Is Rihanna the Most Influential Pop Singer of the Past Decade?

When people write about Robyn Rihanna Fenty’s singing, they often use words like “flat” or “thin” or “limitations”—something that suggests her voice is the secret defect hiding in her otherwise-brilliant plumage, the limp disguised by the swagger. She “doesn’t have the range,” as the deathless meme had it. It is indisputably the aspect of her art that gets the least critical attention.

Or imagine Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” sung by Rihanna, with the breathy verses and the reedy, pleading chorus. Once you do, it will be difficult to hear Bieber’s puppyish original as anything other than a glorified reference track that never found its proper home.

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And the rest is history.

Don’t waste time.

Rihanna created Fenty Beauty “so that women everywhere would be included,” focusing on a wide range of traditionally hard-to-match skin tones, developing formulas that work for all skin types, and pinpointing universal shades. Her vision, above all, is to inspire: “Makeup is there for you to have fun with. It should never feel like pressure. It should never feel like a uniform. Feel free to take chances, and take risks, and dare to do something new or different.”


Last year, an 18-year-old Texan named Maggie Lindemann broke through with a vogueishly dark hit called “Pretty Girl.” As influences, she has cited people like Lana Del Rey and BANKS, and her lone-wolf image feels filtered through Lorde.

But the second Lindemann opens her mouth on “Pretty Girl” it becomes pretty clear who her larger inspiration is—she is singing in Rihanna’s voice, or maybe more accurately, Rihanna Voice.

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