Higher (Rihanna song)

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"Higher"
Song by Rihanna
from the album Anti
RecordedConway Studios, Los Angeles, California in 2015
Length2:00
Label
Songwriter(s)
  • Ernest Wilson
  • B. Bourelly
  • Robyn Fenty
  • Jerry Butler
  • Kenny Gamble
  • Leon Huff
Producer(s)

"Higher" is a song recorded by Barbadian singer Rihanna for her eighth studio album, Anti (2016).[1][2]

Composition and promotion[edit]

Kuk Harrell (pictured) was one of the song's producers.

The ballad is two minutes long.[3][4] NME's Jordan Bassett called "Higher" a "straight-up love song",[5] and Brittany Spanos of Rolling Stone described the song as "bluesy".[6] The Independent's Emily Jupp described "Higher" as an "Amy Winehouse-inspired number",[7] and Nolan Feeney of Time called the song a "whiskey-soaked come-hither".[8]

Rihanna previewed the song on Instagram in early March 2015.[9][10]

Reception[edit]

Billboard's Julianne Escobedo Shepherd wrote, "The vocal on the last-call ballad 'Higher,' which seems to be an early fan favorite, is far less effective, however: Rihanna strains into the high register as she sings from the perspective of a burdened doyenne halfway through a drunk dial; what she means as an emotional effect teeters too far off-pitch (evidence on its own that inebriated voicemails are never a good idea)."[4] Consequence of Sound's David Sackllah called the song "thunderous", with Rihanna "[pushing] her vocal prowess past its breaking point, packing an album’s worth of stunning moments into two minutes".[11]

Jordan Bassett of NME said, "There's tinkling piano and elegiac piano, but what really stands out is Rihanna's smoking, soaring vocal, which might be one of those most beautiful and romantic things she's put to record."[5] In his review of Anti, Michael Cragg of The Guardian wrote, "'Higher' is the point where Rihanna's new experimental vocal tone goes a bit haywire. It's actually almost unlistenable, which is a shame because the musical waltz straining to be heard in the background is really pretty."[12] Contrastingly, the newspaper's Alexis Petridis said the song's "combination of slurred vocal and woozy music sounds amazing, like an epic 60s tearjerker performed by people who've overindulged so much they're either on the verge of passing out, or being sick in a bin".[13]

Pitchfork's Jayson Greene said the song was "yet another masterful piece of work from No I.D.", and wrote: "We’ve met a lot of Rihannas over the years, but 'Higher' ... is the first appearance of 'last call Rihanna'—a drunk-dialer with a ruined voice box, an insatiable burning in their loins, and an alarming lack of interest in maintaining dignity. This is a song about the desire for late-night sex and companionship so urgent that it actually feels like a song about how much it hurts to have a Humvee back over your leg. And that is because Rihanna gives so much of herself in the vocal booth that it feels like she might pass out... This song is two minutes long, but it is a complete transmission from someplace more louche and heartbroken and painful than our world."[3] Spin's Brennan Carley compared the song to "At Last", while Eve Barlow said the song was "a tad shout-y".[14]

Teen Vogue's Crissy Milazzo wrote, "At Rihanna's most Amy Winehouse moment, she sings about whiskey and ashtrays, letting you hear the wear-and-tear on her voice for a brief two minutes. This one is a must-listen, as it feels like an Adele deep cut with Rih's trademark bad girl edge. It's both sad and hopeful, triumphant and defeated. Strings add to the drama, giving you the emotion that's usually only reserved for Rihanna's social media. Most of all, it's honest, it's refreshing, and it's a win on an album that feels all her own."[15] USA Today's Maeve McDermott and Patrick Ryan said the song was "a finger in the eye" to "Love on the Brain", the preceding track on the alum, "as Rihanna ditches the pretty vibrato to sing-shout some late-night come-ons in the most BadGalRiRi moment on the record."[16] Caroline Framke of Vox wrote, "'Higher' is just two minutes long, but Rihanna's raw longing is scorching. It goes from a beguiling, 'This whiskey got me feeling pretty,' to Rihanna throwing herself into the sloppier mess of just wanting to be with someone, and fast... Never has a drunk dial been this convincing — or this powerfully moving."[17]

"Higher" inspired the song "Liability" from New Zealand singer Lorde's second album Melodrama (2017), when Lorde was reportedly "moved to tears" listening to "Higher" and this helped her to write "Liability".[18][19][20]

Cover versions[edit]

Maren Morris shared her performance of the song online.[21]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2016–17) Peak
position
France (SNEP)[22] 185

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Maresca, Rachel. "Rihanna teases new track 'Higher' on Instagram". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
  2. ^ Wickman, Forrest (2016-01-28). "Rihanna's new album Anti: A track-by-track breakdown". Slate.com. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
  3. ^ a b ""Higher" by Rihanna Review". Pitchfork. 2016-01-28. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
  4. ^ a b "On 'Anti,' Being Rihanna Isn't Easy: Album Review". Billboard. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  5. ^ a b Bassett, Jordan (28 January 2016). "Rihanna's Anti : Track-By-Track Review". NME. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  6. ^ Spanos, Brittany; Spanos, Brittany (1 February 2016). "Rihanna, 'Anti' Album Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  7. ^ "Rihanna, Anti, album review: 'So worth the wait'". The Independent. 29 January 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  8. ^ "Rihanna's 'Anti' Rewrites the Rules of Her Career". Time. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  9. ^ "Rihanna Previews 'Higher' Song on Instagram: Listen Now". Billboard. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Rihanna Previews New Song 'Higher' On Instagram". BET.com. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  11. ^ "Album Review: Rihanna – Anti". Consequence of Sound. 1 February 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  12. ^ Cragg, Michael (28 January 2016). "Rihanna's Anti: one to scare casual fans – first listen review". Theguardian.com. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  13. ^ Petridis, Alexis (28 January 2016). "Rihanna: Anti review – brave, bold … and confused". Theguardian.com. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  14. ^ "Rihanna's 'ANTI':". Spin.com. 28 January 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  15. ^ Nast, Condé. "Rihanna's 'ANTI' Is Worth Every Second of That Ridiculously Agonizing Wait". Teen Vogue. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  16. ^ "Rihanna's 'ANTI:' A track-by-track review". USA TODAY. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  17. ^ Framke, Caroline (29 January 2016). "Rihanna's Anti swaps party anthems for indulgent stoner jams — and it's her best album yet". Vox. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  18. ^ "Lorde Shares "Liability," Announces Melodrama Album Release Date". Thefader.com. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  19. ^ "Why Lorde Cried in an Uber While Listening to Rihanna's Hit 'Higher': 'I Was Feeling Too Much for Somebody'". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  20. ^ [1][dead link]
  21. ^ Freeman, Jon (2016-08-29). "See Maren Morris Belt Rihanna's Anguished 'Higher'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
  22. ^ "Lescharts.com – Rihanna – Higher" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved June 9, 2017.