Art in Rear-view: “Diamonds” by Rihanna

Sometimes it takes a good 5-6 months to really digest a piece of art. After all, scholars are still talking about great works like Picasso’s Guernica, Munch’s The Scream, and Wes Craven’s Scream 4 (aka Scre4m).

So there’s absolutely no reason why me deciding to review the song “Diamonds” by Rihanna, when it came out in September of 2012 and it’s currently March of 2013, is anything less than a “fresh” move. You know, in the 1800s, it took about 5 months for a blog to cross the continental United States.

So let’s tuck right into this with the official music video, which at the time of writing this sentence, I’ve never seen before:

OK, let’s see what happens when we hit play.

We’ve got diamonds. Rihanna is in some kind of liquid, probably water. OK, she just rolled a diamond blunt. And she’s smoking it. There are some weird cuts happening. Some kind of raucous party. She’s running down a street, she’s floating in a water-like liquid again. And now she’s singing, and I’m immediately remembering that I fucking hate this song. Let’s examine why!

Now, of course, Rihanna’s vocals are pitch-perfect. And, as usual, there is a pervasive sadness in her voice. Who hurt you, Rihanna? Oh, right.

Now there’s a black stallion running across a plain. I’m very strongly resisting my white-guy urge to be accidentally racially insensitive, but there’s some serious symbolism here. The horse is black. Rihanna is aaaaalsooo … blllaaa … ahhh, you get it. They’re both on the same plain. Neither seem to care for rules. The white mark on the stallion’s head is arguably diamond-shaped. Rihanna has a haircut that looks like a horse’s mane. These are my observations; I’ll leave you to infer any meaning you like. But the horse = Rihanna. Or the horse is her boyfriend. Oh, OK, now there are two horses, so it’s both. And now there’s a riot in the mix, with some dude who’s on fire. And Rihanna’s in the water again.

If you’re wondering why this is the second post in a row that has horse material, it’s because I’m an 11-year-old girl.

OK, so we’ve got horses, we’ve got Rihanna, we’ve got a mysterious burning man. Let’s assume that Chris Brown is the man on fire (or possibly Denzel Washington), Rihanna is clearly Rihanna, and the horses are Chris Brown and Rihanna. We’ve got fire, we’ve got water. That’s pretty much all the elements that aren’t boring. Regardless, I have to say the video is a bit uninspired.

How many Sierra Leonese child soldiers did it take to fill that blunt wrap, Rihanna? HOW MANY?

How many Sierra Leonese child soldiers did it take to fill that blunt wrap, Rihanna? HOW MANY?

Let’s take a look at the lyrics (credited songwriters: Furler, Sia / Hermansen, Tor Erik / Eriksen, Mikkel / Levine, Benjamin) …

Oof. It looks like there are more lyrics than is justifiable by the video’s runtime, especially considering the ambient, 40-second intro. Fortunately, there’s not a whole lot going on lyrically. I’ll just grab a chunk of chorus that I feel adequately represents the song’s overall message:

So shine bright, tonight you and I
We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky
Eye to eye, so alive
We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky

Here, Rihanna is explaining to us the love she shares with probably Chris Brown. This could actually be helpful to a lot of people, most of whom don’t fucking get why she still loves a guy who beat the shit out of her. To those people, I say this: love is a matter of the heart, not the rational brain! Where’s your sense of romance?

OK, so love is hard to explain, which is why Rihanna uses an easy to understand metaphor to help us feel what her love is like. By that, I of course mean that her professional songwriters use a metaphor to help us feel what her love is like. Here’s the metaphor, which I guess is technically a simile, which is like a metaphor for kids:

We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky

Ohhh, OK. Their love is like sky-diamonds. You know how, like, sometimes there’s diamond-rain? It’s like regular water-rain, only each raindrop is a diamond. Or sometimes diamonds just float in the upper atmosphere and you can see them if it’s not too cloudy out. Yeah, you’re familiar with sky-diamonds. That’s what Rihanna’s relationship is like.

So there you go. A great metaphor is when you take an intangible idea, like love, and compare it to a tangible concept that does not exist, like sky-diamonds, in order to help someone else understand what you’re talking about.

Or maybe she just meant stars — objects in the night sky so numerous that they ought to render it completely white, if not for the possibility of stuff like fractal cosmology. Maybe I’m reaching, but  I think if Rihanna is dancing in a desert and smoking blunts made out of diamonds, she’s probably put some thought into fractal cosmology. Either way, stars outnumber people, so it’s not a great metaphor for how special her love is. Or was it about how beautiful her love is? I don’t care anymore.

Brass tacks: I never would have read the lyrics, or watched the video, or written any of this if the chorus wasn’t super irritating. Bad chorus, Rihanna. BAD! 2/5 stars.


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2 Responses to Art in Rear-view: “Diamonds” by Rihanna

  1. creeped says:

    Agreed. Baaaad lyrics. Don’t try and fake feelings, Rihanna-bot. Just keep mass producing dance hits, thanks.

    • BLAG says:

      If I could sit her down, I’d say, “Rihanna. I know you think that smoking diamond-weed makes you more creative, but it only seems that way to you. Drugs don’t make you better at writing. Switch to alcohol.”

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