Everyone is saying that it was the year of Miley and “OMG did you see her at the VMA’s.??” But it wasn’t. Alright? It was the year of the twerk. Period. End of story. And while Miley certainly does a formidable twerk, we all know that Rihanna laid the groundwork. But Rihanna didn’t just come out of the womb twerking. OH NO. Rihanna had to learn. She had to work. She had to hide her prowess away for a long time, and present it to the world at just the right time.
Here’s the evolution of Rihanna’s twerk, music video-by-video:
Pon De Replay, 2005
Holy shit! I completely forgot about this song, and about the JNCO’s and horrible “crimped” extensions that came with it. Rihanna sang this? Nuts! Even crazier is the lack of butt. All the viewer gets is a little hip groove. It’s rumored that her marketing team was so confident in RiRi’s derriere that they hid it away from the public. Built lore around it, teasing the audience with a blurry shot. Yes, Rihanna’s butt was the sasquatch of pop culture, circa 2005.
So glad we’re taking this journey, it’s reminding me of all the nights I spent at home wearing my Juicy sweatsuit and setting emo Away messages: “SOS please someone help me, it’s not healthy.” In 2006, everyone loosened up a bit and the world finally got a look at some glorious profile twerking, and what’s more, in a room of mirrors. Oh happy day!
The song starts with Jay-Z introing, “Rihanna, good girl gone bad,” and he’s kind of right. I don’t believe there is a more convoluted music video in Rihanna’s library. It has her dancing in some Adobe rain, looking like a Ja Rule video circa 2002. It has her painted compltely in gold, like The Cranberries’ “Zombie” (no twerking there, trust), and has her dressed in a French maid costume with an umbrella rather than a duster. WTF? In any case, management loosens their grip in this video and we get full on shots of Rihanna shakin’ it, but nay, we mustn’t call it a twerk yet. She must learn, like the young pop jedi she once was.
I know, I know, this is barely even a shot of her butt, but listen closely fair readers… see the turmoil? The inner struggle Rihanna is very clearly going through? Distubria may very well be her darkest song. It’s as if she’s possessed by a spirit she’s unable to unleash. That spirit? The twerk.
The Dark Years
You know what happened. Don’t need me to get into it. But of course her team was all like… “Man we were so close to letting you twerk Rihanna, but this whole PR fiasco means we needa make you a little more on the straight and narrow. Maybe we do a few music videos where we don’t even show your butt? Huh?” Do you know what those videos were? Russian Roulette & Wait Your Turn. Remember either of those tracks? Nope! Know why. NO TWERK.
You Da One, 2011
AND THEN IT HAPPENS! Men all over the world rejoice. They get tattoos proclaiming, UDA1. And let’s be honest women, you were pretty psyched too, no? The music video itself is a complete fucking mess, and watching Rihanna twerk is kind of like watching a toddler swing their hips around, realizing they can do a trick. It’s like watching a baby bird learning to walk. She’s just so excited she tries doing way too much, and kind of falls on her face. But nonetheless, the Rihanna twerk debuts!
And when she finally got her twerk down, let’s be honest… things got a little weird.