The music video for Rihanna’s "You Da One," released today, is a cut-up of styles and influences: black & white, lyric videos, stripped down ballads where the singer stares right into the camera (calling Sinead), outright crotch-grabbing dirtiness, and randomly enough, A Clockwork Orange-styled fashion. For such a relatively tame song as "You Da One" (lyrics about getting loved hard aside), it’s kind of a sensory overload, but one that apparently works. I mean, there’s 38,000-some likes on the video, versus around 5,000 dislikes. The public does not lie when it comes to Rihanna.
At some point in her career (probably following the smash success of "Umbrella"), Rihanna decided that the best way to stay popular was to never let up out of the public eye. She’s released an album every November for the last three years, each in the same week, each one hyper-loaded with catchy singles done by the best songwriters in the biz. The radio overload would be enough on its own, but a string of uber-stylized music videos — "You Da One," "We Found Love," "Rude Boy," to name a few — have done an even better job of sticking her image in our heads. It’s almost eerie how clockwork her popularity is right now, but the songs are awesome enough that you can ignore the robotic implications. You know that she’s only 23, right? She’s going to be popular forever. Chilling stuff.
The Huffington Post has already pointed out a possible plagiarism issue (or sorry, homage) with some of the imagery in the video, involving the work of photographer Solve Sundsbo. Rihanna just settled a lawsuit with David LaChapelle concerning imagery she’d ripped off in the "S&M" video, so it’s not like she hasn’t made the same mistake before. It’s conjecture, for sure, and not downright malicious, but the line between tribute and stealing seems to be extra blurry these days. There’s tons of money buried in those lawsuit hills.