A good friend of mine recently chided me for liking "FourFiveSeconds," the recent collaboration between Rihanna, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney. I was truly taken aback. There's also Slant's issue with Rihanna's raw vocals, Source's sarcasm about the lack of a beat drop, and those who still don't see a place for McCartney next to contemporary talent.
There is just so much right about the song. It's this kind of off-beat, unexpected yet successful melding of artistic style that can re-ignite one's faith in the direction of pop music. You have a subdued, chord-driven guitar pattern played by McCartney, a soulful, powerhouse vocal sermon delivered by Rihanna, and a sparse, confident verse/auto-tuned background vocal laid down by West. Each artist delivers the quintessential version of themselves, and somehow it gels triumphantly without any augmentation. Yes, Kanye can be a dick; yes, Paul probably shouldn't say the word "wylin"; but none of that matters when this track is playing.
The magic of "FourFiveSeconds" lies in its versatility. You can throw it on at the height of a pre-game and have everyone belting out the chorus like some sort of drunken church choir on top of a mountain. Or, you can listen to it cozied up in your bed before passing out on a Wednesday night, grasing desperately to the thought of Friday. Either way, when that bridge hits, I dare you to try and not sing along.