I was lying in bed last night trolling through my phone’s songs on shuffle. My clock doesn’t move because it’s broken, but track by track, my phone reminded me it was 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m., and, now, 5 a.m., when the roughly 1/5924 chance of the unmistakeable banjo strums of “FourFiveSeconds” came through the speaker, filling my apartment.
The word “throwback” came to mind, but it stuck there with a tinge of bitterness. Throwback. “FourFiveSeconds,” the lead single for Rihanna’s forthcoming album Anti was released on Jan. 24, 2015. Next Friday’s date is Jan. 22, 2016 (more on this later…).
Two months after “FourFiveSeconds,” we were blessed with “Bitch Better Have My Money,” and then came lackluster-at-best “American Oxygen.” Spring of last year, it felt like the world was Rihanna’s oyster. With three singles and rumors of a joint tour with Kanye West, it felt like it was going to be raining RihRih all summer long. Nonetheless, it has been a (historically un)cold, long, Rihanna-less winter.
She hasn’t left her fans all the way behind: a faint trail of videos alluding to a concept album have been laced throughout an online “AntiDiary.” Underwhelming in content, the site offers exclusive tidbits for Samsung users and other videos, clues, etc. for the general public. I have yet to meet someone who knew about this before I told them. (Read: It’s going well. Everyone is on the edge of their seats.)
The rooms of the site are labeled “R1” through the “R8 Bedroom,” the latter of which just so happens to be the only one left locked. That, combined with the excessive hashtagging of #R8 for the past year as a reference to Rih’s eighth album, leads to the conclusion that once the R8 Bedroom is unveiled, as will Anti.
Flashback to 5:21 a.m. on Saturday Jan. 16, 2015.
Rihanna won’t be releasing her album tonight for its surprise drop. The Sun feels too close, ya know? Next week, Jan. 22, seems like the most viable option. Unreality UK added some backbone to the notion — however, it was also supposed to drop on Nov. 6, and then maybe again on Dec. 24.
On Jan. 29, Sia, writer of Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” and transcendent songstress of would’ve-been Anti track “Reaper,” releases her album This Is Acting. Rihanna won’t release hers the same week — that’d be a dick move.
There’s nothing inherently unlikely about Feb. 5 other than the fact that I want the release to be Jan. 22. The next week we will see Yeezy’s Swish, so that’s out. And if we get to Feb. 19, a mere 7 days before Rihanna embarks on her 69-show Anti World Tour, so help me God.
Rihanna wants her next album to be “timeless.” Do the singles feel timeless? Is Travi$ Scott to blame? Are they dating? Does this article read like a lot of fluff without much payoff? You now feel what it’s like to be a Rihanna fan on Jan. 16 at 5:35 a.m.
On Nov. 23, 2014 a Michigan Daily headline read, “Dear Rihanna, where are you?”
On Jan. 17, 2016, it reads: “What the hell, Rihanna?”
UPDATE: Rihanna shared a CBS promo on Jan. 16 for “Three Big Events” in which she and the NFL flip a coin (one side with the Super Bowl 50 logo, the other with a Grammy) to see who will go first on Feb. 7; she loses and says “I'm worth the wait.” Super Bowl 50 will be immediately followed by a live edition of “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert. The 58th Grammys air Feb. 15. Will Rihanna release her album on Colbert? Possibly at the end of the show à la Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz at the VMAs? With Rihanna 8.0, one thing is for sure: without an album release prior to her seems-to-be appearance at the Grammys (considering she isn't nominated for a Grammy this year), it may just feel like another door opening with nothing behind it.