Disturbia - Rihanna
© 2008 Def Jam
Rihanna is a girl who has shot to the top of the music charts in just the last several years. No one expected that this young, twenty-year-old Barbados girl would be tied with the likes of Mariah Carey and Beyonce in the Billboard charts for most songs making it to the number one spot in this decade. In 2003, at the age of 15, Rihanna received her big break when one of her friends introduced her to record producer Evan Rogers. Rogers, along with his partner, Carl Sturken, helped Rihanna record material in the U.S. which was sent to various recording companies. One copy of Rihanna's work was sent to Jay-Z, who eventually signed her to Def Jam Recordings. This gives a brief overview of Rihanna’s climb or rather “leap” to fame. However, what is more important for our conversation is answering the questions: What is Rihanna trying to communicate? What does her songs have to say about culture today in America? More specifically, what does this song Disturbia have to say about culture? Disturbia is Rihanna latest number one best seller receiving a whopping 13.5 million and counting Youtube views. Unlike her predecessors, Carey and Beyonce, this new diva of the post-modern, abandoned youth culture has a much darker message to share.
One viewing of this music video will leave you quickly wondering what is going on in pop-culture today. The video is filled with demonic-type images and persons that are constantly “attacking” Rihanna and they seem “too close for comfort” yet Rihanna cannot get away from them. This thief in the night, disturbia, has “creeped up inside” Rihanna, and disturbia has now locked Rihanna up in chains which she cannot remove herself from (as shown in the music video). Rihanna wishes to be “released from this curse [she’s] trying to maintain” but she cannot free from the effects of disturbia in her life. Though Rihanna is fairly unclear about what disturbia actually is (not surprising among pop-artists), it seems that disturbia is some sort of controlling figure in her life, whether that be a person, spiritual forces, or some sort of depression. This figure she can’t seem to shake; this is made evident throughout her music video and song lyrics.
So what of worldview? Can a worldview be identified in this song? With most pop-art it is a little tricky to figure out what specific worldviews artists are coming from because they want to appeal to as broad of an audience as possible. However, it is very true that Rihanna is coming from a very sad, dark place that involves some sort of depression. This attraction to darkness, this loss of hope, this feeling of entrapment and abandonment are all symptoms of postmodernism. It would be safe to say that Rihanna is at least a postmodern of the youth culture. And if this “thief in the night” is a spiritual force, she is definitely involved in a darker spiritualism. However, through her lyrics it seems that the “thief” chose her, and tempted her, she did not willingly accept disturbia. In conclusion, this song, being one of the most viewed music videos, gives a dark portrayal of where culture has not only moved in the “undergrounds” of youth culture but it has become the norm of pop-culture. Songs like these continue to show some of the more disturbing affects of postmodernism.
[written by] Joe W