Should Have Been Bigger: Rihanna’s “Kiss It Better”
I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t exactly thrilled when Rihanna dropped ANTI in 2016. After being conditioned to expect an album full of bangers from the ever-reliable icon, the moodier collection didn’t fit the bill. Luckily my perception changed the more I engaged with the songs. Which puts me on the right side of history. This week the LP notched a major milestone by becoming the first release by a black woman to spend 200 weeks on the Billboard 200. In honor of the feat, I’ve decided to revisit one of its best songs. That would also be the collection’s most underrated single – “Kiss It Better.”
Crafted alongside the likes of Glass John, Jeff Bhasker and Natalia Kills (another queen), the anthem is an utterly intoxicating slice of soul-infused perfection that instantly drew comparisons to Prince. On it, Rihanna pleads with an ex for a chance to make things right. “Been waitin’ on that sunshine, boy. I think I need that back,” she sings. Her voice get more fervent as a guitar weeps in the background. “Man, fuck yo pride. Just take it on back, boy, take it on back, boy. Take it back all night.” That leads into the final request of kissing it, kissing it better.
Expertly performed, it emerged as an instant fan favorite on the tracklist. And it only got better when paired with an official video. Directed by Craig McDean, the sensual project is lush with black-and-white shots of the superstar. Arty and titillating, it was a worthy addition to Rihanna’s already incredible videography. However, it wasn’t enough to help “Kiss It Better” take off on the charts. Despite being beloved by the Navy, the gem failed to peak inside the Top 60 on the Billboard Hot 100. If life were fair, it would have been her 15th chart-topper. What happened?
It’s hard to say. There was a cancelled performance at the 2016 Grammys due to vocal issues. However, that shouldn’t have derailed the single entirely. No matter what, there’s no denying that the underrated song holds up with some of Rihanna’s best material. Give it a listen below and let us know if you agree.