In the eternal high school that is the entertainment business, sometimes there comes a love triangle for the ages, one that generates an endless stream of speculative tabloid stories about what exactly the stars must be feeling and thinking. Usually the conclusion is horrifying: They're just like us! Maybe it's comforting for common folk to know that all the money, talent, and success in the world can't protect you from experiencing heartbreak. No one goes through life without encountering rejection. Everybody plays the fool, sometimes. There's no exception to the rule. Think of Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, and Jennifer Aniston; Liz Taylor, Eddie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds; or Eric Clapton, Pattie Boyd, and George Harrison. For the triangle to be truly epic, all three should be about the same level of famous. Which brings us to Chriannake. Let's play Internet detective/fan fiction writer.
"I reject Chris Brown's comeback! Lemon out." — Liz Lemon, last night's 30 Rock
I also reject Chris Brown's comeback! Lambert in! What does it take for Rihanna to unfollow and block Chris Brown on Twitter? How about a freestyle over Kanye's "Theraflu" from the ex-boyfriend she's still in love with, even though he beat her to a pulp, that implicates she's worthless because she screws a lot of guys? Chris Brown's new lyrics go, "Don't fuck with my old bitch like it's a bad fur / Every industry n***a done had her / Shook the tree like a pumpkin just to smash her / Bitch is breaking codes, but I'm the password." Brown has already denied that the verse was about Rihanna, taking to his Twitter and saying "Assumptions! I didn't say any names so if u took offense to it then its something you feel guilty about." Another vague non-apology from a guy with a well-documented history of non-apologizing. Rihanna had wished Chris "happy birthday" just four days ago. He turned 23, which means he should grow up by the time he is 90. She has now blocked him.
A. "I want it all night, give it to me baby." ("Talk That Talk")
B. "You shouldn't have given it to me good like that. Shouldn't have hit it like that. Had me yelling like that." ("U Da One")
C. "I love it when you eat it." ("Cockiness")
D. "Let me grab my tit while you sit on top. Do you right here while the whole world's watching." ("Red Lipstick")
E. "I'ma make you my bitch" ("Birthday Cake")
F. “I’m not necessarily happy being single. It’s not really that cool." — Rihanna, on Ellen
Bullshitting is an art, and like most arts it aims to impress and induce admiration. It's not exactly lying, more like invoking possibilities. Things that might not happen but could. It's embellishing things you want to do, and might do, leading through suggestive allusions and purposefully leaving out any information that would weaken your case. It's not making the shot. It's pointing at a target and saying "I could make that shot." It is performative confidence, the feigned bravado that enables real bravado. Exaggerating a skill and then successfully channeling it in the moment. Three places you will find bullshitting taken to its limitations of beauty and absurdity: (1) rap, (2) sports, (3) the Internet.
Rihanna’s new album Talk That Talk came out last week and we can all rest assured that its tracks will eventually become ubiquitous and make us fight the urge to dance in a lamestream club and/or Honda Civic. Then they'll aggravate us because we won't be able to escape them. Then we’ll suddenly know all the words and wonder how these songs became so familiar without ever really engaging us. That’s probably just ‘the power of pop music,’ but I sometimes wonder how Rihanna managed to stay relevant with such a dull discography.
The first time I hear any Rihanna song I am perplexed, because it usually isn’t directly accessible. Sometimes it is too anthemic for Rihanna’s simple, range-limited voice, or the original sample is poorly constructed into a new song. How can Rihanna be so successful without one overwhelmingly amazing trait as a singer or performer? She has done little to distinguish herself as an independent female artist with an unique perspective that she genuinely wants to share with the world. She’s not as thematically deliberate as Taylor Swift, but also not as comatose as Britney Spears. How did she go from just capitalizing off the island-beat-goes-mainstream movement to being a full-on pop force (instead of just fading away like Shaggy)?
The video for “We Found Love” finds Rihanna and a dude running through the arc of a tumultuous relationship. We see Riri and her man in the good days, making out on fast-food counters and dancing with hippies at a muddy rave. We see them in the dark days, popping pills and smoking … um, a comical number of cigarettes (guess Rihanna’s handlers aren’t quite cool with her pretending to do explicitly illegal drugs). And we seem them at the end, staring forlornly. It’s kind of like an episode of the U.K. Skins with the fast-forward sex scene from A Clockwork Orange tossed in. The only thing is, the dude sort of looks like Chris Brown, and definitely has Chris Brown’s dyed hair. And the two have an intense argument while in a car, the scene of Brown’s assault. Well then!