A Girl like Me is the second studio album by Barbadian singer Rihanna. It was released on April 10, 2006, by Def Jam Recordings. For the production of the album, Rihanna worked with Evan Rogers, Carl Sturken, Stargate, J. R. Rotem, and label-mate Ne-Yo, who wrote the album's second single. A Girl like Me is a pop, reggae and R&B album influenced by Rihanna's Caribbean roots. The album also incorporates elements of dancehall and rock, as well as ballads, which music critics were ambivalent towards.
Some critics gave the album positive reviews, stating that Rihanna gracefully avoided the sophomore disappointment while others compared the album to her previous effort. A Girl like Me was released less than eight months after Rihanna's debut album. It peaked at number five on the US Billboard 200 and on the UK Albums Chart. The album was successful in other countries as well, entering the top ten in Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and Japan, while topping the Canadian Albums Chart.
Rihanna released her debut album Music of the Sun in August 2005. An R&B album, Music of the Sun incorporated musical elements of dance-pop and Caribbean music genres such as dancehall and reggae. The album received mixed reviews from music critics, who complimented its dancehall and Caribbean-inspired songs, while others criticized some of the production. Music of the Sun debuted at number 10 on the US Billboard 200 and peaked in the top-forty of album charts in Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. It produced two singles: "Pon de Replay" and "If It's Lovin' that You Want", the former of which peaked at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and number one on the US Hot Dance Club Songs chart.
Musically, A Girl like Me reveals new types of musical genres compared to Rihanna's light and uptempo debut effort, Music of the Sun. Her goal on the album was to find songs that express the many things young women want to say, but might not know how. In an interview, Rihanna said: "Now I'm singing about experiences that I've gone through and stuff that other 18-year-old girls go through, so it's all about progression." Reggae music, present in her debut album, subsequently continues into A Girl like Me. For the album, Rihanna used influences of different music genres, including rock music, while keeping the reggae and dancehall roots of her previous album. The new effort also presents Rihanna's new side with some balladic elements. Although the album mostly follows the disco-ish mode of its predecessor, it was noted for its introduction of the rock genre to Rihanna's music, mostly represented by the rock and reggae mash-up "Kisses Don't Lie", though Rihanna herself stated that the album is not overall driven by rock influence. In an interview, Rihanna commented: "Growing up in Barbados, I wasn't exposed to a lot of rock music. We really love reggae and soca music and hip-hop. But when I moved to the United States last year, I was exposed to a lot of different types of music, rock being one of them, and I fell in love with it. [Now] I love rock music." Celia SanMiguel of Vibe magazine wrote that A Girl like Me is "a pop album, one informed but not bounded by Rihanna's Caribbean roots", and that it "dispels any lingering notions of her as a dancehall-meets-R&B ambassador." Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine called the album "a record that almost identically" veered between "sunny dancehall/dub-pop", "hip-hop-infused club bangers", and "adult-oriented ballads".
The album's opening track "SOS" is an uptempo dance song incorporating the key section, bass line, and drum beat of the 1981 recording of "Tainted Love" as performed by Soft Cell, although "SOS" contains a more dance-oriented beat to create a soulful anthem of young love. The song received positive reviews by critics, who called it "a sexy club tune." The song also features three different music videos, including two promotional music videos for Agent Provocateur and Nike, and the official music video, which was directed by Chris Applebaum. "Kisses Don't Lie", the album's second song, uses a mixture of Caribbean elements and electric guitar together with a mesmerizing bassline. On the ballad song "Unfaithful", the background instrumentation features a piano and strings. The song is the third track and the second single from the album, and was written by labelmate and fellow R&B musician Ne-Yo. Despite its strong chart performance, the song was panned by critics, who stated that "Rihanna's voice [on the song was] not particularly strong." The fourth track, "We Ride", features gently strummed acoustic guitar, with production handled by Stargate. The song received mixed reviews from critics and was less successful than the other singles. In the song's music video, directed by Anthony Mandler, Rihanna was featured hanging with her friends and scenes of her at the beach. After the song failed to chart in the United States, the song became the last single from the album to feature a music video.
"Dem Haters" features guest vocals by Barbadian singer Dwane Husbands. The song is the album's fifth track and was produced by Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers. The sixth track, "Final Goodbye", is a mid-tempo ballad containing ambient of strummed acoustic guitar. The seventh track, and the album's fourth and final single, "Break It Off", is a collaboration with Jamaican recording artist Sean Paul. The song contains dancehall influence. Although "Break It Off" did not feature a music video for its promotion, it still managed to reach the top ten in the singles charts in the United States, in ironic contrast to "We Ride", which did count with the support of an official music video. "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", the album's eighth track, is another collaboration song featuring Jamaican music group J-Status. The Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers-produced "Selfish Girl", is the ninth song of the album and contains reggae elements. The tenth track, "P.S. (I'm Still Not Over You)", is an R&B song also produced by Sturken and Rogers. "A Girl like Me", the album's eleventh song and title track, is another R&B song also containing reggae elements. The album's third ballad, "A Million Miles Away", is the twelfth song on the album. It received mixed reviews from music critics, who commented that the song "kills whatever momentum the album has." The closing track on the standard version of the album is a remix serving as a sequel to "If It's Lovin' That You Want", which was Rihanna's second single from her debut album. The track, titled "If It's Lovin' That You Want - Part 2", features American rapper Corey Gunz.
"SOS" was released as the album's lead single on February 14, 2006, and as a physical maxi single on March 27, 2006. The maxi single included both the radio edit and instrumental versions of "SOS", as well as the album track "Break It Off", which features Jamaican reggae singer Sean Paul. "SOS" contains a sped up sample of "Tainted Love", which was originally written by Ed Cobb in 1965 and popularized by English synthpop duo Soft Cell, when they released their cover version in 1981. It received positive reviews from music critics, especially for its energy and Rihanna's vocal performance. It peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, and became the singer's first number one single on the chart. It also peaked at number one on the US Hot Dance Club Play and Pop Songs charts, as well as number two on the UK Singles Chart. Two music videos, an official version and a Nike promotional version, were directed by Chris Applebaum.
"We Ride" was released as the third single from the album; the song was sent to US mainstream and rhythmic radio stations on August 21, 2006. It was written by Makeba Riddick, Mikkel S. Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen, while production of the song was handled by Eriksen and Hermansen under their production team name, StarGate. "We Ride" was well received by critics, many of whom praised it as a good cruising song. It failed to chart on the US Billboard Hot 100, but managed to top the US Hot Dance Club Play chart and peaked at number 34 on the US Pop Songs chart. It failed to match the success of the album's previous singles, though peaking within the top twenty of the singles charts in Ireland, Slovakia and the United Kingdom. Its accompanying music video was also directed by Anthony Mandler, who had previously directed the music video for "Unfaithful". According to Rihanna, the video for "We Ride" is not as "out there" as the videos for "SOS" and "Unfaithful" were, as she wanted to do something less provocative to re-connect with people her own age.
During the recording process of A Girl Like Me, Rihanna served as the opening act for Gwen Stefani during the Harajuku Lovers Tour 2005 in Japan to promote Music of the Sun. While performing on the tour, she performed some of the songs that would appear on A Girl Like Me. Before the release of the album, Rihanna was given substantial promotional support from MTV, which highlighted "SOS" on Total Request Live when she premiered the single's music video on March 23, 2006. She then took part in advertising Nike and J.C. Penney by shooting a promotional music video for the album's lead single supported by Nike. The album was released through Def Jam Recordings in North America as a digital download on April 11, 2006, and as a physical CD on April 25, 2006. On the album's release date, Rihanna made a guest appearance on MTV's Total Request Live to promote the album.
The album was released only eight months after Music of the Sun had been released. Rihanna stated regarding the rapid album succession: "We just felt like it was time. It made no sense waiting...you should never put time on music. You should never say, "Okay, Music of the Sun has to be out at least a year and a half before we start with--" No. That's what's great about the music business. When you feel it's time, you just go for it. And we felt like it was time to come up with a new album." "SOS" was included on the soundtrack of the film Bring It On: All or Nothing, where Rihanna made a cameo in the film as herself; her debut single, "Pon de Replay", was also included in the soundtrack. 2b1af7f3a8