Sunday, February 3, 2013




Single by Rihanna
from the album Unapologetic
Released September 27, 2012
Format CD single, digital download
Recorded 2012
Genre Electronic, soul, pop
Length 3:45
Label Def Jam
Writer(s) Sia Furler, Benjamin Levin, Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen
Producer Benny Blanco, StarGate
Rihanna singles chronology
"Cockiness (Love It)"
Unapologetic track listing

"Diamonds" is a song recorded by Barbadian recording artist Rihanna for her seventh studio album Unapologetic (2012). It was written by Sia Furler, Benjamin "Benny Blanco" Levin, Mikkel S. Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen. The song was produced by Blanco, as well as Eriksen and Hermansen, under their production name StarGate. "Diamonds" premiered on September 26, 2012, during the Elvis Duran and the Morning Show and was released for a digital download the following day, as the lead single of Unapologetic. Def Jam Recordings serviced the single to contemporary hit radio in the United States on October 2. Musically, "Diamonds" is a mid-tempo pop ballad with influences of electronic and soul music. The single is a departure from the theme of damaging relationships that is evident in several of Rihanna's previous singles.
Critics were divided on "Diamonds"; some complimented Rihanna's different musical direction, however, others criticized its production. The single reached number one in eighteen countries including Austria, Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom and attained top ten positions in over thirty countries. It also topped the US Billboard Hot 100 and became Rihanna's twelfth number one single on the chart, thus tying her with Madonna and The Supremes for the fifth-most number ones in the chart's history. In addition, "Diamonds" reached number one on the US Hot Dance Club Songs and Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs charts and number two on the US Pop Songs chart.
The song's music video, shot by Rihanna's regular collaborator Anthony Mandler, depicts Rihanna in four environments that represent the elements of earth, air, water and fire. It features "dreamy" and "surreal" scenes of the singer such as her lying alone in open waters, frantically running from a car on a deserted highway, in a desert with horses running free and in-between a street battle. The video received positive response from critics, who praised the used imagery. Reviewers also noted that throughout the video, the scene in which Rihanna's arm is intertwined with a heavily tattooed man resembles that of Chris Brown. "Diamonds" was promoted with live performances across both sides of the Atlantic, including Saturday Night Live and the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in the US and the series nine of The X Factor in the UK. An official remix of "Diamonds", featuring rap verses by Kanye West was released on November 16, 2012.


5 Music video
1 Conception
1.1 Writing and production
1.2 Release and artwork
2 Composition
3 Critical reception
4 Commercial performance
4.1 Europe and Oceania
4.2 North America
5.1 Background and concept
5.2 Synopsis
5.3 Reception


Writing and production

Australian singer Sia Furler (left) wrote the lyrics, while producer Benny Blanco (right) additionally co-wrote and co-produced "Diamonds" together with StarGate.
American songwriter and record producer Benjamin "Benny Blanco" Levine convened with Norwegian production duo StarGate in 2012 at a studio in New York City to create new material, including a song for Rihanna.[1] StarGate has worked with Rihanna previously and produced some of her singles including "Don't Stop the Music" (Good Girl Gone Bad, 2007) and "Only Girl (In the World)" (Loud, 2010).[2] According to Blanco, one day they went into the studio with an idea to create something "Kanye [West] could rap over" and that "wasn't Rihanna" sounding. He further elaborated, "we weren’t thinking of Rihanna at all and then it's the one that we weren’t thinking Rihanna, is the one that turned into the Rihanna record...But that’s how it always happens like with me, when I'm really thinking, 'Yo, you got to make this hit right now, we got to make the first single right now.'" They made the record first, followed by its beat.[1]
Mikkel S. Erisken of StarGate in an interview with The New York Times explained how during the process of creating the song Blanco took a snippet of Eriksen singing, altered the sound electronically and made it "dirtier".[3] Then, he used timbre, operated with audio software for so to create ghostly accompaniment lines. Eriksen further elaborated about Blanco's music style, "His technique is somewhat unorthodox, as he almost never plays the keyboards but throws in weird samples and alters them to the right pitch to go with the song."[3] Australian singer-songwriter Sia Furler later joined them and wrote the lyrics for "Diamonds".[1] After the song was completed, they wanted to play it to Rihanna, however, Blanco was skeptical about the reaction towards the song, having in mind its slower nature. After StarGate played it to her, they called Blanco from London and told him that she liked the song, "She's flippin' out. She played it like seven times in a row. It's her favorite song."[1] He further elaborated that they had to finish the mixing and mastering of the song with Rihanna's vocals within the last days prior to its release, which according to him was "crazy and amazing".[1]

Release and artwork

"I think a lot of people are afraid of being happy because of what others might think of it. ... They're afraid to embrace that and embrace themselves and love themselves and do what they love and do what makes them happy."
—Rihanna talking about the lyical meaning behind "Diamonds" for MTV News.[4]
Rihanna began working on the sound for her seventh studio album in March 2012.[5] On September 12, 2012, Def Jam France announced via Twitter that Rihanna would release a new single the upcoming week while her seventh studio album is scheduled to be released in November 2012. However, the tweet was shortly deleted and replaced with another clarifying that "more information will be made available tomorrow, Thursday, September 13".[6] Right after her performance at the iHeartRadio music festival in September 2012, Rihanna revealed that her single "Diamonds" would be released the same month.[7] She described the track as "happy and hippy rather than dancey", elaborating: "It's laid-back but it's hopeful. It's a record that... gives me such a great feeling when I listen to it. The lyrics are very hopeful and positive, but it's about love."[7]
The cover artwork for the song was revealed on September 24, 2012, and features Rihanna rolling diamonds in a manner suggestive of making a joint.[8][9] On September 26, 2012, Rihanna posted the full lyrics of the song in PDF format on her official website[10] "Diamonds" premiered the same day on the Elvis Duran and the Morning Show[11] and it was released the following day.[12] In the UK, it was digitally released on September 30 via iTunes Store.[13] Def Jam Recordings solicited the single to contemporary hit radio in the United States on October 2.[14] On November 5, it was released in Germany as a CD single; apart of "Diamonds" it also contains The Bimbo Jones Vocal Remix of the song.[15] On December 18, eight digital remixes of the single were digitally released.[16]


"Diamonds" is a mid-tempo ballad which uses electronic, soul music and pop,[17][18] and has a length of three minutes and 45 seconds.[2][19][20] It features drums, heavy synthesizers, a 1980s backbeat, orchestral sounds and electronic rhythms accompanied with Rihanna's vocal performance.[20][21][22][23] According to the digital sheet music published by EMI Music Publishing, "Diamonds" is written in the key of B minor and set in common time signature, with a moderately slow groove.[24] Rihanna's vocals span from the low note of F3 to the high note of F5.[24] Rolling Stone's reviewer wrote that "the track's production mainly stays out of Rihanna's way, letting the pop star build hooks with layers of her voice."[23] The song makes a lyrical departure from Rihanna's recurring theme of unhealthy relationships,[25] and contains a prominent concept of love.[26]
The first verse introduces the concept of the song: "Find light in the beautiful sea / I choose to be happy / You and I, you and I / We're like diamonds in the sky." The title is a symbol explained in the hook: "So shine bright, tonight, you and I / We're beautiful like diamonds in the sky / Eye to eye, so alive."[27] According to Glenn Yoder of The Boston Globe, with lyrics like "I choose to be happy" and "We're like diamonds in the sky," the single shows a new side of the singer that the public usually doesn't see.[25] James Montgomery of MTV News commented that she embraces the positivity and fulfillment of a realized relationship which can be seen during the lines, "When you hold me, I'm alive" and admits "I knew that we'd become one right away".[28] Lindsay DiMattina of concluded that it's as if Rihanna is crying out for her lover when she sings lines such as, "When you hold me, I'm alive," and "At first sight I felt the energy of sun rays / I saw the life inside your eyes."[29] Herald Sun noted that the lyrics were most likely inspired by Rihanna's private life.[30]

Critical reception

"Diamonds" garnered mixed reviews from music critics. Robert Copsey of Digital Spy gave the song a four out of five star rating, praising Rihanna's direction towards a "softer and more prolific edge".[31] Carl Williot of Idolator applauded the song's production as "a pleasing lightness", in addition to Rihanna's vocals as having a "slightly different timbre".[32] Brittany Lewis of GlobalGrind called "Diamonds" a catchy song, and noted its potential to give Rihanna another hit.[33] Glenn Gamboa of Newsday commented that although it did not sound like a "hit-you-over-the-head smash", the lyrical content of the song depicts the singer's "personal shift".[34] According to James Montgomery of MTV News, although "Diamonds" is a mid-tempo song, it is more positive than Rihanna's previous singles including "We Found Love" and "Where Have You Been".[28] Lindsey DiMattina of praised Rihanna's vocals on the song as stronger than ever.[29] described it as a "laid-back track", and suggested that the lyrical content pertained to her former boyfriend Chris Brown.[35] In a track-by-track review of Unapologetic, Andrew Hampp of Billboard commented that the song "finds Rihanna doing one of her throatiest, most impassioned vocals to date, on this inspirational pop ballad."[36]
However, Jim Farber of the Daily News felt that the song was "not as haunting as it longs to be", and was unfavorable of its lack of "mystery".[2] Bill Lamb of gave the song three and half out of five stars and concluded that although it sounds different than Rihanna's previous songs and features her "full-throated" vocals, "Diamonds" sounds unfinished and features overdone repetition.[37] Kevin Blair of the Irish Independent regarded it as a "chugging, faintly misty-eyed, middle of the road pop song".[38] He panned it as not being a "muscular dance workout" similar to her previous singles "We Found Love" and "Only Girl (In the World)", or a "smooth" R&B song such as "Take a Bow".[38] Chris Richards of The Washington Post criticized the song as a "power ballad without much power".[39]

Commercial performance

Europe and Oceania

"Diamonds" made its first chart appearance in Ireland on September 27, 2012, where it debuted at number 17.[40] It has since peaked at number two.[40] The single debuted at number one in the UK with over 105,000 copies sold, giving Rihanna her seventh number one single in the country.[41] After nine weeks on the chart, "Diamonds" rose from number ten to three, following Rihanna's performance of the song on The X Factor the previous week.[42] On October 7, 2012, the song entered the UK R&B Chart at number one.[43] The song remained atop the chart for three consecutive weeks before being deposed of the top spot by Labrinth and Emeli Sande's "Beneath Your Beautiful".[44] As of December 2012, "Diamonds" has sold over 672,000 copes in the UK, becoming the eleventh best-selling single of that year in the country.[45]
The song debuted at number one in France, becoming Rihanna's fourth number one single in the country. It remained at the top spot for three consecutive weeks.[46] "Diamonds" has peaked at number one in Germany for ten consecutive weeks,[47] becoming Rihanna's fifth number one single in the country and surpassing "Umbrella" (2007) as Rihanna's longest-running chart topper of her career.[48] As a result of that, it was placed at number seven on the German 2012 Year-End singles chart and was certified platinum, denoting sales of 300,000 copies in the country alone.[49] In addition, the song has remained number one in Norway for eleven consecutive weeks,[50] the Czech Republic for seven straight weeks,[51] Denmark for six weeks,[52] Switzerland for five straight weeks,[53] Austria for four non-consecutive weeks,[54] Finland for three straight weeks[55] and Scotland for one week.[56]
"Diamonds" entered the New Zealand Singles Chart at number five on October 8, 2012, giving Rihanna her twenty-third top five single in the country. After eight weeks in the top ten of the chart, the song climbed from number five to two, marking a new peak for the song.[57] "Diamonds" has received a double-platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand, denoting sales of 30,000 copies.[58] "Diamonds" debuted at number eight on the Australian Singles Chart on October 14, 2012, becoming the second-highest debut for the week.[59] It remained at the position for a further two weeks, before gaining a new peak of number six on November 4, 2012.[60] The song has been certified triple-platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association, denoting sales of 210,000 copies.[61]

North America

"Diamonds" became Rihanna's twelfth number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, tying her with Madonna (pictured) and The Supremes as the artists with the fifth-most number ones in the chart's history.
In the US, "Diamonds" debuted at number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with sales of 133,000 copies.[62] In its fourth week, "Diamonds" climbed to number eight, becoming Rihanna's twenty-third top ten single.[63] It entered the top five in its fifth week, and climbed to number four in its sixth.[64] For the week ending December 1, 2012, "Diamonds" became Rihanna's twelfth number one on the chart, ending the nine week reign of Maroon 5's "One More Night" (2012).[65] With the feat, Rihanna tied Madonna and the Supremes as the artists with the fifth-most number ones in the chart's history. Rihanna passed Mariah Carey as the female artist to mark number one songs the fastest on the chart, achieving the feat in six years and seven months, besting Carey's seven years, one month, two weeks stretch. Among all acts, only The Beatles (two years, four months and three weeks) and The Supremes (five years, four months) reached the milestone more quickly.[66] The song spent a second consecutive week atop the Hot 100, while her album Unapologetic topped the Billboard 200 chart. As a result, Rihanna became only the second artist of 2012 to top both the Billboard main singles and albums charts simultaneously, the first being British singer-songwriter Adele.[67] The song spent its third consecutive week atop the chart for the issue date of December 15, 2012.[68]
On the Radio Songs chart, "Diamonds" debuted at number 28. In its fourth week, "Diamonds" climbed to number ten, becoming Rihanna's 19th top ten, breaking a tie with Lil Wayne for the second-best sum in the list's 22-year history; only Mariah Carey (23) has more.[69] For the week ending December 1, 2012, the song climbed from number four to two on the chart with 115 million all-format audience impressions.[70] For the issue dated December 15, the song topped the chart, becoming Rihanna's tenth number one and placing second for female artists with the most chart toppers, only behind Mariah Carey (11).[68] On the Pop Songs chart, "Diamonds" debuted at number 29, extending Rihanna's lead as the artist with the most appearances on the chart.[71] On November 10, 2012, it rose from number 12 to nine, becoming the singer's twenty-second top ten, further extending her lead as the artist with the most such entries on the chart.[72]
On October 11, 2012, Billboard unveiled new methodology for the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, newly factoring digital download sales and streaming data into the 50-position rankings, along with existing radio airplay data monitored by Nielsen BDS. Due to this, "Diamonds" saw a huge leap from number 66 to number one,[73] marking Rihanna's second single as a lead artist to top the chart.[74] It topped the chart for fourteen consecutive weeks.[75] "Diamonds" also became the first number one on Billboard's inaugural R&B Songs chart.[73] "Diamonds" topped the Hot Dance/Club Songs chart, becoming Rihanna's nineteenth number one, tying her with Janet Jackson for the second-most number ones in the chart's 36-year history. Only Madonna has more (43).[76] In Canada, the song debuted at number nine on the Canadian Hot 100 for the issue dated October 13, 2012.[77] The song peaked at number one on the issue dated November 24, 2012, becoming Rihanna's sixth single to reach number one on the chart.[78] It remained atop the chart for four consecutive weeks.[79]

Music video

Background and concept

"With every song it's a different story, so the visuals are very specific to that story and that world. With 'Diamonds,' it was just a series of vignettes that we put together to help get the emotion across throughout the song 'cause the song changes and it builds, and there's no real way that you could do that."
—Rihanna explaining the concept for the music video.[80]
Rihanna began shooting the music video for "Diamonds" on October 21, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.[28] It was directed by her regular collaborator Anthony Mandler, who previously directed Rihanna's music videos for "Russian Roulette" (2009) and "Man Down" (2011).[28] Photographs of the production were leaked on the same day; on them, Rihanna is seen wearing a white and black dress as she stands in front of a fire and looks into the camera. Ethan Sacks of New York Daily News wrote, "Rihanna looked like a gem on the set of her video shoot."[81] Speaking to MTV News, Rihanna explained the concept behind the video explaining that with different abstract scenes she wanted to give the audience "the right emotion".[80] Mandler also spoke about the video and its theme, "With this one, I felt the need to create a wider landscape; almost hint at things, go into things, then get out of them, and not allow people to attach themselves to too much... they needed to feel like dream vignettes, like, when you wake up from a dream, you realize what you were dreaming about is not really what it was about, it was about something else."[82] He further explained, "And you can see what I'm getting at in terms of relating this to Rihanna's real life, and what she's been through. What's truth or fiction? You know 'Is she drowning, or is she in complete ecstasy? Are those hands coming apart, or are they finding each other?' ... we tried to bring up these deeper questions that relate to song and her life and finding beauty in chaos and finding beauty in pain and finding pain in beauty."[82] On November 7, 2012, a behind-the-scenes video was posted on MTV's official website.[83] It featured Rihanna emerging from a trailer, wrapped in a "leopard-print" robe and heading to the shooting set. The scenes are intercut with police officers chasing armed fighters. Scenes of Rihanna standing in a deserted landscape are also shown.[83] The music video for "Diamonds" premiered November 8, 2012, on MTV. An online streaming of the video was also made available for watching at[83] It was digitally released on November 14, 2012 via iTunes Store.[84]


A screenshot from the music video showing Rihanna's hand intertwined with that of a heavily tattooed man. Some critics believed the arm of the man resembled Chris Brown.[85]
The music video opens with a view of Rihanna lying in open waters, as other scenes of diamonds being rolled in a manner suggestive of making a joint are intercut – a scene reminiscent of the single's artwork. As the video progresses Rihanna is shown running on a highway. In a black-and-white scene, Rihanna licks the joint and begins smoking it. The image fades to black as the song begins. Rihanna performs in the same black-and-white setting while in a black corset. Images of Rihanna on a bed in a room while singing are shown, with objects breaking, curtains falling and roses burning in reverse effect. Rihanna is shown again on the highway, running away from what appears to be the headlights of a chasing car. She then stops as she looks up to the night sky at an aurora view. Throughout the video, Rihanna's hand is shown intertwined with that of a heavily tattooed man, whose face is not shown in the video. As the second verse starts, Rihanna is shown in a desert where horses run freely. Scenes of a street battle are later shown, depicting burning cars and broken glass around the environment. As the video continues, the singer and her lover's hands are shown slowly slipping apart, with only their fingertips touching towards the conclusion of the video. The video ends with Rihanna once again floating alone in the open waters.


Upon its release, the video received positive response from critics. James Montgomery of MTV News, stated that the video for "Diamonds", "opens with [Rihanna] raking her fingers through piles of the titular stones and ends with her adrift at sea. In between, there is no shortage of evocative imagery (glamorous black-and-white close-ups, thick plumes of translucent smoke, oversaturated hill-scapes, artfully silhouetted stallions), all of which make for a visually arresting experience." He concluded by comparing the video to the song itself commenting, "The result is both incredibly intimate and wide-screen public".[86] According to Jocelyn Vena, also of MTV News, the video is full of "dreamy" and "surreal" shoots of Rihanna, as she mournfully makes her way through a number of "sometimes-unimaginable set-ups."[87] E! Online's Bruna Nessif described the video as being "full of complex imagery and storytelling – or in any case, Rihanna being all mysterious and sexy."[88] Amy Scarrietto of PopCrush wrote that Rihanna is the only face in the video that looks "vulnerable", further stating, "we witness another body, in the form of a heavily tattooed, man’s arm that she’s desperately trying to cling to. We don’t see him, but the suggestion that it’s Chris Brown is obvious."[85] A reviewer of NME commented on the theme of the video and wrote that Rihanna is seen in four environments that represent the four elements of the earth, air, water and fire.[89] Leah Collins of The Vancouver Sun wrote that Rihanna's evaluation of the song had influence on the video concept. He further stated, "It all feels like you're watching outtakes from about a dozen Rihanna magazine shoots."[90] Billy Johnson Jr. of Yahoo! Canada commented that the lyrics of the song "celebrate finding a love so great that it shines bright. But the video hardly chronicles a love affair." He continued, "It seems as though [Rihanna is] in chaos, reflecting on happier times."[91]


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