As Rihanna begins promotion for her upcoming seventh studio album, the Bajan chanteuse’s new single “Diamonds” has finally dropped, following a whole lot of buzz. The track, penned by Sia and produced by Stargate and Benny Blanco, ushers in a new era for the “We Found Love” hitmaker — but is it worth the hype?
Here are a few things that “Diamonds” isn’t: it doesn’t have much in common with the polished, minimalist house of “We Found Love,” the dark urban swag of “Cockiness” nor the warm acoustic guitars of “California King Bed.” Sonically, “Diamonds” marks a departure for RiRi. Built on a propulsive midtempo beat, the song’s instrumentation feels like it’s just enough, foregoing the cluttered sound of her sometimes-overstuffed production. Head below to hear Rihanna’s “Diamonds.”
Melodically, it’s one of Ri’s strongest efforts. The memorable “shine bright like a diamond” hook is an instant earworm, and the chorus has an elegant simplicity, as cleverly spare as a refrain like “we found love in a hopeless place.” Although as a vocalist, Rihanna has always been a chameleon, here her intonation more distinctively Bajan than ever as she sings: “So shine bright tonight / you and I were beautiful like diamonds in the sky / eye to eye, so alive / we’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky.” The beat has a pounding, hypnotic drive that works well with the song’s sparse lyricism — it’s subtly, rather than explicitly, tribal.
Overall, “Diamonds” is a surprisingly understated single from Rihanna — but after so much high-octane drama, it makes sense to scale back. What’s lost in big impact is gained in subtlety: “Diamonds” might prove to outlast all those other hits.