Single Reviews: Rihanna ft. Britney Spears – ‘S&M [Remix]’

I heard that once, a long time ago, music was made for the love of music; the love of uniting people in one big crowd and making them fist-pump the air in unison, jumping up and down at the same time. It sounds like a very good time. Unfortunately money-making has got in the way of some releases… like this one.

‘S&M’ has already scaled the windy heights of the tops of the UK and the US charts helmed by only Rihanna, but now, what better way to raise the pulse of many music fan out there than latch on another big American star and re-release it under both their names? Very shrewd, that.

‘S&M’, being an uptempo dance number by nature, is guided by one huge melodic refrain and a Thorian sledge-hammered beat, and one of Rihanna’s best vocal performances to date. Did you hear that!? No goaty vocals on this one guys. It’s an explicitly carnal song with a hint of the dark and sinister Rihanna which was explored to better end results on ‘Rated R’. The inclusion of one Britney Spears may seem like a good idea at first, but her washed-up, tissue-thin voice can barely hold a candle to Rihanna’s near-militant delivery.

The “remix” opens similarly to the original, only this time Rihanna’s sounds like Daffy Duck on auto-tune and Britney is singing through her nose, which is neither sexually enticing or easy to listen to without wincing. The song steams onwards into the first verse, which has hardly been touched since the original. Britney’s section features some shiny new lyrics which basically re-run everything that was already said in the original, only she sounds out of breath. She manages to get away with it in this instant, as she wheezes “Though, I don’t scream mercy/It’s your turn to hurt me”(naughty), but it’s really only when Ri-Ri and Brit-Brit sing together that you realise just how easy Rihanna’s confident powerhouse vocals sail miles over Britney’s air-powered voice and quite frankly drown her out. 

The thing with this song is it’s not supposed to be for everyone; that includes who sings it. Rihanna’s original convinced, albeit it on a very little scale: she barely gets away with – “Sticks and stones may break my bones/But chains and whips excite me”, on either version, but at the same time you felt happy knowing that the delivery had conviction and Rihanna meant business. Rihanna and Britney on the other hand don’t work so well. Their voices don’t mesh and all-the-while, listening to this remix, and hearing Britney strain desperately to try and be heard over Rihanna conjures images of a little girl trying to get noticed amongst an orgy. Hardly appropriate. 

There’s no video of the remix yet, so expect something to arise in the next couple of days which is identical to the original video with some separate scenes shot especially for Britters.

Whilst this combination of popstar seems like the perfect match, considering both of them have enormous public profiles and a huge army of followers, something just doesn’t work, and you can’t shake the fact it’s only for the money – maximising profit by releasing it as soon as everyone’s already bought the original and then publicising on two of the biggest fan-bases in the music industry. It’s clever marketing, but that doesn’t mean the music’s clever.

Rating: 3.0 STARS

Download: April 11, 2011 (OUT NOW)

Featured Album: N/A


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