Music Review: California King Bed

Single: California King Bed

Genre: Pop Ballad / Soft Rock

Album: Loud (2010)

Artist: Rihanna

This hot red-haired Barbadian beauty has just claimed her winning streak with “Radio Artist of the Year” award at Billboard Music Awards 2011, leaving behind big names in the music industry such as Eminem, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. Rihanna’s fifth studio album, Loud (2010) has already got three international No.1 hit singles, Only Girl (In the World), What’s My Name and S&M. Now, with the release of her latest single California King Bed (CKB), will she be able to woo her fans and make this single, another international chart-topper? 
Rihanna receiving her award at Billboards Music Awards 2011
Being an acoustic ballad with intense emotional theme, “California King Bed” is definitely a breath of fresh air after the very loud and very controversial S&M. It serves as a striking change of image and brings back the memories of 'good girl' Rihanna before she pulled off a 'bad girl' attitude with her best-selling single Rude Boy (Album: Rated R).

CKB speaks of the agony and pain of a fading love on the verge of collapsing. The song starts with gentle strumming and moves on to high-pitched chorus with powerful electric chords and drum roll. Rihanna has experimented with her impressive voice in previous piano-driven ballad Unfaithful (2006), so this is not a new ground for her to test her skills as a varied singer who can sing a song heavy on lyrics and make it work with her vocals. So the question is: Did she succeed this time in making CKB a memorable Rihanna track?

While the lyrics are touching and the heart-felt singing makes it a must-have song in your collection, it cannot beat the signature style of ‘loud’ Rihanna which we have become accustomed to listening. The tune and the mood are captured brilliantly in the song and for heart-broken lovers, this song provides a much-needed vent and maybe a few tears as well. But it lacks the magnetic quality that makes a song resonate in your ear again and again.

I can listen to this song many times and not get bored because of its good singing but it lacks the depth of an 'unforgettable number'. If I compare it with classics such as Careless Whisper (1984) by George Michael and Right Here Waiting (1989) by Richard Marx, which soak me in their aura right away and give me goose bumps with their deep and meaningful lyrics matched with ultimate singing quality, CKB is in no way at par with this high-class soulful music.

Backing this song is a plain and simple video, with an 18-feet long bed and a beefy half-nude man with water dripping down his body to build up the hotness meter. With a little more creativity and effort put into this video, it could have given a much better result. Also, with the help of facial gestures and body language, it would have shown more emotional connection (reminiscent of the lost chemistry) between the couple. Overall, the whole packaging looks good with wide angle shots and soft lighting to set the mood of the song.
Image taken from the video of CKB
Final verdict: Good song but not Rihanna’s best work! She should stick to her formula songs which flaunt and suit her persona, such as Umbrella (2007) and Rude Boy (2010). Till date, Rude Boy remains my favourite track and I would love to hear this type of fast and hip tracks from her, instead of slow numbers.

 Rating: 8/10


  1. Um, this is a pop song. Why are you looking for depth in a pop song? It's a great song and a good review, but it's pop music for chrissakes. It's meant to be enjoyed; the subject matter isn't nearly important as the melody.

  2. @anon: "Power Ballads" are known for their depth and of course melody is always imp! Try listening to great classics I mentioned and you will understand the difference. Yes, I enjoyed it, but not as much as an evergreen ballad. Thanks for liking my review!

  3. Apt review - I would say.
    Not the best of Rihanna's work , but yet good enuff to go to my library.
    I totally agree that flamboyance suits Rihanna's style much more than melodies.

  4. @Anish: Finally, someone who agrees with my point! Yay! Thanks so much for your lovely comment!:) Rihanna is one of my favourite artists and no doubt she is good, but lets say, its not her style to go for "ballads"!


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