Song of the Day: “FourFiveSeconds”

Long time, no post. It happens from time to time, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. It’s kind of late posting, but it’s a Friday (well, now technically Saturday), so why not? Without much more delay, a terrific Song of the Day from a very, very unexpected source. This one definitely took me quite by surprise…

“FourFiveSeconds” by Rihanna, Kanye West, & Paul McCartney!

Yes, you read that right. By now, you’ve probably heard at least a bit of this song on the radio (it’s apparently climbing up the charts)…I wouldn’t know because I’ve been pretty radio-less for a while…or heard about it, at the very least. It’s the lead single for Rihanna’s upcoming album, and it’s Kanye’s second collaboration in recent months with the legendary Paul McCartney. (They previously teamed up for the introspective ballad “Only One.”) I’ll tell you what else it is…it’s arguably the best work that both Rihanna and Kanye have ever done. (McCartney, of course, is McCartney.) I’ve enjoyed Rihanna’s music from time to time. As I highlighted in a recent post, her recent song “Stay,” a spare and acoustic number, was a major departure from her usual stuff, and it worked really well. I’m also rather partial to a few of her other past hits, like “Diamonds” and “Don’t Stop The Music.” That said, there’s quite a lot that she’s done that I haven’t been a fan of, and I’ve never quite thought of her as being much of a vocalist, if we’re being honest. As for Kanye…I’m not a big rap person, and Kanye’s personality…well, let’s not go into that. So perhaps that’s why this song floored me so much. Rihanna gives her best, most honest vocal in years. Kanye sings in general (no rapping here), and while he’s no Sam Smith or John Legend or anything, he definitely doesn’t get in the way of the song. And Paul McCartney seems to bring out the best in both of them, playing some fine guitar and (presumably) adding some nice instrumental flourishes. (I don’t know if he’s the one playing the organ in the bridge, but at any rate, it seems like something he probably influenced a great deal.) It’s a devilishly catchy tune, but at the same time, so raw and organic and unlike pretty much anything that everyone involved has ever done, that it just grabs you. Take the following tweet as anecdotal evidence of its impact, at least in my book:

I’m really happy that an artist like Rihanna branching out and trying something quite different than what she usually does, something more authentic and real, something that really shows the talent she has. I’m also happy to see Kanye West, an artist whose usual fare isn’t quite my cup of tea, show another side of his artistry and throw non-rap fans like me a bone. I’m happy to see that Paul McCartney, more than 40 years removed from his time with the Beatles, is still part of some great music, and not afraid to rub shoulders with Top 40 artists from completely different genres (while keeping his own artistic integrity and vision in the process). Basically, I’m happy with this whole thing. Never mind who it comes from. It may be weird for you at first to be enjoying a song by artists you possibly do not typically care for. But trust me when I say, this is definitely the most pleasant musical surprise that we’ve had so far this year. Do yourself a favor and listen for yourself.

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