With a gleaming career spanning two decades and eight studio albums (plus a ninth rumoured to be released in 2019), it’s impossible not to have a favourite Rihanna song. Drawing inspiration from a wealth of worldwide genres and cultures, Robyn Rihanna Fenty is a truly global artist, inspiring fans in all corners of the planet with her ever-evolving musical output.
What you might not realise though, is that your go-to Riri tune says a lot about what you look for in a travel destination... We’ve done the hard work work work work work to match the biggest Rihanna hits to their geographical counterparts, from hedonistic dance capitals to spirit-freeing, natural wonders.
Pon de Replay
As a fan of Rihanna’s debut hit, you’re likely every bit as party-loving as its refrain – ‘Mr DJ won’t you turn the music up’. The song’s dancehall influence and Barbadian title (meaning ‘play it again’ in Bajan Creole), are an homage to the singer’s homeland, so sun-drenched Barbados is naturally the destination for you. The colourful colonial architecture and rhythmic buzz of Bridgetown, where Rihanna grew up, is the perfect setting to dance all night, heckling the DJ to crank up the volume.
Lovers of Umbrella’s heavy beat and driving lyrics won’t be shy of a raindrop or two – the song’s 10-week stint at number one in the UK has even been linked to the remarkably heavy rainfall at the time of its release. If this is your jam, try heading to the north Indian state of Meghalaya, home to the two wettest places in the world. One of these, the town of Cherrapunjee, is known for its extraordinarily strong tree-root bridges, standing firm as the rain pours around them, much like the relationship referenced in the song.
Shut Up and Drive
With a bassline that sounds like a meaty, revving engine, if this high-speed hit is your Rihanna track of choice, you’re going to want a destination as energetic and petrol-headed as you are. Home to the world’s most famous Formula 1 track, which snakes through chic streets of boutiques, glittering hotels and casinos, Monaco is your spiritual home. With an illustrious history of attracting the world’s wealthy elite since the early 20th century, Monaco echoes Shut Up and Drive’s retro musical influences, as well as its hedonistic, badass attitude.
A freaky, offbeat celebration of all things supernatural, Disturbia is Rihanna at her most spine-tingling. If the song’s dark themes and twisted lyrics get your imagination running riot, head to the chilling ghost towns and eerie tree-trunk silhouettes of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast. Or for a more traditional haunting, check out Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic, a city characterised by Gothic churches and monasteries, and the endlessly creepy Sedlec Ossuary – a chapel adorned with human skeletons that looks like it's straight out of the Disturbia video itself.
Only Girl (in the World)
This soaring, upbeat number conjures images of Queen Riri bellowing its gutsy lyrics from the rooftops as she demands ALL the attention. As one of the world’s highest altitude cities, La Paz in Bolivia is the ideal destination for fans of this track. A fast-paced mass of noise, colour and activity, mirroring the song’s up-tempo, electro style, La Paz’s lofty squares and Andean vistas make it easy to feel like you’re on top of – and only girl in – the world.
Bold, self-assured and sexually liberated, if you’re digging S&M’s balls-to-the-wall vibe, chances are your travel preferences will follow suit. You’ll find all the creative debauchery you can imagine in Tokyo, Japan, famed for its wealth of ‘love hotels’, clubs and parties that span a range of themes and fetishes. The city’s neighbourhood of Akihabara is well known for its sex shops and latex-clad cosplay fans, a frenetic, neon-lit clash of colours and kinks every bit as daring and counter-culture as Rihanna herself.
We Found Love
With its life-affirming refrain and the kind of building, electro-house sound that incites euphoric dancing, this is an uplifting celebration of love in all its forms. If this is the Rihanna song that captures your heart, you’ll fall for the welcoming, open-spirited vibe of Brighton, England, a progressive and fun-loving city where anything goes and love always wins. You should also consider a trip to Iceland – one of the world’s most LGBTQ+ friendly countries whose capital city of Reykjavík offers just the kind of frenetic, all-night-long party scene that this song is made for.
If you can’t get enough of Rihanna’s sultry, glimmering vocals on this glamorous track, we’d wager that you enjoy the finer things in life. Where else to indulge your passion for luxury and opulence than Dubai, a city where everything sparkles, glitters and shimmers from great heights? From palm-shaped islands scattered with private beaches, to some of the most decadent bars and restaurants on the planet, this shimmering, desert-fringed playground is the ideal destination for you to truly live your best life, Rihanna-style.
Bitch Better Have My Money
Fuelled by stripped-back trap rhythms and a thirst for revenge, this is the truest evolution of ‘Bad Gal Riri’, stopping at nothing to get what she’s owed. If Bitch Better Have My Money speaks your Rihanna truth, grab the keys to a ‘brand new foreign car’ and drive across the Nevada desert to the world capital of money changing hands – Las Vegas. Whether you’re cleaning up at the roulette tables or killin’ it at a chic pool party, Vegas sizzles with the kind of reckless, renegade attitude that this song has in spades.
Influenced by dancehall, infused with infectious riddims and sung in Jamaican Patois, fans of Riri’s ode to ‘the hustle’ and self-made status should trace its roots back to the bars and dancefloors of Kingston, Jamaica. The most hardcore of Work fans might also want to take a trip to Toronto’s East End, where you’ll find The Real Jerk, a Caribbean restaurant that starred in the song’s video and is frequently visited by the song’s co-writer and collaborator, Drake.