Robyn Rihanna Fenty was born on this day in 1988, making her just 31 years old. 31 years old with eight studio albums, nine Grammys, and six Guinness World Records among the numerous other accolades she's received in a career that hasn't even hit 15 years yet. And that's just her musical career. She also acts, has a successful makeup line, launched a lingerie brand last year, was appointed an ambassador of Barbados, and was named "Humanitarian of the Year" by Harvard University in 2017. To celebrate the young mogul's birthday, I've compiled and ranked a list of her 31 best songs (so far).
31. "Birthday Cake"
It's only fitting to kick off this list with her birthday song, which we all wish was a full length track (Chris Brown's version didn't make the cut). It only lasts 1 minute and 19 seconds before it quickly fades out, but it's super catchy. Call it her "In Da Club".
Sure, it shares the same title of the Shia LaBeouf thriller that was released not too long before the song came out, but they are not releated whatsoever. This Halloween-appropriate single about going insane was penned by Chris Brown who now regrets giving it to Rihanna.
29. "You da One"
This is probably one of RIhanna's cuter songs, especially as the opening track on Talk That Talk. Up to this point in her career, she was singing about love very skeptically, but with this one she was finally excited to be in a loving relationship.
28. "Hate That I Love You" (Feat. Ne-Yo)
Don't let the uptempo beat and happy-sounding acoustic guitar fool you. It might sound like an adorable love song, but it's really about how relationships have constant conflictions.
27. "Take A Bow"
Don't be unfaithful to Rihanna because then she'll call you out and make a big "fuck you" song. This particular song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 53 and peaked at No. 1 the following week, which is an incredible rare accomplishment.
Sometimes love can be complicated and Ri makes it clear with "Rehab". The Timbaland production and backup vocals from Justin Timberlake are impeccable.
25. "We Ride"
This is one of the very few singles that Rihanna released as a single that failed to chart in the U.S., which is part of the reason why it can sometimes be overlooked as a great song. It's actually a well-produced track by the Norweigian super-duo and frequent collaborators, StarGate.
24. "Where Have You Been" (Feat. Calvin Harris)
When Rihanna and Calvin Harris collaborate, it's nothing but hits, and "Where Have You Been" is no exception. It was around this era when Rihanna would start experimenting more with electronic dance music.
On the surface, this songs sounds like it's all about sex and BDSM, but Ri has explained that listeners shouldn't take the lyrics literally. She told Spin in 2010, "I’m thinking metaphorically...[P]eople are going to talk about you, you can’t stop that. You just have to be that strong person and know who you are so that stuff just bounces off."
22. "Russian Roulette"
Rated R was the album that came out after her altercation with Chris Brown and it can be speculated that this particular song is about their relationship. It's tough to listen to, but it's so powerful.
21. "Talk That Talk" (Feat. Jay-Z)
The mentor/mentee relationship that Ri and Jay have is arguably one of the best in the music industry. He took his entrepreneurial mentality and passed it on to Rihanna. She proves that she can wear the pants in a relationship.
This was Rihanna's first number one hit from her second studio album and there's no denying it's dance-ability. J.R. Rotem's sampling of Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" is genius here.
19. "Needed Me"
The anthem females needed from Rihanna came in the form of "Needed Me". She speaks for herself and declares her independence here. She doesn't need to rely on men to be happy and successful.
18. "Wait Your Turn"
Another overlooked single that didn't chart, "Wait Your Turn" is a hypnotic, reggae dub track. I remember this song being a part of the promotional teaser for Rated R and there was a lot of hype built around it. Plus, I like how she says "I'm such a fuckin' lady."
17. "California King Bed"
Rihanna doesn't get vulnerable often in her music, but when she does, some of her best work comes out of it. Her story of being emotionally disconnected from someone that's right next to her is heartbreaking.
I don't know what's better: the masterful interpolation of Banks' "Waiting Game" or the fact that this is Ri's one and only Wild West song. I'll just call it a tie.
15. "Rude Boy"
This was Rihanna's sixth number one hit and spent five back-to-back weeks on top. I love how she establishes her dominance on this single by finally letting her "rude boy" take the reigns in the bedroom.
14. "Pour It Up"
Here, Ri says, "I'm about to drop stacks at this strip club, but it's okay because I'm rich as fuck" and that's a whole mood we aspire to achieve.
13. "This Is What You Came For" (with Calvin Harris)
It's worth noting here that Rihanna and Calvin Harris made this song in one night and she didn't even hear the final version until they were backstage at Coachella in 2016. She came out during Harris' closing set and performed it live after flying in from Chicago the day before.
12. "Love On The Brain"
I'm a huge sucker for doo-wop and Motown sounds, so this hooked me from the jump. I wish I could hear more of this side of her because she does it so well.
11. "What's My Name?" (Feat. Drake)
Let the record show that it wasn't until this particular single that Drake received his first number one single on the Billboard Hot 100. No, it actually wasn't "Best I Ever Had". It was the Power of Rihanna™.
10. "FourFiveSeconds" (with Kanye West & Paul McCartney)
Rihanna and Kanye West? Makes sense. Rihanna, Kanye West and...Paul McCartney? Also makes sense. The minimalist sound and "loud lyrics" (as described by Ri herself) make for one of the more unforgettable songs in her catalog.
You know that feeling f when you meet someone and they make you feel like you can do anything so long as they're by your side? That's what this song perfectly describes thanks to hit-maker benny blanco and eilte songwriter, Sia.
08. "Bitch Better Have My Money"
This is the type of song you drive 90 mph on the freeway to. An obvious shot at her former accountants who mismanaged Rihanna's funds, "BBHMM" is unapologetic and takes what she wants. She ended up $10 million richer after suing them. The bitches gave her her money.
07. "Only Girl (In The World)"
Yes, this is one of her most get-up-and-dance worthy singles to date, but don't discount her incredible vocals that she laid on this track.
06. "Stay" (Fea. Mikky Ekko)
This is another example of Rihanna showcasing her vulnerability (alongside Mikky Ekko) and true talent as a singer. Nothing but her voice and a haunting piano makes for one of the best songs she's ever put out.
05. "Lemon" (with N.E.R.D)
The New Orleans Bounce-inspired single gave us a rapping Rihanna. Something that was highly demanded after she gave us a taste on Kendrick Lamar's "LOYALTY." and she did not disappoint as she delivered bar after bar with ease.
04. "Pon de Replay"
The one that started it all. Who would've thought that some 17 year old girl from Barbados, with her first single about simply dancing in the club, would become a household name 14 years later? Also, it gave us the unforgettable line "Let the bass from the speakers run through ya sneakers"?
03. "Work" (Feat. Drake)
After just over a decade in the industry, Rihanna gave us "Work" (with Drake), where she digs deep to give us more of her Caribbean roots. Jamaican Patois is sprinkled throughout this infectious track and is hard for Americans to understand, but it didn't stop us from grinding it out at the clubs.
02. "We Found Love" (Feat. Calvin Harris)
Easily the best collaboration from Rihanna and Calvin Harris (they should seriously make a joint album). The song is not only a win for Ri, but also Harris; "We Found Love" is her longest running single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and it also launched him into DJ stardom. The pair also received a Grammy award 2013 for the track.
01. "Umbrella" (Feat. Jay-Z)
"Umbrella" is the one song that truly skyrocketed Rihanna into fame. It was one of the biggest songs of the 2000s, it earned her her first Grammy award, and is always one of her first songs to be discussed when talking about Rihanna. Not only that, but there's always someone on deck to respond with "ella, ella, ay, ay, ay" whenever the word "umbrella" is brought up in any conversation. Also, the beat was a stock beat on GarageBand!? The song is simply iconic.
Honorable Mentions: "Shut Up and Drive" | "Don't Stop the Music" | "Right Now"