Top 10 Rihanna Music Videos

The Most Memorable Images

Rihanna
Rihanna. Photo by Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

Since first reaching the pop charts in 2005 as a teenager, Rihanna has emerged as one of the top pop stars of all time. She has sold more than 200 million recordings. Her phenomenal string of more than thirty top 10 charting pop hit singles has been accompanied by many memorable music videos. These are ten of the very best.

 

"Umbrella" featuring Jay-Z (2007)

Rihanna Umbrella
Rihanna featuring Jay-Z - "Umbrella". Courtesy Def Jam

Directed by Chris Applebaum

To accompany Rihanna's #1 smash hit single "Umbrella," director Chris Applebaum, who previously worked with her on "SOS," was asked to send ideas for the music video. One of his early concepts is the silver body paint that appears in the final version. The director and artist collaborated blending each of their ideas for the final product. One of Rihanna's suggestions adopted was the idea of having her dance en pointe.

The finished music video earned strong praise from critics. It won the MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year. The song "Umbrella" was a considerable hit spending seven weeks at #1 in the U.S. and earning Grammy Award nominations for Song and Record of the Year. It helped firmly establish Rihanna as one of the world's top pop stars.

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"Disturbia" (2008)

Rihanna Disturbia
Rihanna - "Disturbia". Courtesy Def Jam

Directed by Anthony Mandler and Rihanna

For Rihanna's dark single "Disturbia," director Anthony Mandler, a frequent collaborator, created a sort of surreal torture chamber presided over by Rihanna herself. A wide range of horror imagery includes a gas chamber and an electric chair. Jittery jump cuts in the video also add to the disturbing atmosphere. Some observers were surprised by the intensity of the images presented. They suggested they were more akin to the work of Nine Inch Nails or Marilyn Manson.

"Disturbia" became Rihanna's fourth #1 pop hit single in the US. Despite the dark atmospherics, the song earned praise from music critics. It received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Dance Recording.

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"Rude Boy" (2010)

Rihanna Rude Boy
Rihanna - "Rude Boy". Courtesy Def Jam

Directed by Melina Matsoukas

"Rude Boy" was Rihanna's second consecutive music video directed by Melina Matsoukas. She also directed "Hard," the single that immediately preceded "Rude Boy." The bright colors throughout the clip drew comparisons to artwork by Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, M.I.A., and others. Rihanna explained that the bright colors and costumes echoed her island heritage. The "Rude Boy" music video earned an MTV Video Music Awards nomination for Best Editing.

The song "Rude Boy" became Rihanna's sixth #1 pop hit single in the U.S. It moved her into a three-way tie among female artists with the most #1 hit singles all-time in the U.S. It was one of the lightest sounding songs on the otherwise dark and edgy album "Rated R."

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"Love the Way You Lie" with Eminem (2010)

Rihanna Eminem Love the Way You Lie
Rihanna and Eminem - "Love the Way You Lie". Courtesy Interscope

Directed by Joseph Kahn.

The music video for Rihanna's superstar collaboration with rapper Eminem on "Love the Way You Lie" was directed by Joseph Kahn, one of the most celebrated of music video directors. Among his previous successes were Britney Spears' "Toxic" and ​Katy Perry's "Waking Up In Vegas." For "Love the Way You Lie," the music video tells a dramatic story of domestic violence. Actors Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan appear as a troubled couple in the video. Rihanna and Eminem are featured together in front of a burning house. Both artists have previous life experience with domestic violence.

The music video generated controversy, but many praised it for drawing attention to the issues depicted. The song "Love the Way You Lie" spent seven weeks at #1 on the U.S. pop singles chart, and was nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards. It had its origins in a demo written and recorded by Skylar Grey when she felt she was involved in an abusive relationship with the music industry. The music video earned four nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards, 

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"Only Girl (In the World)" (2010)

Rihanna Only Girl In the World
Rihanna - "Only Girl (In the World)". Courtesy Def Jam

Directed by Anthony Mandler

Rihanna returned to working with Anthony Mandler for the "Only Girl (In the World)" music video. In keeping with the song title, Rihanna is the only person in the clip. Red filters drench the entire music video in the color. Rihanna is shown in a red field and lying in a bed of flowers. Critics praised the video for its whimsy and beauty after the darker music videos accompanying Rihanna's album "Rated R."

"Only Girl (In the World)" became Rihanna's ninth #1 pop hit single. It won a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording. The song led off a string of hit singles from the album "Loud."

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"What's My Name?" with Drake (2010)

Rihanna What's My Name
Rihanna featuring Drake - "What's My Name". Courtesy Def Jam

Directed by Philip Andelman

Before directing "What's My Name?" for Rihanna, Philip Andelman worked with artists such as Beyonce, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez. For "What's My Name?" he put together a straightforward slice of life music video co-starring rapper Drake. The Lower East Side of Manhattan was the shooting location for most of the clip. The romance between Rihanna and Drake in the video goes no further than a kiss on the cheek.

The song soared to #1 on the US pop chart hitting #1 before the previously released "Only Girl (In the World)." That makes it Rihanna's eighth #1 pop hit single and Drake's first. "What's My Name?" earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap / Sung Collaboration.

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"S&M" (2011)

Rihanna S & M
Rihanna - "S&M". Courtesy Def Jam

Directed by Melina Matsoukas

The music video for "S&M" remains one of Rihanna's most controversial both for its subject matter and a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by photographer David LaChapelle. Director Melina Matsoukas claims the "S&M" video is not just about the sexual components, but also about Rihanna's "sadomasochistic relationship with the press." In the opening scene, Rihanna is dragged into a press conference and then bound to a wall with clear plastic wrap. Gagged reporters surround her. Blogger Perez Hilton is a media figure who appears in the video wearing a collar attached to the end of a dog leash.

David LaChapelle claimed that the music video infringed on eight copyrighted photos he created between 1997 and 2010. Lawyers for Rihanna and LaChapelle ultimately settled the case out of court. Multiple countries banned the video due to the explicit sexual content and YouTube restricted it to viewers over age 18. Despite all of the controversy, "S&M" became Rihanna's tenth #1 hit single in the US. 

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"We Found Love" featuring Calvin Harris (2011)

Rihanna We Found Love
Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris - "We Found Love". Courtesy Def Jam

Directed by Melina Matsoukas

The music video for "We Found Love" is an elegantly filmed depiction of a self-destructive relationship filled with images related to drugs and domestic violence. Musical collaborator Calvin Harris appears briefly as a DJ, and British actor and model Dudley O'Shaughnessy portrays Rihanna's love interest.

One shooting location was the countryside near the town of Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland. The owner of the field requested that the filming stop when he saw Rihanna topless, and the crew complied with his request. Most of the rest of the video was then filmed on a private set in Belfast. Some commentators wondered if the domestic violence in the music video is a reconstruction of the situation between Rihanna and her boyfriend Chris Brown in 2009. They noted the physical resemblance between Brown and the actor O'Shaugnessy. However, Melina Matsoukas said that it was only Rihanna acting out scripted scenes of a toxic relationship.

The music video earned praise for its gritty story, but it also drew controversy for the explicit content. Smoking, drinking, and drugs mixed with the scenes of desperate love.  "We Found Love" spent ten weeks at #1 on the U.S. pop singles chart and was Rihanna's eleventh chart-topping hit. The music video earned a Grammy Award for Best Short-Form Music Video.

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"FourFiveSeconds" with Kanye West and Paul McCartney (2015)

Rihanna, Paul McCartney, Kanye West - FourFiveSeconds
Courtesy Roc Nation

Directed by Inez and Vinoodh

"FourFiveSeconds" is a superstar collaboration between three towering artists in the history of pop music. Rihanna and Kanye West share vocals in the song. Dutch photography duo Inez and Vinoodh directed the music video. They previously directed Lady Gaga's "Applause." The black and white style of the clip caused many observers to compare it to the work of American photographer Herb Ritts. Kanye West suggested that all three artists wear classic all-American denim. The images are constrained to a square shape making the music video stand out from others.

"FourFiveSeconds" peaked at #4 on the U.S. pop singles chart. For Paul McCartney, it was his first appearance in the pop top 10 in 29 years. The trio performed it live at the 2015 Grammy Awards ceremony.

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"Work" featuring Drake (2016)

Rihanna featuring Drake - Work
Courtesy Def Jam

Directed by Director X and Tim Erem

Rihanna and Drake followed their successful #1 pop hit collaboration on "What's My Name?" in 2010 with another #1 effort on "Work." Two music videos were filmed to promote the song. The first was directed by Director X, known for his previous work with fellow Canadian Drake. It shows the pair dancing together in a West Indian-styled restaurant that doubles as a nightclub.

The second music video was directed by Tim Erem, a Swede who also worked on Major Lazer's breakthrough effort "Lean On." It shows Drake and Rihanna dancing and hugging in a pink room. Critics praised the sensuality of the video. It generates steam, but it doesn't cross the line into explicit content.

The song "Work" spent nine weeks at the top of the U.S. pop singles chart. It was Rihanna's fourteenth appearance at the top putting her in third place overall behind only the Beatles and Mariah Carey. The music video earned a Best Female Video nomination at the MTV Video Music Awards.

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