For all of Rihanna’s diva-like attributes, you don’t really think of her as the torch-song type—her voice isn’t that big in the traditional sense, and most of her best songs are more known for their rapturous pop rush than their huge emotional lift. But “Stay,” an Unapologetic track debuted by Ri last night during her “SNL” residence, reveals that the singer is certainly capable of such show-stoppers, as the piano-led number sees Rihanna going for the home-run ballad, and mostly connecting.
For the last Rihanna ballad we can remember like this, you have to go back to A Girl Like Me‘s infidelity cry “Unfaithful,” which came off as overwrought and a little bit ridiculous in its drama. This song is more instrumentally understated—just the simple piano melody, some occasional guitar and cymbal flourishes, and subtle cello backing. Mostly it’s just Rihanna, not traditionally known for her vocal prowess, but hitting all the right notes here with impressive force and obvious feeling as she sings “Not really sure how to feel about it / Something in the way you move / Makes me feel like I can’t live without you / And it takes me all the way / I want you to stay.”
We’re not going to dive deep into the lyrics and try to figure out how much of it is about Chris Brown yet—for now, we’re just going to try to actually enjoy the song, which sounds like it should be a certain highlight on Unapologetic when the album is released a week from Tuesday.
Oh, and she also performed “DIamonds” in a camouflage jacket in front of a weird green-screen backdrop. We like “Stay” better.