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BIBLE'S LATEST BUMBLE:
RIRI'S "ROLL"

Make no mistake: We love Rihanna. She is a goddess, beloved by fans and the biz alike. The industry bible’s recent article on the Roc Nation star, however, among its several missteps, features the assertion that she has been “on a roll of late,” citing her last three singles, “Bitch Better Have My Money” (#15 on their Hot 100) “American Oxygen” (#78) and “FourFiveSeconds” (#4).

Perhaps our understanding of the terms “on a roll” and “of late” is radically different from their usage in the House of Min, but for a recording artist whose success has always hinged on hit singles, Rihanna hasn’t seen nearly the sales or airplay of her prior hits with this last batch.

“BBHMM” is close to 1m sold and peaked at #6 Rhythm radio and #43 Pop; the nearly year-old “FourFiveSeconds” has moved nearly 2m and peaked at #5 Rhythm and #6 Pop ; “Oxygen” has sold 122k and peaked at #34 Pop. 11 of her prior hits sold better than “Four Five,” the biggest solo hits being “We Found Love” (5.4m, #1 Pop and Rhythm), “Disturbia” (4.8m, #1 Pop), “Stay” (4.5m; #1 Pop ,#2 Rhythm) and “Umbrella” (4.5m, #2 Pop and Rhythm). “Diamonds” (3.5m; #1 Rhythm, #2 Pop) ranks 10th on the list of her top-selling tracks.

Historically, RiRi has had big hits before releasing an album. She’s obviously not comfortable with the performance of her last three tracks in the marketplace, a sentiment underscored earlier this week by U.K. tabloid The Sun, which quoted her father as saying she wasn’t “comfortable” with the record. The lack of hits to power the release—and pressure from Adele and other big Q4 records—may well cause her to push her forthcoming album, ANTI, into 2016. If so, might she use the Grammys as a platform to begin the rollout?

Rihanna remains a huge celebrity and a major touring act, and has been universally praised for her contribution to The Voice. And it’s entirely possible that ANTI—whenever it comes—will yield monsters along the lines of her biggest smashes. But to say she’s been “on a roll of late” is the kind of misreading we wouldn’t expect from a Music 101 class.

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