Pop Perspective: Rihanna’s “Sledgehammer” Rated & Reviewed

Mike Wass | June 27, 2016 4:20 pm

At Idolator, the editors share a passion for high-quality pop. Occasionally, our tastes align. Other times, not so much. So, in the spirit of debate (and online drama), we’ve developed a recurring feature called Pop Perspective. In a nutshell, our editors dissect a particularly noteworthy pop-happening, and give it a rating out of 10.

That way you’re getting a full spectrum of views and we can all vent. (It’s cheaper than therapy!) The latest event to be dragged under the Idolator microscope is Rihanna’s Star Trek ballad “Sledgehammer,” which was penned by singer/songwriter Sia. Does the superstar have another “Diamonds” on her hands or has she missed the mark? Read our thoughts below.

Rachel Sonis — 7/10

It’s true. Sia and Rihanna make a really good team. The Aussie singer-songwriter knows exactly how vast Rih’s vocal abilities are and isn’t afraid to push them. No doubt, this probably came in handy, since “Sledgehammer” — from Rihanna’s haunting drones to the song’s thunderous melody — is a monster of a track.

And as far as lead movie singles go, it’s light years ahead of Fall Out Boy and Missy Elliott’s tragic revamp of the Ghostbusters theme song, which is not something to take lightly.

Carl Williott — 7/10

Like a lot of people, I’m sick of the Sia sound by now. And yet, in a post-“Chandelier” world, I find the Sia-writing-for-Rihanna-but-Rihanna-singing-like-Sia trick even more improbable, and as a result, even more dizzying. Rihanna has never been known as a particularly impressive singer, but in 2016 she has pretty much neutralized that talking point — and this might be the definitive salvo in that campaign.

I have no idea how this fits in with Star Trek, but that’s to the song’s benefit. It’s uniquely pleasing when a soundtrack cut works as a standalone release and doesn’t feel like an afterthought.

Mike Wass — 5/10

I have a complicated relationship with Sia. The singer/songwriter has hindered as many divas as she has helped with overwrought ballads (Jessie J, Lea Michele and Kelly Clarkson were all handed turds), but she’s making bank and occasionally gets it very, very right. Like on Song Of The Summer contender “Cheap Thrills.”

Unfortunately, this is not one of those times. There’s nothing subtle about “Sledgehammer.” It hits you over the head like the titular tool, assaulting your eardrums with torture-chamber howls and blood-curdling wails. I’m sure it’s supposed to showcase Rihanna’s (underrated) range, but instead she has been reduced to Sia karaoke. I’ll pass.


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