"Trends are boring." –Rihanna on being a trend setter
In 2010, Rihanna went from being a victim to an empowered, driven, fiercely independent artist. And that voyage is what our honors list.
Nearly one year to the day since the release of her dark Rated R, Rihanna has softened her hard edges and surrendered the warrior pose for a relaxed island twirl. Her Loud album, at its debut, already launched two songs into the Billboard Hot 100: "What's My Name?" clutched the top spot, while "Only Girl (In the World)" held steady just three spots behind at #4. Internationally, she scored a No. 1 debut on Billboard's European Albums, No. 1 in Switzerland, No. 2 in Germany and Ireland, No. 3 in France and Austria, No. 6 in Spain and Holland, No. 7 in Norway. It sells 91,000 in the United Kingdom for a No. 2 debut there. "Only Girl," meanwhile, holds at No. 2 in France, Spain and Denmark, and climbs 4-2 in Sweden.
With Eminem, she sent "Love the Way You Lie," from the album "Recovery" and spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100, from July 31 to Sept. 11. With the help of Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie," the song's featured artist Rihanna ties the mark for most No. 1s in the Nielsen BDS-based survey's 18-year history.
Rihanna joins the ranks of Mariah Carey, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga for the most chart-toppers in its 18-year history. The latter two acts equaled Carey's sum when their "Telephone" reached No. 1 in March.
She’s not only changed musically, but physically as well. Now sporting mostly shoulder-length, barrel-curled locks in a shade twice as fluorescent as fire-engine red, her new look is less severe, more romantic. A day after the Madame Tussaud's waxfigure was unveiled – clad in blade-like stance - in August, a photograph of the Barbadian singer kissing her waxen self appeared on Twitter and made it abundantly clear how much she's changed.
In October, the new found red-head found her way under Jay-Z's umbrella. She parted ways with manager Marc Jordan and is now being managed by Jay-Z's Roc Nation Management.
If the 22-year-old's ever-changing hairstyle doesn't get that across, then "Loud" (Nov. 16, Island Def Jam Music Group), her fifth studio album and the follow-up to 2009's "Rated R," should do the trick. While not all that experimental sonically, the set teems with some of mainstream pop's most unabashedly dance-driven beats yet. It also boasts joyful hooks, markedly improved vocals and the kind of risqué lyrics that she first articulated so well on 2007's "Good Girl Gone Bad"-her best-selling album to date at 2.6 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Next year promises to be even more daring. For the first time, Rihanna is also delving into other sectors of the industry. She'll launch her first fragrance, titled Reb'l Fleur (a play on words from a tattoo on her neck that reads "rebelle fleur") next spring, and she's currently filming scenes for "Battleship," an action movie directed by Peter Berg.
She's the year's most inspiring comeback story, even if it seems like she never really went away in the first place.