Rihanna’s new single “Diamonds” barely launched and already has critics

Billboard

Continuing the mineral motif after shouting out “yellow diamonds” on “We Found Love,” Rihanna implores her partner to “shine bright like a diamond” as her voice grasps at the upper tips of ecstasy. Produced by longtime collaborators Stargate as well as Benny Blanco, “Diamonds” notably slows the electronic stomp of previous lead singles “Only Girl (In The World)” and “We Found Love,” instead offering a lush, mid-tempo pool of synthesizers and Rihanna’s powerful pipes

MTV

Used to be, whenever the words “Rihanna” and “mature” were used in the same sentence, the latter was followed by “audiences only,” and folks were attempting to decode what she meant by “Birthday Cake.” Yes, for the past few years, Rih Rih has seemingly delighted in pushing both boundaries and buttons, tweaking parental units with a string of hits that were as gleefully raunchy as they were, well, unsubtle.And while she’s still the same girl in her personal life — at least if her Instagram account is to be believed — it appears that, musically, Rihanna may be in the midst of some grand metamorphosis: based on brand-new single “Diamonds,” one can gather that perhaps, at long last, she’s growing up.To be fair, the single’s artwork does feature her rolling diamonds into a joint, but on the song itself, she displays a marked level of (dare I say it?) maturity, one evident in the restrained production and perhaps best exemplified by the first mantra she lays on us: “I choose to be happy.”

Now, at 24, she appears willing to put past relationship drama behind her (unless she decides to put Chris Brown on the “Diamonds” remix) and embrace the positivity and fulfillment of a fully realized partnership, singing “When you hold me, I’m alive” and admitting “I knew that we’d become one right away.” And she does it with a remarkably clear head, in stark contrast to her previous work, like, say the druggy “We Found Love,” or the whirling “Where Have You Been,” both of which seemed to celebrate bad love in all its forms. This time out, she’s getting by on the hope and promise of better days ahead.

You’d think, as a result, the song would be somewhat boring, at least in the canon of Rihanna’s other super-charged, super-sexualized hits, but you’d be wrong. Working with an accomplished songwriter like Sia, and in the capable hands of production duo Stargate, “Diamonds” instead delivers its thrills gradually, unspooling on somber synth chords and a simple backbeat, eventually building to a sumptuous chorus. There’s a certain level of complexity to it, and Rihanna’s voice, un-lacquered and free of studio swath, sounds warm, personable and above all sincere. She believes what she’s singing here, which is a big step given the context of her words.

And sure, we don’t know what the rest of her upcoming seventh album will sound like, and it’s entirely possible she’ll drop a raunch-tastic music video to accompany “Diamonds,” though I sort of doubt it. Rihanna seems to be embracing her newfound maturity this time out, which, while probably inevitable, is also a welcome departure. She’s no longer searching for love “in a hopeless place,” she’s found it right in front of her, and for the moment at least, she’s content to stay here.

Popjustice

We could go into a lot of detail here about how this is the perfect song for Rihanna at his point in her career, how the Sia influence drips from every syllable, how it sounds immediately classic but fiercely modern. We could mention the Lana Del Rey-meets-‘Rated R’ feel. We could say all sorts, but as if you’re going to read any of that before you hit ‘play’ below.

Idolator

Rihanna‘s new single “Diamonds” forgoes the neon strobe lights of her recent singles like “We Found Love” and “Where Have You Been” for more of a gently glistening vibe to go along with the song’s title. The production scaled back the energy, giving the song a pleasing lightness which helps accentuate RiRi’s strong vocals and slightly different timbre.

Most of RiRi’s songs are power moves, undeniable forces that cannot be denied. This one is sly, saying “come on in, the water’s nice” rather than pushing you into the pool. We’ve scoured the web’s reactions to the new Rihanna song, and most reviewers seem to want to hop in for a swim.

Singers Room

All we can say is she did it again! Rihanna has unleashed her brand new single, “Diamonds,” and from the first listen, the tune catches the heart and soul while hypnotizing you with sensual melodies. The soul/pop song is the first release from the 24-year-old’s forthcoming seventh studio album and it will definitely keep her reigning on singles charts around the world.

Consequence of Sound

Continuing her prolific pace, Rihanna is now gearing up for her seventh album in eight years. “Diamonds” is the album’s lead single that charges off classy piano lines wired with synths and electronic percussion. Again and again she pleads that “we’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky,” and all of sudden Wednesday morning feels pretty damn good.

Rolling Stone

Though she’s still riding high off her last album, last year’s Talk That Talk, Rihanna has already returned with a new single off her currently untitled upcoming album. “Diamonds” steadily pulses with slight orchestral touches and deliberate electronic rhythms, but the track’s production mainly stays out of Rihanna’s way, letting the pop star build hooks with layers of her voice. “We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky,” she sings, unhurried over the uplifting track.

Muu Muse

It’s fall, which means two things in accordance with the laws of nature: The air’s getting cooler, and a new Rihanna era is beginning.

And just has she’s done for years now–with 2009′s “Russian Roulette,” with 2010′s “Only Girl (In The World),” and with 2011′s “We Found Love,” the Bajan beauty’s come guns blazing with a brand new beat for her Navy: “Diamonds,” penned by Sia and produced by Benny Blanco & Stargate.

From the very first moment, “Diamonds” presents itself as something entirely different from anything on the radio: It’s not the killer club cut many might have been expecting from the “We Found Love” songstress–instead, it’s a gorgeously soulful, triumphantly striding midtempo.

“Find light in the beautiful sea, I choose to be happy,” Rihanna confidently declares, showcasing her vocals in a way that she really hasn’t explored since…”California King Bed,” maybe? She sounds incredible. Her wailing toward the end of the song, especially, is a real triumph–no doubt thanks to the guidance of Sia.

Speaking of, that springy, silly Sia-inspired enunciation which Rihanna imitates throughout just cracks me up in the best of ways (“Shayn brayght like a diamond!”) This is very obviously a Sia-penned gem, and that shines through (like a diamond.)

Even the beat itself doesn’t feel like a “typical” Stargate or Benny Blanco production (just listen to Ke$ha‘s own Benny Blanco-produced comeback track from two days ago.) Instead, it’s a gorgeous dose of swagger (hearing Kanye West‘s “Flashing Lights”) meets soul (hearing subtle shades of Jessie Ware, Sade and Blood Orange, of Sky Ferreira‘s “Everything is Embarrassing”) that feels endlessly repeatable.

This is Rihanna leading the charge in pop, rather than simply following the trends: There’s no dubstep, no post-chorus beat breakdowns, no “radio-friendly EDM” whatsoever–she’s been there, done that.

“Diamonds” is a risk–and an absolutely brilliant one, at that.

Perez Hilton

She found love in a hopeless place, and now, Rihanna is beautiful like diamonds in the sky!

And BEAUTIFUL couldn’t be a better word to describe her brand new single!

Ch-ch-check out Diamonds, the lead track from the singer’s upcoming seventh studio album (above)!

Definitely a departure from the Talk That Talk era!

But that’s okay!

Because we’re still feeling it…HARD!

In fact, we’ll be curious to hear how this new direction influences the rest of the music gurl has in the works for us!

VH1

Rihanna has never been singular in her sound — who would have dreamed up “We Found Love” after hearing “Pon De Replay”? — and so no surprise she’s trying on yet another sound for this seventh round. “Diamonds,” the “hippy and happy” first single off of upcoming seventh album, finds Rihanna taking the tempo down a tic and singing bright like, well, a diamond. Produced by longtime Rihanna collaborators Stargate and written by Sia, “Diamonds” is shimmery and elegant as the title suggests it should be, and without any clear reference to Chris Brown.

Though it’s still built around a hypnotic beat and shimmery keyboard, “Diamonds” sounds more like the kind of song you would put on after the club, as you stumble out and into the moonshine to “find light in the beautiful sea.” More spare and understated than the yellow diamond strewn “We Found Love,” it gives Rihanna space to take the lead and play. This sort of light experimentation makes us wonder if this seventh might be an album where Rihanna takes the reigns of her sound and does more than just make us dance.

Examiner

“Diamonds” was produced by “Only Girl (In the World)” team Stargate, but the new tune deviates from the dance thump on “Girl” and “We Found Love.” Instead, it offers a more slowed and subdued production with Rihanna’s vocals at the forefront. The pop star sings about a sublime relationship where her and a lover “shine bright like a diamond” together. Rihanna delivers a very raw and earnest vocal performance on the Sia-penned song as her voice reaches its upper register. Even though Rihanna releases new albums like there’s no tomorrow, the pop singer manages to change up her sound with “Diamonds.” There’s definitely not a hint of the song that seems like it was slapped together last minute.

Hip Hop Wired

Rihanna strikes back with the lead single off of her seventh studio album. “Diamonds,” is produced by Stargate, who have produced many hit records together including “Unfaithful,” “What’s My Name,” “Rude Boy,” and “Don’t Stop The Music.” This sounds like the connection between the Norwegian producers and the starlet have another hit on their hands with the powerful, “Diamonds.” Taking a slight step away from the party music that dominated the success of her previous album, Talk That Talk

Hello Beautiful

For some reason, before I even pressed play on Rihanna’s new song “Diamonds,” I just knew I would like it. Maybe it was the diamonds in her roll-up on the cover art for the mid-tempo single or the fact that Ri Ri has no problems creating hit after hit, whatever is was, my intuition proved true. “Diamonds” is exactly the hazel-eyed beauty explained–”hippie and about “love.”

Taking a break from the pop Euro sound she experimented on with “Where Have You Been” and “We Found Love,” she regains her R&B swag on the Benny Blanco-produced track. “Diamonds” is also the name of her upcoming 27-city tour, which begins March 8th 2013.

This is going to be the new anthem, so if you don’t like it, you better start to!

New Now Next

Mark my words: By the time she’s 40, Rihanna will have released 5,400 singles. In just a few weeks, she’s dropping her 7th album since 2005 (here’s a recap of her previous releases), which means we’ll be getting another batch of songs to make sure she’s perpetually in our ears.“Diamonds,” the first track from the new album, just appeared today, and it sounds like yet another smash.And here’s the best part: Unlike Ke$ha’s new song, which I dissed for sounding too much like her other material, “Diamonds” is a step in a different direction. Yes, it’s co-produced by Stargate, who have been delivering Rihanna hits since “Umbrella,” and yes, it’s got the electro sound that Rihanna herself helped popularize. But still, the song is not a lazy copy of what’s come before.

For one thing, Rihanna practically sounds like a different vocalist. She sings the song—about how she and her lover are pulsing like “diamonds in the sky”—in a low register she hasn’t used on any of her other singles. Her voice is so husky that she almost sounds like she has a cold, and it gives “Diamonds” a certain… sobriety? Calmness? There’s something moody about the vocal, but it’s more contemplative than seductive. This is a track for the middle of the night, when you’re a tired but still want to move.

I appreciate that Stargate and co-producer Benny Blanco maintain a mid-tempo pace throughout. I’d expect a song that begins this slowly to eventually get frantic, like “We Found Love,” but it maintains a relaxed vibe, relying on strings as much as synths to make an impact. And of course, this adds to the sense that “Diamonds” is for heavier moments in the night.

Now, I’m not saying this song will forever change our understanding of Rihanna, but it adds another facet to her career. It mixes things up just enough to demand attention, but not so much that we get confused. And let’s be honest: That’s what Rihanna’s brand of pop music is for. It’s supposed to be intriguing and accessible, a little bit smart and a little bit mindless all at once.

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