After breaking her yearly album streak back in 2012, overly productive pop star Rihanna has found herself in the sights of Kanye West and Paul McCartney’s new collaborative project. Rather than debut with another massive pop song that’s almost guaranteed to top iTunes charts internationally, she’s taking it down a notch.
FourFiveSeconds, the first single from Rihanna’s upcoming album and the second from Kanye’s, carries distinct similarities to Only One, the first Kanye and McCartney song, in that it’s basically just vocals with a one-instrument accompaniment. However, the keyboard melody is replaced with acoustic guitar for the verses and chorus, with Rihanna taking the majority of the vocal spots and Kanye getting a verse or two to himself. Thankfully, the vocal editing found on Only One is nowhere to be seen here, allowing Rihanna to sell the song without their aid. This is especially good for the bridge, which brings the keyboard back to replace the guitar and provides a short gospel-influenced section to tie the two halves of the song together. While Kanye sounds somewhat out of place here compared to on Only One, Rihanna manages to pull it off beautifully and save the song from being a potential disaster.
While we can’t be sure that Rihanna’s giving us a country album based off of one song, this collaboration was an interesting twist for Rihanna’s long awaited comeback. It’s neither the Rihanna and Kanye collaboration the world expected or the comeback single any fan would have predicted for her, but FourFiveSeconds is strong in its own right.