanna has ever done. One day, historians and critics will not just look back on ‘We Found Love’ as just another career-defining moment for the Barbadian pop queen but they will tell of how this piece of art served as a stylishly raw representation of our generation’s wreckless love. Put it this way, this whole production is the “black Jesus in ‘Like A Prayer'” of our time.
Any argument of Rihanna mindlessly churning out hits is basically now invalid. When you’re able to deliver next-level stuff like this and challenge your artistry at every turn, there is no reason why your reign should let up. Flawless director Melina Matsoukas – who has hemmed A-grade videos for RiRi in the past like ‘S&M’ and ‘Hard’ – continues to take their creative collaborations to new heights. They’ve always managed to successfully render Ms Fenty‘s youthful and sexy image with a refreshing edge and this time, they’ve gone all out Skins – depicting the Bajan bossbitch in a gritty and distinctly British setting, spinning out of control in a haze of sex and drugs.
There is such an undercurrent of intensity running through this video – you feel it from the stark British accent narrating in the beginning through to the kaleidoscope of shots showing Rihanna and her equally wreckless lover getting high, making out in public places and fighting. ‘We Found Love’ tells a tale of an addictive, destructive love that takes two young lost people through incredible highs and harrowing comedowns.
Check out some highlights of Rihanna‘s ‘We Found Love’
The “hopeless place”.
The song’s key lyric “we found love in a hopeless place” takes on a new angle when you see Rihanna throwing cold, sobering stares at her subtly Chris Brown-resembling lover (played by model Dudley O’Shaughnessy). The intense contrast of euphoric scenes – showing the couple kissing, raving together and getting drunk – with these stark moments really heightens the feeling of being in a volatile relationship. Then there’s also the juxtaposition of various quick flick shots of drugs spilling, pupils dilating and buildings getting detonated, just to drive the message home.
Rihanna‘s not snatching any daytime Emmys just yet but she might as well with this utterly convincing portrayal of a lost, vulnerable woman who’s stumbling over her youth, desperately grasping onto a relationship that is incapable of really filling the void. The monologue that opens the video sets the tone nicely:
“It’s like you’re screaming but no one can hear. You almost feel ashamed that someone could that be that important, that without them you feel like nothing. No one will ever understand how much it hurts. You feel hopeless like nothing can save you. And when it’s over and it’s gone, you almost wish that you could have all that bad stuff back so you could have the good.” I hear you, gurl.
These last few Rihanna videos have been very effective documentaries of whatever scene or culture they’re capturing, be it sun-soaked Barbadian village life (‘Man Down’), hectic life on tour (‘Cheers’) or the rave scene in the Northern Ireland countryside here. This is just the kind of attention to detail I appreciate in music videos and it’s just one of many promising elements of Rihanna‘s future as a pop music icon. There aren’t enough entertainers out there right now who can make amazing pop music and still communicate it with such depth.
For ‘We Found Love’, Rihanna and co. have probably canvassed enough locations and scenes to produce a mini-series for the BBC but the beauty with how it’s edited is that you only catch glimpses of it – playing out like a series of scattered flashbacks in your mind. It really is filmmaking and story telling through music videos at its very best.
Rihanna‘s ‘We Found Love’ is currently sitting at #7 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in its third week. Over in the UK, ‘We Found Love’ clocks its second consecutive week at #1, which is quite a feat given that the Brits haven’t had a single rest on top of the charts for longer than a week since July. In Australia, ‘We Found Love’ moves up to #2 in its third week. If it does go #1 here, it’ll be RiRi’s seventh chart topper.
Rihanna‘s forthcoming sixth studio album Talk That Talk will arrive first in Australia on 18 November and drop on 21 November in the US and UK.