How many times does Ariana Grande see that look of disappointment in the audience when she is announced over an unclear PA system, prances onto stage and the thunder of applause subsides to a palpable degree? She looks across the crowd and here and there she spots groups of fans embarrassingly putting away their Navy placards and their “Luv u RiRi” signs because it just hit them that they misheard — they thought it was Rihanna going to perform.
How many give up and leave? And how many just shrug and say, “Well, we’re here anyway so let’s just see?”
Arianna Grande, this may finally be your chance to step out of the shadow and become the preeminent one. Let me explain.
Riri is taking a break, guys.
She didn’t make an official statement, or hadn’t by the time my research team got to office after their hangovers had stopped punching their small heads too hard to let them move, but she hinted, not enigmatically enough, that she is going to give herself some her-time.
Rihanna has been working almost non-stop for years.
Her first album dropped in 2005. Think about how long ago that was. People still had iPods when Pon De Replay came out. Some of them even had CDs and Discmans.
Since then she has not had a slump, and her fame has just burgeoned, especially if you consider that she is not just a singer, but also an actor, fashion mogul and philanthropist.
So even though she has not put out any new music since Anti three years ago, and even though filming of Guava Island wrapped up and she could clock out and hand in the card, there has been the Savage X Fenty lingerie line which ended up being more work than her previous fashion enterprises because it was so popular. Now she had to go to every talk show and repeatedly answer the same questions about why she wasn’t mean to plus-size women and made lingerie for them as well. No wonder she’s exhausted.
And that isn’t all. She is one of the most famous and slavishly adored people in this day and age of social media fandom, where having an Instagram account and a Twitter handle means that even just buying a loaf of bread from the supermarket has repercussions for the Rihanna brand.
That means that even when she just wants to holla at her boyfriend, Hassem Jameel, about whether they are going to his mansion or hers, it is something her publicity staff have to call her for a meeting about.
Being Rihanna has been nothing but work work work work and excuse the pun, work.
The poor girl is only 31, meanwhile and she has not even had a real break since her school holidays in Barbados before she became famous.
So if she announces that she would like to slow down and try to get a semblance of work-life balance (these were her own words: “This year has been quite an overwhelming one, and I’m working on that ish called Balance. brb.” Read them in her sexy voice….) it’s not going to be easy.
You can’t just switch off that level of fame. She is, as my favourite Riri fan, dubbed her, Her Royal Righness, her Rijesty. Monarchs don’t just get to take a break.
Unless she’s going to disguise herself and sneak into North Korea, even taking a breather is going to be hard work. But we wish her the best. She needs it and we need her.
In the meantime, let’s stop haranguing her about that month album and give Arianna a chance.