Her sea-punk cribbing green-screen act may have had the Internet up in arms, but what we really thought was most jaw-dropping about Rihanna‘s recent Saturday Night Live appearance was that stunning new ballad she performed called “Stay.” Rihanna’s not much of a vocalist, and studio 8H is not generally known as a place to really sing, but sing Rihanna did and she sounded so good. We didn’t know Rihanna could do — or even wanted to, for that matter — but we were blown away by it, and we were happier yet to see her do it again this weekend on The X Factor UK finale.
On a big stage and in a futuristic white cut-out dress, again finding emotional range and strength in her voice that we haven’t come to expect from her. The airplane-hanger sized space she was performing in remained silent through the song and when she moved into “We Found Love” without skipping a beat. She sang the first verse pared-down and from the gut like she did with “Stay,” but then seemed to catch herself. “Ooh!” she squealed, and the stage began spewing sparks and what had been a quiet performance erupted into some sort of spectacular laser-ridden rave we’ve only ever dreamed of. And so it seems, that first and very good SNL performance was no fluke — Rihanna’s for sure got that x-factor.
While in Europe over the weekend (as we now well know, she’s got an airplane and she is not afraid to use it) she also stopped by Germany’s Wetten Dass…? to perform “Diamonds.” It was far less explosive — emotionally and literally — than her The X-Factor showing, but it was bright enough to have her wearing some real space-y sunglasses on stage. And again, she sang really, really well.