Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Rihanna – Wait Your Turn

Today’s the last of our round-up of current singles – tomorrow, our attempt at mopping up what we’ve missed begins…


Chuck Eddy: I have to cringe at how people are inevitably going to associate whatever music she makes in the near future with the Chris Brown incident — like decoding Paul-is-dead clues, more or less. I’ve long been opposed to caring about celebrity personal lives on principle, or at least letting those biographies warp critical judgment, and one shitty thing about the ’00s (a byproduct of hip-hop, probably) is how the phenomenon became more commonplace — or at least, how so many pop stars recorded music that arrogantly presumes we keep up with their lives’ details. Seems a recent development — most great pop music used to be about our lives, not theirs. That said, kudos to Rihanna for showing great strength after everything bad that happened, of course. And I’m not suggesting she’s begging the Chris question here, though no doubt some folks will interpret the song that way. But oh yeah, did I mention how tuneless it is? Okay, did now. Though maybe the dancehall-accent parts aren’t horrible.

Frank Kogan: Rihanna’s live soul-searching on ABC gets a 10 from me, though her finding a musical correlative may take a while. Her musical struggle in this song is to make the voice tough and resistant but to then twist it slowly, the toughness fighting back.

Alex Ostroff: After the tepid balladry of “Russian Roulette”, “Wait Your Turn” properly announces the return of Rihanna. Chase & Status provide a beat under the verses that swings and lurches like Frankenstein with swagger, a perfect match for Rihanna’s defiance and dominance: “I pitch with a grenade / swing away if you’re feeling brave.” Where Beyonce’s dominance comes from a sense of noblesse oblige — her supremacy is simply assumed — Rihanna’s sounds fought for. Thus, the chorus, oozing as much ‘inspirational’ as an episode of Oprah, feels earned and triumphant rather than hackneyed. For the first time since her debut, Rihanna feels fully present in her songs: her Bajan accent is prominent throughout the album, and her days as a blank Europop canvas are a thing of the past. “I’m such a fucking lady,” she declares early on. No arguments here.

Alex Macpherson: It’s remarkable how hearing Rated R in its entirety has turned me around on “Wait Your Turn”. Initially it seemed an underwritten mess, as misguided an attempt at dubstep as similar efforts from Snoop Dogg and Eve of late; but its portentous, relentless grind is the perfect way to kick off a remarkable album. In the first verse, Rihanna references Remy Ma; in the second, she emphasises her Bajan vowels, bringing to mind the British Jamaican MCs who first vocalled dubstep beats. It’s as though she’s regaining her power by reconstructing herself from scratch.

Martin Skidmore: There is a lot of space in this, with very restrained heavy bass and minimal beats. I don’t think it suits her terribly well, her nasal tones sounding too whiney for either the production or the words, but I find the sound rather compelling.

Alfred Soto: “There’s so much power in my name,” she boasts, which is true if you consider the The-Dream collaboration “Livin’ a Lie” her only vital vocal and the rest the consequences of savvy marketing. Here she’s committing with an oversize organ that makes her sound like someone’s pumping her pedals.

Additional Scores

Anthony Easton: [7]
Kat Stevens: [3]

3 Responses to “Rihanna – Wait Your Turn”

  1. I think if I hadn’t heard Russian Roulette first, this would have got a higher score from me. But this remains a sludgey funeral dirge.

  2. If I’d reviewed this based on the leak by itself I really think I’d have given it [3] or [4], but when I heard it in the context of the album, in HQ and explicit, I was suddenly like OH SHIT THIS IS FUCKING AMAZING.

  3. I definitely liked this track from the start. It’s genuinely anthemic, and the “wait is ova” phrase feels like it signifies so many “wait”s, so many pages turned, so many new things opening up for Rihanna.

    But I definitely agree that the album is more than the sum of its parts. There are songs here which work less perfectly than others, and I’m always annoyed when rears his head, but give me five stars to rate the album with and I’ll use them all. As an artistic statement, a coherent work and a surprising and odd way to end the decade’s big pop releases, it’s more than we could ever ask for.