Review: Rihanna headlines Y100’s Jingle Ball

Not long ago, Rihanna was just a promising pop singer from Barbados. On Saturday night at BankAtlantic Center, she took another step toward hemispheric, if not global, domination. She brought her Umbrella, of course, the crazy-catchy love song that sent her to the front of the line at radio and video. But at Y-100’s Jingle Ball, in front of more than 12,000 people, Rihanna proved her talent and magnetism won’t be confined to one huge hit, or just to broadcast media. Rihanna’s on-air star power carried over completely to the stage in her 11-song headlining set. This was a sensational, arena-sized coming-out party for a young star who is, in many ways, more impressive in person. The songs meshed pop, dance, r&b, reggae, power balladry and a bit of rock. The singer combined singing, choreography and playful interaction with bandmates, dancers and an ecstatic crowd.

Not long ago, Rihanna was just a promising pop singer from Barbados. On Saturday night at BankAtlantic Center, she took another step toward hemispheric, if not global, domination.

She brought her Umbrella, of course, the crazy-catchy love song that sent her to the front of the line at radio and video. But at Y-100’s Jingle Ball, in front of more than 12,000 people, Rihanna proved her talent and magnetism won’t be confined to one huge hit, or just to broadcast media.

Rihanna’s on-air star power carried over completely to the stage in her 11-song headlining set. This was a sensational, arena-sized coming-out party for a young star who is, in many ways, more impressive in person.

The songs meshed pop, dance, r&b, reggae, power balladry and a bit of rock. The singer combined singing, choreography and playful interaction with bandmates, dancers and an ecstatic crowd.

Rihanna’s voice is not a particularly strong instrument – on tracks such as Rehab and Pon de Replay, she relied more on rhythm and feel than pure vocal prowess. In a couple of spots, prerecorded harmony vocal tracks seemed to be doing a little too much of the work for her.

But a singer doesn’t have to shatter glass and inspire awe to radiate appeal and personality. Rihanna had plenty of both to go with an almost faultless instinct for what kind of songs suit her. She and r&b singer Chris Brown, who turned up later at the Ball, also made an endearing duo, trading verses on Umbrella and letting the audience grab hold of that “ella-ella-ella” tail.

Shontelle, also from Barbados, seemed to be positioning herself as the next Rihanna. It remains to be seen how easily or rapdily Rihanna might be replaced.

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