And the way things are lined up here, we’re not getting to “Poison” til new year, but we’ll get there, honest…
Katherine St Asaph: Attention pop listeners: You have never heard of Rated R. Angry Rihanna never existed. There is only Sunny Rihanna, and her 2011 career will be a straight-line extrapolation from “Pon De Replay”. Fawning over fucking Drake and his pre-algebra innuendo is just how the sun shines these days. You’re smiling! Right?
Al Shipley: Some of that newfound power of expressive intonation and flirtatious phrasing that Rihanna started to show on “Rude Boy” after years of foghorn belting is thankfully here. And the beat is pretty good, but the hook never quite hooks me and Drake just stands for Drone Robotically And Kinda Emote.
Michaelangelo Matos: “Good weed, white wine/I come alive in the nighttime,” raps Drake, who recorded his opening verse at 10:30 a.m. “He knows how to make me want it,” sings Rihanna, and if she’s talking about Drake her taste in men still needs work.
Jonathan Bogart: Can we get a Drakeless edit for maximal enjoyment? Actually, I’ll be fine if I just keep switching stations to the song after he’s done his bit.
John Seroff: “Name” takes Rihanna back to the “Don’t Stop The Music” persona of approachable, enticing life of the party. There’s abandon and surrender in that voice again, a slight giggle on the fringes of her Caribbean accent. She “really wanna be with you”; she “really wanna see if you can go long time” and, unlike “Rude Boy”, it’s not a challenge but an invitation. This is well-traveled road so the degree of difficulty is low, but Ri-Ri executes the finer points of the nonsense chorus coquette supernaturally well. As for Drake’s “guest verse”, the best thing he has to offer is self containment: if you queue “Name” at .58 you can skip his involvement entirely with no detriment to the track at all. Read my score as applying to this far more palatable (and easily achievable) 3.20 mix.
Chuck Eddy: Two of the more irritating vocal presences of the last two years, together at last (assuming they were never together before, that is.) But as rote sex bullshit goes, could be worse. Cute oh-na-nas, and I don’t know if I’ve heard a song where somebody tries to compute a square root before.
David Moore: Drake has an uncanny ability to make me not give a shit about something in about two seconds. But for this review I’ll force myself to get through the early stretch in which, having no alternative, I have to contemplate someone actually conceiving, chuckling at, and then fact-checking a line about the “square root of 69,” then recording it, listening back to it, and chuckling again, and no one saying anything. The rest is Rihanna’s show, and like much of Loud it’s anticlimactic, but not without its little charms, like the way her accent casually breaks through. (Really, that’s the only one I can think of?)
Martin Skidmore: I’m generally a big fan, but this is kind of dull. It’s slowish, over standard issue Stargate housey tones and tinny beats, and Drake drones some autotuned nothing at the start. There is quite a nice tune in this, but Rihanna is better at sharpness and force than sweet melodies.
Anthony Easton: Lazy, and I refuse to believe that Drake is a swordsman of any skill or ability. Rihanna’s coolness suggests that she has gone from sang froid to genuine who-gives-a-fuck boredom, which makes Drake’s cack-handed attempts at seduction even more pathetic.
Jer Fairall: Doesn’t play as much to the strengths of its two performers as I’d’ve liked, with Drake in particular sounding curiously remote in his bit, although he still doesn’t come off nearly as phoned-in as that banal Stargate backing track. But the vocal melody in the “hey boy” breakdown is quite pretty, enough so that I keep stopping on this whenever I keep bumping into it on the radio. Still, here’s hoping future Rihanna/Drake collabs aren’t ruled out in the future purely due to the existence of this rather half-hearted one.