Music

Here’s Everything Rihanna Did In 2019 Instead Of Releasing Music

Sure, we don't have R9, but it's been a really big year.

Rihanna 2019 year in review

Rihanna has had a massive 2019, even if she hasn’t released new music.

It’s been nearly four years since ANTI, Rihanna’s stunning eighth album, and despite a promise to release new music by year’s end, we haven’t heard it — yet. While that isn’t a particularly long time to wait, it is for Rihanna’s fans: after all, she released seven albums in as many years at her career’s beginning.

We have haven’t heard new Rihanna since her feature on N.E.R.D’s ‘Lemon’ in 2017. Which is perfectly fine, of course: the thirst-memes about waiting for R9 are funny, but it’s unfair to expect an artist to churn out music.

It will come when it comes. It’s clear that other ventures are taking up her time, to the point where Music Junkee writer Sam Murphy wondered whether Rihanna might abandon music all-together. Clearly, music’s not a priority — for the moment, at least.

“I will work all day in a meeting, leave that meeting at 1 or 2am, and then come home with a tiny group of staff and work until 5, 7am,” she told Interview. “It’s the reason why an album isn’t being spat out like it used to.”

Having said that, there are still a few weeks left of 2019, and some heavy rumblings that a big pop act is about to drop a ‘surprise’ album. Whether that turns our to be R9, pure rumour or something else, the mogul has left her (beauty) mark this year with a slew of non-music activities. We’ll see more soon enough: just today, she’s announced a documentary on her life in a US $25 million ($36,054,750) deal with Amazon, promising an “unfiltered look” at her life that will be “both moving and inspirational”.

Recently, Rihanna posted an Instagram apologising to friends and family who haven’t heard from her in a while, writing it’s been an “overwhelming year”. No kidding: here’s our 2019 Rihanna-in-review.


Yes, She Teased New Music

Back in January, Rihanna posted a short video of her mucking around in a studio — while true Navys knew that she’d been seen working on music for a few months, this was straight from the source. Rihanna wasn’t just making music: she wanted us to know she was, too.

Across the year, she’s given a few more details about what she’s working on. In a May interview with T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Rihanna confirmed she’s working on a ‘reggae’ album, and that she doesn’t have a release date planned. She also joked it’d end up being called R9 (aka Rihanna’s 9th album, just in case you’re struggling to follow) after fans continually pestered her online.

“I’m about to call it that probably, ’cause they have haunted me with this ‘R9, R9, when is R9 coming out?'” she said. “How will I accept another name after that’s been burned into my skull?”

Recently, Rihanna registered a song called ‘Private Loving’ with songwriting association BMI, co-written with Jamaican dancehall act Demarco.


Fenty Continued To Expand

Rihanna’s Fenty empire reached new shores this year: as her beauty, lingerie and sportswear lines stay strong, Rihanna announced a fashion house in collaboration with LVMH, putting her alongside luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Givenchy and Marc Jacobs. With the partnership, Rihanna became not just the first person of colour to lead a LVMH fashion house, but the first woman to create an original brand for them, too. It’s also LVMH’s first house since 1987: in short, it’s a massive deal.

After a Paris pop-up in May, Fenty launched worldwide online. If you’d like, you can buy Swarovski-crystal encrusted gold sunglasses for £560.00 ($1075),or a tulle coat for £2,370.00 ($4551).

But she’s far from forgotten about the other Fentys. This September, Rihanna killed many birds with one stone with Savage x Fenty, a New York Fashion Week show that paraded her lingerie and tore the old Victoria Secret show to shreds so much they didn’t even bother to broadcast one this year. Arriving on Amazon Prime to stream a week later, the show’s spectacle — featuring performances from Migos, Halsey, DJ Khalid, A$AP Ferg, Tierra Whack — was celebrated online, as well its commitment to showing a diverse range of bodies.

In November, Normani was named as Savage x Fenty’s first brand-ambassador — it’s a perfect move, and a nice nod from Rihanna to the former Fifth Harmony’s potential for superstardom. Plus, Rihanna herself started the show with a dance routine: while fans thought it might be the moment she premiere a new track, the show of itself was more than enough.

Fenty looks to expand further, too, with Rihanna trademarking ‘Fenty Skin’ in 2019. Time will tell whether we’ll lather ourselves with Fenty creams and lotions in the new year.

Still, no empire comes easy. In January, Rihanna sued her own father’s company Fenty Entertainment for diluting her Fenty brand (the name taken from her surname) and alleged that he tried to book her for 15-date tour without consulting her.


Starred Alongside Donald Glover In Guava Island

Debuting at Coachella this year, Guava Island is a just-shy-of-an-hour film starring Donald Glover and Rihanna as lovers. Written by Glover’s brother Stephen and directed by Hiro Murai — both Glover’s collaborators on Atlanta — the film was sold as a musical, though Rihanna doesn’t sing.

Instead, Glover gets the top honour as Deni, who is trying to throw a music festival on the tropical Guava Island, but is threatened by powerful forces who don’t want it to ruin a day’s labour. It’s well-worth a watch, but we wish Rihanna got a little more to do — and a song, too.


Skipped The Met Gala

While this is more a case of Rihanna not doing something, her absence at the 2019 Met Gala deserves attention.

After co-chairing the 2018 event, Heavenly Bodies, Rihanna skipped out on this year’s Camp: Notes On Susan Sontag opening. Maybe she didn’t love the theme, or just knew it was best to leave things to Lady Gaga.

Either way, we would’ve loved to see her couture take on Camp aesthetics. We’ll have to dream.


Dominated The Glossies

This year, Rihanna was on the cover of: Vogue US, Vogue Australia, Vogue Hong Kong, InterviewHarpers Bazaar China, Harper’s Bazaar US and T: The New York Times Style Magazine. That’s a lot of editorial shoots: blessed be.


Got Day Drunk With Seth Meyers

Seth Meyers and Rihanna should have a TV show together, as we’re in love with this 11 minute segment from June.

Meyers quizzes Rihanna on some past looks, makes her some dumb song-pun cocktails (‘Bitch Better Have My Bunny’, aka tequila in a chocolate Easter bunny), gets her pretty drunk and asks if “she’s the girl from Battleship“.

This is gold.


Performed ‘Lemon’ For The First Time
(Oh, And Raised $5 Million For Charity)

Rihanna’s annual Diamond Ball raises money for her Clara Lionel Foundation, which aims to provide education programs and aid to impoverished young girls in her home country of Barbados and across the world.

This year raised more than US $5 million ($7,264,875) by auctioning off the likes of a trip to Barbados to have dinner with their PM,  or a massive book of exclusive Rihanna pics complete with a marble pedestal — that latter item was bought by Cardi B for US $111,000 ($161,280), who reportedly outbid herself.

The ball is more of a party though, with performances from big names, including Pharrell, Megan Thee Stallion, G-Easy, and more. Rihanna pops up too, and even performed ‘Lemon’, her song with Pharrell — a first-ever. Her music’s still making history, folks.


Continued To Be A Meme Queen

Rihanna’s 2008 ballad ‘Take A Bow’ continues to be one of her most-streamed songs, but it was given new meaning this October when one line became a catch-all for pretending to be impressed.

After all, there’s just something about the way Rihanna delivers the line, “That was quite a show/Very entertaining”. It’s filled with not just disdain, but apathy — the low-energy delivery and the laboured emphasis on each syllable of ‘en-ter-tain-ing’ makes the whole relationship sound so draining.

Over on Twitter, it became a reaction to TV shows, your friend’s improv performance, and your shower bottle watching you cry and scream.


Released A Book

The Rihanna Book is a “visual bibliography” of the Barbados pop-star’s career and life since 2005, when she released her first album Music Of The Sun.

It’s huge and luscious at 502 pages and 1000+ photographs, taken by Dennis Leupold. Who has time to release music when you’re tinkering with the bible?


Looked Like The Pigeon Lady
On Thanksgiving

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fun times in @FENTY with a Fenty by my side @gallest

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Jared Richards is a staff writer at Junkee, and wonders who would text him in a crisis. He is on Twitter.