Rihanna's 11 Best Videos: From 'Umbrella' to 'BBHMM'
The camera loves few people more than it loves Rihanna -- and after her first few videos, the singer quickly moved beyond the obvious, straightforward-sexy concepts for her visuals. With a knack for the provocative and high-concept, she’s made some of this era's most memorable videos. Here are the 11 best:
“Only Girl In The World” (2010)
It’s literal, but still gorgeous -- Rihanna frolics alone through various flower-strewn fields, all shot in hyper-realistic shades of red. High drama and literal fireworks are perfect for the endless crescendo of the dancefloor anthem.
“Pour It Up” (2013)
Forget the Playboy Manse. Rihanna has her own grotto in this swampy, sexy video, replete with the poles and jiggling one would expect for this strip-ready track. Instead of a crown, RiRi’s sporting a bejeweled bra as she sits atop her throne -- there’s no question of who’s in charge.
“Man Down” (2011)
This controversial video opens with Rihanna gunning down a man in broad daylight -- but the backstory comes through vivid interpretation of the song’s revenge-themed lyrics, all beautifully shot on location in Jamaica. The song and video together are crucial examples of the singer using her work to impact issues important to her: in this case, domestic and sexual violence.
“Bitch Better Have My Money” (2015)
Once again, Rihanna draws on real-life drama for inspiration in front of the camera -- this time, it was her ex-accountant, who allegedly was less than upfront in his financial dealings. The singer seeks revenge, this time via a violent Tarantino-meets-Thelma and Louise clip (she has a directing credit, alongside French duo Megaforce), courting real-life controversy along the way.
A military theme helped the singer show off her newfound edge in the video for this 2009 single. Complete with grenades, AK-47s, and tanks, the desert-set clip showed a more fearless side of the pop star.
“We Found Love” (2011)
A cinematic, dark video for an upbeat EDM song, the clip adds depth via sex and drugs (and presumably a little rock n’ roll), as well as a not-so-subtle romanticization of Rihanna’s ever-fraught relationship with Chris Brown.
“Rude Boy” (2010)
Appropriately enough given the track’s Caribbean vibes, Rihanna draws on the colorful aesthetic of classic dancehall for the “Rude Boy” vid. A little Grace Jones, a little Shabba Ranks, and a lot of muscular men make for one of the singer’s most playful visuals.
“Shut Up And Drive” (2007)
The concept for this one is obvious, right? Driving, cars, car-related sexual innuendo...a body shop. Unsurprisingly, Rihanna’s mode of auto repair is a lot more camera-friendly than most. Add a touch of The Fast & The Furious, and the metaphor cycle is complete.
“Where Have You Been” (2011)
Rihanna rarely gets into full-fledged choreography, so this ostensibly globetrotting clip is a treat. It’s a fairly traditional video for the singer -- lush treatments, backup dancers -- and proof that sometimes, more really is more.
Cleverly inverting the expected sexual topic to take on the just-as-perverse relationship between celebrities and the press, the “S&M” video -- featuring Perez Hilton on a leash! -- raised eyebrows with its light bondage, and was even banned in 11 countries. But as Rihanna tweeted soon after the video’s release, “They watched 'Umbrella'...I was full nude.”
RiRi leaves little to the imagination in the NSFW video for Anti single "Kiss It Better" -- though she's totally alone, the singer spends the video miming after-dark activities while wearing appropriately seductive garb. It's a fitting flex for Rihanna, showing that the sexiness of "Pour It Up" was just the beginning of her pulse-quickening powers.