Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Rihanna – Pour It Up

Beerz A Make Her Dance Sit Forlornly


Katherine St Asaph: What I wish more critics discussed about Unapologetic, rather than tabloid criticism, was why Rihanna abandoned Stargate pop (mostly; they’re on there, but very little sounds like “Rude Boy” or the now-infamousHow You Love It“) for sounds that make more sense on urban radio, down to getting Mike WiLL and recreating “Bands a Make Her Dance.” The shift wasn’t even necessary — something I suspect Rihanna’s team knew, or at least anticipated — and seems counterintuitive when there’s more stardom and, for Rihanna, bigger hits in pop; it’s curious. But this is Rihanna, so the personal stuff butts in anyway. Supposedly, she specifically asked for a stripper track, and per bio-baiting procedure, Rumpelstiltskin spinning scandal into gold, this is the song that corresponds to those strip-club photos. But where Nicki Minaj can endorse endless strippers with no HWFO, Rihanna’s hewed enough to the good girl gone bad narrative that “Pour It Up” sounds nightmarish as a result, like a dispatch from mid-breakdown. The music is even bleaker than usual, deploying jump-scare brass and dropping quiet into druggy fogs and sounding mechanical the whole time; the cold lone synth clap at the end does to me what I imagine the end of “Russian Roulette” was supposed to. The words don’t help either — you don’t repeat “still got my money” this often unless you’re trying to reassure yourself about everything you haven’t still got. Which is reading a lot into this, but Unapologetic all but tells you to, and doing so is the only way “Pour It Up” works. I just hope in 2015 it’s easier to listen to than Blackout.

Scott Mildenhall: Rihanna really would be best advised to release a greatest hits album this year. Clearly, whenever she gets round to it it will be amazing, and clearly, whenever she gets round to it this will not be making an appearance, not even on Disc 3. There just doesn’t seem to be anything going on: she sounds jaded. It’s like she’s started sleepwalking after drifting off in the bath from the “Stay” video, begun mumbling some subliminal gibberish, and ambled her way towards and off a cliff – the only explanation for the complete “Birthday Cake” of an ending. It’s seemingly an attempt at making her most unpoppily hip-hop single yet, and in that regard at least it’s a success, easily usurping “Hard” and “Talk That Talk”, but they were both better songs, and even despite that, the former was pretty much skipped over in the UK (and seemingly everywhere else outside of North America) and the latter wasn’t much of a hit anywhere. Maybe, then, this is just region-specific. Maybe, that’s generous.

Al Shipley: There are certain Rihanna reveries — particularly melismatic “hey” and “oh” refrains in songs like “Run This Town” — that pierce me very deeply in my soul, in a bad way. I fall into a dark despair when I hear them, and if I let it play too long it’ll get stuck in my head for the rest of the day. I lunge for the dial when this one comes on the radio. 

Anthony Easton: Rihanna is so lonely, and her loneliness is a mark of the sexual ennui of failed late capitalism. In what should be a strip club anthem, we have a mark of dissociation; the music betrays the lyrics’ false message of economic determination. 

Ian Mathers: I really didn’t think it was possible for “all I see is signs, all I see is dollar signs” to sound that sinister, and it’s not exactly a happy thought in the first place. It’s not that she’s got an icebox where her heart used to be; it’s just that she’s exceedingly Tired of Your Shit. It’s hard to picture anyone dancing to this song, let alone having fun, but it’s extremely impressive, even daunting. And she’s still got her money; what the fuck are you going to do about it? Nothing, that’s what.

Patrick St. Michel: Mike WiLL Made It has said that Rihanna’s people knew “what they were really looking for from me.” Turns out they wanted a “Bandz A Make Her Dance” gone PG – one where Rihanna finds herself in a strip club and sings about “bands make your girl go down,” but without any of the extra ickiness of Juicy J’s version. This is probably the closest ratchet music will come to being Kidz Bopped, except not nearly as funny.

Brad Shoup: “Pour It Up” is concerned with the visuals, not the perspective. She’s calling our attention to the valet, the pole, the bottles — and always, the sight of falling bills. There are a couple possible takeaways: Rihanna wanted a strip-club song, and the thought process ended there; or Rihanna wanted to destroy strip-club songs. As much as I want to, I can’t imagine she’s aiming for the latter… she’s made a career on being hard, savoring the fruits of her labors as deeply as her male Def Jam cohorts. But why wouldn’t she? Mike Williams confuses silence with tension; his four-note keyboard riff ensures the club’s gonna be an even sadder place.

Iain Mew: In this context I hear “throw it up, throw it up” and picture some kind of nightmare scenario with the people at the club literally vomiting money, only no one notices or cares about that fact. Or anything.

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Clap. Clap. Clap. And yet again, Mike Will Made It drops us into the land of “Bandz A Make Her Dance,” substituting Juicy J’s drunken uncle rumbling for Rihanna’s reheated “Hard” routine. “Pour It Up” feels like a concerned attempt to place a powerful woman at the centre of the original’s male-dominated druggy stripclub swirl but like “Cake” before it, the song should have remained an interlude or mixtape doodle. When stretched out to barely three minutes it’s revealed to be even emptier than “Bandz” was in the first place. “Bandz” at least came hepped up on goofballs and meme-ready; the best Rihanna can give us is an apocalyptic reading of “all I see are dollar signs,” fitting for both glazed-eye rich patron of gentlemen’s clubs and glazed-eye rich performers of half-assed odes to gentlemen’s clubs. Not very trippy mane!

Alfred Soto: Where her roboticized pipes too often undercuts club bangers, here she sounds like a Sunset Person herself: spent and numb after several nights and mornings of partying, finding just enough energy to sing along with the tinny karaoke beat.

Reader average: [5.47] (21 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

19 Responses to “Rihanna – Pour It Up”

  1. I’m quite fond of Iain’s blurb.

  2. Thanks!

  3. Iain’s blurb is my fav thing abt TSJ in a while, but it’s also why I enjoy this song

  4. I never knew Blackout became hard to listen to. :(

  5. Anthony’s blurb is making me incredibly sad right now (though it’s right on the mark).

  6. would you like a hug?

  7. Wow, I never realized how sad this is. I noticed the emptiness to Unapologetic but I almost forgot that Rihanna is actually in that mist somewhere.

  8. @anthony
    the answer to that question will always be yes.

    @James B
    same, I mostly dismissed it as an “edgier” concept for Rihanna before dwelling on it for a bit…and then it hit. and reading the responses here is making it even more dark.

  9. Can we agree that Loveeeeeee Song, however, is amazing and deserving of all the accolades?

  10. I can totally see the sad/disaffected/failed late capitalism/destruction of the strip club song aspects, and that’s what makes it all the better. Were the lower grades just because it’s a bummer to listen to?

  11. Mmm pretty much. I can see where you and Conor are coming from and this is one of my less confidently stated marks, but I definitely didn’t come out hoping to hear it again.

  12. Rebecca: the record was a dull attempt at evoking the club.

  13. WHOA WHOA WHOA, everyone chill out and realise Richaod’s talking ‘Loveeeeeee Song’ up there aka FLAWLESSVILLE.

  14. Loveeeeee Song is a [9] easy, possibly [10]. are y’all gonna blurb it? well, better question, HEY RIHANNA YOU GONNA BOTHER RELEASING YOUR BEST SONG SINCE WE FOUND LOVE AS A SINGLE?

    or, for real, have to go farther back than We Found Love. Only Girl? Rude Boy? Umbrella? regardless it’s omg amazing

  15. rihanna is my favourite singer she is very talented i like alll her songs.

  16. The video for this is finally out. Everyone was wrong and Katherine was right. Sut Jhally is almost definitely going to include this in Dreamworlds 4, right?

  17. Everyone was wrong and Katherine was right.

    That’s the title of my in-progress TSJ history.

  18. thanks :/

  19. turns out this mashup brings katherine’s pt into sharper focus: http://andrewpresents.com/post/63744540414/rihanna-x-kelly-rowland-pour-that-motivation#notes