Rihanna is one of the most well-known artists of today, with numerous hit songs and chart-topping albums. While she loves acting and modeling on the side, she’s continuously releasing new music to keep her fans smiling from ear to ear. Best of all, our Barbadian princess is not showing any signs of slowing down. She’s always doing something to keep people interested and her fans happy. While she might be a bit wild and crazy, let’s be honest, we love Rihanna for her mischievous ways. It makes her more likable, as well as more relatable than many other musicians. Simply put, Rihanna is as real as they come, never being afraid to show us who she is and what she loves. Whether it be through her songs or music videos, we get to know Rihanna on quite a personal level. With tough, edgy and story-driven visuals, RiRi has captivated audiences around the world. However, she has made a variety of music videos, with some being colorful and playful. With that in mind, it’s time to delve deep and list Rihanna’s top 10 music videos, according to The Hergula!
*Only music videos with Rihanna as the lead artist are eligible for the list.
10. What’s My Name? – Rihanna ft. Drake
Philip Andelman’s feel-good music video, a piece that will lift your mood with a believable on-screen romance. Rihanna and Drake had a short-lived fling then, as they do now, making their chemistry on-screen and off-screen undeniable. This means that their behavior in this visual was genuine and somewhat based on real life, as they were definitely comfortable with being close to one another. However, even as great as the two may be, Philip Andelman’s driection is the reason this music video pops and works so well. He worked the angles gracefully and smoothly, making for some intimate close-ups and fun wide-shots, with Rihanna dancing through the Lower East Side of New York City being especially well-filmed. In addition, the tone itself elevates this visual to great heights, as it comes across warm, flirtatious and fun. Muted colors create a sense of calm, while the angles make for one intimate visual. While it’s not too creative or special, the concept is well-executed and the music video is enjoyable to watch.
9. American Oxygen – Rihanna
This is arguably Rihanna’s most powerful music video, with focus on the American dream and historical events in the USA. We are shown both sides of the coin, without any sugar-coating, making this music video a thing of beauty. Whether it be Occupy Wall Street or the civil rights movement, we get to see what shaped the United States of America into the country we see and know today. Jonathan Craven, Jeff Nicholas and Darren Craig of the Uprising Creative directed this music video, and they did a great job showing how the American people have triumphed over some horrific historical events. In Addition, the visual is nicely directed, with the opening shot of Rihanna on the steps of the American flag-adorned city hall nicely setting the stage for the rest of the visual. Also, when it comes to our Grammy-winning singer, it’s great to see her take a step back in her own music video in order to highlight the United States of America. It’s simple and direct, albeit messy, with solid camera work and nice editing. It’s the type of music video that makes you feel a part of the message, even if you are not an American yourself, as everyone can relate to the American Dream in one way or another.
8. Man Down – Rihanna
This music video literally starts off with a bang, as we witness Rihanna killing a man with a firearm for unknown reasons, leaving him dead in a crowded train station. Not only does it make for an attention-grabbing start to the video, it sets up the story in a well-structured way, which is largely why this is such a good visual. Considering that it’s not easy to tell a story in a 5-6 minute music video, I was glad to see director Anthony Mandler pulling it off. While it is obviously nothing too complex or overly professional, it works with the song and makes for one very interesting music video that’s rewatchable. It’s down to earth and comes across quite realistically, with Rihanna doing a pretty good job acting, as this video would have been a mess would she not have been able to make for a convincing character. Later on, when it’s revealed that the unknown man she shot at the beginning of the video was a person who had (sexually) assaulted her the day before, the story comes full circle, giving Rihanna incentive to do what she did, right or wrong. With a variety of locations being used and the cinematography being good enough, the visual’s dark and gritty tone is able to bring the storyline to life together with the song.
7. S&M – Rihanna
This is one of Rihanna’s wild and raunchy videos, in which we see the pop star tied up bondage-style, wearing a pink latex outfit and dancing her ass off in colorful clothing. While that is putting it simply, this visual is anything but simplistic, as it is an off-the-wall concept of how Rihanna feels about her relationship with the press, seeing it as being sadomasochistic. The idea doesn’t seem too creative or intriguing at first glance, yet when the end result is as entertaining and enjoyable as the video of this song, it goes to show that even a mediocre concept can work beautifully if executed well enough. Seeing Rihanna walk Perez Hilton around on a leash seems almost mundane in this video, as does seeing the Barbados-born musician tied up with a thick rope, playfully struggling to get free. The reason as to why all of it comes together nicely is thanks to director Melina Matsoukas, who didn’t hold back when making this weird and vibrant music video, making the concept work. In addition, it’s well-shot and sharply edited, making it a breeze to watch, with Rihanna’s high-spirited performance being the absolute standout. While we know that Rihanna is a sexual individual, seeing her truly work her magic in this visual is brilliant, as she seems right at home with a whip in her hand and sensually eating fruit, completely embracing the concept of the visual.
6. Only Girl (In The World) – Rihanna
For a split second, I truly thought that Rihanna was going to jump on a unicorn and ride off into the sunset, chewing bubblegum and eating Skittles. While that obviously didn’t happen, the music video made me feel as if anything is possible, almost as if the visual was a depiction of some kind of a dream world. That feeling is achieved with the visual’s energy, which is both positive and lively, making it almost addictive to watch, as the simplistic concept is well-executed and the colorful delivery makes it memorable. It’s also very pleasant to watch, as everything comes together seamlessly, with even the large balloons of assorted colors fitting perfectly into whatever shot that they were placed in, which is an achievement in its own right. In addition, director Anthony Mandler put Rihanna front and center in this music video, without any other people in it, and surprisingly enough, Rihanna is able to work the angles nicely and demand our attention. It helps that the video makes the song’s message feels very intimate and personal, making it possible for the viewer to feel somewhat connected with Rihanna when watching this piece. Also, we shouldn’t forget about her personality and behavior, as Rihanna is the true reason as to why this visual pops, as she seems to be having a blast, and seeing this girl smile could make anyone’s heart melt.
5. Rude Boy – Rihanna
It’s common for musicians to create a variety of music videos, yet not too often do we see artists completely stray away from a good formula, something that our Barbados-born singer did with this visual. It’s not nearly as tough, edgy or story-driven as Rihanna’s other music videos, as it makes use of a green screen, is heavily edited and looks a bit cartoonish. However, the Jamaican/Caribbean vibe of the video brings everything together, giving it a distinct look and feel, with its bright selection of colors only adding to the spice-mix of an already over-worked video. While some shots are definitely just weird and pointless, others are artistic and fitting, yet that all comes down to personal perception, as there’s a lot going on in this 4-minute music video. While seeing Rihanna play the drums comes across a bit awkward and corny, seeing her sit on a stuffed zebra in the black and white section of the video seems creative and fitting, adding some variety to this otherwise one-tone visual. Nevertheless, some things never change, as Rihanna is still a one woman show, needing nothing else but herself to put on a solid on-screen performance with tons of energy and attitude. While it’s different, Melina Matsoukas was able to run with the creative decisions and direct this piece, looking professional while still being very playful, fun and light-hearted.
4. FourFiveSeconds – Rihanna w/ Kanye West and Paul McCartney
Inez and Vinoodh knew what they were doing when directing this music video, as it stands out and feels like a breath of fresh air compared to other visuals these days. Given, it comes across looking like a denim clothes commercial, yet that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as that distinct look and feel actually work in favor of the video. The clothing makes it possible for all three of the musicians to share the spotlight properly, which is a great undertaking when you consider that we have Paul McCartney, Kanye West and Rihanna sharing the screen together. Rihanna put it best: “denim never goes out of style: It’s classic, it’s iconic, just like The f*cking Beatles”. However, there are other creative decisions that make this an excellent video, like stripping the visual from colors, with its simplistic nature being enhanced in black and white, leaving us with the true essence of what we are seeing. Together with the squared-look of the visual, we got ourselves a music video that is pretty much timeless and quite memorable. While Kanye West looks a bit awkward and Paul McCartney seems out of place, Rihanna is the only one that comes across comfortable in this music video. Surprisingly enough, the awkwardness doesn’t take too much away from the visual, something I believe has to do with the quality of the song. Anyways, it goes to show that mixing an iconic musician with a pop star and a rowdy rapper can work wonders both on-screen and off-screen, as they definitely elevated the song by releasing this solid and enjoyable music video.
3. We Found Love – Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris
Melina Matsoukas sure knows how to make an excellent music video, with this piece being among the best blueprints of how to make a convincing troubled love story come alive in a short visual for a song. Beyond depicting a relationship spiraling out of control, into violence and addiction, this music video shows how beautiful and thrilling love can be at the very beginning of a relationship, and how bad things can get when the initial spark fades away. It’s a very relatable topic, enhanced by the amazing chemistry between Rihanna and Dudley O’Shaughnessy, which comes as no surprise considering that the two were romantically linked, during and after the video shoot. The fact that real feelings were somewhat involved when creating this visual make it all the more special, with director Melina Matsoukas capturing the magic between the two on-screen stars. In addition, the muted colors give the visual a warm feel to it, with the nice-editing and intimate camera angles completing this near perfect package of a music video. It takes you on an emotional journey of being in a relationship, with the best thing about the visual being its believability and relatability. Whether you feel a connection to the characters or relate to their struggles, it’s the type of music video that makes you feel something, good or bad.
2. Bitch Better Have My Money – Rihanna
With Bitch Better Have My Money, Rihanna decided to take charge of directing the music video herself, and surprisingly enough, she did a phenomenal job with bringing the song’s story to life in this visual. While it was a collaboration with Megaforce, there’s no doubt that RiRi took the reins of directing this piece as the raw and daring nature of the visual has “Rihanna” written all over it. That’s a good thing, considering that one of the main reasons we love our Barbadian songstress is because of her willingness to provoke others, make gutsy decisions and take risks. These qualities made for a venturesome music video, in which we see Rihanna kidnapping a woman, smoking a joint while naked on a chest filled with money and walking away from it all with blood covering her face. However, I shouldn’t get ahead of myself, as while Rihanna was obviously the focal point of the visual, she starred alongside Rachel Roberts, Mads Mikkelsen and Eric Roberts. While all of them brought some star power to the music video, I do have to highlight the excellent performance by Rachel Roberts, who added to the storyline’s believability and who was featured in numerous key scenes. On another note, the visual features nudity and violence, yet it works well with the short story that it tells, coming across a bit like a 6-minute 90s mobster flick. It’s quite surprising how well things come together in this visual, as on paper, the concepts seems almost too generic, yet after seeing this entertaining and memorable music video I was baffled. It goes to show that with a large budget and enough talented people behind the scenes, a risky concept like this can work very well for a music video!
1. Umbrella – Rihanna ft. Jay Z
Rihanna has several excellent music videos but the cream of the crop would have to be the Umbrella visual, as it is nearly as fresh, vibrant and captivating today as it was on the day of its release. Honestly, I find it quite amazing to see how well this music video has held up throughout the years but I guess that good creative decisions and solid directing are somewhat timeless. While it obviously has a few dated concepts, director Chris Applebaum’s decision to have Rihanna’s nude body covered in silver paint was a stroke of genius, being the absolute highlight of the visual. It’s sensual in an artistic way, not overly sexual or un-fitting, making it something quite special and surprisingly alluring. The reveal itself comes after two brilliantly set up sections of the video, with one of them showing Rihanna gracefully move around with strands of silver liquid flying around her in response to her movements. That was followed by RiRi strutting her stuff in the orange-to-white shaded section, which was excellent, with our grammy-winning Barbadian looking elegant with her simplistic choreography. To put it simply, the structure of the music video is excellent, making each section feel a part of the visual but still have its own identity, with Rihanna doing a great job selling the topic of the song. Whether she be wearing a dress or nothing at all, RiRi is a captivating individual capable of demanding the viewer’s attention with very little effort, making for this tough and edgy visual, that is well-produced and fittingly directed!