Gonna put in my two cents here again. "FourFiveSeconds" is, independent of what anyone thinks or where anyone was when they first listened to it, a cultural touchstone. I think that's pretty obvious: Paul, Kanye, Rihanna, Ty Dolla, Dave Longstreth, etc. But take that all away, and what do you have? A jam that (and I really hope they employ this idea to its fullest extent come this weekend's Grammys) feels like a twangy, coffeehouse ballad, with the choir all singing along. There are a lot of really nice little details that gradually come through as the work builds up too: that all-too-familiar organ, the little ad-libs carefully thrown around, Kanye's very mainstream verse about relationships (or misappropriation, whatever you fancy).
But at its core, I would argue for this song's overall status being Rihanna's career best vocal performance. Part of it is the pure reliance on her center-stage figure rather than her usual overbearing production, but also those scratchy croons, and that Janis Joplin-esque bridge. Oh, that bridge. I don't think the song is particularly brilliant, but I do think it's fairly great. Though, because of the reasons I stated above, I do support the song's placement in Rihanna's album above Kanye's. It's Rihanna's hallmark through and through.
As for the music video: no, not particularly special. But like that cover art I posted about a week ago (which seems to be missing now), there's something knee-weakening charismatic and magnetic about the presence of these musicians on the same alarmingly white stage. I respect the emotion even Paul is showing, rocking out on his guitar, and the video's overall stark simplicity. I'll file it under the "interesting" category. Except for Rihanna's eye-roll around the third time she shows up on screen. That moment strikes my soul for some reason.
And just to bring it up, because no one has seemed to yet, I really hope I don't have to explain to anyone my adoration for Spike Jonze's "Only One" video. It touches me in the infantile portions of my heart, guys.