10 Years of ‘Loud’

10 Years of ‘Loud’

This week marks 10 years since Rihanna released her fifth studio album, Loud.

The album’s title is an obvious nod to Rih’s ganja enthusiasm, but it is also an appropriate description for much of the album. Loud was released at a time when Rihanna was decidedly in the “pop” league — yes, there were R&B-ish and dancehall-ish songs here and there, but her albums had more in common with a Katy Perry album than they did with a Beyoncé album.

While Loud is certainly reflective of the landscape of popular music in 2010, it is also reflective of Rihanna’s — or her label’s — “strategy” at the time. It attempts to provide for every music fan — from rock-lite on “California King Bed” to reggae on “Man Down.” While that isn’t bad in and of itself, the album runs the risk of coming off somewhat unfocused — especially from an artist who was releasing an album a year at the time. And knowing that the album was recorded in two weeks across 10 concurrently booked studios — at $25,000 a day, no less — doesn’t help.

The good news is that Loud actually delivers. L.A. Reid assembled some of the strongest pens in the game, including Ester Dean and Tricky Stewart, and Rihanna’s voice did what it does. And even when the songs weren’t so great — like lead single “Only Girl (in the World)” — Rihanna’s radio-friendly vocals made up for where the composition falls short. Not to mention, Rih’s star was perhaps at its brightest, so everything she touched turned to gold, including “Only Girl,” which became her eighth No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording.

Loud would earn two more No. 1s: “What’s My Name?” (featuring Drake) and “S&M” (featuring Britney Spears on the remix). With “S&M,” Rihanna became the youngest artist to log 10 toppers on the Billboard Hot 100, a record previously held by Mariah Carey.

Loud went on to sell eight million copies worldwide, making it Rihanna’s second-highest-selling album.

Favorite track: “Fading.”

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