Single Review: Rihanna ft. Young Jeezy – ‘Hard’

When it comes to releasing singles, you obviously need to kind of business savvy because releasing the wrong lead single – or even two singles – which paint your album in a bad light will result in a pretty much dead-on-arrival album with enough sales to certify it plastic. Ask The Saturdays – it’s no mystery that their management in the single release department is absolutely appalling, as their second single releases from all three of their albums so far have been much more acclaimed, publicly and critically, than the first single.

But when you consider re-releasing singles, you need to have some kind of motive because let’s face it – the option to release it in the first place meant it wasn’t the greatest demonstration of your single releasing savvy. One obvious reason for re-releasing a song is if you weren’t very well known around the single original release, á la HURTS, with ‘Wonderful Life’, or Florence + the Machine with ‘Dog Days Are Over’; another, less heroic reason would be if there’s no more ‘good’ songs on your album. This results in (because all other ‘good’ songs are re-released, yet the album hasn’t faired so well as you’d hoped sales-wise) a re-release of the least successful single, in the hope it somehow magically becomes a ‘good’ single second-time round. Of course, the latter method is all very stingy and irritating; just make a better album.

Of course, you could always go the Rihanna way, and release a song that was released in America nearly a year ago, that also managed to make it onto radio and TV over here, resulting in it appearing in the Top 15 on the Radio Airplay chart; #15 to be precise. There might have been a message in the fact that at the time, The Prodigy’s ‘Omen’ was at #26 in UK Airplay, yet it peaked at #4 on the Official Singles Chart… ‘Hard’ only peaked at #42 on the Official Singles Chart despite it’s Top 15 placing in UK Airplay, even though ‘Hard’ is arguably much more commercial.

By the way, ‘the Rihanna way’, doesn’t mean I think she’s so amazing and revolutionary that she’s set her own trend that all must bow down to in all that is holy, it’s just something she happens to have done which shows her and her management have about as much savvy as a fillet of cod. What she’s done is release a song that has already received decent exposure over here and ignored the better songs on ‘Rated R’ like ‘Cold Case Love’ and more particularly ‘Firebomb’. Not very clever, that.

Prejudice aside, after listening to ‘Hard’, it doesn’t do much in terms of being a good pop single, nor is it an obviously good R&B single. Unlike ‘Rude Boy’ and ‘Te Amo’, ‘Hard’ takes forever to reach that catchy moment all pop/R&B singles need, like she’d rather bleat on about how “that Rihanna reign just won’t let up” before taking a minute out to give us something less conceited, proving Rihanna’s newly-acquired, more ‘avant garde’ schtick can any go so far before it just looks a bit… contrived.

Of course, good things come to those who wait and all, because when it gets good, it does get very much on the right side of listenable, to the point where yourself able to overlook the blatant egoism of the lyrics “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m so hard” and enjoy the music, of which the bassline has enough similarity to The Jackson 5’s ‘Can You Feel It?’ that Motown Records are probably poised at the phone with the number for a good lawyer in their hands. But even so, that middle eight isn’t something to be sniffed at is it? “Where dem blonde girls at?”. Mm.. indeed.

And as expected, Rihanna’s gone for the rent-a-rapper route with this one, and also as expected, this song would be better without Young Jeezy stunting the momentum the song finally gains by the time he decides to spit some lyrics about being a proper bad boy whilst awkwardly sitting on a tyre for the otherwise quite good video.

Oh look, a chunk of credibility just flew out the window.

I wouldn’t expect to see much promotion of this, seeing as Rihanna’s now moving onto her next album with a lead single materialising in the next week or so, so whilst her hardcore UK fans will lap this up, it’s not exactly going to be a Jedward-scale phenomenon.

Rating: 3.0 STARS

Download: August 16, 2010 (OUT NOW)

Featured Album: ‘Rated R’

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