For most people, Rihanna – as she is now – is a force of nature to be reckoned with, exuding an aura of ultimate cool with her sex-positive feminism & unabashedly blunt attitude; This is partly true, as she has built herself an empire upon her sexuality & me-first persona, but there was a time when she was the absolute embodiment of mid-noughties Emo kids, a much dorkier version of herself virtually unrecognizable from her current form – Cue “Disturbia,” a song so ingrained in the fashion & Electro Pop trends of the time it might as well have been the theme song for Myspace. On it, Rihanna sings about feelings of paranoia, pain & a slew of other anxiety-inducing emotions, somewhat trapped by the constantly overthinking processes of her mind a la “Disturbia;” This meshed incredibly well with the overwhelmingly angsty nature of teens in 2008, at the time experiencing the high of creating their own social media communities wherein extreme emotions were around every corner & could be spoken about openly without fear of persecution, the perfect environment for a song devoted to mental illnesses & the feelings of being an outcast – Even the music video is Myspaced-out, the ever-popular raccoon eye makeup & “scene rocker” aesthetic present in every shot, looking more like a From First To Last video than an electric fantasy.
Sonically, “Disturbia” is definitely a product of its surroundings, heavily reliant on vocoder-laden vocals & often useless synthesized instrumentation to give a bit of edge to her performance, a weak attempt by studio execs to fuse the worlds of Pop music & Dance together; This was, after all, the era in which Lady Gaga rose to fame, sparking a mad dash to push electronically-fused music to mainstream audiences without taking in to account just what made those styles so fun to begin with – Danceability. Audiences are given a production that feels cheap, completely missing the oh-so-important low-end bass of a proper Dance track & sticking to the tinny timbre of basic synth-pads, all placed over the embarrassingly soulless on-the-one percussion rhythm that would continue to pervade Dance Pop tracks until today. Even so, “Disturbia” still kills it to this day with a catchy groove that gets stuck in your head for days, sinking its roots deeper & deeper every time you try to flush it out – For all its faults, especially how it constantly reminds you of the 2007 Shia Lebeouf movie of the same name, listeners can’t seem to bring themselves to terms with its inferiority as a song, proving that sometimes nostalgia can be more powerful than reason.
Rihanna shows off her Gothic side in “Disturbia”, a perfect, pulsating piece of Synth Pop, in which Rihanna plays a dark pop princess, bringing sex and soul to he performance. At times, she is alluring, and at other times, she looks a little…intense – especially with those spooky white contacts on. On the hook she rages; “Your mind is in Disturbia, it's like the darkness is the light, Disturbia, am I scaring you tonight
your mind is in Disturbia, ain't used to what you like, Disturbia.” She has kinky carnal desires, and she demands her lover to meet her halfway in this fantasy world she has designed. Sexy as she is, she is well aware that she may intimidate half of the guys in the club, and she admits this in the words. The lyrics, above all, are a challenge directed at the sexual partner. She speaks of the power of this possession; “It's a thief in the night, to come and grab you, it can creep up inside you, and consume you, a disease of the mind, it can control you, it's too close for comfort.” Other interpretations are that this song is about a mental battle, where the narrator is wrestling with inner demons. In this context, perhaps it does have to do with identity – the album which hosts this track is called “Good Girl Gone Bad”, after all. A reason why the video looks so fantastic is because it was helmed by fashion photographer David LaChappelle, a bold visionary. Where his work is usually more colorful, this is a real dark look – but it really provokes the viewer, nonetheless. This is a ten year old song as of this writing – and the Lady Gaga style song writing was in full bloom – Rihanna was a Pop contemporary during this period, breaking the rules of R&B.
"Disturbia" is a song recorded by Barbadian singer Rihanna for Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded (2008), a re-release of her third studio album Good Girl Gone Bad (2007). It was written by Andre Merritt, Chris Brown, Brian Kennedy and Rob. A!, with production of the song helmed by Kennedy. The song was released as the third single from the reloaded edition of the album, and seventh overall. "Disturbia" was sent to US Contemporary hit radio on June 17, 2008, and was released as a CD single in the United Kingdom on July 22, 2008.