By: Daniel Lozano and Mingyu Wu
Rihanna’s iconic 2007 album Good Girl Gone Bad is absolutely loaded with hit after hit, but I was completely unaware of this until a couple of days ago. The album was released when I was in 2nd grade, so I have no recollection its release. I didn’t start developing my own music taste until middle school and when I did it was mostly just alternative or some type of rock music. I basically just listened to solely alternative music until the end of high school when I started expanding my pallet. Bottom line is that I’m 21 years old and have never listened to one of Rihanna’s greatest albums. That’s why I’m doing this today. I’ve never heard any of these songs before EXCEPT Umbrella but besides that I’m completely in the dark. For this review I’ll be listening to the album a few times all the way through then write a lil bit about each song.
I don’t know about you, but mentally, I’m living in the late 2000s listening to pop music on my blue iPod Touch while trading silly bands with my friends. Good Girl Gone Bad is arguably one of her biggest records, a “breakthrough” album that launched her into icon level. If you walked up to someone and asked them to sing a Rihanna song, they’ll probably sing one-off this album. But was it really deserving of the hype? Here’s a track-by-track commentary based solely on my unsolicited opinion:
Daniel: Umbrella is the only song off this album that I recognize and have prior knowledge of. I have a distinct memory of hearing this song for the first time. It was my 5th-grade pizza party. My teacher had just connected her I pod nano to the speakers and let it rip. The first song was Umbrella. The whole class looked to each other and began singing along. I stood there confused as I had no knowledge of the song up to this point in my life. The class was electric as they all sang the chorus in unison. I had never felt more alone in my life.
Mingyu: The drum cymbal heard around the world, “Umbrella” provided a strong opener and first single of GGGB. I just realized how hilarious that acronym is. This was the club anthem that everyone can sing along to. Seriously, it’s just, “Umbrella, Ella, Ella, eh, eh, eh.” The first lesson of Mainstream Pop 101 is having repetitive catchy lyrics (in a good way, allowing people to sing along), and “Umbrella” came to serve. Cultural reset aside, the production just screams throwback pop. There’s a lot going on, but it’s not overwhelming, from the synth (I think it’s a synth) to the beats. “Umbrella” is a bit on the longer side with a run time of 4 minutes and 35 seconds, but it really brings the listener back around. The “stripped down” bridge prepares us for the drop, and with the added instruments, the final chorus felt finished. At around 3:43, there’s the added piano synth (that’s probably not the right term) that really helps bring the song to a satisfying close. And the outro and fade, *chefs kiss.*
Push Up on Me
Daniel: Its obviously very hard to follow such an infamous song like Umbrella so I feel bad for Push Up On Me. It’s a good song but when you’re coming off that euphoric high from Umbrella its hard to compete. The song is decent but its easy to forget as its repetitive with no real intimacy.
Mingyu: The production was immaculate in this. Until it hits the verse. It was the background “piano-synth” chords in the pre-chorus and intro that brought the big guns. It reminds me of the iconic 2006 “Promiscuous” production from Timbaland and Nelly Furtado. The chorus brought the baddie vibes. Then we went back into the verse. Might just be me, but the verses were boring. And again with the outro, bringing it back around. I respect that, since today, not many songs do that. And the transition into the next song. Crisp! But overall, it delivered the Rihanna signature sound. But not my favorite.
Don’t Stop the Music
Daniel: Wow okay so I came into this thinking I only knew Umbrella, but this song also brings back a lot of memories. This song is also incredibly iconic, and I think is probably more iconic than Umbrella because I still hear it being played in present day. I mean I mostly hear it when I’m shopping at a JC Penny’s or at Marshalls but regardless it still gets played. Idk though its like how do I describe such a great song. Any way I describe this song through text won’t justify the greatness that enters your ears when you listen.
Mingyu: Another single, another radio hit, another cultural reset. This was the song that played all day on stations, but it wasn’t super annoying. The song kind of tells a story and that’s kind of interesting to think about. Like intro is the inciting incident, the verse (and especially the pre-chorus) serves the build-up, and the chorus is when everything hits the fan. That chorus brings the chaos and honestly, who doesn’t dance when it hits? Around 3:08, Rihanna is like that one author that makes you think everything is settling down and the book is ending. And then she drops the surprise, bringing us back at 3:23. Who does that? Only icons.
Daniels: Incredible. I’ve never heard of this song but its absolutely fantastic from start to finish. If you ever wanted to pretend that you’re in a fight with your SO please listen to this song because it will fuel any rage you have against your partner. Not that arguing with your partner is a good thing but if you want to spark up your relationship just listen to his song and I’m sure you’ll think of something to get mad at over your partner. Also, the song is really catchy.
Mingyu: She really said, “Ow Ow.” I have to laugh (in a good way of course). The production was immaculate here. Wait I think I said that before. But man, it’s powerful. It digs into your soul. It adds to the lyrics. Speaking of that, the best part of “Breakin’ Dishes” might be the lyrics. “I don’t know who you think I am.” I can imagine this song being used as a confidence boost. But the best part is in the verse (shocking). From an outside perspective, this song could be seen as “a girl over-reacting over nothing.” But the verse gives that validation. It tells girls to be upfront, call out the BS, and stand up for themselves. This story is about someone who had enough of this toxic relationship.
Shut Up And Drive
Daniel: The song is good
Mingyu: In the Bay Area, a pop station uses this song as the intro of their traffic report. It’s hilarious yet fitting. This song is just fun. It’s not super loud and definitely not lacking anything. In fact, it sounds kind of dialed back. I think this song has a good mix of light and hardcore feelings. The electric guitar and all the instruments help bring “Shut Up And Drive” into a possible club anthem.
Hate That I Love You ft. Ne-Yo
Daniel: The song describes a toxic relationship between two people who shouldn’t be together but know each other so well and have such a rich history that it’s difficult to let go. Sad but all too relatable. The song is smooth and it allows you to relax while your mind goes on a joyride reminding you of all the times you probably shouldn’t have been in that relationship but both of y’all just loved each other so much that it was impossible to leave each other.
Mingyu: After five songs of pumping electronic music, I had to check if I was still listening to Good Girl Gone Bad when I heard the acoustic guitar. Jokes aside, the placement of “Hate That I Love You” is perfect. It’s a good break and a dive into a different side of Rihanna. The song brings a complex relationship to life. And I can’t imagine another duo singing this. One of the best parts of this song is the background vocals and harmonizing. Signature Ne-Yo. He really brought all his strengths to this song. Lastly, that vibrato in that high note was amazing. Well, the entire bridge was powerful. And that ending with Rihanna’s low note. Sometimes, a low note is just as impressive as a high note.
Daniel: Ooooooooohh this song is really good. I immediately felt the urge to get up and dance. Like I was just a few seconds into the song and my shoulders were moving on their own. Impossible to not want to move along with this song.
Mingyu: Again, the placement of this song is perfect. It’s a great transition from “Hate That I Love You” to “Sell Me, Candy.” It’s still calm, but not a full ballad. “Say It” is cool in that it proves that Rihanna can fit different molds. And she knows how to switch up her voice to deliver different vibes. But overall, “Say It” doesn’t sound like a Rihanna song. I guess from my perspective, as someone who likes Rihanna but is not an avid listener, I only know her badass side, the club-anthem-singles side of her. This song sounds like it belongs on a Destiny’s Child album. But I might be wrong. Maybe a Rihanna superfan feels completely different. I also have to remind myself that this is a 2008 album. The vibes in “Say It” definitely are timely, so it makes sense that it sounds a bit off from a 2021 perspective. Soft pop! That’s what this song is. I respect that. But overall, I think “Say It” is just ok. Not horrible, but not my favorite. But hey, you’re not supposed to love all the songs from an album.
Sell Me Candy
Daniel: This faster-paced song is heavily layered which makes it feel like I’m being hit with a wave of different sounds that all came together to make one. Can definitely see this song being used in a movie during the montage scene where the two main characters are forced to do activities together but are slowly falling in love with each other.
Mingyu: This is another song where I don’t like the verse but the chorus definitely makes up for it. The background “ayes” in the chorus is a recognizable classic of the late 2000s era. And with vocals, Rihanna does a good job at fitting the situation and selling a story. Here, she’s not “Breakin Dishes” Rihanna. She’s seductive Rihanna. And we’re here for it.
Lemme Get That
Daniel: Fun song. This is one of those songs you blast on Saturday mornings when your cleaning the house or running errands. Good song, it makes me want to do something. I don’t know what that something is but I definitely feel more motivated.
Mingyu: This song isn’t a super serious song. It’s fun, it’s in your face, it’s rebellious. Let’s take this time to appreciate the variety of instruments here. It’s very marching-band, Beychella intro. It’s different, and that’s mostly good. The lyrics are playful, and not meant to be taken too seriously. It’s a power-move song, and a big middle finger to the “submissive women” concept.
Daniel: Idk I’m a little bored by this song. I was waiting for it to pick up but it never really did. I definitely see the appeal for the lyrics though. I feel like if I listened to the song enough and memorized the lyrics then it would be fun to sing along to.
Mingyu: A few seconds in and I already liked it. The build-up is very apparent here: the production, the volume, the background vocals, and everything else grows as the song progresses. I really enjoy the piano in “Rehab.” It sets the moody atmosphere and serves so much depth in this album. You can feel her pain fluctuating between sad and angry.
Daniel: Wow was not expecting to deal with existentialism on this album. This album has really took a dark turn. Although that’s not a bad thing as Rihanna gives us a small glimpse into what life looks like in the entertainment industry. We also have to remember that Rihanna was only 19 when this album was released. At this point she’s already working with huge names in the industry so she was in the thick of it and we all know what can happen to child stars. Glad to see she made it out alright.
Mingyu: It’s fitting that “Question Existing” has a lot of rhetorical questions embedded. Unlike a story, this one has no end, and everything that makes up this song adds to the dilemma the lyrics present. To many Rihanna fans, they must know that this song hits a little too close to home. Although Rihanna didn’t write this song, or at least not most of it, it seems to offer a little window into her life. At this point, we know that Rihanna bridges are almost always the best part. Here, she speaks aloud a diary entry. Her distinct speaking voice offers a lot of substance and a glimpse into challenges celebrities can face. I feel like this is a fan favorite, something the whole crowd would know the words to.
Good Girl Gone Bad
Daniel: Really great song. I feel like its hard to give my two cents on some of her songs because I’m not who the song is intended for.
Mingyu: The title track! And a good one. A cautionary tale that turns the accusing finger away from women and onto toxic men. To me, this song isn’t just about women getting “freaky.” It’s about pointing out the double standards society created for men. This song is a reminder of the constant blame women have to go through over the years.
Daniel: Wow okay another iconic song that I had no idea was on the album. Idk just hearing the Bum bum be-dum bum over and over again took me back to another time. A simpler time. I know the song has a little bit of darker undertones, but it also feels so powerful. After listening to Disturbia I feel like making a statement. Again, not sure what that statement would be, but I think it would be a good one.
Mingyu: “Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum (what’s wrong with me?) Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum (why do I feel like this?) Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum (I’m going crazy now) Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum bum”
That’s all. That’s the review.
Ok fine, quick review: “Disturbia” is a radio favorite. It played a big role in culture, even today with the TikTok audio. But truthfully, I think I expected more in the chorus drop. The vocals here were ok, nothing mind-blowing.
If I Never See Your Face Again with Maroon 5
Daniel: Mmmmmmm yea I don’t know about this song. I don’t think Rihanna’s voice pairs well with Levine’s. They don’t really compliment each other and they almost sound like they’re deflecting off each other but not in a good way. I get it though, its 2007, and Adam Levine is the hottest thing on the planet, so I don’t blame them.
Mingyu: Ms. Rihanna, again with the placement. There’s no better song to follow “Take a Bow” than “If I Never See Your Face Again.” And a good deluxe-album closure song. End on a high note! This song also includes a lot of the Maroon 5 vibes (well because it is a Maroon 5 song that Rihanna jumped onto). Not much to say other than it fits. It’s different for Rihanna, but again, different doesn’t mean bad.
Daniel: Overall, I was thoroughly shocked at how good this album was. Good Girl Gone Bad is filled with so many hits that for me personally bring up a lot of memories I didn’t even know I had. Even outside the major hits of Umbrella, Disturbia, or Take A Bow there are some really great songs to appreciate off this album. Some of my favorites were Breakin’ Dishes and Say It which I can easily see myself listening to over and over for the next few weeks. The album is just iconic through and through and I’m not sure there’s any better way to describe it.
Mingyu: Overall, Good Girl Gone Bad threw us 40 different emotions, but all in the direction of women (or truly anyone listening) empowerment and individuality. Rihanna offered many different sides of her, yet developing her now-famous badass personality, (or should I say badgalriri). This album was so big that her social media handles have forever been @badgalriri. And that’s the power of this record.
Have you listened to this album? What do you think? Let us know in the comments.