In times of short attention spans, Smartphone news and top 40 rotations being shorter than ever, its important pop artists produce the catchiest, most extravagant piece of art they can draw up from the most unlikely source. Rihanna's team achieved that with "Bitch Better Have My Money", but it's still a forgettable single, and one which listeners ultimately forget after a repetition of simple minded and one dimensional lyricism - which happens to be the key to Rihanna's downfall on a consistent basis.
The big question leading up to Anti, and "Work" was which direction will Rihanna go? Will she progress further down this aggressive dominant figure, the polar opposite to her predecessors of bdsm humiliation and sexual gimmicks. Drake's sexual gimmicks are among the worst in popular music. But it's his work with Rihanna, specifically "What's My Name" which forms the early opinion as to why "Work" suffers. What world are we living in that "What's the square root of 69 is eight some," constitutes as a well-written lyric and "ooh na na, what's my name," is a catchy refrain. Extended vocal pronunciations are something of the present, you never heard Eazy E spending more than five seconds pronouncing one letter of the alphabet, and you sure as hell never heard Lauryn Hill making up expressions like 'ooh na na'", that's some N-Dubz level unintelligent for the purpose of being unintelligent nonsense talk.
Where "Work" falls flat, honestly it's all of it. The beat is special in the bad way, without the blatant electronic bass, it could be a Thom Yorke B-side just waiting to be time stretched to more ambience, but the mainstream electronics kill off any form of experimentation and uniqueness from the norm. Azealia Banks' production, though not lyrically or musically in the same region as Rihanna's here, it has character and develops an emotional attachment to the audience, be it the jungle house "1991", or the ice cold electro-pop "Feeling It", the beats and instrumentals supporting Banks are superior to anything on Anti. The inclusion of Drake's verse is there simply because of commercialism. There's actually no need for Drake on "Work", with Drake, the song becomes boring, but without Drake you have three minutes of complete randomness. Rihanna's lyrical repetition of the song title is quite frankly annoying, added to the auto-tuned exclamation of a non-world "mmmmmm," or something of similar ilk. Something different from Rihanna? Don't think so, "Work", just like Anti is a placebo unintentionally tricking audiences and critics in to believing this is a good enough lead single from two of the biggest names in pop music. It's the musical equivalent of taking a piece of paper, drawing one line and calling it art.