An Appreciation of Rihanna’s “Love On The Brain” Performances

cb on October 21, 2016 - 9:04 am in Editorials, Features

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After seeing footage of an early “Love On The Brain” rendition, from one of her first Anti tour stops, I knew that any upcoming performances of the song would be a problem. Then the Billboard Music Awards came, and, well, you know what happened.

Rihanna pushes a song already packed with raw emotion to its limits when she adds her flair and newfound vocal range. She looks lost in the moment every time, swaying to the doo-wop beat, gesticulating with swagger as she belts from her soul – going from her low timbre into new heights up the scale in seconds. The transition from the frank way she sings “What do I got to do to get in your motherfucking heart?” into wailing “Baby like I…” in the next breath is pure gold every single time. It’s the most consistent “as close to the recording” I believe we’ve ever heard from her ballad-wise.

Watch how she reacts when the first note hits at the VMAs. It’s like she knows she’s about to fuck it up and finish the night strong so she could collect her Michael Jackson Video Vangaurd award and roll out. It was a grand finale that night, pushing some shaky vocals from earlier to the back of our minds. I think it’s safe to assume it’s her favorite song to perform at the moment.

Tidal released the official dance remixes for the single a few days ago, but I couldn’t help thinking what if they released a project of live performances instead? (remember those?). So, I made a playlist (below) for those like me who can’t get enough of hearing this song live.

Hell, I wouldn’t mind her performing “LoTB” in lieu of the anthem come November. It would be more believable, and I might actually sing along.

Carlos Brathwaite has love on the… BRAY-heeeee-n. Follow him on Twitter.

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