The FourFive Stages of “FourFive Seconds”
“To deprive a man of his natural liberty and to deny to him the ordinary amenities of life is worse than starving the body; it is starvation of the soul.”
Words from Mahatma Gandhi, illustrating so poignantly how we’ve all felt during the last two years without a new Rihanna song.
Indeed for an unprecedented eight year stretch, a constant stream of new Rihanna music was our right. It was integral to our natural liberty and an ordinary amenity of life, common as a slice of dollar pizza or a white Oscar nominee. And during her vacay from music, our souls were cruelly starved. For 731 days the famine lasted. Like the majority of famines, it was super meh.
For a while there, we even debated embracing Meghan Trainor’s bullshit just to have something warm to hum while we combated harsh winter winds. We had no one to pour it up or shine bright like a diamond. We had no love in a hopeless place, no one bad and yet so perfectly good at it or whose umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh under which we might stand. And it’s been, like, mad snowy out here!
But hark! Late in the eve on the 24th day of January, the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Fifteen, a comet fell to earth from the Fenty Galaxy accompanied by scattered Yeezus debris and ridden by an immortal Beatle. When we first heard about Rih’s new single, “FourFive Seconds” featuring Kanye West and Paul McCartney, world leaders shuttered their respective governments just so they could scream, “YAASSS QUEEN SLAY!” But then, everyone actually heard “FourFive Seconds” and we were all kinda like, “Wait….Whaaaa????” Confusion was the order of the day, anarchy an eventuality.
Any way you twist this blunt, it’s been an emotional two-week roller coaster since RihRih dropped “FFS.” We laughed, we cried, we patted our nether regions suggestively, we broke up and got back together with Chris Brown at least 19 different times. Below, we attempt to unravel the FourFive Stages of “FourFive Seconds.”
Stage One: OMG
In this stage, our years of deprivation had an insidious hold on our minds, bodies and better judgement, an impetuosity that lead the world to collectively ejaculate prematurely. It all began when Rihanna tweeted her own version of MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech:
We immediately turned to whoever was next us and fornicated right there in the Bleecker Street Le Pain Quotidien. The moment was nigh. Rih had never disappointed with a lead single before. “Pon De Replay,” “SOS,” “Umbrella,” “Russian Roulette,” “Only Girl (In The World),” “We Found Love” and “Diamonds.” Each one a classic, each one indelible in its own special way, each one a beautiful soapy pop music lather cleansing our dirty dirty souls.
“STEP ASIDE, SWIFTY, CUZ THE RIHBIRD HAS LANDED!” some of us yelled at my Uber driver on the way home that evening, precipitating a two-star passenger rating from said Uber driver.
Stage Two: Hold up. Wtf.
Here, we hit pause on our iPhones and simultaneously on our entire existences. When we finally got home and giddily hit play on “FFS,” we initially stumbled around disoriented. “What even IS this?” asked ourselves to ourselves. Because “FourFive Seconds” sounded less like the elation of “Birthday Cake” and more like the dumb campfire song our nerdy counselors made us sing at sleepaway camp before everyone snuck into the woods to drink beer and “explore” our “sexualities.” Drum-less guitar strumming? Pseudo-emo lyrics? The audacity of Kanye to sing without autotune!? The line “all of my kindness is taken for weakness?” This is what we suffered through a year of Iggy Azalea and “Happy” for?
It was at this point that we realized it was going to be a devastatingly Trainor-y winter, after all. We held each other and wept a little, then smoked weed in a desperate attempt to keep the Rihanna flame lit through what was hopefully one, horrific misstep. Was “FourFive Seconds” Rihanna’s Iraq War?
Stage Three: OH!
As the days dragged on, the earth somehow continued to spin on its axis despite the fact that Rihanna’s comeback single reminded us of, as PopJustice put it perfectly, track 9 on a P!nk album.
But then a funny thing happened. Stage Three found us trekking through yet another day of blustering snow, dragging our soaking Uggs through the slush and resorting to prayer to keep our seasonal depression in check. Suddenly we found ourselves chanting, “Cuz I’m ‘bout fourfive seconds from wilin’. And we got three more days ‘til Friday.”
It started quietly, almost imperceptibly, but then it built to a deafening karaoke crescendo as we realized, “Wait. This song is kinda my life rn?! And the hook is wicked catchy? And Kanye’s horrific singing is maybe bad on purpose? Hell yeah, I’m kinda seeing the light here, Rih! This is some fire bullshit campfire music right here!”
We reached for the hand of the person next to us on the F-train to join in a unified “FourFive Seconds” sing-a-long, but then had to be escorted off the train by MTA police officers who clearly hadn’t moved past Stage Two yet.
Stage Four: HAWWWWWTTTTTTT
In Stage Four, which began this very week, we remembered that even the wackest of Rihanna songs is made infinitely better by getting to look at Rihanna on a screen. Here, we were treated to the “FourFive Seconds” video, a three and half minute Gap Ad that gave us the most perfect eye roll known to man, reminded us how scary amazing her talons look when she does this and proved that Rihanna can make denim-on-denim look like a gift from Fashion Jesus. It also drove home the point that Paul McCartney, the founder of modern music as we know it, is now thrilled just to be the guitar player in Rihanna’s band.
Also in this stage, Rih used “FFS” to introduce slow twerking, the newest dance craze and the last official piece in making “FourFive Seconds” as intertwined in the fabric of our society as apple pie or institutionalized racism. Indeed, we knew now that resistance to its world-domination was utterly futile and would hurt only us. Which brings us to…..
Stage FourFive: Word.
The bottom line here? “FourFive Seconds” is probably just as sucky as the first time we heard it. But in Stage FourFive, the stage in which we currently live, we also kind of forget that fact and realize the novel sensation of getting crunk to acoustic guitar music! Also as science has proved, even if you don’t like this song you will eventually like it whether you like it or not. Or something.
And finally, RIHANNA’S BACK BITCHES!!! Gird your loins and #phuckyofavs. You think Rih gives a phuck about what you think of her new song? Stage FourFive is just about hunkering down to listen to “FourFive Seconds” endlessly the next few months, cuz that’s what’s happening. Deal with it. And while we grit and bear the pop music that is jammed down our throats like good little capitalists, we also take a step back in this stage to pray that the next one is a little more “Pour It Up” and little less underdeveloped-demo-Kelly Clarkson-passed-on. In denim-on-denim’s name, we pray. Amen.
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