Rihanna’s weird ‘FourFiveSeconds’ builds excitement for new album

Rihanna issued "FourFiveSeconds," the lead single from her as-yet-untitled eighth album. It features Paul McCartney and Kanye West.
(Roc Nation)

While you were still hungover from Friday night, Rihanna offered the first legit taste of her upcoming album.

Without warning -- which is quickly becoming pop’s new standard for music releases -- Saturday afternoon the pop star dropped “FourFiveSeconds,” the lead single from her as-yet-untitled eighth album.

The bare-bones track features some high-profile guests in Kanye West and Paul McCartney, and it’s a stark departure for the singer whose last album, 2012’s “Unapologetic,” was crammed with so many sweaty twerk anthems that we’re still pressing play on it.

But that isn’t a bad thing. With McCartney steering the track with the guitar, Rih delivers a rawer performance than usual. There’s no auto-tune or processing on her vocals, just pure singing.


“I think I’ve had enough, I might get a little drunk/I say what’s on my mind, I might do a little time/Cause all of my kindness, is taken for weakness,” she sings before West jumps in.

Between the gospel organ bridge and backing vocals from R&B stoner Ty Dolla Sign, it’s the weirdest thing a pop diva has done since Beyonce taught us how to “surfboard.” “FourFiveSeconds” doesn’t explode with a massive hook, and it’s more fit for sitting at the beach than raving at a stadium. Still, it has us amped for Rihanna’s new album.

She’s already proven her ear for radio hits (and has a lengthy resume of chart-toppers to prove it). Her single might not sound like an instant smash in the current climate of funky stompers, but it does something better but showing she can reach beyond the expected. And if visionaries like McCartney and West are willing to follow her lead, we can’t even imagine the swagger she’ll bring with the rest of the record. Count us in.

However, if you want to listen to Rihanna’s new jam, you have to buy it. The song is available now on iTunes.