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The first performance, “Diamonds,” was a bit odd: Rihanna, who premiered the music video Thursday, performed the hit single in front of a greenscreen, making the historically small SNL stage look like a low-budget high school production, with computer graphics of outer space, palm trees and a rotating human body projected behind Rihanna and at times hovering over her band, all of whom were wearing black shirts that blended into the green — er, I guess it was black — screen. This was her first televised performance of the song.
But the singer redeemed herself when she closed the show with a new song from the upcoming album, which debuts next week, November 19. The song, titled “Stay,” is an emotional ballad, and sans featured artist Mikky Ekko, Rihanna reminded listeners that she is a singer first, stage performer second.
In the song, Rih Rih sings about a broken relationship, perhaps alluding to the on-again, off-again affair with fellow singer Chris Brown. “Funny how you’re the broken one, but I’m the only one who needed saving,” she sings in “Stay.” Their relationship officially ended in 2009, when Brown assaulted Rihanna in his car the night before the Grammy Awards. In an interview this year with Oprah, Rihanna admitted she still loves Brown — but for the record, she and Brown think the status of their relationship is “Nobodies Business,” or so they sing in a duet on Rihanna’s upcoming album.
Before hitting the SNL stage, Rihanna previewed “Unapologetic” in its entirety with media and label executives on Friday afternoon at Jay-Z‘s NYC club, 40/40, according to Billboard.
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