Why Can’t Rihanna Sing Her Own Songs?


I love me some RiRi, but I’m sorry — the bitch can’t sing live, and no amount of reverb can cover it up! In the last week I’ve see her perform that red hot single “Only Girl (In the World)” on Saturday Night Live and at the European Music Awards. Both times, her red headed ass was flat, missing practically every note in the song. And there are only like four notes MAX in the whole thing!!

Why can’t Rihanna sing her own #1 single?

A lot of pop singers became icons without a single shred of vocal talent. But some pop singers get in a lot of trouble when they’re outed for lip-synching (Ashlee Simpson) or for singing off key (Taylor Swift). We’re like, “Even I could sing like that!” And what does everybody say after Taylor Swift has performed live on some show? “Wow, is she tone deaf or what!”

There’s nothing wrong with being off key every once in a while. Maybe the mic is effed up, or maybe you had sinus infection. But the show must go on – that’s the name of the game – and so sing you must. We are unforgiving of singers who can’t sing because it totally bulldozes the fantasy of pop stars as mythical unicorns sent down from the heavens. When we see them live and they sound awful, we’re like: ummm, somebody give her her autotune back, stat!

There are a handful of singers, though, who are positively divine live. Lady Gaga is one, and so is Beyoncé. Bey could make a #1 record with just her gargling mouthwash and whipping her lacefront back and forth. So why do some singers succeed where others fail?

Music production makes it possible for practically anyone to sound uh-mazing in the studio. So I guess that means the singing playing field sorta gets evened out. With all the vocal effects of autotune, reverb, and whatever else these musical magicians can do, it’s when you’re live that the cat’s out the bag. In the studio version of the track, maybe the notes are higher, the beats faster, but the computer isn’t there to cruise you through the performance.

One thing I’ve noticed about Beyoncé, just P.S., is that there is always an album version of a song and then a way-easier-to-sing live version. Listen to “Déja Vu” from B’Day, and you’ll see that it’s uptempo, fast, and it goes down easy. Watch any live video of Bey doing “Deja Vu,” and the song is in a totally different key and it’s 30% slower than the orig. version. Girlfriend can’t sing the album version live, and all of her people know it!

My favorite part of RiRi’s “Only Girl” is obviously the chorus — the money shot of pop music. She scream-sings, WANT YOU TO MAKE ME FEEL/LIKE I’M THE ONLY GIRL IN THE WORLD/LIKE I’M THE ONLY ONE THAT YOU’LL EVER LOVE and the shouting in her voice rhymes with the high pitched, loud synths which tell you that this is the key part of the song. Problem is, when you scream notes you can’t hit, the results are not cute.

I have nothing against RiRi or her voice. I L-O-V-E Rihanna. Besides, she does that whole high fashiony gay thing, which I am so into. I just wish her producers would realize that we don’t expect her to belt it out like (insert name). Just write versions of her songs at a tempo and in a key that she can actually sing in!

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Image: Sam Collart