Live preview: Rihanna
Is the pop star making history or just ruffling feathers?
Mon Jul 11 2011
Photograph: Camilla Akrans
WELL-BEHAVED BITCHES SELDOM MAKE HISTORY reads Rihanna's current Twitter avatar. It's an interesting thing for the pop star to say, given that she's just been chosen as the face of Vita Coco coconut water, and her most recent single, "California King Bed," was a plodding, middle-of-the-road ballad used to sell Nivea skin care.
But you get the message, loud, clear and in pink letters: Rihanna works hard to establish that as bitches go, she is not well behaved, from her record titles (Good Girl Gone Bad, Rated R, "S&M") to her ever-decreasing wardrobe and increasing tattoo collection. It's rather a shame, not just because plenty of well-behaved bitches have made a durable impact on history (show of hands—Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marie Curie, Jane Goodall), but also because the pose obscures the singer's less-visible philanthropic work. It prompts the question, what kind of history is Rihanna trying to make?
She's already one of the best-selling female artists of all time, having shifted more than 20 million albums worldwide. Thanks to such catchy pop nuggets as "Umbrella," "What's My Name?" and "Only Girl (In the World)," the 23-year-old is as bankable a pop star as exists right now. As regards an enduring legacy, however, one can only imagine where the present trend for stripper-feminism lands today's little girls in a decade's time. Will any of this keep Rihanna's two huge New York shows from being fun? Hell no. Will you leave the stadium feeling optimistic about women in the entertainment industry? That's your call.