Inlägg taggade: Personal

5:42 13 Aug 2016

In honor of Fenty’s Vanguard Award I’ve listed her top 10 music videos (according to me). I think visuals are really personal and just like songs they will carry a different meaning depending on who you are and what you’re going through at the time.

Do you have a favorit RiRi video? Comment and let me know! When I hear someone explain why they enjoy a certain video it makes me see that piece in a whole new light (which I love!).

Like when my friend Ziggi called me to declare her love for Sledgehammer – saying the video is an orgasm from Madonna’s Frozen and Rihanna’s Pour it up having intergalactic sex. That sentence alone should be enough to convince anybody about the greatness of the video, but she went further.

”She sings about how she ”hit a wall” and was ”bracing for the pain” until she realized SHE’S THE FUCKING SLEDGEHAMMER!! It’s she that is punching holes in every fucking wall and when she’s least expecting it, when she feels she’s about to break, the bricks starts falling around her and she realize she’s the survivor. ”I gathered all my strength and I found myself whole.”
– Ziggi Willpower.

At number 10, here is Sledgehammer:

9, Needed me. It’s hardly a secret how much I love this video and why.

8, Te amo. Rihanna’s lesbian castle drama deserves way more praises than what it’s gotten. I discovered it after it’s release myself, but wow was I struck. Both song and video is steaming.

7, Kiss it betterShe’s so, strong, grown and grounded. My own ties to it is a bit too personal to blog about but know it will always hold a very special place in my heart. It’s at the point where I get chills every time I press play.

6, Man down. She guns down her rapist. No need for further explanation.

5, WorkThis is all HER. The accent, having her friends and family in the video, it taking place in a Caribbean joint, making eye-contact with herself in the mirror while dancing (this magical segment!!!).

4, Rude boy. Her movements!!! I remember playing this over and over again being completely hypnotized with what I saw. She’s so playful (and HOT) + the look, the feeling, everything is so visually pleasing.

3, Pon de replayA classic and what put her on the map. She has always had something so unique and completely undeniable about her. That thing that makes her Rihanna and no one else. First time seeing it was in Pon de replay. I’ll never forget the feeling and I’m yet to tire of it.

2, Bitch better have my money. A profound piece of intersectional feminist art. The video tells the story of a black woman taking revenge on the white man stealing from her and the white woman living off of the white man’s theft. The abused is taking revenge on her abusers. Very important work.

1, Pour it up. I’m not going to use my words for this, but instead pull quotes from this amazing conversation called Rihanna on my mind, in which three women discuss the video after it’s release.

”I feel like Rihanna has solidarity. Maybe that’s too wishful/ cheesy/ “nice” to say, but I felt like she had (this word again!) a basic respect for bitches who get their own. It wasn’t “look at them”; it was “look at us, we out here,” etc”
– Sarah Nicole Prickett

”Rihanna would rather be tricking than being a trick.”
– Susan Elizabeth Shepard

”It goes back to the money/ power/ agency. She doesn’t buy into traditional gender roles of music. She is having her cake and eating it too, omg.”
– Ayesha Siddiqi

”In the “Beez In The Trap” video, Nicki positions herself as a customer. She’s gazing at the strippers, not identifying with them. Rihanna aligning herself with the strippers instead of the customers is a pretty powerful image.”

”I think to be a fan of Nicki you have to identify with her, while to be a fan of Rihanna you’re a fan of yourself.”
– AS

”The water in “Pour It Up” reminded me of how hostess clubs/ strip clubs are the “water trade” in Japan, and how water signifies money — and sex, especially female sexuality. I mean, if this were a Kanye video, people would be like, “He’s walking on water. He’s Jesus.” Perhaps Rihanna is the real messiah.”

10:35 4 Aug 2016

When asked if I wanted to be a wardrobe assistant for Rihanna I couldn’t say no. I sold my ticket and braced myself for what I knew would be the gig of a lifetime. I mean, how often do you get to experience your idol’s workplace from the inside? The machinery around her, the hours and hours of preparations and studious work that goes into getting her wardrobe ready for stage. This was a world I’d been longing to see, and August 2nd 2016 was the day of deliverance.

How the hell did I end up there though? I have to send a huge thank you to my friend Sandra for this. A couple of months ago she recommended me when they (Live Nation) needed someone to fill in for her as a wardrobe assistant for the Dixie Chicks, and after that I’ve been their go to whenever Sandra isn’t available. With an artist as big as Rihanna, they needed two assistants though so we were both there.

Wardrobe gals.

Our day started 11:45 and ended at midnight, with barely any breaks (30 minutes for lunch, 1,5h for dinner). Most of the time was spent steaming and ironing. Sandra by the ironing board, me by the steamer. There’s three people in charge of the AWT wardrobe: one for Rih’s stuff, one for the girls’ stuff and one for the boys’. We worked for all three of them, helping whoever needed us at the time.

The dancers, back-up vocalists and band members have the most things to get ready though so that was the main focus for us. There’s so many of them and most have a double set of clothing which ALL had to be washed and prepared for next day’s concert at Smukfest, Denmark. That meant double the work for us! Yikes.

We steamed, ironed, polished shoes and cleaned chokers and blind folds for the first part of the day. Aside from the white Craig Green x Björn Borg parkas (plural, Rih also has a duplicates of most outfits) which Sandra had been ironing since we got there we didn’t work much on Rihanna’s costumes.


Therefor, I was a bit surprised when asked to steam her big ass Armani coat. This piece of clothing is even more stunning up close. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever held in my hands (+ my boss’ hands as it was to big for one person to carry) before. I took a mental note of how lucky I was to be experiencing all this and went on with steaming the hell out of each inch of fabric.


Once I was done I moved on to the, if possible, even more beautiful Armani jumpsuit she has on underneath. The leg part is covered in hair which all needs to be combed out and then steamed to not look like a hot mess (and more like a high end car wash) on stage. Going from seeing this creation front row to holding it in my hands, carefully handling the fine fabric with equal amount of respect and awe, was… How can I even explain it? A memorable moment that I’m very thankful for.

My pic from Oslo.

Another strange thing for someone that knows each and every person in her team was meeting them all in the hallways and dining room. Mylah (her make-up artist) was in front of me in lunch line, I met Jay Brown (manager) in the hallway, Yusuf on the way from the laundry room and High Hat (choreographer) on a soda run. Just walking past her dressing room with the bodyguards seated outside was a nerve wrecking experience because I didn’t want to seem unprofessional or have them think I was there as a fan. I finally told myself it was all in my head and kept on with my business of folding her bodyguards’ newly washed underwear.

What one might look like after sorting through Rihanna’s bodyguards’ laundry.

Speaking of underwear, we had been told we could watch the first song of the show before heading to our duties backstage, and went to the back of the arena to do so. As we were standing there, waiting on it all to start, we heard stressed out voices calling for us on the walkey talkeys. We ran out in panic thinking we had done something wrong, only to find out someone wanted us to take out another load of the team’s laundry. Why this couldn’t wait until after the first song I have no idea, but walking past all the dancers, band members etc in the hallway outside of Rih’s dressing room was a nice treat. They had such an energy going and started cheering for us as we passed. It made me happy to see what a nice vibe the whole crew has, such a good atmosphere to be traveling around in.

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Then came the show! Malmö Arena is a really small place in comparison to most of the stops on this tour (Oslo, which was the smallest one I had attended before this, is twice as big for example) and you felt straight away the night was going to be special. I knew which door she was going to enter from so we waited there, close to Stage B, where it would also be easy to sneak out later.

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I love how she always smirk a little underneath that hood! Such a treat for those close enough to see it and brakes the facade in true RiRi fashion. Once she removed the hood we got another treat though:


New wig!! A shorter, light brown one with bangs. There’s been debate about this on Twitter, but I’m 100% positive. The long hair she sported in Toronto on the night before was gorgeous but it’s always exciting to be amongst the first ones witnessing a new look live.

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New hair, same happiness. She looks so damn satisfied with where she is right now. In life and on stage. It’s been like this all through AWT and it makes me extremely happy to see.

What didn’t make me happy was having to leave once Woo started. Last thing I saw was the epic first catwalk, before it was time to get ready for the dancers’ quick change. We had been assigned a spot on the left side of the stage where we were to wait on our cue. We could see parts of the audience from where we were standing, and every now and then Rihanna.

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Then came the baskets of costumes and it was back to the wardrobe. We sorted everything out, treated the shoes and clothing with some freshening lotions and took a seat behind the monitors where we could see what was happening on stage. There was another quick change and some minor tasks before the show ended and everybody started to pack up. I was told to bring an empty rack to the girls dressing room when all of a sudden the door I had just opened was slammed back in my face. Rih was heading the same way so I wasn’t allowed just yet. If I’d opened the door 2 seconds later I would have seen her.

But nope, no sighting of her in all 12 hours. I didn’t think so either, but of course held onto some hope down to the very last second. Once I was done working I went over to the fans that were waiting for her outside. I wanted to hear about their experience and also find someone to hand over the my gift for Rih to. I could have asked someone inside but it never felt like the right time, plus it was important for me to separate the job. When security came out around 2.30pm or so we gave them our gifts though. Hopefully my friend Lina’s beautifully embroidered cap is in Rihanna’s possession now, along with Melina’s chokers and Ursula’s bracelet.

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Praying they came through on their promise to give our gifts to her!

1:50 7 Jul 2016

Foto: Karin Lundin, Rockfoto.

We feel a need to comment on the reviews and articles written about Rihanna and her performance in Stockholm, starting with our own segment on Kulturnyheterna. Like we said earlier, we are not happy about the way it was handled. In the article they describe our questioning of the reporter’s sexist statements as ”Ebba and Alexandra don’t appreciate being asked critical questions about their idol”.

Let us be perfectly clear: we do not appreciate slut shaming. Period. 

If you slut shame Rihanna we’re gonna call you out on it. If you slut shame your sister we’re gonna call you out on it. Simple as that. How about asking us if there’s any problematic sides to being a fan? We will gladly elaborate on classism, ageism, ableism and disappointment (to name a few topics that would be interesting to discuss in the context of stanning), but don’t grab us in the middle of a 24 hour queuing session to question Rihanna’s right to her own body. That’s not only rude to her but to us who are sitting on some mighty fine knowledge and experience in the field of Fenty.

Now, let’s get into the reviews. Expressen’s Anders Nunstedt said she’s lip syncing her way through the show. He must not have watched her because Rihanna does not hide the fact that she doesn’t sing every line. There’s plenty of places where she leaves the singing to her audience, while she vibes out to her own beat, but she’s not pretending to sing when she isn’t. There’s also a lot of knowledge gaps attached to this, like him saying she’d rather snap her fingers than sing during Consideration, not knowing the voice we hear in the speakers is SZA’s (as this was a collaboration between the two).

”The dramaturgy is very unconsidered.” – Anders Nunstedt

Let’s get into this, because if there’s one thing this show has it’s a framing. The core is intimacy and authenticity, whether it’s seeing her walk in through the audience, getting to admire her butt cheeks from underneath or being let into a very private and unfiltered space during Love On The Brain. The set design and costumes are also clean and rather simple, with nothing to distract us from Rihanna (because Rihanna is what we came to see). When her stylist Mel Ottenberg talked to Vogue about the costumes, he said:

”I really wanted to start in something with canvas, with no decoration or beading or anything, sort of as a fresh start” and that the designs are ”anti what any pop diva would ever be wearing”. – Mel Ottenberg

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So the show starts out with Rihanna walking into the arena to Stay, eyes covered by a giant hood attached to a mix between a boxer’s robe and a straight jacket. The first two songs are about not being able to let go and needing another person (however destructive they may be) in order to survive. The transition from that exposed and honest place she’s in on stage B to the main stage is executed with over-exposure. She has never been able to hide from the public eye and her respons is to own that situation rather than being contained by it. So she walks above our heads inviting fans to photograph as much as they like (and reposting much of it on her social media platforms later).


Then there’s the party section. The ratchet section. The hanging-with-your-friends-finding-happiness-section. The I don’t give a fuck and that’s what you love about me section. This is her show and she owns it. It’s obvious that the ANTI tracks are the most fun for her to perform so that’s what she’s gonna do.

Anders Nunstedt claims she doesn’t know how to do an arena show. What he doesn’t understand is that she’s not doing an arena show, she’s doing a Rihanna show. This is what her fans came to see. Not a perfectly choreographed Beyoncé show, not an over the top crazy pop fest with Lady Gaga, not Coldplay’s bombastic light plays, not Katy’s wonderlands – this is Rihanna and SHE is what drives everything forward. She’s the villain and hero all in one. The anti-hero.

Act one is a ratchet masterpiece. #AWT [All from the Stockholm show]

A video posted by Loonin (@loonin) on

The finale kicks off with Same Ol’ Mistakes (”Feel like a brand new persoooooon”) and ends with a series of ballads about liberation, self love and desire. This time around, the love songs centers herself rather than a partner. A matured Rihanna has taken off her straight jacket and says goodbye by walking across the stage looking us straight in the eyes, waving.

A show that started out with tortured love ends up in its opposite. The journey from one point to another is built on honesty, friendship and artistic development. She’s giving us her story. If the show seems messy it’s because life is.

After reading Markus Larsson’s review for Aftonbladet we started to see a trend of middle aged white men not getting Rihanna. The fact that the papers even send these guys out to review her is mind-boggling. If you compare Larsson’s review with the one he did of Håkan Hellström at Ullevi for example, it’s obvious he identifies with one and not the other. That is of course perfectly fine, but what’s interesting is that both he and Nunstedt see it as her failure that she doesn’t appeal to them. We’d say that that’s what makes her precious.

But they’re not being adressed by Rihanna and can’t comprehend that other people are. None of them even questions if that might actually be an artistic quality instead of a failed attempt at filling their expectations. Rihanna clearly doesn’t give a fuck, they should know her well enough.

”The two shows at Ullevi are like a movie where the misfits, all the boys and girls of different ages that never got to feel normal, gets to play the lead. For a short while it’s the losers’ time to win.” – Markus Larsson reviews Håkan Hellström [our translation]

First of all LOL at Håkan representing some kind of misfits and losers. He’s a dude with a guitar and you’re a dude who likes music. While we’re sure both of you have lived through your share of darker times there’s no oppression or actual alienation involved. Try comparing it to a working class black girl from Barbados. Try adding addiction and abuse to that upbringing. If there ever was an audience of losers provided with someone like themselves to look up to for the first time, it’s at a Rihanna show. But once again, that’s out of Larsson’s reach. Instead he calls the show a ”poorly mixed dj-set”.

Try to imagine Aftonbladet and Expressen sending a young black girl to review Håkan Hellström. That would never happen, so why are they pushing these men upon us? Time to hire new people with the expertise that’s so obviously missing.


Let’s end this on a good note though. Here is Rihanna’s own review:

Thank you #STOCKHOLM for being one of the LIVEST crowds I've ever experienced!!! #ANTIWORLDTOUR

A photo posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

/Alex & Ebba

8:16 22 Maj 2016


Being a fan is a sort of mirroring. You search for contact points, real or wished for, where your lives are aligned with one another. Intersections of recognition. Like hearing a song in which the artist re-enacts something you’ve been through or having them share the same interests as you, creating within the same field, coming from the same place, sharing your dreams and desires, your culture, history, sexual orientation or gender identity.

I feel very aligned with Rihanna. She gets, reflects and challenges me. Not to achieve something far fetched or unattainable, just to dare be my authentic self and to do so with my head up. To be proud of my desires rather than shaming myself for them. To be proud of my priorities, proud of my honesty, proud of my open heart. And most importantly: accept the fact that I’m extremely flawed and make that an asset rather than a burden. To be unapologetic. And as it turns out, acknowledging your flaws is one of the best ways of relating to those around you. Stanning for Rihanna allows me to bond with friends, strangers, family and myself. It’s attracting.

So, when it comes to her, the contact points are mostly real rather than wished for. That has turned out to be necessary in order for me to connect. For someone else the contact points may be dreams of what you wish you were or want to become.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be someone or somewhere else. Unlike voting for political ideas representing the upper class, where the action in and of itself is self-neglect, looking up to an idol is self care. The fangirl’s political position is so damn neglected when it should be seen for the radical potential it possess. Fangirlin’ is the collective effort of solidarity and the fanbase is a place where you learn how to give and receive support, get creative, share ideas and develop tools for building a stronger community. That is meaningful on both a private and communal level.


I mean let’s be honest. We all need hope, we all need escape, we all need a vision or dream of utopia. A good artist provides you with that. An amazing one might also question authority, use their platform to lift up those in need of lifting, speak out on sexism, racism, inequality etc etc. The list of admirable and important qualities an idol can possess goes on and each item on that list can allow you to feel aligned with them. To mirror yourself in their achievements. In their strive. But for me, more than anything, it’s the moments of discrepancy that provides a connection with the person rather than the idea. That is where my mirroring happens.

With Rihanna, the discrepancy is always present. There’s no one I feel more aligned with, that I see myself more in, than her. From social media to interviews, concerts, editorials and music – there’s always a point in which an indisputable humanity (vulnerability) shines through. In that I find myself. I find my friendships in her friends. I find my family in hers. I find my courage in her honesty and my body positivity in her boldness.


I also find one of my biggest sorrows when I see her holding Majesty. Because I know that warm, undescribable feeling and at the same time I know how it feels to leave that child behind. The promising of always being there and the fear of never fully being able to follow through. Because that’s what it means to follow your dreams in another city, country or continent, you end up leaving people behind.


And you know what? It’s 100% ok. You do your best, live your life and make sure to take care of yourself so that you can be as present as possible when the two or three or ten of you meet again. And you allow yourself to be the baddest aunt, cousin or sister that baby could possibly have.


Most importantly, you have fun. Whether she’s on her own, at the beach with her BFF, at home for Christmas or up on stage – she feels so damn relaxed. Like every space is natural to her. Not because she fits in but because she doesn’t care too. She won’t let people staring at her limit her sphere, she won’t let an industry built for white people stop her from taking from it what she wants (but in other spaces she might be allowed to deliver the best acceptance speech she’s ever given), she won’t let a negative relationship infect the next one and she won’t give up her integrity for nothing.


And that’s some empowering shit. Being a woman in this society is a fucking nightmare. Each and everyone of us are strong for just daring to live. To see Rihanna not only engage with life but to conquer it is so liberating to me. And still, not even for a second, do I feel less than her. Somehow she manages to constantly jump down from the pedestal she’s being put on. She doesn’t want to be worshiped so she aligns herself with her fans rather than rising above them. THAT is everything. That is what makes her your friend and your confidant. That is what not only talks to you but with you.

To think that through all of the craziness and with all the flashing lights she manages to stay so grounded is really admirable. We talk about celebrities having to check themselves but truth is if we did that half as much as Rihanna must do we’d be way better off. If she can stay humble, so can you. If she can put friendship first, so can you. If she can take the time to listen when Majesty has something to say, even though she’s in the middle of a world tour, than you can take the time to listen to your grandma repeating the same thing over and over again at the dinner table.


If she can find the courage to open her heart and her soul with millions of eyes watching, judging, hoping she’ll fall – then so can you. And that’s what I look up too. That’s what draws me in. That’s what’s so magical about stanning for Fenty: you stan for your friend. And there’s nothing stronger than friendship.


/Alex, who chose to have most of the pictures in this post be of Rihanna and Majesty. Their relationship is my closest alignment and I love seeing it develop.

6:49 21 Apr 2016

The video for Needed Me, Rihanna’s third single off of ANTI, is everything one might expect when matching Spring Breakers director Harmony Korine with legendary music icon Rihanna. It’s equally a Spring Breakers sequel as it is a Man Down + Bitch Better Have My Money evolvement.

Because RiRi is no stranger to revenge videos, we know (and love) that. In Man Down she guns down her rapist.

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In Bitch Better Have My Money she tortures and kills the accountant that exploited her.

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In Needed Me, it’s not as obvious what the killing is actually about. All we know is that she’s living in a mansion, that the environment around her is violent and that the target for her revenge is throwing money around him at a strip club. When she walks in, dripping of confidence and determination, he initially throws money at her as well, treating her like another stripper. She responds by killing him point blank, his own gun lying in his lap.


Her presence in the strip club is in contrast to the other women present. While they are portrayed as sexual objects under the male gaze, Rihanna is something different. She walks through the entire establishment without any engagement in the activity going on, her only reason for being there is to make the kill. Met by the male gaze, she puts a bullet in it’s very face.

I see three possible plot lines.

  1. The Spring Breakers version: Rihanna and that dude, played by Jboy, are competing crime lords. He has done something like taking her clients, killed her friends, tried assassinating her… Something crime lordy that calls for revenge.
  2. The fed up girlfriend: She’s waiting on her man to come home but instead of being with her he’s at the strip club. She decides she’s had enough of the bullshit and goes to the club to kill him.
  3. Work: She’s an assassin who’s payed to kill him (she’s very good at her job, hence the mansion). ”You was just another n**** on the hit list”.

I have no issue with not getting the motive served to me in the video. I know she’s done explaining herself at this point. She knows what she’s doing and why she’s doing it, that’s all we need to know.

Another evolvement from the two previous revenge fantasies we’ve been given from Rihanna is the weapon introduction. Man Down and Bitch Better Have My Money both display a special moment where she connects with the weapon of her choice. While the revenge itself is still highlighted and emphasized in Needed Me, the gun is in her hand from the very beginning. Fact is, throughout the entire video she never parts with it.

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When it comes to Harmony Korine, there’s no surprises. Most of the elements given to us in Spring Breakers are still here. The pink ski masks have become motorcycle helmets and the cheap hostel have turned into a luxurious mansion but the Needed Me has just as much of a ”look at all my shit” attitude as the original flick.

The way Rih walks in and out of the club is basically a reenactment of the ending scene in Spring Breakers, with the female leads making their way to the patriarch chosen for execution with guns in hand and no fucks given. The target is located at the heart of the house, surrounded by naked women.

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