Rihanna’s Most Popular Songs

Rihanna has had an amazing career. Since her debut in 2006, she has managed to be relevant at all times. Rihanna’s eclectic mix of genres has helped her music resonate with all sorts of audiences. Let’s look at her most popular songs according to Billboard.

Rihanna | ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images

5. ‘Love the Way You Lie’

“Love the Way You Lie” is one of the rare songs that was truly ahead of its time. Thanks to the Me-Too movement, a large spotlight has been shed upon domestic partner violence. In this song, Eminem and Rihanna managed to tackle the subject in a way that is both delicate and haunting. Even ten years later, the song’s production sounds unique and forward-thinking.

4. ‘Umbrella’

Rihanna had had hit songs before “Umbrella,” but this was the track that elevated her from a fly-by-night pop singer into a lasting icon. Other Rihanna songs might be better, but none is more influential. One of the great love songs of the 20th century, the song blends beautiful metaphors with minimalistic hip-hop-inspired production that will remain in your head for days.

Rihanna onstage | PAUL BERGEN/AFP/Getty Images

The song’s fusion of genres would provide the template for much of the popular music of the next few years. Rihanna’s vocal performance on the song is superb; she manages to sound emotional and sincere without being over the top. Jay-Z’s guest verse isn’t his best work (his reference to Little Miss Sunshine has not aged well), but even when he’s not at the top of his game, the rapper is still a legend.

3. ‘Work’

Dance jams tend to be very polished affairs – see Rihanna’s “Only Girl (In the World)” or anything from Britney Spears’ album Blackout. “Work” is a bit of a ground-breaker in the sense that it proved that a good dance song can be very minimal. The song’s minimalistic production is matched with a chorus where Rihanna mostly repeats the title of the song over and over again.

Rihanna has had so many hit songs over the years that it' difficult to remember them all. Which are her biggest hits?
Rihanna and Drake | Noam Galai/FilmMagic

Some listeners found this chorus to be lazy or redundant; others were too enchanted by the song’s groove to care what its lyrics were. The other reason why the song stands out is because it’s the rare dance song about trying to enjoy yourself in troubled times, a universal sentiment that doesn’t get enough attention in popular music.

2. ‘Disturbia’

There are numerous Christmas songs. There are numerous love songs that work as Valentine’s Day songs. Halloween doesn’t get enough love, and Rihanna’s “Disturbia” resonated with people because it’s one of the rare pop songs which seems to have been designed for the holiday.

Built around a memorable Eurodance hook, the song has lyrics about being scared that make no literal sense but sound really cool a la Fall Out Boy. Rihanna lyrics tend to be straightforward, so it was fun to see her switch things up.

1. ‘We Found Love’

Dance music had ruled the airwaves for years when Rihanna released “We Found Love,” however, true EDM was largely banished to clubs. This song helped to usher in a new era of dance music where artists like Calvin Harris, the Chainsmokers, and Marshmello could rule the radio. Few synthesizer riffs in modern pop are as beautiful as the one that Harris crafted for the song.

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