Rihanna's Best (& Worst) Music Videos Of All Time

Photo: Nigel Waldron/ Getty Images.
Ever since Rihanna popped her hips into our hearts (and early era iPods) with "Pon De Replay," she's unleashed a full roster of club anthems. Like clockwork, she released hit after hit. Then, she gave us Anti, a deeply felt album of her being her.

But Rihanna's music videos also deserve a moment of consideration. Bad Gal RiRi is being honored with the Video Vanguard Award at MTV's Video Music Awards on August 28, so it's worth taking a look back at her best and worst videos. As an artist who releases videos so often, it's easy to see the trends represented in her work. "SOS" has a B'Day-era Beyoncé influence and "Disturbia" is frenetic enough to belong in Lady Gaga's canon. No one really knows what's happening in the video for "Shut Up And Drive," but it's obvious that something just isn't right.

So here we have it: Rihanna's best and worst music videos.
1 of 9

The "Work" video gets to the very essence of Rihanna. In a room sticky with sweat and booze, where men hoist their dance partners up in the air to grind, Rihanna's only equal is herself. She'll tease anonymous men (okay, maybe one of them is Drake), but she returns to her own reflection in the mirror. Because when you're Rihanna, the only person on your level is you.

The video's pink-tinged second half is equally sexy. Again, Drake is literally a background accessory. Either her gaze is fixed on the camera or she's ogling herself.
2 of 9
"Kiss It Better"

This is one of Anti's greatest songs. "Kiss It Better" is winding and soulful, but the video doesn't translate the song's intimacy. It seems like a rushed version of Beyoncé's "1+1" video, with sheer sheets instead of waterfalls.
3 of 9
"Pour It Up"

Rihanna has a lot of money and she loves every single dollar bill. "The musk [of cash] rarely transfers onto polite women anymore, who rarely touch dollar bills in the age of Venmo and sugar baby feminism," wrote Doreen St. Felix for Pitchfork. "Rihanna still wants it in cash. Bad Gal, unmoored and uninspired by American dichotomies of cleanliness and defilement as she is, prefers her payment liquid and solid to the touch."

"Pour it Up" gets to the root of her prosperity gospel: Rihanna will count her money, but she'll also bathe in it and twerk on it, too.
4 of 9
"California King Bed"

The only thing worse than this video might be the song itself. That the bed itself expands to divide RiRi from her lover is an interesting convention, but it's lost in the video's random visuals. Half the song is set in a L.A. bedroom and the other in some kind of hazy heaven. Rihanna is hugging beams, grabbing walls, and walking in allergy-inducing fields of grass in this messy assortment of images.
5 of 9
"Rude Boy"

Rihanna vibes out to this song from Rated R. The video doesn't need a plot. It's just swaggy and fun. She stomps out space for her vibrant island heritage and whines to her own beat.

In the age of Anti and Unapologetic, this kind of colorful look is a rarity.
6 of 9
"Don't Stop The Music"

The second funniest thing about this video is the suggestion that Rihanna would sit in a club's VIP section with anything other than a blunt and a glass of wine. The actual funniest thing is the idea that she'd entertain the advances of a white man in a fedora. But no matter: though the video is an odd conceit in and of itself, who doesn't want to watch Rihanna clap to a Michael Jackson beat?
7 of 9

If this music video were produced by anyone else at any other time, it would not have worked. But this was 2006 Rihanna and she was poised to let bangers drip off her hands and onto the radio. Nothing about this video makes sense — Why does she go from wearing a leather bodysuit to fishnets? What is Jay Z's whole vibe here? — but it's completely endearing. Does Rihanna have the power to bend water? Absolutely. How dare you doubt her.
8 of 9
"Shut Up And Drive"

Even for 2007, this video was out-there. It was frenetic and all over the place: we were jolted from a random auto shop to a junkyard to wherever Rihanna was half staring into the camera, half hiding behind a random fire escape. The audio mix of ambient sound, plus the half-baked drag racing conceit made this video a dud.
9 of 9
"Needed Me"

Only director Harmony Korine (Kids, Spring Breakers) could imbue such tenderness into Rihanna's assassination errand. Strippers glide up and down poles. Rihanna floats through a crowded club. It's either the day before or the morning after that we see her examine the horizon, at peace with her murderous run. In front of Korine's camera, Rihanna glows, gun in hand.

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