Here’s Everything Rihanna Did In 2018 Instead Of Releasing Music
Rihanna has won multiple awards this year, despite not releasing music.
Despite not releasing any music, Rihanna has been everywhere this year.
It’s only been two years since ANTI, Rihanna’s last album, but fans have been pressed all year. Given she released seven albums in seven years from her 2005 debut, they’re worried we’re going to have to wait another unbearable four years like they did after 2012’s Unapologetic.
Even so, Rhianna stayed on the radio during those years with a heap of stand alone singles. But this year, we’ve heard nothing new beyond a remix of ‘Lemon’, her 2017 song with N.E.R.D.
This would be no big deal for most artists, but Rihanna’s different because, as Miranda July once wrote, Rihanna is Rihanna. “No one could tell me exactly what it was about Rihanna,” July wrote. “But millions of fans don’t seem to need it explained to them. A soul just knows a soul.”
Whether you’re a fan who misses that deep connection, or have just worn ‘Work’ into the ground in the past two years, the pining for more Rihanna is strong. But she’s given us heaps this year: it just hasn’t been music. Here’s your Rihanna year-in-review.
She Was Nominated For More Than 25 Music Awards
Despite releasing no music this year, Rihanna was nominated for a slew of music awards across the world. She even won a few too, including Favourite Female Artist (Soul/R&B) at the American Music Awards, a VMA for her 2017 video for ‘Lemon’, and, most incredulously, a BMI Pop Music Award for ‘Love On The Brain’, which came out two years ago. That’s talent.
Fenty Continued Its World Domination
Fenty Beauty, Rihanna’s actually inclusive make-up line, may have launched last year, but it continued to make its mark in 2018. Beyond new products (we’ll get to the body glitter later, it deserves its own sub-header), Rihanna’s landed across the world for make-up tutorials and in-store promos. In October, she came to Australia.
And the Fenty empire extended with the launch of Fenty Lingerie this May, which was celebrated for being (comparatively) size-inclusive — and a nice alternative to Victoria’s Secret, whose chief marketing officer recently said they didn’t want trans women on their runways.
Naturally, fans are a little worried Rihanna will forget about music and focus on Fenty, especially after Rihanna joked about Fenty Furniture. But hey, a Fentiocracy could be pretty nice.
the year is 2027. rihanna &her brand have seized the means of production from corporate america. we have universal healthcare. fenty health.
— porg (@EFFLORESCENE) September 25, 2017
Rihanna Became The World’s Best Beauty YouTuber
To further Fenty Beauty’s domination, last month Rihanna started Tutorial Tuesdays, a weekly YouTube makeup tutorial. Why would you watch Jeffrey Star when you can watch Rihanna?
But she’s been making tutorials for a little while, now: earlier this year, she filmed a 10-minute tutorial for Vogue, and before Coachella, posted a short video applying Fenty’s shimmering Body Lava lotion to her shoulder while smizing right down the camera lens.
Like most things Rihanna does, it looked impossibly svelte — it even became a meme when people imitated the pretty ridiculous pose.
— Fenty Beauty (@fentybeauty) March 26, 2018
She Officially Became The Ambassador For Barbados
Rihanna has been a cultural ambassador for her home country of Barbados since 2008, but this September she received a promotion, becoming “Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary” or, according to the BBC, “Ambassador Fenty”.
In short, it means Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has recognised that Rihanna is the world’s most famous Barbadian, and in a unique position to promote the country.
It also makes Rihanna a member of Barbados’ government — and while we’re not one to pit pop-stars against each other, we must ask: when will your fave be a member of their relevant government?
The next month, Rihanna wrote an op-ed for The Guardian about growing up in Barbados, and how the country’s education sector desperately needs international aid.
Childish Gambino’s ‘Redbone’ Became A Rihanna Song, Sorry
Since 2014, Rihanna has thrown an annual Diamond Ball, a concert night in New York to raise funds for the Clara Lionel Foundation, her non-for-profit which focuses on education and healthcare access in impoverished countries.
The night, held in September, raised US $6 million through an auction, and featured a full-set performance from Childish Gambino. Rihanna was front-and-centre in the crowd: in the video below, she sings her heart out to ‘Redbone‘.
And while Donald Glover’s mic’d and she isn’t, somehow you can hear her more? And the song is now by Rihanna? We’re praying for a cover one day, but in the meantime, we have this 1-minute video.
How come I hear Rihanna's voice louder that Donald Glover without a microphone? Clearly that's her song LMFAOOO 😂 pic.twitter.com/hpKIfgvkv8
— Fenty (@riabood) September 14, 2018
Rihanna Stole The Show (And Jewels) At The Met Gala
Year-in, year-out, The Met Gala is Rihanna’s to win. Not even the Earth-shattering red-carpet debut of Grimes and Elon Musk could draw attention away from Rihanna’s look. Launching the ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion And The Catholic Imagination’ exhibit, most guests missed the mark this year — but not Rihanna, who dressed in a pearl- and jewel-covered pope robe and mitre.
And it wasn’t even the only Met Gala look Rihanna gave us this year, given she starred in box-office smash Ocean’s 8 as hacker Nine Ball, recruited for a Cartier jewellery heist during the museum’s annual event.
Mild spoilers, but at a point, Nine Ball just walks into the Ball in a red gown with no problems and without an alias, prompting the question: is Rihanna pretending to be Nine Ball pretending to be Rihanna?
She Made A Movie With Childish Gambino In Cuba
While Childish Gambino was in New Zealand last month, he debuted a trailer for Guava Island, an action film directed by Hiro Murai, the man behind the lens of a lot of Atlanta, as well as the blistering video for ‘This Is America’.
We don’t know much about it, but we do know it was filmed in Cuba this August, and stars Rihanna as well as Black Panther‘s Letitia Wright and Game of Throne‘s Nonso Anozie. Watch a shaky version of the trailer below.
She Was Relentlessly Asked For Music By Fans (Sorry)
Given that every second comment on Rihanna’s social media sees fans beg for #R9, she’s feeling the pressure. We know she’s been working hard on music in-between everything else she’s done this year — Shakira said she’s recorded something for the album, which is truly invigorating news.
But in the meantime, fans are gonna keep asking her to please don’t stop the music. Maybe we could all chill a little.
Jared Richards is a staff writer at Junkee, and co-host of Sleepless In Sydney on FBi Radio. Follow him on Twitter.