I’ve never made it a secret that I’m no fan of Rihanna’s. She’s just Caribbean Katy Perry, except with more abuse and probably less role-modelling, somehow. ‘Cheers (Drink to That)’ is her seventh (!) single from her last album, Loud, proving that the album is not dead, it has simply been reborn as a collection of songs that will all eventually be released as singles for the sake of shameless money-grabbing.
As expressed in my review of ‘S&M’ (link just above), my biggest problem with Rihanna is probably the fact that she seems to have no concept of herself as a public figure. But while that song was so blasé in its depiction of Rihanna’s craven sexual habits made all the more uncomfortable given the whole Ike-and-Tina-in-the-21st-century thing, ‘Cheers’ is instead blasé in its celebration of drinking culture and partying, two themes that have gone dangerously unexplored in pop music.
Now, I have no problem with drinking, but I am the kind of person who is very conscious of alcohol intake, and lucid enough when drunk to not do anything preposterously stupid. As we all know, not everyone is like that. So on a lot of levels I have a problem with a song like ‘Cheers’, which really does glorify drinking as a weekend ritual rather than an optional part of an outing on a Friday or Saturday night, but on a lot of levels I feel like I shouldn’t. I like drinking, it’s super fun. Do I feel the need to write a song about it to be heard by impressionable 14 year olds around the globe? Depends on how much money you’re offering, I guess.
When speaking about ‘Cheers’, Rihanna was quoted in an MTV interview as saying:
“I love that song [‘Cheers’]. That is one of my favorite songs on the album. It makes you feel like celebrating … It gives you a great feeling inside, like you want to go out and have a drink … People can’t wait for the weekend.
You can see why this is problematic, right?
Rihanna says her song Cheers (Drink to That) is dedicated to ‘semi-alcoholics’.
‘My drink is Jameson and ginger. If the music at the party is really bad, I drink more!’
These quotes are from an interview in one Rosebud magazine (“Your hydroponics lifestyle magazine!” Aw, so it’s not about sleds?!), so perhaps they won’t reach the general public. But she is actually saying, “Yay for ‘semi-alcoholism’! It’s so super great to be teetering on the edge of a dangerous addiction that can affect both my professional and personal lives!” Which is probably what inspired this choice lyric: “Life’s too short to be sitting around miserable”. Because nothing says “I’m not miserable!” like being unable to get up in the morning without downing a couple of whiskys!
It’s just all a bit on the nose. She’s the official ambassador of youth and culture for Barbados. Between getting smashed just because it’s the weekend (her day job as an accountant must really get her down) and getting smashed because it gets her off, she’s doing a bang up job, don’t you think? I also can’t help but point out the irony that she’s singing about how great the weekend is when she is a) a multi-millionaire so the weekend is probably whenever the fuck she says it is, and b) has probably never ever worked a 9-5 day in her goddamn life. It all feels very trying-to-humanise-Dick-Cheney to me.
The song itself is grating like the floor of a slaughterhouse. It prominently features a sample of Avril Lavigne’s ‘I’m With You’ – never a good start – which turns out to be Avril’s shrill, mall-punk shout of “Yeah-yeah!” repeated over and over again for no apparent reason. It’s possibly the worst sample I’ve heard in a pop song in some time. While Jason Derulo does overuse the things, at least they’re not misused.
Rihanna’s singing is unremarkable, if annoying. Trading in her normally fairly soft delivery, she instead opts for a flat, toneless, and evidently digitised sound in the verses. She also adopts her Barbadian cadence which is normally missing from a lot of her songs – not seen in any of her charting singles since ‘What’s My Name?’. Why exactly this song needs her to suddenly sing in an accent, then go back to the usual pan-global singing voice I’ll never know.
As I mentioned before, it’s the seventh single from Loud. It’s currently sitting at number 8 on the Billboard 100, and number 6 in Australia. Which makes this news all the more alarming: she just released a single from her next album as well. Jesus christ, lady?! This’ll mean she’s released an album every year since 2005 except 2008. That’s peak-Britney prolificness. So be wary, friends, because the Rihanna onslaught will never fucking end. Another album this year means another 7 singles. Hold on tight! Please, for the love of god Rihanna, stop the music.