In a night full of vaguely conceived prizes, Rihanna took home what might’ve been the vaguest of all at Sunday’s American Music Awards: the so-called Icon Award, presented to the pop singer in honor of her “providing the soundtrack to our 21st century years and lives,” as Bill Maher, of all people, described the accolade in his weirdly effusive introduction.
“I’m so proud of you tonight,” Rihanna’s mother, Monica Fenty, told her daughter during her hand-off of the trophy. “I know the journey and your career has not always been an easy one. But tonight I applaud and admire you for being so strong and so positive and so humble and so focused.”
Now, to be clear, Pop & Hiss is firmly pro-mom. We’re even in favor of moms doling out prizes at awards shows (especially when they take the place of actors who’ve obviously only shown up because some network boss demanded it).
But if there’s one thing Rihanna is not, it’s humble -- and thank the gods of pop for that.
Just look at her peformance Sunday of “Diamonds,” during which the 25-year-old dominated the stage (backed by a miniature orchestra) like a young Grace Jones.
We haven’t cared about this song, from Rihanna’s 2012 album “Unapologetic,” for more than a year. But here she was powerfully reclaiming lines about being beautiful in the sky, and making them sound not only reasonable but inevitable.
You don’t do that with humility; you do it with belief in your own greatness.
Watch Rihanna’s acceptance of the Icon Award, presented this year for the first time, and her rendition of “Diamonds” below.