Pop Music

Rihanna is a Singles Lady if there ever was one

Last week in Poptimystic, we talked about Taylor Swift and her unparalleled ability to sell albums in the current music industry wasteland. But the album is not what it once was, and the ability to sell singles may actually be a better litmus test of an artist's influence.

It remains the unfortunate case that no one is better at this than the Black Eyed Peas, but Rihanna has a pretty astounding track record. She's had a seamless presence in Top 40 despite last year's Rated R being decidedly less singles-heavy than her previous stuff. Loud doesn't even come out until next week, but Rihanna saturates this week's charts nonetheless.

We start, inevitably, with the Billboard Hot 100, where the second single from Loud is on top. "What's My Name," which features Drake, rose 59 spots this week. It was produced by Norwegian production team StarGate. Also produced by StarGate? Loud's first single "Only Girl (In The World)" and its third, "S&M." Incidentally, "S&M" is not the most sexually explicit song on the album. Take that for what you will.

"Only Girl (In The World)" stayed at number four on the Hot 100 this week. But that actually understates the song's current ubiquity. The internet does nothing better than popularity contests, and there are plenty of places, besides Billboard, to see what music people are consuming. An incomplete rundown of "Only Girl"'s rankings:

#2 on Amazon's Bestselling Songs #2 on Vevo's Top Videos #2 on last.fm's Top Tracks (Worth noting here that #1 is different in each of those places) #8 on iTunes (#1 on iTunes in the UK) #10 on Grooveshark's most Popular Songs of the Day

The point here is that pretty much regardless of how people consume music, they consume Rihanna. Most of the above charts feature one or more of the other singles from Loud, and most of them also include songs she's featured on.

"What's My Name" is Rihanna's sixth song to reach the top of the Hot 100 (eight if you count features). Practically the entire track list of 2007's Good Girl Gone Bad was at one point a Top 10 single, including the world-killing "Umbrella." She's had 22 songs appear in the Hot 100 since she first emerged with "Pon de Replay" in 2005. The Black Eyed Peas have had just nine in that same time period. Beyonce's had thirteen.

Loud probably won't do better than top five on next week's albums chart, but we'll be listening to its singles until she releases another album.

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Kiernan Maletsky is Westword's music editor. His writing has appeared in alt-weeklies around the country as well as Miley Cyrus's mom's Twitter feed.
Contact: Kiernan Maletsky