Rihanna - Loud

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Rihanna - Loud

After releasing five albums in as many years, the singer is closer than ever to becoming the complete pop package Jay-Z envisioned when he signed her the same day she walked into Def Jam during his tenure as president. Though gifted with runway-ready looks, Rihanna has improved in other areas through sheer perseverance.

Her voice-- once fragile and shrill-- is now robust enough to take on songs like the delightfully Eurotrash pounder "Only Girl (In the World)" not only on record but at high profile awards-show performances. Her semi-scripted dance moves are sultry and spontaneous. She can be kinda funny (or at least genuinely excitable) in interviews.

She'll never be as boldly talented as Beyoncé or freakishly engaging as Gaga, but there's still charm to be found in her (relatively) everyday affability. She recently said Loud was the first album she wasn't nervous about releasing, which makes a lot of sense. She's worked hard to get to this point.

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