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Critics gave generally positive reviews of the album, praising its composition and Rihanna's new musical direction, though some criticized the album's lyrics and inconsistency. The album received seven Grammy Award nominations and one win in the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration category for "Umbrella" at the 2008 ceremony. The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 chart and sold 162,000 copies in its first week. Certified six-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), it sold more than 2.8 million copies in the United States. The album reached number one in Canada, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. As of 2017, the album had sold over 9 million copies worldwide.
I basically took the attitude of the bad girl and I really got rebellious and just did everything the way I wanted to do it--I didn't want to listen to anybody. I didn't consult with anybody. I just want to have a little more fun with my music and be a little more experimental in terms of my image and my sound. I just reinvented myself.
Rihanna's second studio album, A Girl like Me, was released in April 2006. It is a pop-oriented record with dancehall and R&B influences. It had a mixed critical reception: some critics praised Rihanna's new musical direction, while others criticized some of the album's songs. Around its time of release, many critics felt that Rihanna's style, sound, and musical material were too similar to those of American singer Beyoncé. The album sold over 587,308 copies in the United Kingdom and more than 1,330,000 copies in the United States.
In early 2007, Rihanna began work on her third studio album. In an interview with MTV News, she announced that "the new music is going in a different direction. Not on purpose, but I just want to hear something fresh and mostly uptempo. I think that's where I want to go on this one. You feel different every album, and [at] this stage I feel like I want to do a lot of uptempo [songs]." The same year, Rihanna dismissed her innocent image for an edgier look with a new hairstyle, which was inspired by actress Charlize Theron's bob cut in the 2005 science fiction thriller Æon Flux.
Rihanna explained that she wanted to keep the audience dancing and be soulful at the same time. She sought to make an album that people would listen to without skipping tracks. She cited Afrodisiac (2004), the fourth studio album by American singer Brandy Norwood, as her main inspiration for the album. In May 2007, Rihanna revealed that she called the album Good Girl Gone Bad because it represents her bolder and more independent image: "I'm not the innocent Rihanna anymore. I'm taking a lot more risks and chances. I felt when I cut my hair, it shows people I'm not trying to look or be anybody else. The album is very edgy."
Good Girl Gone Bad was recorded in Westlake Recording Studios and Conway Studios in Los Angeles, Battery Studios and Roc the Mic Studios in New York City, Chicago Recording Company and Pressure Studios in Chicago, Phase One Audio Group in Toronto, Lethal Studios in Bridgetown, Barbados, Espionage Studios in Oslo and Parr Street Studios in Liverpool. Rihanna spent the week of the 2007 Grammy Awards working with American R&B singer-songwriter Ne-Yo, who gave her vocal lessons. They wrote and sang "Hate That I Love You", which was co-written and produced by Norwegian duo StarGate. Ne-Yo told Vibe magazine, "The best way to express an emotion like love is through storytelling. It makes it more 'I can relate to this character in this song, because I've been through something similar.' You hear that kind of storytelling in the song that I wrote for Rihanna called 'Hate That I Love You'."
American producers Tricky Stewart and Dream had written the track "Umbrella" in 2007 with pop singer Britney Spears in mind. Her label rejected the song before she could hear it, stating they had enough songs for her to record; at the time, Spears was working on her fifth studio album Blackout. The producers then reached out to Mary J. Blige, who did not have time to consider the song for her next album. Finally, L.A. Reid, then-CEO of Def Jam Recordings, bought the record and forwarded it to Rihanna. Initially, Stewart was unsure whether Rihanna was the right artist for the song, but after they had recorded the "ella, ella" catch phrase for the track, he felt optimistic. Rapper Jay Z added rap vocals. Stewart also co-wrote and produced "Breakin' Dishes" with Nash.
"Rehab", "Sell Me Candy", and "Lemme Get That" were composed and produced by Timbaland for the album. He was on the FutureSex/LoveShow concert tour with Justin Timberlake to promote Timberlake's 2006 album FutureSex/LoveSounds. After a show in Chicago, they joined Rihanna in the studio, where Timberlake experimented with beats and melodies. Weeks later, the three met in New York City, where Timberlake had conceptualized a song for Rihanna. Timbaland, who penned a song for Rihanna under the title "Rehab", was producing a beat, over which Timberlake improvised his lyrics. Hannon Lane also co-wrote and co-produced the song. Timberlake told Entertainment Weekly that he believed "Rehab" to be "the bridge for [Rihanna] to be accepted as an adult in the music industry". Rihanna told Robert Copsey of Digital Spy that she enjoyed working with Timberlake, and learned much from the sessions.
A dance-pop and pop/R&B album influenced by 1980s music,Good Girl Gone Bad is a departure from the Caribbean sound of Rihanna's previous two records. Lyrically, the album is close to some teen pop records, "where sexual-ism and consumerism supersede personal connection."
The seventh track on the album, "Say It", samples the 1990s song "Flex" by Mad Cobra; it consists of silky and warm groove and features island-oriented music characteristics. "Sell Me Candy" features jumbled and noisy production with chaotic beats. The ninth song, "Lemme Get That", has boom-bap beats and is produced by Timbaland. "Rehab" is an old-styled R&B track with a groove that is built around tambourine shakes, acoustic guitar swirls and a subtle backbeat. Doug Rule of Metro Weekly noted similarities among the structures of "Rehab" and Timberlake's 2002 single "Cry Me a River". "Question Existing" is an "eerie, smoky, destitute, emotional, and a sonic sidestep." Tom Breihan of Pitchfork Media described the opening lyrics of the song as inspired by "puerile psuedoporn". The album concludes with the title track "Good Girl Gone Bad", which is played with an acoustic guitar and click tracks.
Critics praised the collaboration between Rihanna and Jay-Z on the lead single, "Umbrella".
The second single from the album, "Shut Up and Drive", was serviced to contemporary hit radio in the US on May 13 and rhythmic radio the following week. The song received mixed response from critics: some praised the composition, while others criticized the lyrics. It reached the top ten on more than twelve national charts, including number five on the UK Singles Chart and number 15 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The music video for the song was shot by Anthony Mandler in Prague, the Czech Republic. The third single, "Hate That I Love You", which features Ne-Yo, was sent to contemporary hit, rhythmic and urban radio in the United States on August 21. Critics gave the song positive reviews and praised the collaboration between the singers; they compared it to the previous works written by Ne-Yo, including the song "Irreplaceable" by Beyoncé. "Hate That I Love You" reached number seven on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 15 on the UK Singles Chart.
"Don't Stop the Music" was digitally released as an EP via the iTunes Store on September 7. The song received positive reviews from music critics, who praised its production and the interpolation of the "Mama-say, mama-sa, ma-ma-ko-ssa" hook. "Don't Stop the Music" won Best International Song at the 2008 NRJ Music Awards. The single peaked atop of the singles charts in eight countries, reaching number three on the Hot 100 and number four on the UK Singles Chart. It is the seventh-best selling single by Rihanna in the United States, with 3,521,000 digital copies sold as of June 2013. Mandler shot the music video in a nightclub in Prague, the Czech Republic. "Rehab" was released as the fifth and final single from Good Girl Gone Bad; it was sent to contemporary hit radio in the United States on October 6, 2008. Critics were divided on the song's production and composition, and some compared its structure to that of Timberlake's 2007 single "What Goes Around... Comes Around". It reached number 16 on the UK Singles Chart and number 18 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Anthony Mandler directed the accompanying music video, which was shot in Vasquez Rocks Park, near Los Angeles. Timberlake also appears in the video.
Good Girl Gone Bad was first released by the Universal Music Group on CD in Portugal on May 31, 2007. It was released in the Netherlands and in Poland the following day. The album was launched in Finland and the United Kingdom on June 4 and in the United States the following day on CD and LP.Good Girl Gone Bad was released on CD in Germany on June 8, on LP in Australia on June 12 and on CD in New Zealand on the same date. A deluxe edition of the album, featuring a bonus disc with dance remixes, was launched on June 27 in Japan.
Good Girl Gone Bad: The Remixes was released on January 27, 2009, and contains club remixes of tracks from the original album and the re-issue. The songs were remixed by producers and disc jockeys such as Moto Blanco, Tony Moran, Soul Seekerz and Wideboys.Good Girl Gone Bad: The Remixes peaked at number 106 on the Billboard 200 and number four on the US Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart. As of July 2010, it sold 49,000 copies in the United States.
To further promote the album, Rihanna embarked on her first worldwide and second overall tour, the Good Girl Gone Bad Tour (2007-09). She performed in Europe, North America, Oceania, Asia and Africa. During the concert shows she wore S&M-inspired outfits and high boots. Mike Usinger of The Georgia Straight gave the show a mixed review; he wrote that even though Rihanna's vocals were improved, he felt she still struggled to keep the audience engaged. Jason MacNeil of Canadian Online Explorer gave a positive review of the concert after the show at Molson Amphitheatre, saying "the singer made a rather eye-popping impression, opening with 'Pon de Replay' and clad in a sexy, dominatrix-like studded black leather ensemble." During a show planned for February 13 in Malaysia, Malaysia's conservative Islamic party recommended that Rihanna's concert tour be banned from performing, citing her outfits. A video album, Good Girl Gone Bad Live, was filmed at the Manchester Arena show in Manchester, United Kingdom, on December 6, 2007. The Good Girl Gone Bad LiveDVD was released on June 9 and 13, 2008, in the United Kingdom and Germany through Mercury Records and the Universal Music Group respectively.
Good Girl Gone Bad received generally favorable reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 72 based on 17 reviews.Uncut called it a "shiny, trans-atlantic blend of Europop vim, R&B grit and Caribbean bounce." Andy Kellman of AllMusic deemed it quintessential pop music and said each of its tracks was a potential hit. Quentin B. Huff of PopMatters praised the album, describing it as "more raw, perhaps edgier and more risqué" than Rihanna's previous material. Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times wrote that the album "sounds as if it were scientifically engineered to deliver hits".Peter Robinson of The Observer commended her collaborators for "masking her own shortcomings" and commented that, "While Rihanna lacks her peers' charisma, she's a great vessel for exhilarating mainstream pop." Pitchfork Media's Tom Breihan found the album varied and satisfying. Neil Drumming of Entertainment Weekly felt that, although it "goes bad when Rihanna tries her hand at treacly ballads and glum sentiment", at times Good Girl Gone Bad is a "thrilling throwback to more than a decade ago, when upstart producers haphazardly mashed R&B with hip-hop to create chunky jeep anthems such as Mary J. Blige's 'Real Love'."
In a mixed review, Rodney Dugue of The Village Voice felt that the album "never settles on a sound" and only cited its three Timbaland-produced songs as highlights. Although he found the ballads to be improvements from Rihanna's previous albums, Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani criticized the lyrics, particularly those written by Justin Timberlake, as an "Achilles' high heel for Rihanna". Alex Macpherson of The Guardian found Rihanna to be "ill-suited" for its dance-pop songs and stated, "The gimmicky samples and pounding beats bury her personality, and the summery reggae of her first two albums is sorely missed."Robert Christgau of MSN Music cited "Umbrella" as a "choice cut", indicating "a good song on an album that isn't worth your time or money".
In the United States, Good Girl Gone Bad debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 162,000 copies in its first week. It became Rihanna's then-best start album entry. The next week, it fell to number seven with 81,000 copies sold. The re-issue sold 63,000 copies in the first week and helped Good Girl Gone Bad jump from number 124 to number seven on the US Billboard 200 in its 55th week. It was certified six-time platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA); by November 2013, both Good Girl Gone Bad and the reissue had sold 2,800,000 copies in the United States alone. To date, it is her best-selling album in the country. The album debuted atop of the Canadian Albums Chart and became Rihanna's second number-one album in the country. It was certified quintuple platinum by Music Canada, denoting shipments of more than 500,000 copies.
Good Girl Gone Bad debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart with sales of 54,000 copies in its first week. It became her first album to top the chart, and stayed on the chart for 177 weeks. In 2011, the album peaked at number 16 on the UK R&B Albums Chart. It was certified sextuple platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and sold over 1,904,347 copies in the country. It ended at number 10 on the UK 2007 year-end list and number six on the 2008 year-end list. As of March 2015, Good Girl Gone Bad is the 46th best-selling album of the millennium in the United Kingdom. In Ireland, Good Girl Gone Bad debuted at number three on the Irish Singles Chart on June 7, 2007. After four weeks on the chart, it reached the top. The album peaked at number one on the Swiss Hitparade chart and stayed on the chart for 91 weeks. In Australia, it peaked at number two and was certified triple platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), denoting shipments of over 210,000 copies. The album had sold 9 million copies worldwide.
Before its physical release, "Umbrella" achieved the biggest debut in the six-year history of the iTunes Store in the United States, breaking a record previously held by Shakira's 2006 single "Hips Don't Lie". Following its digital release, the song debuted atop the Hot Digital Songs chart, with first-week sales of more than 277,000 units. The single became the highest digital debut in the United States since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking downloads in 2003, surpassing Timberlake's "SexyBack" 250,000 sales record in 2006.
According to Biography.com, Good Girl Gone Bad inspired Rihanna to transform her image from a "teen pop princess" persona into a "fully fledged superstar and sex symbol".People magazine noted that Rihanna follows the likes of recording artists Janet Jackson and Christina Aguilera "when she sheds her innocent image for an edgier look and sound". Jay-Z also spoke about "Umbrella" and stated that the song represents an artistic grow for Rihanna, "If you listen to the lyrics to that song, you know the depth and how far she's come." Da'Shan Smith of Billboard commented on Good Girl Gone Bad's impact for Rihanna's career on the tenth anniversary of the album's release: "The Good Girl era became a universally recognized moment where RiRi solidified her position as an international superstar, her signature bob haircut and newly seductive stage persona captivating fans and press."
Regarding the commercial impact of the album, Entertainment Weekly's Margeaux Watson wrote, "For a pop star who was once dismissed as being incapable of yielding more than one hit song per album, Rihanna's newfound staying power is nothing short of remarkable-and proof that there's room for more than one diva in this game." Jason Birchmeier of AllMusic concluded that it was Good Girl Gone Bad that made Rihanna a "full-fledged international pop star with a regular presence atop the charts". Nick Levine of Digital Spy described the album, as the closest thing to a Thriller that 2007/08 is likely to produce.
^SanMiguel, Celia (June 2006). "Review: A Girl like Me". Vibe: 160. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved 2013. a pop album, one informed but not bounded by Rihanna's Caribbean roots