Rihanna's Loud has continued to pump out hits 18 months after its release, but the corresponding music videos haven't been nearly as successful as the songs themselves. Her "S&M" clip was accused of plagiarism for ripping off photographer David LaChapelle, and "California King Bed" was accused (by us) of being a mattress commercial in disguise. Thankfully, the visual losing streak Rihanna's been on since probably "Disturbia" has come to an end with "Man Down."
Since "Man Down" is the closest the Barbadian Rihanna has come to recording a full-on dancehall song, it's only fitting that she and director Anthony Mandler traveled to Kingston, Jamaica -- the home of the legendary Studio One label -- to film their reggae saga. Yes, a man does in fact go down in the video's prologue, but after that the cliché moments end. "Man Down" does well evoking the spirit of two of the island nation's chief cinematic exports, Rockers and The Harder They Come, with its tale of a girl (Rihanna, obviously) exacting revenge on a guy who wronged her. (Was she raped? Was she cheated on? The video never specifies, though RiRi went on a girl-power tweet spree last night and ultimately it doesn't really matter. Plot is ancillary to the journey through the grimy feel and sun-bleached streets of Kingston.)
"I've always wanted to do a video here. 'Man Down' is just a song that you can't do anywhere else. It needs to be authentic," Rihanna said in a behind-the-scenes teaser. "You can't get any realer than Jamaica." This is Rihanna doing "I Shot the Sheriff," and she does it well.