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A Girl like Me
AGirllikeMe
Rihanna
Released April 19, 2006
Recorded October 2005 – February 2006
Length 46:43
Label Def Jam
Produced by The Carter Administration (exec.), Ne-Yo, Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers (also exec.), Poke & Tone, Stargate, J. R. Rotem, The Conglomerate, Mike City
Singles
1. "SOS" (Released: February 7, 2006)
2. "Unfaithful" (Released: July 17, 2006)
3. "We Ride" (Released: August 21, 2006)
4. "Break It Off" (Released: December 14, 2006)

A Girl like Me is the second studio album by Barbadian R&B singer Rihanna. It was released through Def Jam Recordings on April 19, 2006 in Japan, on April 24 in the United Kingdom, and on April 25 in the United States. For the production of the album, Rihanna worked with Evan Rogers, Carl Sturken, Stargate and J. R. Rotem with label-mate Ne-Yo who wrote the album's second single. Musically, the album incorporates a combination of R&B, reggae, pop and ballad elements which received mixed reviews by music critics.

Some critics gave the album positive reviews stating that she gracefully avoids the sophomore disappointment while others compared the album to her previous effort. A Girl like Me was released less than eight months after her debut album. It peaked at number five on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart and on the UK Albums Chart. The album was successful in other Countries, entering the top ten in Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and Japan while topping the charts in Canada on the Canadian Albums Chart.

A Girl like Me spawned four singles; "SOS", which became her first single to reach number-one on the Billboard Hot 100, "Unfaithful" and "Break It Off", both reaching the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100, however, the third single, "We Ride", failed to reprise the success of the previous singles. The album was re-released as an expanded double-disc deluxe package in Germany, which includes her previous hit single, "Pon de Replay". The album has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

ConceptionEdit

BackgroundEdit

After moving to the United States Rihanna was introduced to various styles of musical genres although did not get the chance to experiment with other types of music on her debut album. She also began listening different types of music stating:

I was introduced to rock music, and, well, one of my favorites...that's another one of my favorite types of music. I really enjoy listening to like all Fall Out Boy and Gwen Stefani.

-Rihanna

In addition to Stefani, Rihanna's musical perspective changed after touring with Gwen Stefani and felt inspired to compose rock in her music. When discussing the album's conception with L.A. Reid—Chairman and CEO of The Island Def Jam Music Group—Rihanna talked about experimenting with different music by incorporating some rock on the album.

RecordingEdit

Following the release of her debut album, Rihanna soon entered recording studios to work on her sophomore effort a month after the release of Music of the Sun. She teamed up once again with record producers Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers who produced most of the tracks in her previous album, J. R. Rotem and Norwegian production duo Stargate. While recording her debut album, Rihanna received a visit from Ne-Yo, in which they met for the first time, although never got the chance to collaborate on Music of the Sun. When production started, she came up with the idea of working with Ne-Yo in addition to working with Jamaican reggae and dancehall artist Sean Paul. With the help of songwriters such as Ne-Yo, Stargate, Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken, she co-wrote three songs on the album. When asked about working with Ne-Yo, she stated,

He is one of the sweetest, sweetest people I've ever met, ever worked with. He's an amazing songwriter. I remember after hearing "Let Me Love You" [which Ne-Yo wrote for Mario], I was like, "Who the hell wrote this song?" And everyone was like, Ne-Yo, Ne-Yo, this kid Ne-Yo. And one day I was working in the studio with Poke & Tone on "If It's Lovin' That You Want" and Ne-Yo stopped by. So we finally got to meet, and he's like, "Yeah, we gotta do something," but we never got around to it on the first album. So for the second album, I was like, "You know what? I have to work with that guy Ne-Yo." And it made it a lot easier because he's on the same label I am. So we went into the studio and we started working on this song "Unfaithful." And it's one of my favorite songs on the album.

-Rihanna

While working on A Girl like Me, she would spend her time recording song for the album and promoting Music of the Sun. She commented; "We were so busy promoting the first album while trying to get this one done, working some crazy hours. That's why this album is so close to me, 'cause I really put my heart and soul into it." The album's first track, "SOS," was written by Evan Bogart although the song was originally intended for Christina Milian's third studio album So Amazin' but she turned it down. Reid had Rihanna in mind as the next artist to record the song. The song was recorded within three days and it was the first recorded cut for the A Girl like Me album, eventually released as the album's lead single.

Rotem, the producer, was inspired by Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" and decided to sample the song, although Rihanna stated that she was not too familiar with Soft Cell. "Kisses Don't Lie" was penned and produced by Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken and it was one of the three songs on the album in which she received writing credit. The song was written and recorded in Barbados, who she described it as a mashed up rock and reggae. In the song "Unfaithful," written by Ne-Yo, Rihanna wanted to speak about personal things that girls her age at the time were experiencing, which was inspired by the album's title and according to her it's one of her favorite songs on the album.

In regards to the title of the album, Rihanna explained,


It's called A Girl like Me because it's a very personal album, It's my baby. It's all about what it's like to be a girl like me, speaking of personal experiences as well as things that girls like me have gone through." "We Ride" was written and produced by Stargate, who produced and co-wrote her previous single. For the song "Break It Off,"

-Rihanna

which features Jamaican artist Sean Paul,[11] Rihanna flew down to Jamaica to record the song with Sean Paul.[12] The song was written by Donovan Bennet and it was co-written by Rihanna including Sean Paul.[12] The album's closing tracks were written by Rogers and Sturken including Rihanna co-writing the album's title track "A Girl like Me." Other than writing, most of the album was again produced by Rogers and Sturken, including eight of the album's sixteen tracks. The album completed within a five month period; two months longer than her previous album.

"We Ride" was written and produced by Stargate, who produced and co-wrote her previous single. For the song "Break It Off," which features Jamaican artist Sean Paul, Rihanna flew down to Jamaica to record the song with Sean Paul. The song was written by Donovan Bennet and it was co-written by Rihanna including Sean Paul. The album's closing tracks were written by Rogers and Sturken including Rihanna co-writing the album's title track "A Girl like Me." Other than writing, most of the album was again produced by Rogers and Sturken, including eight of the album's sixteen tracks. The album completed within a five month period; two months longer than her previous album.

MusicEdit

Musical styleEdit

Musically A Girl like Me reveals new types of musical genres compared to her light and uptempo debut effort. Her goal on the album was to find songs that express the many things young women want to say, but might not know how. In an interview, Rihanna said, "Now I'm singing about experiences that I've gone through and stuff that other 18-year-old girls go through, so it's all about progression." Reggae, present in her debut album, subsequently continues into A Girl like Me. However, the album was the final to feature any caribbean musical genres including dancehall and reggae. She used influences of different genres including rock music and like the roots of her previous album, reggae and dancehall. The new effort presents her new side with the ballad elements. The album also follows the disco-ish mode of its predecessor but introduces new genres to her music with the old rock and roll which is being represented by rock and reggae mash-up "Kisses Don't Lie," although she stated that the album is not overall a rock influence. Rihanna commented: "Growing up in Barbados, I wasn't exposed to a lot of rock music, We really love reggae and Soca music and hip-hop. But when I moved to the United States last year, I was exposed to a lot of different types of music, rock being one of them, and I fell the song in love with it. [Now] I love rock music."

Lyrical themesEdit

Lyrically the album's theme speaks of girls' experiences. The album was widely addressed a personal album, speaking about what it's like to be "a girl like me"—things that girls Rihanna's age at the time were going through—as well as every aspect of her life: people being cheated on, falling in and out of love, people hating on you, having a feeling towards a guys and partying. "SOS" tells about a guy who gives the girl a feeling that is very overwhelming—he drives the girl insane, and she needs someone to rescue her from it. "Kisses Don't Lie" talks about a girl who's in love with a guy but is stuck between an ultimatum because she's afraid of getting hurt. "Unfaithful" documents the tragic decay of a relationship when another person starts cheating. According to Rihanna, "I'm referred to as a murderer in that song, Meaning, I'm taking this guy's life by hurting him, cheating on him. He knows, and it makes him feel so bad. It's killing him to know that another guy is making me happy." "We Ride" dealt with lyrics talking about how the guy promises that they will be together forever but she continues to describe moments which he did things that could tear them apart. The lyrics of "Dem Haters" portrays a message about how loathers try to bring people down and to exclude them from your life. "Final Goodbye" deals with lyrics about a woman who wants to spend the rest of her life with a man but feels that she needs to reveal a secret before moving on. "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" continues the avenue of love similar to "SOS". However "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" portrays a message about being in love, whereas "SOS" talks about having an overwhelming feeling towards the guy.

ContentEdit

The album's opening track "SOS," is an uptempo dance song incorporating the key section, bass line, and drum beat of the 1981 version of "Tainted Love" as performed by Soft Cell. Although "SOS" contains a more dance-oriented beat to create a soulful anthem of young love. The song received positive reviews by critics, calling it "a sexy club tune." The song also features three different music video's including two promotional music videos for Agent Provocateur and Nike, and the official music video which was directed by Chris Applebaum. "Kisses Don't Lie," the second song, uses a mixture of Caribbean elements and electric guitar with the mesmerizing bassline. On the ballad song "Unfaithful" the background instrumentation features a piano and strings. The song is the third track and the second single from the album and was written by label-mate and fellow R&B musician Ne-Yo. Despite its strong chart performance, the song was panned by critics stating that "Rihanna's voice is not particularly strong." The fourth track, "We Ride," features the gently strummed acoustic guitar with the production of Stargate. The song received mixed reviews from critics and was less successful than the other singles. In the video, directed by Anthony Mandler, Rihanna was featured hanging with her friends and scenes of her at the beach. After being the lowest-charting single in the United States from the album, the song became the last single to feature a music video.

"Dem Haters" features guest vocals by Barbadian singer Dwane Husbands. The song is the album's fourth track and was produced by Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers. The sixth track "Final Goodbye" is a mid-tempo ballad containing ambient of strummed acoustic guitar. The following track is a collaboration with Jamaican artist Sean Paul containing a dance hall influence. "Break It Off" is the seventh track and final single from the album. The song, not featuring a music video, still managed to reach the top ten in the United States. "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," the album's seventh track, is another collaboration song featuring Jamaican rapper J-Status. The Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers-produced "Selfish Girl," is the eighth song of the album containing the reggae elements. The tenth track, "P.S. (I'm Still Not Over You)," is an R&B song which was also produced by Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers. "A Girl like Me," the albums eleventh song, is another R&B song although it also contains the reggae elements. The album's third ballad, "A Million Miles Away," is the twelfth song on the album. It received mixed reviews from critics commenting that the song "kill whatever momentum the album has." The closing track on the album, is a sequel to her second single from her debut album which features American rapper Cory Gunz.

Release and promotionEdit

During the recording process of A Girl like Me, Rihanna served as the opening for Gwen Stefani during the Harajuku Lovers Tour 2005 in Japan to promote her debut album. While performing on the tour, she performed some of the songs from the album. Before the release of the album, Rihanna was given substantial promotional support from MTV, which highlighted "SOS" on Total Request Live, when she premiered the music video on March 23, 2006. She performed the album's lead single "SOS" on The Ellen DeGeneres Show February 20, 2006 and at the 2006 MuchMusic Video Awards on June 18, 2006. She then took part in advertising Nike and J.C. Penney by shooting a promotional music video for the album's lead single supported by Nike. The album was released through Def Jam Recordings as a physical CD and as a digital download on April 25, 2006 in North America. On the day of the album's release date, she made a guest appearance on MTV's Total Request Live to promote the album.

The album was released eight months after Music of the Sun was released. According to her; "We just felt like it was time. It made no sense waiting...you should never put time on music. You should never say, "Okay, Music of the Sun has to be out at least a year and a half before we start with--" No. That's what's great about the music business. When you feel it's time, you just go for it. And we felt like it was time to come up with a new album." The album's lead single was included on the soundtrack of the film Bring It On: All or Nothing as well as Rihanna making a cameo in the film as herself; her debut single, "Pon de Replay," was also included in the soundtrack.

Rihanna performed the album's second single, "Unfaithful", on Sunrise. On AOL Music, she recorded her first Sessions@AOL broadcast with her, among other content exclusive to AOL members. An expanded double-disc deluxe edition of the album was re-released in Germany titled A Girl like Me: Deluxe Edition on November 17, 2006. Aside from the original track listing, the new edition features a bonus CD containing leftover tracks from A Girl like Me and Music of the Sun. There is also an enhanced CD featuring two of her music videos. In order to promote further the album, Rihanna embarked on the Rock Tha Block Tour and then toured with Pussycat Dolls on the PCD World Tour from November 2006 to February 2007 in the United Kingdom. She also recorded songs for advertising the Happy fragrance by Clinique and deodorant Secret of the company P&G.

SinglesEdit

"SOS" was the first single released from the album on March 7, 2006. The song achieved considerable airplay throughout the United States and Canada and reached high peak positions on both airplay charts. It contains samples of the 1981 cover version of "Tainted Love" from Soft Cell. "SOS" became Rihanna's first single to reach number-one on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also became a success internationally reaching the top five in Canada, Australia, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

"Unfaithful" was released as the second single from the album on July 17, 2006. The song achieved commercial success reaching the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100, however, internationally the song performed better peaking atop the charts in Portugal, Canada and Switzerland as well as reaching the top ten in countries like New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

"We Ride" was released as the third single from the album in September 2006. The song was released to US radio on August 21, 2006 although the song was not nearly as successful as the previous two singles, not charting on the Billboard Hot 100; it peaked at number six on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart. "We Ride", however, reached number-one on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play and it charted in the top ten in New Zealand and Finland.

"Break It Off" (featuring Sean Paul), was fourth and the final single from the album, released in December 2006. The song peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 and became Rihanna's fourth top ten single in the United States. "Break It Off" was one of the few songs in many years to reach the Billboard Hot 100 without a music video.

ReceptionEdit

Critical receptionEdit

A Girl like Me received generally mixed to positive reviews from most music critics. Songs including "SOS", "Unfaithful" and "Break It Off" gained particularly good notices. David Jeffries of the Allmusic said that "Versatile urban dance-pop singer Rihanna gracefully avoids the sophomore slump with A Girl like Me, a less tropical-flavored, more urban effort than her sun-and-fun debut." Jeffries compared the track "Kisses Don't Lie" to Damien Marley's "Welcome to Jamrock" and commented that "the album gets bolder and seamlessly bounces from genre to genre [...] Rihanna goes from a film noir song that elegantly uses murder as a metaphor for cheating ("Unfaithful") to an easy-flowing weekend cruiser ("We Ride")." Ruth Jamieson of The Observer noted "Chuck in a bit of Sugababes-esque harmony, some M.I.A.-style electro and a dollop of reggae, and you're even closer to getting Rihanna. If you liked last year's ridiculously catchy "Pon De Replay", there's more of the same here."

Rolling Stone magazine rated the album 3 out of 5 stars and compared the synth riffs and machine beats from Soft Cell's Eighties classic "Tainted Love," to a Destiny's Child-like melody. Walters felt that "the follow-up doesn't deliver anything else as ingenious as its lead single: Lightweight dancehall and R&B jams lack the single's ear-bending boldness. But the burning rock guitar of "Kisses Don't Lie" and haunted strings of "Unfaithful" help make "A Girl like Me much more likable." Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine described most of the album as "a record that almost identically alternates between the sunny dancehall/dub-pop of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and "Dem Haters," hip-hop-infused club bangers like "We Ride." Cinquemani felt that the "adult-oriented ballads were at least a decade too mature for the teenage singer's minor vocal talents." He also commented that "The album's infectious lead single, "SOS," rivals Rihanna's breakout, last summer's "Pon De Replay," deftly using Soft Cell's 1982 hit "Tainted Love"—itself a revision of Diana Ross & The Supremes' "Where Did Our Love Go"—as a bleepy backdrop and adding a full-bodied bottom to the original tinny mod-rock track [...] Comparatively gooey and spineless slow numbers like "Final Goodbye" and "A Million Miles Away" kill whatever momentum the album has."

Commercial performanceEdit

A Girl like Me debuted at number five on the Billboard 200 selling 115,000 copies in its first week, nearly twice the debut sales of Music of the Sun which sold 69,000. The album has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in the United States. As of July 23, 2010 the album has sold 1,330,000 in the U.S. The album debuted at number six in Ireland on the Irish Album Chart and then reached number six on the charts. A Girl like Me was later certified 2x platinum by the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA). It also debuted at number six in the United Kingdom on the UK Album Chart with sales of 24,000 on the issue dated April 24, 2006. The album reached its peak of number five in July due to the popularity of new single "Unfaithful" and it has sold almost 600,000 copies in the United Kingdom. In Europe, the album has achieved a platinum certification. The album topped charts in Canada on the Canadian Albums Chart and was later certified platinum.

In Australia, the album debuted twelve on the ARIA Albums Chart. The album later reached the number nine position and remained on the chart for twenty-one weeks. It was certified platinum for shipping 70,000 by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). In Switzerland, A Girl like Me peaked at number six remaining at the number six position for two consecutive weeks and on the chart for thirty-nine. The album was certified platinum selling over 30,000 copies. In 2006, the album ended the year as the 20th best-selling album in the world. In Belgium, A Girl like Me debuted at number forty-five on the Belgian Albums Chart in April 2006. The album further climbed up the chart to reach the top ten at number ten. A Girl like Me managed reached the top twenty in Germany, Portugal, Netherlands, France and Denmark.

Album artworkEdit

Main albumEdit

AGirllikeMe

Released: April 19, 2006
Designer: Valerie Wagner
Photographer: Nichell Delvaille, Tony Duran

Deluxe editionEdit

Track listingEdit

  1. F***** Ft Jay Z
  2. Beauty & Beat Ft Nicki Minaj
  3. Boyfriend
  4. Not Everything So Changed
  5. "Dem Haters" (featuring Dwane Husbands)
  6. "Final Goodbye"
  7. "Break It Off" (featuring Sean Paul)
  8. "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" (featuring J-Status)
  9. "Selfish Girl"
  10. "P.S. (I'm Still Not Over You)"
  11. "A Girl like Me"
  12. "A Million Miles Away"

International bonus trackEdit

13. "If It's Lovin' That You Want (Part 2)"(featuring Cory Gunz)
14. "Pon de Replay" (Full Phatt Remix)Minaj

Japanese deluxe edition bonus tracksEdit

14. "Who Ya Gonna Run To (song)"
15. "Pon de Replay"
16. "Coulda Been the One (song)"

Deluxe edition bonus discEdit

1. "Who Ya Gonna Run To"
2. "Coulda Been the One"
3. "Should I?" (featuring J-Status)
4. "Hypnotized"
5. "Unfaithful (Nu Soul Remix)"

Deluxe edition bonus DVDEdit

1. "Unfaithful" (music video)
2. "SOS" (music video)

PersonnelEdit

Credits for A Girl like Me adapted from liner notes.

MusiciansEdit

  • Rihanna – lead vocals, composer
  • Evan Rogers – backing vocals
  • Mikkel S. Ericksen – multi-instrumentalist
  • Sue Pray – viola
  • Donovan "Vendetta" Bennett – multi-instrumentalist
  • Ann Leathers – violin
  • Andy Bassford – guitar
  • Yuri Vodovoz – violin
  • John Beal – bass
  • Jill Jaffe – viola
  • Luke McCaster – guitar
  • Eugene Briskin – cello
  • Kevin Batchelor – trumpet
  • Yana Goichman – violin
  • Clark Gayton – trombone
  • Marti Sweet – violin
  • Richard Locker – cello
  • Tor Erik Hermanson – multi-instrumentalist
  • Maura Giannini – violin
  • Carl Sturken – guitar, piano, keyboards, multi-instruments
  • Abe Appleman – violin
  • Cenovia Cummins – violin
  • Jeanne Ingram – violin
  • Jan Mullen – violin
  • Gene Moye – cello
  • Crystal Garner – viola
  • Richard Sortomme – violin
  • Katherine LiVolsi Stern – violin

ProductionEdit

  • Carl Sturken – producer, executive producer, vocal producer
  • Evan Rogers – producer, executive producer, vocal producer
  • The Carter Administration – executive producer
  • Augustus "Gussie" Clarke – producer
  • Don Corleon – producer
  • Poke & Tone – producer
  • Mike City – producer, mixer
  • James Auwarter – engineer
  • Donovan "Vendetta" Bennett – engineer, mixer
  • Dawn Boonyachlito – stylist, wardrobe
  • Jay Brown – A&R
  • Andrea Derby – production coordination
  • Rob Heselden – production assistant
  • Mikkel S. Ericksen – engineer
  • Chris Gehringer mastering
  • Franny "Franchise" Graham – engineer
  • Jeremy Harding – engineer
  • Al Hemberger – engineer, mixer
  • Ted Hemberger – percussion
  • Patrick Viala – mixer
  • Doug Joswick – package production
  • Ann Leathers – concert master
  • Debbie Mounsey – production assistant
  • Rob Mounsey – conductor, string arrangements
  • Adrienne Muhammad – A&R
  • Malcolm Pollack – engineer
  • Makeba Riddick – vocal producer
  • J.R. Rotem – engineer
  • Tippi Shorter – hair stylist
  • Rob Skipworth – mixing assistant
  • Tyran "Ty Ty" Smith – A&R
  • Phil Tan – mixer
  • Tiger Stylz – engineer
  • Nichell Delvaille – photography, art coordinator
  • Tracey Waples – marketing
  • Alli Truch – art direction
  • Tony Duran – photography
  • Valerie Wagner – design

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