Rihanna's 'Diamonds' tops Hot 100, 'Unapologetic' to debut big

LOS ANGELES, Nov 21 (Reuters) - R&B star Rihanna scored her

12th chart-topping single on the Billboard Hot 100 on Wednesday,

as her seventh studio album "Unapologetic" raced toward a big

debut after its release this week.

Rihanna's "Diamonds," the lead single from "Unapologetic,"

notched the top spot on the Hot 100, tying the Barbadian singer

with Madonna and The Supremes for the fourth-most chart-topping

singles in Billboard history.

Only Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey and The Beatles have had

more hit singles.

The 24-year-old singer has just wrapped up a seven-day

mini-tour across seven world cities to promote "Unapologetic,"

her seventh studio album, which was released on Monday and shot

to the top of the iTunes album charts in 43 countries despite

garnering mixed reviews.

"Unapologetic" scored 65 out of 100 on review aggregator

site Metacritic.com, with some critics unsettled by the singer's

harder sound and close-to-home lyrics. Others have embraced it.

The New York Times' Jon Caramanica called Rihanna's latest

"one of her best albums yet," adding that the singer's presence

made her "without peer when it comes to her image, which is

steely and unforgiving and bulletproof."

But BBC Music's Natalie Shaw found the album a difficult

listen, calling it "the sound of a human dragged headfirst into

a breakdown," and criticizing the singer for using "pop music to

inadvertently condone abuse."

The track that Shaw refers to and has everyone talking is

Rihanna's collaboration with ex-boyfriend Chris Brown, who was

charged with assaulting her three years ago.

In a 90's pop-inspired track called "Nobody's Business," the

singers further fuel speculation that they have rekindled their

romance, singing lyrics such as "your love is perfection" and

"you'll always be mine."

Critics have found more evidence of Rihanna drawing on her

tumultuous relationship with Brown on "Love Without

Tragedy/Mother Mary," which follows "Nobody's Business" on the

album. In it, Rihanna sings "felt like love struck me in the

night," and makes references to "one drive, injured us fatally,"

possibly alluding to the night Brown assaulted her.

Rolling Stone magazine's Jon Dolan gave "Unapologetic" three

and a half out of five stars, noting that Brown was "like a

co-writer throughout."

Rihanna made sure to capitalize on the success of her

biggest hit to date, last year's Calvin Harris electro-dance

production "We Found Love." On "Unapologetic," the singer brings

French DJ David Guetta on "Right Now," a thumping dance track.

The singer also reteamed with rapper Eminem on "Numb,"

following their 2010 hit song "Love The Way You Lie." Unlike the

emotional content of domestic abuse on their previous

collaboration, the Barbadian singer and Detroit rapper lightened

the tone for "Numb," singing about love in the club scene.

The songstress also softened up for two intimate piano-led

ballads, "What Now" and "Stay," in which she recruited newcomer

singer Mikkey Ekko for an stripped-down performance, using the

opportunity to showcase her voice.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Elaine Lies and Lisa

Shumaker)

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