“ANTI”: The Perfect Breakup Anthem
Relationships have never been my expertise. Throughout my twenty-odd years, I have yet to get this “dating” thing right. However, throughout my trails and errors I have come to realize that relationships are arduous and that no relationship is perfect. And yet, even when I dive myself into these romantic associations, I seem to forget how though they are hard, breaking up is even harder.
During a breakup with a normal person, they go through the stages of grief—desperate answers, denial, bargaining, relapse, anger, and initial acceptance. Like I said before, this is the stages a NORMAL person goes through when parting ways with their significant other. I am not your normal person. The aftermath of my breakups usually involve Netflix, writing, cheeseburgers, and drowning out my thoughts with music. The saying goes that music soothes the savage beast. If that was true, I assumed it would do wonders for a woman scorned and heartbroken. Low and behold, I came across ANTI, eighth album from the beautiful and talented, Rihanna. I became a fan of Rihanna ever since her 2005 hit single, Pon De Replay. Since then, she has delivered hit after hit; transforming from a good girl gone bad (you see what I did there?). The single, “Work” featuring Drake was already a smash hit on the radio. I loved this dance-oriented jam that exuded hints of sex and intimacy. The reggae and dancehall feel of the single was idiosyncratic. How could you not dance to this song, let alone not like it? The album had to be fire.
How right I was. ANTI was a this hard-hitting, soulful album that touched every theme of a relationship that I have ever experienced and currently experiencing. It lunged in what it is like to be in love, how it feels to get hurt, the desire to need someone, and ultimately being one’s true self. All of the songs came off as a blueprint to my current situation, but there was only a few that really spoke to me.
The first song, Consideration, came with a somewhat distorted beat that featured Rihanna’s Barbadian accent as she starts with the verse claiming to have come fluttering from a Neverland. Will you ever let me grow? Many speculate that the song referenced her turning her back on record labels. I saw it as a woman leaving a toxic relationship where she no longer felt appreciated; wanting to find some peace in mind. I saw myself.
“Will ever let me? Will you ever respect me? No.”
I did have the feeling of anger. In the song, Needed Me, the Barbadian beauty delivers a catchy melody about romantic rejection that is wrapped around a synthetic sound. The song reminds me how one regrets catching feelings for the person who broke their heart. I HEAR THAT! I was good on my own before the “person” came into my life, played with my heart, and then stomped on it with his size eight shoe. “Feeling jaded, huh?” Just a little bit. I needed to hear how he got me confused and that men like him come a dime a dozen. It was like a better way of saying that there are more fish in the sea. I needed to hear it. Like I needed to hear, Woo. In the trap-influenced percussion song, Riri goes into depths about being spiteful over an ex-lover. We have all been there. “I don’t really love/ I don’t really care about you no more”, was in a way to declare one’s independence. Isn’t that what we all want after a bad breakup?
Then comes the relapse. This is the part where the pain of the breakup becomes intolerable. At that moment, you will try to convince your ex to get back together. That was Kiss Me Better. The 80’s power pop ballad with its electric guitar and deep synths details about how a detrimental relationship can appear to be lustrous and alluring. It tells the person to forget one’s pride and the hurt inside when looking in his eyes; torture. With the song, Love On The Brain, the singer sings a song that depicts a negative, yet addicting relationship. This is real life I am listening to. The yearning of an ex-lover is rather depressing, but we have all been there. We know the relationship is wrong, but we want it anyway. It leaves one somewhat mourning the feeling it is like to want to feel love, but have an inability to, similar to the song, Never Ending.
The album couldn’t have come at a better time for me. The album was both conflicting and exuberant. It was as if Rihanna created this album with me in mind; as though she knew that I would go through ridiculousness and needed to give me something to send my hope to redirect a tumultuous relationship into the unknown void. The sound of Rihanna’s gritty voice displayed empowerment as she intoned a ruinous lonesome that exudes a morose, intimate sound with an original intent to acknowledge how difficult adulthood can be. The unbearable emotional pain usually takes weeks or months to get over, while fortunately, it took me only sixteen tracks.