Life Listens: Music from Rihanna, Wang Leehom, Shania Twain, Gentle Bones and The Weeknd

Rihanna performing during the Super Bowl halftime show on Feb 12, 2023. PHOTO: AFP

In this weekly column, The Straits Times curates the most buzz-worthy music you need to know about now.

Must-See MV: Rihanna – Apple Music Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show

The Super Bowl halftime show that is part of the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL) is traditionally one of the biggest performances of the American pop music calendar.

Rihanna’s set at this year’s instalment was certainly one of the more memorable ones in recent times, and you can watch the video on

The Barbadian pop star, dressed in a red outfit, revealed her second pregnancy through the performance, proudly touching her visible baby bump several times throughout the show.

A pregnant Rihanna performed with an army of dancers at the Apple Music Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show. PHOTO: AFP

Being pregnant has not slowed her down either. She kept pace with her army of white-clad dancers, breaking out into moves while balancing on giant, levitating stages.

At almost 14 minutes long, the set at the State Farm Arena in Glendale, Arizona was like an abridged version of a best-of concert. We got a medley of both her solo hits, which included early bangers like Umbrella (2007), to her collaborations such as DJ Khaled’s Wild Thoughts (2017). Pity there were no new songs from her long overdue new album though.

The Super Bowl appearance did wonders for her streaming numbers. According to Apple Music, her listenership jumped by 331 per cent on the streaming platform, more than the previous year’s Super Bowl half­time performers.. – Eddino Abdul Hadi

Ace Album: Shania Twain – Queen Of Me

Canadian country pop star Shania Twain is seeing a resurgence with the release of her sixth album, Queen Of Me. PHOTO: REPUBLIC

Canadian country-pop star Shania Twain is seeing a bit of a resurgence these days. Harry Styles and Taylor Swift are unabashed fans and Twain’s recently released sixth album, Queen Of Me, went to the Top 10 in charts worldwide, peaking at No. 1 in Britain.

Her first album since 2017’s Now, the 12-track release is chock-full of upbeat numbers, with Giddy Up! and Pretty Liar displaying the trademark Shania Twain sass.

Like in her famous hits That Don’t Impress Me Much and Man! I Feel Like A Woman! (both 1997), the new songs are all about confidence and self-love

Shania Twain’s latest 12-track release is chock-full of upbeat numbers, with Giddy Up! and Pretty Liar displaying her trademark sass. PHOTO: REUTERS

And while there is input from contemporary pop artiste Tyler Joseph from Twenty One Pilots, who produced the hip-hop-influenced The Hardest Stone, there is nothing too left field here.

She sticks to the same formula that has made her the best-selling female artiste in country music history, right down to the production, which sounds too much like it was recorded in the 1990s. – Eddino Abdul Hadi

Singapore Scene: Gentle Bones – The Right Words

The Right Words feels like an amalgamation of the various versions of Gentle Bones throughout the years. PHOTO: WARNER MUSIC ASIA

The home-grown singer-songwriter’s The Right Words is his first new song since he signed with regional label Warner Music Asia in a bid to expand his audience outside of Singapore.

The track feels like an amalgamation of the various versions of Gentle Bones throughout the years.

It starts out with an acoustic guitar, reminiscent of his early folk sounds, before buoyant pop drumbeats kick in, a reflection of his more recent discography.

His knack for strong hooks is still apparent and the melodies are the type that one can hum after just one listen.

Gentle Bones’ The Right Words is his first new song since he signed with regional label Warner Music Asia. PHOTO: GENTLE BONES/INSTAGRAM

Vocals-wise, the song sees him employ various singing styles, from low notes to falsettos.

Lyrically, The Right Words takes a different approach compared with the self-care mantras of recent releases such as his 2022 EP the art of thanking yourself, dwelling instead on intrusive thoughts and writer’s block. – Eddino Abdul Hadi

Chart Champ: The Weeknd – Die For You

Die For You, a song first released in 2016, is experiencing a chart performance even better than singles from The Weeknd’s most recent album, Dawn FM. PHOTO: XO / REPUBLIC

TikTok proves, yet again, that it is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to reviving older songs.

Canadian pop star The Weeknd’s latest hit is not from any of his recent releases. Instead, Die For You is a song from Starboy, an album he released in 2016.

It is currently in the Top 10 in the Billboard charts, thanks to a surge of TikTok users adopting the moody tune for their videos.

Thanks to TikTok, Canadian pop star The Weeknd scores yet another hit with Die For You. PHOTO: REUTERS

Die For You’s chart performance is even better than the singles from The Weeknd’s most recent album, Dawn FM, released in early 2022.

It is not the only song featuring The Weeknd that is now in Billboard’s Top 10 charts though – he also sings on Creepin’ (2022), a collaboration with American hip-hop acts Metro Boomin and 21 Savage. – Eddino Abdul Hadi

Stream This Song: Wang Leehom – See You Soon (Live)

Singer Wang Leehom is mounting his comeback after an ugly divorce made him cease showbiz activities for a year. PHOTO: KWAN’S INTERNATIONAL

It is not often that a song by a veteran Mandopop star sparks a war of words, but that is exactly what happened with Taiwanese-American singer Wang Leehom’s new single, See You Soon.

Unveiled by Wang at a Las Vegas concert in January, it is explicitly dedicated to the three children he shares with his estranged former wife Lee Jinglei, with the lyrics implying he has no access to his kids. Following its release, Ms Lee told Wang to stop exploiting their children and playing the victim.

Wang Leehom’s new single See You Soon is dedicated to his children. PHOTO: KWAN’S INTERNATIONAL

Setting aside the domestic drama See You Soon has stirred, it is a number that puts all its emotions and heart in its lyrics. It is a simple melody backed by the guitar and piano, so the focus is entirely on Wang’s heartfelt delivery.

While his career has suffered in the wake of his ugly divorce battle in 2021, the track proves his musical talent and vocal ability have not taken a hit. – Jan Lee

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