Last night–the evening of pop singer Rihanna’s birthday–she released two remixes of existing album tracks. From her album Talk That Talk came a remix of “Birthday Cake” featuring Chris Brown’s vocals; from Mr. Brown’s upcoming Fortune came “Turn Up the Music” featuring Rihanna’s vocals.
The star-crossed, or something, musicians had been hinting through Twitter about the upcoming collaboration, and while the songs’ musical merits are negligible, the political valences are giving us a headache. (Mr. Brown punched and bit Rihanna in 2009, but announces on “Birthday Cake” “I want to f— you right now.”)
As we noted last week, Rihanna has been moving towards a public embrace of her abuser for years, moving from a pose of aggressive strength to one of masochism and perpetually baiting the public with new Chris Brown allusions (including, recently, a model resembling Chris Brown slapping her in the “We Found Love” video).
Susceptible to every publicity stunt, the blogger Perez Hilton (himself featured as Rihanna’s coddled pet in the “S&M” video, which is both about the singer’s love of being abused and about her relationship with the media) loved the stunt. “Genius!!!!!!!!!!!!!,” wrote Perez Hilton. “Consider our mind blown!”
Last week, when it briefly appeared that Mr. Brown would not collaborate with Rihanna, even Mr. Hilton seemed relieved, writing: “And the world takes a collective sigh of relief.”