Even in relatively quiet years, Rihanna casts a wide shadow over the world of pop music. The depth of her catalogue of hits is almost unrivaled, with 26 landing in the top 10 in the last decade alone, and she’s sharpened the tools she uses to create them to the finest possible points: a voice that’s flexible enough to fit into any genre, a preternatural sense for sounds and trends ready for a bigger stage, and a devil-may-care je ne sais quoi that resonates with young people in a way many of her contemporaries can’t manage. She’s been dangling her upcoming eighth studio album, widely known as R8, above the heads of fans and label executives for about a year at this point, and she’s just premiered the second single, “Bitch Better Have My Money,” on radio stations across America.
It’s a world away from the gospel-tinged campfire folk of the album’s first single, Kanye West/Paul McCartney collaboration “FourFiveSeconds.” This one is hypnotic, thudding, and confident, but the core’s the same: her voice, which seems to be reaching new heights. Here she’s strident and percussive, hammering out the hook with abandon; it’s surely only a matter of time until Vine’s littered with inspired, barking debt collectors. R8 is on the horizon.