FearlessRiOT’s Tuesday Top 10: Favorite Rihanna Music Videos

It happened. It finally happened. This past January, Rihanna finally released ANTI onto the world. Originally a TIDAL exclusive (they – especially Kanye West – REALLY want you to sign up for that thing), the album has since found its way to iTunes and can be found physically at Target. Along with the album was a brand new Drake-assisted single, “Work”, and the news that they may have filmed the music video on-location for it. Those suspicions were soon validated as the teaser for the video premiered this past weekend, followed by the posting of the official video to VEVO this past weekend. Actually, I should make the term “video” plural because it’s actually two music videos in one, directed by Director X and Tim Erem. Knowing Rihanna, you knew it was going to be either something sexy and mysterious, or something sexy and fun. OK, so sexiness is pretty much a given seeing as we’re dealing with one of the hottest, most alluring, and least filtered personalities in all of music, but what will the tone be? Well, you know what they say: we must look to the past to understand the future. So because of this news – and also because her 28th birthday was this past Saturday –I decided to look back on my ten favorite video clips in the Barbadian beauty’s videography, excluding feature appearances like in T.I.’s “Live Your Life”, Jay-Z’s “Run This Town”, Coldplay’s “Princess of China”, The Lonely Island’s “Shy Ronnie”, and both of her Eminem team-ups, “The Monster” and “Love The Way You Lie” . These are my Top 10 Favorite Rihanna Music Videos!

#10. “Cheers (Drink to That)” (2011) [from Loud]
Director: Evan Rogers & Ciara Pardo


Some music videos love to document partying and having fun (OK, maybe a lot of videos love to do that, especially this decade and not just in pop and hip-hop either), and that seems to be the entire point to that music video for “Cheers (Drink to That)”. But not only is Rihanna having some fun in the music video, but she is also mixing it with business as she travels around the world performing for and meeting millions of fans. Basically, it’s a tour video that features not only her crew and her fans, but she also brings a few celebrity friends along on her adventures, from Kanye West to Cee-Lo Green. Even Avril Lavigne pops in for a cameo, which is nice seeing as the song itself samples the bridge portion from one of Lavigne’s biggest hits, “I’m With You”. This song just narrowly edged out the official #11, “Diamonds”, to end up on my list. I just love the whole vibe to this video.


#9. “S.O.S.” (2006) [from A Girl Like Me]
Director: Chris Applebaum


I’m not sure this music video has a point aside from documenting just how sexy Rihanna is, and I think that’s why I didn’t put it higher. It doesn’t have the artistic visuals of “Umbrella” (which I will get to), so basically, you’re watching Rihanna in all her glistening glory become your new celebrity crush right before your very eyes. But in watching the video back, I guess there are some other things worth admiring; for one, when she’s dancing in front of the green leaves while wearing a should-be-iconic green dress, giving a tiny island vibe to the video. Also, is it just me or does the mirror scene look like some kind of a maze-like game inside of a mirror funhouse with no messed mind trick mirrors? This video also had a couple of seconds of Nokia product placement, because in the mid-2000s pre-Dre Beats era, selling phones in your video was the hip thing.

#8. “Take A Bow” (2008) [from Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded]
Director: Anthony Mandler


At it’s heart, this is a Beyoncé music video. This is like the music video for “Irreplaceable”, only much less boring. This is Rihanna’s version of “If we’re in a relationship, don’t try to screw me over!” In the 2000s, a number of female performers did that in 2000s music videos all in the name of independence or revenge, from Kelly Clarkon to Keyshia Cole to Carrie Underwood to Jazmine Sullivan. Even old-school Taylor Swift at least fantasized about it. Rihanna’s guy has apparently made a mistake by cheating on her and playing games, something that there is really no excuse for. Really, why would you do something that stupid? And she doesn’t want to hear your excuses; she won’t let you in the house when you beg, she’ll keep driving if you walk alongside her vehicle, and she’ll set your wardrobe ablaze in front of your face! You go, girl!

#7. “Only Girl (In the World)” (2010) [from Loud]
Director: Anthony Mandler


This is the video for the lead single on her Loud album, which was kind of the last time Rihanna released a mostly positive and vibrant product; let’s be honest, almost every one of her eras after this was kind of dark or moody or down and dirty. Most of this era just made you feel happy to be alive, and that’s what this video feels like with its auburn colors, breathtaking tones, field of flowers, and fireworks at the end. Rihanna’s the only person in it, making the title very much literal, and the way she often focuses on the camera makes it easy for you to slide yourself into the director’s shoes and imagine you’re the one she’s singing this too. Like you’re the one she wants to make you feel like the only girl in the world.

#6. “Shut Up and Drive” (2007) [from Good Girl Gone Bad]
Director: Anthony Mandler


I wonder how many of you think of this song as the training montage track from Wreck-It Ralph now; funny that it was used to soundtrack an admittedly funny sequence of events where Ralph teaches young Vanellope to drive in a Disney movie considering this song isn’t about literal driving. It’s obviously a ton of car/sex metaphors set to a beat that probably rocked more than the “Rockstar 101” beat. But even Rihanna went literal for the music video, where fixes a car (or pretends to, at least) and hosts a car race. Sorry, Eva Marie in the 2016 WWE Fastlane promo, but you’re no level for Rihanna here. Also, I was weak for her hairstyle in this video; not just the bob, but also the blue streak in it.

#5. “Stay” (2013) [from Unapologetic]
Director: Sophie Muller


I think every pop star is required to create at least one track that shows they can pull of vulnerability, and for Rihanna, that would be the piano ballad “Stay” featuring still little-known Mikky Ekko (really, the success of this song did not blow him up AT ALL). Along with the minimal piano ballad, we got a minimal music video; minimal in that Rihanna gets dressed down, appears with no (or at least very little) makeup, and steps into a bathtub to soak for the videos entire runtime. We get tons of close-up shots where you witness her go through the emotion of this relationship between her and this other person with better acting than she’s done in either Battleship or Home (I kinda did like Home, by the way). It’s probably the most emotional video she’s ever done and probably ever will do. Sure, it’s not enough to make it my #1 favorite, but it’s enough to notch a Top 5 spot.

#4. “We Found Love” (2011) [from Talk That Talk]
Director: Melina Matsoukas


First of all, let me just point out that I’m glad the ‘Long monologue before the music starts’ thing Rihanna does here never caught on? I mean, aside from when Taylor Swift did it in “I Knew You Were Trouble”; MTV (or whatever the hell TV channel actually still plays music these days) would have had a lot of intros to cut. But Agyness Deyn’s words here kinda work, right? Letting you know what you’re in for with talk of the good and bad in a relationship? The entire rest of the video is Rihanna having a debaucherously toxic, drug-fueled relationship with a guy (Dudley O’Shaughnessy) that isn’t healthy even though she enjoys certain aspects of it. She eventually does leave him in the end though, and soon found her way on-stage to collect the VMA for Video of the Year for it.

#3. “Bitch Better Have My Money” [presumably from ANTI]
Director: Rihanna & MegaForce


So, imagine you’re a glamourous woman getting ready to go out for a night on the town. Your makeup is on-point, you just finished your drink, you have your tiny pet dog on your arm (that used to be a thing, remember), and you think everything will go off without a hitch. But then you step in the elevator and a wild Rihanna attacks! She stuffs you in a crate, puts that crate in the trunk of her car with the help of her sidekicks, and drives you around the country on a road trip of torture. Well, that’s what happened to Rachel Roberts’ character in this music video. And why are they doing this? Well, apparently, her husband has gotten on the wrong side of Rihanna and her finances, so he must pay and so must his girl! Rihanna music video revenge is the scariest revenge. This music video sure made some headlines the next day and got everyone talking, even if the song just received a mixed reaction.

#2. “Disturbia” (2008) [from Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded]
Director: Anthony Mandler


Not enough Halloween clips have entered the mainstream music video cannon lately; more underground artists do horror-themed videos all the time (see Skye Sweetnam’s band, Sumo Cyco), but in the mainstream, that doesn’t seem to be the case (unless you want to count Fifth Harmony’s “I’m In Love With A Monster” video). Luckily, Rihanna was able to add to the cannon with her haunting video for “Disturbia”. What can I say other than that Rihanna is a goddess trapped in a visually-dark hell with dancing zombies and other freaky creatures. And sometimes, she manages to get herself in predicaments, such as getting her hands melted into the wall and being chained in a space almost as tight as the coffin that contained The Bride in Kill Bill Vol. 2. It’s a spooky, freaky music video and one that I previously had on repeat when it dropped. But if you thought that was crazy, you ain’t see nothing yet!



#1. “Umbrella” (2007) [from Good Girl Gone Bad]
Director: Chris Applebaum


And here it is, the music video that made me want to marry Rihanna on the spot. Based on the title, you’d expect her to just spend the entire music video in the rain with an umbrella And while some scenes do take place in a technical rain of sparks or show her going Avatar: The Last Airbender on us, this music video also has such interesting artistic visuals such as her dancing in front of the classy orange-and-white background and the iconic silver body-paint scene, both of which look like fantastic works of art that belong in a museum somewhere. It was also her first music video with the bob haircut that everyone went nuts over back then. This won her a couple of VMAs in 2007, including her first of two Video of the Year prizes and the video remains a fun one to watch after all these years.

Honorable Mentions:

“Diamonds” (2012) [from Unapologetic]
Director: Anthont Mandler

You don’t understand how much I love listening to this song; it takes me to another place whenever I hear it. As for the visual, it’s beautiful, but I can’t say that I can make total sense of what it all adds up to, hence it’s HM placement. But hey, Rihanna must have been going for a cryptic vibe based on what she’s said about the video.

+ “Unfaithful” (2006) [from A Girl Like Me]
Director: Anthony Mandler

I think I like this song more than I do the video for it; seriously, that piano riff still gives me chills. The music video, on the other hand, not so much. I guess they didn’t have to go literal with the murder metaphor. Naw, they’d have to save that for when she sang about literal murder in the video for…

+ “Man Down” [from Loud]
Director: Anthony Mandler

“In my 30 years of viewing BET, I have never witnessed such a cold, calculated execution of murder in primetime,” writes those lovable, not-at-all annoying folks at the Parents Television Council about this video where Rihanna’s character shoots a man down in Central Station out of revenge after he rapes her. Aw, the PTC; never stop being advocates for freedom of artistic expression.

+ “Rehab” (2008) [from Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded]
Director: Anthony Mandler

Justin Timberlake is always getting to play the love interest opposite my celebrity crushes; before he and Mila Kunis sexed it up in what is probably my all-time favorite romantic comedy film, Friends With Benefits, he and Rihanna made love on the hood of a car in the middle of the dessert. Guessing it wasn’t bomb though because neither of them look too happy in the end.

+ “Hard” (2010) [from Rated R]
Director: Melina Matsoukas

Is this music video where Rihanna got her fanbase name “Rihanna Navy” from? Here, Rihanna is the lead chief of a navy preparing to go to war while Young Jeezy sits on some tires. Meanwhile, Rihanna models off some stuff only she and Lady GaGa could pull off, like a Mickey Mouse war helmet and shoulder spikes too hardcore maybe even for the Legion of Doom.

+ “What’s My Name?” [from Loud]
Director: Philip Andelman

So Drake has so much game that he could get Rihanna interested in him using a corny math pun? Where does Drake get his swagger and can my bank account even afford it? This music video is pretty normal, but another reason it stands out is because of the vibrant red hair of the Loud Era.

+ “S&M” [from Loud]
Director: Melina Matsoukas

This probably would make the list if Perez Hilton wasn’t in it; I do not care for that guy. He’s also in Demi Lovato’s “Really Don’t Care” video, but I let that one slide since that took place at a Gay Pride Rally. I have no idea why he’s in “S&M”. This video is actually pretty crazy and weird, but with that being said, it was also pretty damn colorful.

What do you think of this edition of Tuesday Top 10? Leave a comment or tweet me up @FearlessRiOT with your opinion or even to suggest a topic for a future edition!


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