Rihanna’s 14 #1 Singles: Revisited, Reviewed & Ranked
While Rihanna first danced onto the airwaves in 2005, with a sun-dappled smash called “Pon de Replay,” her jaw-dropping streak of chart-topping singles began when “SOS shot up to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in springtime 2006. Ten years later, she’s currently at the top once again, for the 14th time, with the effectively catchy “Work.”
In fact, by hitting #1 on the Hot 100 with “Work,” Rihanna finds herself now in third place for artists with the most chart-topping songs on the main singles chart — behind only the Beatles (who have 20) and Elvis Presley and Mariah Carey (who are tied with 18 each). And like those three aforementioned acts, 28-year-old Robyn Rihanna Fenty has truly become a musical legend in her own time.
Join us in celebrating this eight-time Grammy winner’s slaying of the pop charts by revisiting each and every song she placed at #1 over the past decade. We’ve reviewed them all now in hindsight, and ranked them according to their overall RiRi-ness.
Flip through and see if you agree with how we ordered your Rihanna favorites!
14. “S&M” (featuring Britney Spears)Year: 2011Stay At #1: 1 week
I’m all for female artists collaborating, but it’s hard to get off to what was once a great song when you spend most of it cringing. Bless our beloved little Louisiana swamp rat, but someone programmed the Britbot somewhere between “head cold” and “more robo-disinterested than usual” when shady label execs shoehorned her in here.
One can imagine — if one imagines such things — that sex with Rihanna would be both dangerously thrilling and thrillingly dangerous. Britney, on the other hand… — JONATHAN RIGGS
13. “The Monster” (Eminem featuring Rihanna)Year: 2013Stay At #1: 4 weeks
While not as impeccably executed as the previous Em and Ri collab (more on that further up the list), the pop-glossed “The Monster” is, in many ways, catchier, thanks to Eminem’s clever, cutting, rapid-fire lyrics. Rihanna’s hook, especially, lives up to the title, clawing into your psyche along with its eerie attendant sing-whistling.
It’s cool, too, that the superstars share more equal footing this go-round, but it’d be nice to see an even more balanced collaboration next time. “Islands in the Stream 2016,” anyone? — JONATHAN RIGGS
12. “SOS”Year: 2006Stay At #1: 3 weeks
“SOS” was the first single from Rihanna’s 2006 sophomore album A Girl Like Me, and it went a long way in announcing the singer as a broader R&B-pop presence after her dancehall minded debut Music Of The Sun introduced her to the world. Gone were the hints of her Barbadian accent and Caribbean slang. In their place was a diamond-crafted pop song set to production based off of Soft Cell‘s early ’80s ear worm “Tainted Love.”
Is it Rihanna’s best #1 hit? Probably not. But it was the first of them, and without it, there would be no “Umbrella,” “Only Girl (In the World)” or “We Found Love.” “SOS” was a palette-cleansing for Rihanna’s career, a song that set her up to be one of the biggest pop acts in the world. — PATRICK BOWMAN
11. “Work” (featuring Drake)Year: 2016Stay At #1: 5 weeks
Last year was an interesting one for Rihanna. While the world was anxiously awaiting the birth of her eighth studio album ANTI, the leader of the Navy was still searching for her single. Several came and went with no significant, sticking buzz. It seemed as though the artist who always had the hits couldn’t find one after such a pregnant pause in her musical career. And then “Work” arrived.
While Ri was previously tinkering with new sounds that could arguably be described as ill-fitting, “Work” was a healthy combination of New Rihanna and Signature Rihanna. A Drake feature didn’t hurt, as the two made magic over a Caribbean-skewed track. When it first dropped, critics were skeptical, feeling like it was a rehashed formula. However, the fans latched on and the reach of the song continues to build. It’s her 14th #1, has made its way comfortably into the meme and Vine world (even Elmo is dancing to it) and paved the way for the long-awaited release of ANTI. How’s that for putting in “work”? — KATHY IANDOLI