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California King Bed

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"California King Bed"
California King Bed cover.png
Single by Rihanna
from the album Loud
B-side"S&M" (Sidney Samson Club Remix)
ReleasedMay 13, 2011
Recorded2010; We the Best Studios (Miami, Florida);
Burst HQ (Wisconsin)
Rihanna singles chronology
"Man Down"
"California King Bed"
"Cheers (Drink to That)"

"California King Bed" is a song by Barbadian singer Rihanna from her fifth studio album, Loud (2010). The song was written and produced by Andrew Harr and Jermaine Jackson, of the American production duo The Runners, with Priscilla Renea and Alex Delicata. The song was chosen to be a single from the album through Twitter, and it was released as the album's sixth single on May 13, 2011, by Def Jam. "California King Bed" is a rock and R&B power ballad that lyrically discusses "the waking death of a relationship", where Rihanna asks her lover if he loves her with emotional weakness. Rihanna's vocals were commended by critics.

Commercially, the song topped the Polish and Slovakian charts, achieved the top-five in Australia, Austria, Czech Republic and Portugal, while also reaching the top-ten in Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and others. In the United States, it reached the top-forty on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and topped the Dance Club Songs. The accompanying music video for the track was directed by Rihanna's longtime collaborator and director Anthony Mandler. Its tropical and romantic setting features an eighteen foot long bed designed specifically for the video. Rihanna promoted the track with live performances at the ACM Awards, along with Sugarland front woman Jennifer Nettles, as well as on American Idol, NBC's Today show, and on her Loud Tour (2011). The song is a playable track in the video game Guitar Hero Live.

Background and release[edit]

On March 1, 2011, Rihanna asked fans to help her choose the next single from Loud using Twitter, saying that she would film a music video within the next couple of weeks. After an influx of suggestions, the singer said she had narrowed the options down to four songs: "Man Down", "California King Bed", "Cheers (Drink to That)" and "Fading".[1] On March 12, she confirmed that "California King Bed" had been selected as the next international single.[2][3] However, the releases were switched,[4] and "Man Down" was sent to rhythmic and urban radio stations in the United States on May 3[5][6] – before the May 13 release of "California King Bed" – making "Man Down" and "California King Bed" the fifth and sixth singles from Loud.[7] The song was released digitally on May 13, 2011, through digital download via iTunes.[8] It was first serviced to US hot adult contemporary radio on May 16, 2011,[9] and later to US contemporary hit radio on May 31, 2011.[10] Later, after their impact on radio, the song was also issued on CD single format in Europe and also as an extended play (EP) digital with nine remixes from the original track.[11][12]

Composition and lyrical interpretation[edit]

"California King Bed" was written by its producers The Runners (Andrew Harr and Jermaine Jackson) with additional writing by Priscilla Renea and Alex Delicata, and vocal production by Kuk Harrell. Renea also provided background vocals, while Delicata played the electric and acoustic guitar. Its recording took place in 2010 in the studios We The Best in Miami and Burst HQ in Wisconsin.[14] The song is a rock and R&B power ballad[15][16] with "acoustic guitar (complete with audible string scrapes), soft piano keys and intimate melancholy, building into a massive power-balladish chorus", as noted by NME's Emily Mackay.[17] According to the sheet music published at by Alfred Publishing Co., Inc., "California King Bed" is set in common time in the key of G major with a moderately slow tempo of 85 beats per minute. The song follows a chord progression of G/B–C2 for the verses, and G–D–Em–C in the chorus.[18] Rihanna's vocal range in the song spans from the low note of E3 to the high note of C5.[18] Both Ryan Burlenson of the website Consequence of Sound and James Reed of The Boston Globe compared the song with Taylor Swift's material.[19][20] Mackay compared it with Beyoncé's "If I Were a Boy" (2008).[17]

Lyrically, the song was considered a "break-up song" that talks about "the waking death of a relationship, the stage of limbo before the final crash."[21] As Digital Spy's Robert Copsey added, its lyrics discuss "the kind of separate-togetherness felt moments before a break-up."[22] Adam R. Holz of Plugged In noticed that "'California King' ponders how a woman could be so physically close to a man yet so emotionally distant. She doesn't get an answer, but she does quip about evidence of their sexual relationship on the sheets the next morning. The woman also equates asking the man if he loves her with emotional weakness."[23] During the chorus, she sings: "In this California king bed we’re ten thousand miles apart / I’ve been California wishing on these stars for your heart / For me, my California king."[24]

Critical reception[edit]

Rihanna performing "California King Bed" on the Loud Tour in Florida.

Andy Gill of The Independent and Ryan Dombell from Pitchfork Media both noted that the song embodies all the elements of a big power ballad, with the former stating that it is "Rihanna's best vocal performance"[13] and the latter concurring, labeling the song as a "'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing' type power ballad genetically engineered to soundtrack a bi-coastal Kate Hudson rom-com."[25] Daniel Brockman of Boston Phoenix writer perceived the song as an "innocuous soft jam."[26] Stacey Anderson of Spin magazine was positive, noting that "it's so well-delivered, in fact, that it's hard to hear."[21] Scott Shetler of Popcrush was receptive with the release of a down-tempo ballad, saying that "it’s refreshing to hear a song built around her impressive voice."[24] Robert Copsey of Digital Spy gave the song four out of five stars, stating it "may pull in the reins as far as the hectic dance beats and sado-masochistic lyrics go, but it's no less beefy and extravagant." He also noted that "[s]he belts out in a range well beyond her natural vocal ability."[22] Thomas Conner of Chicago Sun-Times concluded that "The acoustic strums of 'California King Bed' build to a cinematic, Diane Warren-sized breakup chorus."[27]

Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani called "California King Bed" a "slushy acoustic ballad whose clever metaphor is all but suffocated beneath the song's cheesy production choices".[28] Entertainment Weekly's Kyle Anderson gave a mixed review of the song, explaining that Rihanna "doesn't have the chops to be a balladeer, which made the torch-song quality of 'California King Bed' land with a thud."[29] In a different perception, Henry Goldblatt of the same publication graded the song with a B+ and praised the "irresistible heartbreak in the song" and added that Rihanna's voice "demonstrates more range and power than her older material."[30] Andy Kellman of Allmusic and Emily Mackay of NME were more critical of the song in their review, with the former calling the song an "overwrought rock weeper"[31] and the latter saying it is a "howler of a ballad, with shlocky acoustic intro, trite piano and a faux-Slash solo."[32]

Chart performance[edit]

Before being officially released, "California King Bed" debuted on the Australian Singles Chart at number sixty-one on April 11, 2011[33] and peaked at number four for two consecutive weeks.[34] The song has since been certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), for shipments of 70,000 copies.[35] The song also made an appearance on the New Zealand Singles Chart before its official release, debuting at number eighteen on April 18, 2011, before eventually peaking at number four for two consecutive weeks.[36][37] The song has since been certified Gold for sales of over 7,500 copies.[38] In the United Kingdom, the song reached a peaked of number eight on the UK Singles Chart on June 5, 2011[39] as well as reaching a peak of number three on the UK R&B Chart on June 11, 2011.[40] In the United States, the song made its debut on the week ending June 4, 2011 at number eighty on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart[41] and reached a peak of number thirty-seven, becoming Rihanna's 25th top forty hit on the chart.[42][43] "California King Bed" ranked at number 47 on Billboard magazine's best-selling Dance/Clubs songs of 2011.[44]

Music video[edit]

Background and synopsis[edit]

A scene from the video, where Rihanna and her suitor sit at opposite ends of a "California King Bed", signifying that although they are in the same bed, they are a distance away from each other.[45]

The music video for "California King Bed" was shot on March 17, 2011[46] and was shot by Anthony Mandler, who has frequently worked with Rihanna. Mandler directed the videos for other singles from Loud including "Only Girl (In the World)" and "Man Down".[45][47] The creative director, Ciarra Pardo, fabricated a custom made eighteen foot long bed, which was designed with a special feature to transport Rihanna the full distance from one side to the other.[48] On May 4, 2011, Rihanna posted a picture of the video which showed her laying on a man while looking in the camera.[49] She also tweeted "Bout to tweet u sumn I cud get in trouble for! But I know ur anxious."[50][51] The full video premiered Monday, May 9, 2011 on Rihanna's official website and her Vevo account.[52] In an interview with Jocelyn Vena of MTV News, Mandler spoke of his and Rihanna's long collaborative history, saying:

I think it's something that is so unique about Rihanna whatever she's doing, whatever character she's playing, whatever side of herself she's showing, she's in it 1,000 percent... And I think the song and the theme of this song, she wanted to obviously show a softer side, a lighter side, one that's caught in maybe a tumultuous relationship... There's so much variety with her and it's been such a journey with her.[53]

Almost the whole video set is made in tropical and romantic setting. The video begins with a shot of Rihanna herself laying down in grass. Then scenes of Rihanna walking on the beach and Rihanna curling up on the chair are shown. This is followed by her own and her partner holding each other closely in bed, sitting on different sides of a large bed, and other scenes featuring Rihanna singing through sheer curtains and drapery. In the video there are also black-white scenes showing Rihanna touching to a stone wall.[54]


As stated by Jason Lipshutz of Billboard, in this video, Rihanna returned to nature as in her video for her previous single, "Only Girl (In the World)", which features nearly the same colors as the "California King Bed" video. Lipshutz also commented that Rihanna's just rolled-out-bed appearance is completed by the modest, cream-colored attire in the airy, light-filled clip.[55] Brad Wete of Entertainment Weekly gave a positive review of the video, writing: "Instead of being in complete control, here she is—vulnerable, open, and unsure. The video captures the feel of 'King Bed,' not that it's a difficult one to grasp."[56] Jessica Sinclair of Long Island Press was also positive about the video, praising the sensual side of Rihanna.[57] A writer of The Huffington Post concluded: "In the video for her new video, 'California King Bed,' the Barbadian pop star slows it down and shows her sensitive side, holding notes and bearing her soul over a troubled relationship. Set entirely in a gorgeously pink-palleted open air room overlooking the beach, the winds swirl and blow the curtains dramatically around the heart broken singer."[58] The writer finished the review saying that "Not much happens in the video – but then, that's the point."[58] Amber Katz of MTV Buzzworthy compared the video with Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry" saying, that they "Both are midtempo, ballady and filmed in a soft-focus domestic setting."[59] Katz also complimented the bed in the video saying that it "evoke[s] a very Caribbean vibe, a shout-out to Rihanna's native Barbados, no doubt."[59] A writer of Daily Mail complimented Rihanna's looks in the video, saying that it showed her "most sultry" side.[60] Both Nicole Eggenberger of OK! and Eleanor Young of Marie Claire commented that the video uses a lot of sex appeal which was a departure from Rihanna's older videos.[61][62]

Live performances[edit]

Rihanna performing "California King Bed" in Oakland, California.

Rihanna performed the song for the first time alongside Sugarland front woman Jennifer Nettles, at the ACM Awards held by the Academy of Country Music on April 3, 2011.[63][64] She was also a special guest star on the tenth season of American Idol on April 14, 2011.[65][66] The performance featured Rihanna in a floor-length, heavily textured rose-colored gown, which she adorned as she appeared from behind flowing ceiling height curtains.[65] Kara Warner of MTV News complimented the performance, saying "the 23-year-old rocked the house with an ethereal performance of her ballad 'California King Bed.'"[65] A writer of Rolling Stone wrote: "It's a classy, laid-back performance with Rihanna in a lovely gown, backed up by interpretative dancers caressing large pieces of fabric that are probably meant to evoke bed sheets, but look a bit more like giant strips of toilet paper hanging from the ceiling. But either way, this is quite nice."[67] In March 2011, Rihanna was appointed spokeswoman for the "100 Years of Skin Care" Nivea Commercial campaign, which featured "California King Bed" as the song used in the commercials.[68] As part of promotion for the campaign, Rihanna performed the song at private events in several European cities in May 2011,[69] including Hamburg, Milan and Paris.[69][70][71] The song was also performed on NBC's Today show on May 27, 2011, as part of their Summer Concert Series. The set also featured Rihanna performing her previous US Billboard Hot 100 number-one hits from Loud; "Only Girl (In the World)", "What's My Name?" and "S&M".[72][73] The song is included on the set-list of the Loud Tour (2011).[74][75]

Other versions[edit]

Pia Toscano and Stefano Langone, contestants of the tenth season of American Idol, covered the song during one of the nights.[76] American rapper Snoop Dogg, released an unofficial remix of the song along with a music video.[77] In his version of the song he sings the lines "California dreamin', schemin', you got me gleamin'/ I need you on my team 'n you get my meanin'/ It sound crazy but it's amazing/ Lay down with me so we can make some babies."[78] The accompanying music video a girl which looks like Kim Kardashian waiting him at the hotel, while the official video of the song is played on TV screens.[78]

Formats and track listings[edit]

  • Digital download[8]
  1. "California King Bed" – 4:11
  1. "California King Bed" (Album Version) – 4:11
  2. "S&M" (Sidney Samson Club Remix) – 6:48

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Loud, Def Jam Recordings, SRP Records.[14]




Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[118] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Germany (BVMI)[119] Gold 150,000^
Italy (FIMI)[120] Platinum 30,000*
Japan (RIAJ)[121] Gold 100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[122] Gold 15,000*
Sweden (GLF)[123] Platinum 40,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[124] Gold 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[125] Gold 400,000^
United States (RIAA)[126] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Radio and release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label Ref.
Denmark May 13, 2011 Digital download Universal Music [127]
France [128]
Italy [129]
Netherlands [8]
Sweden [130]
United States May 16, 2011 Hot adult contemporary radio Def Jam Recordings [9]
May 31, 2011 Mainstream radio [10]
June 6, 2011 Hot adult contemporary radio (re-released) [131]
Germany June 24, 2011 CD single Universal Music [11]
United States July 19, 2011 Remixes – iTunes Store Def Jam Recordings [12]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]