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Knott v. Knegt: Debating The 10 Best Rihanna Songs

Knott v. Knegt: Debating The 10 Best Rihanna Songs

In by far the gayest thing to happen to the newly multi-voiced Lost Boys, Peter Knegt and Matthew Hammett Knott have decided to compare and contrast their top ten Rihanna songs, in honor of today’s release of her “Talk That Talk.”

Check out Matt’s Top Ten and Peter’s Top Ten first, and then enjoy the first ever Knott v. Knegt, a potentially ongoing series here at The Lost Boys where we square off on mostly insignificant topics from the pop cultural lexicon.

Knott: Firstly, I have to say I don’t know who is behind Rihanna’s single releases – I doubt it is Rihanna herself – but they are doing something right, because she’s arguably the most consistent singles artist since Madonna. Which is not to over-exaggerate her undoubtedly lightweight contribution to the popular musical canon, but when you place her next to any of her fellow contemporary “chart stars” – even artists like Beyonce and Gaga, to say nothing of Black Eyed Peas and LMFAO – she’s the one that nails it most frequently.

Knegt: I never really gave her that consideration, but the more I think about it, the more I agree with you. She cranks out singles seemingly ever two weeks – whether it’s her own song or one of the 10,000 other artists’ songs she gets featured on – and 9 times out of 10 they’re ridiculously catchy epitomes of pop music done right. Even if there’s really nothing distinctive about them.  But either way, it’s kind of mind blowing how much this woman must  be working.  And she’s only 23!  Mind you, she’s also someone whose albums I’ve never fully bought. I just cherry pick the singles. But considering my iTunes has 27 Rihanna songs on it despite that – all of which have come out in the past 5 years – that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Knott: So obviously the most notable difference from our list is that I don’t include your No.1 choice, Umbrella, at all. I should explain – there probably was a time when I liked this song, but it has a history in the UK – it is the longest running No.1 single since Wet Wet Wet / Love is all Around in 1994, and it was No.1 during a miserable summer of heavy rains and floods – I’m not sure whether everyone buying it was a supreme ironist, or if it was just used as the soundtrack to a lot of news montages, but it was most definitely played to death that summer, and for that reason I no longer get any pleasure from listening to it.

Knegt: First things first: I had no fucking clue what “Wet Wet Wet/Love is all Around” was. So I went and took a listen. And it’s just a cover of that Troggs’ song? Somehow I am more mystified than ever about the bizarre world that is British pop music.

As for “Umbrella,” there was absolutely no contest that it was my #1. Pre-that song I’d never really cared for Rihanna (save for a very guilty pleasure in “S.O.S.,” which yes, made my top 10), but I can still remember the moment I first heard it and the near-infinity of back to back listens that followed. And maybe it’s because I don’t have heavy rain and floods to associate it with (it probably most reminds of me of walking home from bar during a glorious Montreal Spring), I still probably listen to it at the gym twice a week. If there’s any Rihanna song that’s a full fledged pop music classic, it’s “Umbrella.”

Knott: Yes, a cover of a song by the Troggs really is the second longest running No.1 of all time in this country (don’t forget, Mamma Mia! is also the highest grossing film of all time here).

Now that I listen to Umbrella again and hearing your rave, it probably does deserve to be on my list (God, I wish I still went to the gym twice a week)… but since I never listen to it, I’ll keep it off.

By the way – with every listen, finding it harder to keep Take Care off the list…

Knegt: I was tempted to put “Take Care” – and the title track off “Talk That Talk” – on the list too because I’ve been obsessed with them all week but it just didn’t seem fair. I don’t know if it’s infatuation or love. I’ve only known them for a week. At one point I thought I loved “S&M.” ‘Tis definitely no longer the case…

That said, one song that I’ve never felt either infatuation or love for is “California King Bed,” which you’ve somehow placed at #10…

Knott: Yes, I wouldn’t have included it before this summer… but that was before I spent the whole of August in Tuscany, whoring myself to a super-rich Russian family as their sons’ tutor. Every night they’d drive us to a fancy restaurant in a hilltop town and get blind drunk, then drive home listening to the same 8-track CD at full blast. One of the tracks was California King Bed, which I therefore now associate with hurtling down Tuscan hillsides at night in a carful of drunk Russians – surely more than enough reason for inclusion.

Knegt: Fair enough.

Knott: Oh and last night I conducted some field experiments and subjected We Found Love to the ultimate acid test – dancing to it in a gay club. I can conclude that it more than deserves its place in my all-time Top 5.

Knegt: What Rihanna song hasn’t passed that test?

Knott: So that’s why they call it the Rihanna test.


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