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Complicated (Rihanna song)

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Song by Rihanna
from the album Loud
Recorded2010; Westlake Recording Studios, Larrabee Sound Studios (Los Angeles, California)

"Complicated" is a song by Barbadian recording artist Rihanna from her fifth studio album Loud (2010). It was written and produced by Tricky Stewart and Ester Dean. "Complicated" is a dance-pop, hip hop and trance music song, which also displays elements of pop, dance-pop and R&B. It contains lyrical content explaining how two people in a relationship can find one another complicated at times. The song was acclaimed by critics, as the majority of reviewers concluded that it was one of the best tracks to be included on Loud. Reviewers also praised Rihanna's vocal performance in the song. Upon the release of the album in November 2010, the song charted at number 50 on the South Korea Gaon International Chart.

Background and inspiration[edit]

"Complicated" was written and produced by Tricky Stewart and Ester Dean, for Rihanna's fifth studio album, Loud. The song was recorded in 2010 at Westlake Recording Studios, and Larrabee Sound Studios, both located in Los Angeles, California.[1] In an interview with Sway Calloway for MTV, Rihanna explained the meaning behind "Complicated" and how it is applicable for both men and women, saying:

[Complicated is] not a sex thing. It's not like only women can sing this song or only women can relate to this song, 'cause it's an individual thing and sometimes, sometimes [sic] men are just too complicated and then again, men can find women complicated. But it all depends on the individual, because not all women think love is complicated and not all men think that, but there are some women and some men who strongly believe that love is just too complicated. Women, they're the first to say, 'It's your fault,' but most of the time it is [the man's] fault. But men are also great at turning that [shit] around on us and making us believe that we're wrong for something that we didn't even do. At the end of the day, love is [fucking] complicated.[2]


"Complicated" is dance-pop, hip hop and trance song,[3][4] which lasts for 4:17 (four minutes, 17 seconds).[5] It also displays elements of pop, dance-pop and R&B.[6] Emily Mackay of NME described the song as "a clean, sharp dancepop number, backed by a dark and shuffling hip-hop beat."[4] According to the digital sheet music published by EMI, "Complicated" is written in the key of A minor and is set in common time with a moderate electro-ballad groove.[6] The instrumentation of "Complicated" consists of synth beats and "crackling outbursts" of percussion and drums.[7]

It also makes use of piano keys and guitar strings.[6] Rihanna's vocal range in the song spans from the lower note of G3 to the higher note of C5.[6] Mackay noted that the singer adopts a "melancholic pop vocal" for the duration of the song.[4] Chad Grischow of IGN stated that Rihanna appears to be screaming the vocals during the hook, citing the key of the "jittery dance beat" as the reason for oversinging.[8] However, Grischow commented that the singer sounds more pleasant to listen to during the verses, writing: "The song actually sounds great when the light, plucky verses are quietly building to the hook, allowing her to sing rather than shout."[8] Rihanna sings about the complications of a relationship,[2] as well as how the protagonist can experience mood swings, whereby his or her feelings frequently change toward their lover.[7]

Critical reception[edit]

"Complicated" garnered critical acclaim from music critics. Colin Gentry of 4Music named the song the highlight of the album, continuing to write that Rihanna pours her heart out to the listener as she sings about the intensity of her "despair".[3] Jon Parales of The New York Times described "Complicated" as being one of the more "emotional" songs on Loud.[7] Emily Mackay of NME noted that the lyrics "Why do you make it so hard to love you?/I hate it" were reminiscent of songs by English pop girl group, Sugababes.[4] Steve Jones of USA Today observed that Rihanna's opinions of men are not just present on "Complicated", but rather that it is a recurring theme on Loud, writing "On more than one occasion, she makes it clear that she likes her men complicated and that they can expect her to be the same."[9] Jones also listed it as one of his top songs to download from the album.[9] Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly commented that the "spiraling dance-floor siren" persona Rihanna adopted on the lead single from Loud, "Only Girl (In the World)", was carried through onto "Complicated".[10] Greenblatt continued to praise Rihanna's vocal performance, writing: "Even while telling a recalcitrant man how hard he is to love, she sounds almost buoyant, her newly expanded vocals eager to scale the song's high-altitude house beat."[10]

Nima Baniamer of praised Rihanna's vocal performance and liked it to single track from Loud, "California King Bed", writing: "Taking a seat back from the thumping club classics, tracks like California King Bed and Complicated are both emotional singles that reveal Rihanna's surprisingly brilliant vocals."[11] Baniamer also expressed that it would be a "travesty" if the song was not chosen as a single from the album.[11] Genevieve Koski of The A.V. Club was complimentary of the song, as well as single track "What's My Name?", writing: "Her bubbly patois and soaring divatronics elevate the generic R&B and Euro-dance flavors of 'What's My Name' and 'Complicated,' respectively."[12] However, Bill Lamb of was critical of the song, labeling it as "cluttered" and the album's "low-point".[13]

Credits and personnel[edit]


Credits adapted from the liner notes of Loud, Def Jam Recordings, SRP Records.[1]


Upon the release of Loud, "Complicated" debuted and peaked at number 50 on the South Korea Gaon International Chart for the issue dated November 14, 2010.[14]

Chart (2011) Peak
South Korea Gaon International Chart[14] 50


  1. ^ a b Loud (liner notes). Rihanna. Def Jam Recordings, SRP Records. 2010.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ a b "Rihanna Reveals Inspiration For Loud's 'Complicated'". MTV. Viacom. 2010-11-16. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
  3. ^ a b Gentry, Colin (2010-11-12). "News: Rihanna — Loud Review". 4Music. Archived from the original on 2012-05-29. Retrieved 2011-10-04. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ a b c d Mackay, Emily (2010-11-03). "Rihanna, 'Loud' — Album First Listen". NME. IPC Media. Archived from the original on 2011-03-21. Retrieved 2011-10-03. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  5. ^ "iTunes - Music - Loud". iTunes Store (US). Apple. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
  6. ^ a b c d "Digital Sheet Music, Rihanna 'Complicated'". Peer International Music Publishing. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  7. ^ a b c Pareles, Jon (2010-11-15). "Critics' Choice: New CDs". The New York Times. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. Retrieved 2011-10-03.
  8. ^ a b Grischow, Chad (2010-11-16). "Rihanna: Loud Review". IGN. News Corporation. Retrieved 2012-01-14.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ a b Jones, Steve (2010-11-16). "Listen Up: Rihanna is living out 'Loud' on new album". USA Today. Gannett Company, Inc. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
  10. ^ a b Greenblatt, Leah (2010-11-10). "Loud | Music". Entertainment Weekly. Time division of Time Warner. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
  11. ^ a b Baniamer, Nima. "Rihanna - Loud Album Review". Retrieved 2012-01-14.
  12. ^ Koski, Genevieve (2010-11-23). "Rihanna - Loud". The A.V. Club. The Onion, Inc. Retrieved 2012-01-14.
  13. ^ Lamb, Bill. "Rihanna – Loud". The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on 2011-12-30. Retrieved 2012-01-14. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  14. ^ a b "South Korea Gaon International Chart (Week: November 14, 2010 to November 20, 2010)". Gaon Chart. 2010-11-14. Archived from the original on 2012-12-19. Retrieved 2012-01-12. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)

External links[edit]