Only Girl (In the World)

"Only Girl (In the World)"
A photo of a woman covering her body with a piece of red fabric in a field.
Single by Rihanna
from the album Loud
Released September 10, 2010 (2010-09-10)
Format
Recorded 2010; Roc the Mic Studios (New York City); Westlake Recording Studios (Los Angeles); The Bunker Studios (Paris)
Genre
Length 3:55
Label
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
Rihanna singles chronology
"Love the Way You Lie"
(2010)
"Only Girl (In the World)"
(2010)
"What's My Name?"
(2010)

"Only Girl (In the World)" is a song by Barbadian singer Rihanna from her fifth studio album, Loud (2010). It was released on September 10, 2010, as the lead single from the album. Crystal Johnson wrote the song in collaboration with producers Stargate and Sandy Vee. Rihanna contacted Stargate prior to the production of Loud and asked them to create lively, up—tempo music. "Only Girl (In the World)" was the first song to be composed for the album, and she decided to include it on the track list before recording her vocals. Backed by a strong bass and synthesizers, it draws influence from a multitude of genres, including dance, Hi-NRG and Europop. The lyrics revolve around Rihanna demanding the physical attention of her lover.

Critical response to "Only Girl (In the World)" was positive: many critics praised its composition and Rihanna's decision to move away from the dark and ominous themes on her previous album, Rated R (2009). The song charted at number one on the United States' Billboard Hot 100 chart two weeks after the album's second single "What's My Name?" peaked at number one. It was the first time in the history of the chart that an album's lead single reached number one after the second single. In the United Kingdom, the song spent two weeks at number one, and it became the nineteenth best—selling single of all time by a female artist, with over a million copies sold. The song peaked at number one in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Ireland, and reached the top five in France, Germany and Switzerland.

To promote "Only Girl (In the World)", Rihanna performed the song on Saturday Night Live in the United States and on The X Factor in the United Kingdom. She also performed a shortened version at the 31st Brit Awards. Anthony Mandler directed the song's music video, which portrays Rihanna in an open landscape by herself. It suggests that she is the only female in the world, mimicking the song's title and lyrics. Critics complimented the video for its bright and colorful theme. At the 53rd Grammy Awards (2011), "Only Girl (In the World)" won the Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording.

Concept and development

A man wearing a grey tee looking to his right.
Sandy Vee (pictured) co—wrote and produced "Only Girl (In the World)".

"Only Girl (In the World)" was written by Crystal Johnson in collaboration with the song's producers Stargate and Sandy Vee.[1] Rihanna had previously worked with Stargate on the singles "Hate That I Love You", "Don't Stop the Music" and "Rude Boy".[2] In February 2011, Stargate explained that Rihanna had approached the Norwegian production duo before she had started to record the then untitled project, saying that she wanted to have fun and make "happy," up-tempo songs.[3] Tor Erik Hermansen of Stargate revealed that "Only Girl (In the World)" was the first song to be created for Loud, and that Rihanna decided to include it on the album prior to recording her vocals.[3] In a live webchat with her fans, Rihanna stated that she wanted to take the next step with regard to herself as an artist:[4] "I didn’t want to go backward and remake Good Girl Gone Bad. I wanted the next step in the evolution of Rihanna, and it’s perfect for us. You guys are always defending me, so now you’ve got some great songs to justify it."[5] Rihanna described "Only Girl (In the World)" as having a "bigger sound" than "Rude Boy".[5]

"Only Girl (In the World)" was recorded during Rihanna's Last Girl on Earth tour: the song's instrumental was recorded by Mikkel Storleer Eriksen of Stargate and Miles Walker at the Roc the Mic Studios in New York City and the Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, and by Vee at The Bunker Studios in Paris. Kuk Harrell produced Rihanna's vocals and recorded them with Josh Gudwin and Marcos Tovar. Inaam Haq, Dane Liska and Brad Shea carried out additional vocal recording. The song was mixed by Phil Tan at The Ninja Beat Club in Atlanta, and by Vee at The Bunker Studios; additional and assistant engineering was carried out by Damien Lewis. Eriksen, Vee and Tor Erik Hermansen provided the instrumentation, while Johnson sung background vocals.[1]

Composition

"Only Girl (In the World)" is a dance, electro, Europop, Hi-NRG, pop, rave and R&B song;[6][7][8][9] it lasts for three minutes and 55 seconds.[10] The song is composed in the key of F-sharp minor using common time and a moderate tempo of 126 beats per minute.[11] Instrumentation is provided by synthesizers, a "heavy whipping bass" and a "strobing, dance club beat".[7][12] Brad Wete of Entertainment Weekly described the song as a "stronger, sexier" version of her 2007 single, "Don't Stop the Music".[7]

During the track, Rihanna's vocal range spans one and a half octaves from the low note of F3 to the high note of C5.[11] She employs a "silky" and "seductive" tone in her vocal performance.[6][7] The lyrics are about craving and "yearning" her lovers attention, thus making her feel like she is the only girl in the world.[6][13] Rihanna "pours her heart out" as she belts the chorus "Want you to make me feel like I'm the only girl in the world/ Like I'm the only one that you'll ever love/ Like I'm the only one who knows your heart/ Only girl in the world."[6][12][14] Digital Spy writer Nick Levine thought that the chorus "thumps like a rabbit having an epileptic fit."[9] She suggestively sings "Baby, I'll tell you all my secrets that I'm keepin'/ You can come inside/ And when you enter, you ain't leavin'/ Be my prisoner for the night."[7] Fraser McAlpine of the BBC likened the message of the song to that of the German fairy tale Rapunzel, commenting that Rihanna is not willing to throw her hair out of the castle for just any man to come and satisfy her, and "particularly not someone who isn't prepared to make the climb up to her scarily high window."[15]

Critical response

"Only Girl (In the World)" garnered a generally positive response from music critics. Gerrick D. Kennedy of the Los Angeles Times called the track a "surefire hit" and a "comeback", despite noting that it was not a comeback single.[16] MTV News writer James Dinh praised the song for being up—tempo, compared to the "stark" lead single "Russian Roulette" from her previous album, Rated R.[6] Monica Herrera for Billboard wrote that "Only Girl (In the World) "aims squarely for dance floor domination."[14] Nick Levine of Digital Spy was complimentary of the song and gave it four stars out of five, writing that it is a "crowd—pleaser". However, he felt that it was not completely "original".[9]

Levine and Jim Farber of the New York Daily News both thought that "Only Girl (In the World)" was the most pop—sounding song Rihanna had released since "Don't Stop the Music".[9][17] In his analysis of the song, the BBC's Fraser McAlpine questioned why "Only Girl (In the World)" leaves a "positive impression" on the listener despite having an arrogant and domineering tone. Although critical at first, writing "Listen to the pneumatic hiss at the heart of this song. Try and endure the pumping thrust without getting winded. There is simply too much pressure being stuffed into our ears, with too much brutal force", he concluded by saying that Rihanna sings the song with great passion and he awarded it four stars out of five.[15] Rolling Stone writer James Dolan was critical of the song and awarded the song two and a half stars out of five, writing that "the trance beat won't keep you in the club unless someone else is paying for the drinks."[18]

Commercial performance

North America

In the United States, "Only Girl (In the World)" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 75 on September 25, 2010.[19] The song peaked at number one for the chart issue dated November 25, 2010, her ninth in total.[20] The album's second single, "What's My Name?" featuring Drake, topped the Hot 100 two weeks prior (becoming her eighth number one), making it the first time in the history of the chart than an album's first single reached number one after the second single.[20] "Only Girl (In the World)" was Rihanna's fourth number one song in 2010, meaning that she became the first female and the first artist since Usher in 2004 to chart four number one's in a calendar year.[20] It also meant that she became the artist with the most number ones since 2000; for the two weeks before "Only Girl (In the World)" topped the charts, she was tied with Usher who had achieved eight chart–toppers since 2000.[20] "Only Girl (In the World)" ranked on the Billboard Hot 100 year—end chart in both 2010 and 2011, at number 47 and number 40, respectively.[21][22]

On the Digital Songs chart, the song debuted at number one with sales of 249,000, becoming her eighth to reach the peak and her sixth to debut atop the chart, the most in both categories by any artist since the chart's launch in 2005.[23] Rihanna broke the Mainstream Top 40 (Pop Songs) radio airplay chart record when "Only Girl (In the World)" rose 2—1 in the chart issue dated November 25, 2010, her seventh in total to reach number one, meaning that she broke her tie with Mariah Carey, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga for artist with the most chart toppers, each of whom had each achieved six.[24] The song ranked at number 46 and number 33 on the 2011 Billboard Digital Songs and Pop Songs year-end charts, respectively.[25][26] "Only Girl (In the World)" became her twelfth number one on the Hot Dance Club Play songs chart, finishing at number 46 on the 2010 Billboard year-end chart.[27][28] "Only Girl (In the World)" has been certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and has sold 3.6 million copies in the US as of June 2015.[29][30] In Canada, "Only Girl (In the World)" debuted at number 65 on September 25, 2010, and jumped to number one the following week for one week.[31][32] On November 6, the song rebounded to number one for three consecutive weeks.[33][34][35] It spent 35 weeks on the chart in total.[36]

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, "Only Girl (In the World)" debuted at number two on the UK Singles Chart on October 31, 2010, with 126,000 copies sold.[37][38][39] Cheryl Cole debuted at number one with "Promise This" with 157,000 copies sold, meaning that Cole and Rihanna had logged the first and second largest debut sales figures of year, respectively.[38][39] The song was Rihanna's sixth number two song on the UK Singles Chart, until it ascended 2-1 the following week for two consecutive weeks.[40][41] It became Rihanna's fourth UK number one single, following "Umbrella" (2007), "Take a Bow" (2008) and "Run This Town" (2009).[42] By December 2011, "Only Girl (In the World)" had become the 108th song to sell more than a million copies in the United Kingdom, the fifteenth by a female artist, Rihanna's first as the primary artist and second overall (the 107th million seller was Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie" six weeks prior, on which Rihanna features).[43]

Rihanna also became just the second artist who is from neither the United Kingdom nor North America to achieve this chart feat, the first being Danish singer Whigfield with her 1994 song "Saturday Night".[43] At the time, the only other female to have two songs sell more than a million copies was Canadian singer Celine Dion, however two of Rihanna's subsequent single releases, "We Found Love" (2011) and "Diamonds" (2012), have since sold more than a million copies each.[44] "Only Girl (In the World)" is the nineteenth best selling single by a female artist and the ninety-ninth overall of all time in the United Kingdom.[45][46] It was also the fourth and sixty-eighth best selling single of 2010 and 2011, respectively.[47][48] Having been certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipments exceeding 600,000 units, the song has officially sold 1,080,000 copies.[46][49] It further peaked at number one on the UK Single Downloads Chart and on the Scottish Singles Chart.[50][51]

Music video

 Refer to caption
In this scene from the video, Rihanna is wearing a large white shawl, while standing on a mountain trail, surrounded by large balloons of assorted colors. The video was praised by critics for its simple approach as well as its colorful and pleasant imagery.

The director Anthony Mandler filmed the music video for "Only Girl (In the World)" at a location two hours from Los Angeles.[52] Rihanna told JustJared.com that the theory behind shooting in a "big landscape" was so that she was the only person in view of the camera, echoing the sentiment of the song's title.[52][53] The singer can be seen "frolicking in a red field and lying in a bed of flowers."[54] It features large balloons in different colours, a swing that hangs from the sky and a tree with multi-colored lights.[54] Her outfits include a mohair sweater, a floral mini skirt and a white bra and boy shorts two-piece.[54]

Entertainment Weekly writer Tanner Stransky complimented the video, commenting on its simple theme, and noting that it makes it seem "as if Rihanna is speaking directly to you, the viewer, and she is your one and only amid swallowing rolling, beautiful, swallowing landscapes. It's an effect that makes you focus squarely on [Rihanna], who's ensconsced in flirty outfits."[52] Joyce Lee of CBS noted Rihanna appeared to have progressed from the "edgy" music videos from Rated R single releases and had moved on to a more feminine and colourful tone.[55] A reviewer of Mail Online and Seth Sommerfield of Spin echoed Lee's comments, with the former calling it "beautifully shot" and the latter "whimsical [and] beautiful". They continued to write that it was a complete departure from the "hard edged, heavier image" music videos of Rated R.[56][57] Billboard reviewer Jason Lipshutz described the tree with flashing lights as "surreal imagery."[54]

Live performances and covers

Alt=A woman wearing a neon blue jacket with two dancers in front of a stage set

Rihanna first performed "Only Girl (In the World)" on Saturday Night Live in New York City on October 30, 2010, along with a solo version of "What's My Name?".[58][59] The following day, she flew to London to perform the song on The X Factor.[60] Her dancers engaged in a food fight with cakes and cream which took place while Rihanna sang, which resulted in the producers of the show only having one minute to clear the stage after the singer left and before the results of the weekly elimination were called.[61] On November 7, Rihanna performed the track at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Madrid; she wore a "fairy tale" inspired ensemble as she paraded through a set of flowers with a sunset behind her.[62] On November 9, she appeared on the Italian version of The X Factor to perform "Only Girl (In the World)" wearing a floral print bikini, boots and a red pigtail.[63] The next day, Rihanna flew to France to sing the song once more on Le Grand Journal on a set covered with white balloons.[64]

The singer returned to London the following day to pre-record an interview on The Graham Norton Show, which also featured a live rendition of "Only Girl (In the World)".[65] The singer opened the American Music Awards with a medley of songs from Loud. She started with an a cappella version of "Love the Way You Lie (Part II)" while sitting on a stylized tree of lights above "a field of sable-colored blades of grass."[66] Rihanna transitioned into performing a solo version of "What's My Name?" before singing a shortened version of "Only Girl (In the World)".[66] Mawuse Ziegbe of MTV News noted that the singer "kicked up the island theme" as drummers wearing tribal outfits circled Rihanna.[66][67]

Rihanna performed a shortened version of "Only Girl (In the World)" at the 31st Brit Awards on February 15, 2011,[68] as part of a medley, which also incorporated two other singles from Loud, "S&M" and "What's My Name?".[69] Rihanna had planned to perform "S&M" only, to coincide with its single release in the United Kingdom, but she was asked by the BRIT Awards corporation to "tone down the sexual references in the song's lyrics".[70] The singer was reported to be angered at being requested to change her act and that she was asked to consider performing a different song instead.[70] She changed the arrangement because the Brit Awards corporation wanted to avoid complaints similar to those received following the finale of the seventh series of The X Factor, on December 11, 2010. Rihanna was criticized for wearing a provocative outfit and for performing a suggestive dance routine on The X Factor, branded as "disgusting", before the watershed, a system in the United Kingdom which does not allow adult content to be broadcast before 9 pm.[71] Rihanna performed "Only Girl (In the World)" on May 27, 2011, on NBC's Today show's "Summer Concert Series", along with "California King Bed", "What's My Name?" and "S&M".[72] The song has been included on the Loud Tour,[73] the 777 Tour,[74] and on the Diamonds World Tour.[75] It also served as the opener for her performance at Radio 1's Hackney Weekend on May 24, 2012.[76] An edited version of "Only Girl (In the World)" appeared briefly in the 2015 film Home which starred Rihanna herself.

Katy Perry covered "Only Girl (In the World)" as part of an acoustic mash-up with American performer Willow Smith's song "Whip My Hair" on her California Dreams Tour (2011).[77] Ellie Goulding covered the track during her appearance on Radio 1's Live Lounge;[78] Goulding's cover later served as the B-side to her single "Lights".[79]

Formats and track listings

  • Digital download[80]
  1. "Only Girl (In the World)" – 3:55
  • German CD single[81]
  1. "Only Girl (In the World)" – 3:55
  2. "Only Girl (In the World)" (Extended Club Mix) – 5:39
  1. "Only Girl (In the World)" – 3:55
  2. "Only Girl (In the World)" (Instrumental) – 3:55

Credits and personnel

Recording
  • Recorded at Roc the Mic Studios, New York; Westlake Recording Studios, Los Angeles, California; The Bunker Studios, Paris.
  • Mixed at The Bunker Studios, Paris, and The Beach Club, Atlanta, Georgia.
Personnel

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

Accolades

Year Ceremony Award Result Ref.
2011 53rd Annual Grammy Awards Best Dance Recording Won [83]
International Dance Music Awards Best Pop Dance Track Nominated [84]
Best R&B/Urban Dance Track Won [84]
2011 Soul Train Music Awards Best Dance Performance Nominated [85]
ASCAP Pop Music Awards Most Performed Song Won [86]
2012 Won [87]
BMI Awards BMI Pop Awards Won [88]

Charts

All-time charts

Chart Peak
position
UK Singles Chart[46] 99
Australia[144] 92

Certifications

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[145] 5× Platinum 350,000^
Belgium (BEA)[146] Platinum 30,000*
Denmark (IFPI)[147] Platinum 2,000
Germany (BVMI)[148] Platinum 300,000^
Italy (FIMI)[149] Platinum 30,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[150] Platinum 40,000^
Sweden (GLF)[151] Platinum 20,000x
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[152] 2× Platinum 60,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[153] Platinum 1,080,000[46]
United States (RIAA)[29] 6× Platinum 3,600,000dagger[30]

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

dagger Since May 9, 2013 RIAA certifications for digital singles include on-demand audio and/or video song streams in addition to downloads.[154]

Radio and digital release history

Country Date Format Label
The Netherlands[155] September 10, 2010 Digital download Island Def Jam Music Group
Belgium[156] September 13, 2010
Finland[157]
Spain[158]
United States[159][160] September 21, 2010
Germany[161] October 1, 2010 Digital download
United States[80] October 24, 2010 Digital download
United Kingdom[82][162] October 25, 2010
  • Digital download
  • CD single
Mercury Records

See also

References

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