Rihanna makes strong return to spotlight despite backlash

May 10, 2023 — by William Norwood
Photo by Annie Liu
Rihanna continues to stun the public with her bold looks.
The pop superstar performed live and released new music for the first time in years.

Rihanna, a once iconic member of the pop industry, had seemingly left the music scene after the release of her album “Anti” in 2016 to focus on her family and her beauty brand, Fenty Beauty.

In recent months, however, the icon has returned to the limelight on fire, releasing two new songs “Lift Me Up” and “Born Again” in 2022 for the soundtrack of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

“Lift Me Up” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 last October and was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards, proving that her 6-year hiatus from music production has not diminished her talent for producing extraordinary music. While her new music still has the wow factor, it is unfortunately not the same as her biggest hits.

While Rihanna’s best hits rank among the biggest pop songs of the year, her current music represents her unique artistry and is more representative of the R&B/Soul genre. She has also said her next album will be more experimental than her old work and reveal a more realistic glimpse of her own life.

Rihanna has also received a wide range of hate from a small group on Twitter since her return. People have found multiple aspects of her music to complain about, including “weak” performances and a general dislike of her songs. 

However, the hate she has received is completely unfounded; she delivers great music and performances and continuously excites her die-hard fan base.

In 2023, Rihanna performed at two of the biggest events in the U.S.: the Super Bowl halftime show in February and the Oscars in March, both of which experienced a 9900% increase in ticket sales following the announcement of her performance. However, others were more critical of her halftime show, saying that her performance lacked energy, despite having a performance with hundreds of backup dancers, floating platforms and vocals from the queen herself. 

Her halftime show acted as a pregnancy announcement as well as a performance, which was more than enough justification for their claims of a lack of energy.

Rihanna’s Oscars performance, a month later, was also spectacular, with her performance of her song “Lift me Up.” Her singing displayed a true range of emotions, and she never fails to show her feelings through her music. This performance gave her fans a glimpse into her life.

Even so, she still received hate on Twitter, where viewers claimed it was a “mediocre performance,” and that she “put no effort into her performances.” Any show requires a lot of energy and time, regardless of the amount of energy, a performance like that of Rihanna’s has emotional demands as well, as she is singing about her life experiences and struggles.

Despite the Twitter backlash, Rihanna has used both performances as stepping stones back into pop culture. Since her halftime performance, she has hinted at her excitement to produce and release new music.

Given her past success, the public continues to hold high expectations for Rihanna, and no matter what she produces, there will still be disappointed critics. Given her last two performances this year and her two hit songs from last year, I envision that she will continue to create amazing music pieces for years to come.

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