“Work,” Rihanna’s new single featuring Drake, is frenetic and catchy.

Listen to “Work,” Rihanna’s Frenetic New Single Featuring Drake

Listen to “Work,” Rihanna’s Frenetic New Single Featuring Drake

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Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 27 2016 2:31 PM

Listen to “Work,” Rihanna’s Frenetic New Single Featuring Drake

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Rihanna’s new single will definitely get stuck in your head.

Photo by PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images

After months of speculation regarding Rihanna’s long-awaited eighth studio album, the details are suddenly becoming clear. Billboard reported last night that Anti—the follow-up to Rihanna’s multi-platinum 2012 album, Unapologeticwould drop by the end of this week. The artist herself then took to Twitter this morning to announce that “Work,” featuring Drake, will be the album’s official first single. “Work” is Rihanna’s third collaboration with Drake, following “What’s My Name” from Rihanna’s 2010 album Loud and the title track from Drake’s 2012 album Take Care. It is also the fourth track Rihanna has released since the start of last year, following “FourFiveSeconds,” “Bitch Better Have My Money,” and “American Oxygen.” Those tracks had their admirers—“FourFiveSeconds” was particularly well-received—but they failed to generate the massive fan response or chart performance that Rihanna might’ve hoped for, so now Rihanna’s either trying to demote them to non-single status, or she’s dropped them from the album. (She hasn’t released an official tracklist for Anti yet.)

As lyrics go, “Work” doesn’t give us too much to chew on: Rihanna sings vaguely about a romance gone awry and, well, working, while Drake pleads, “Long distance, I need you … If you had a twin I would still choose you.” Musically, however, “Work” works pretty well. Produced by Boi-1da, it opens with Rihanna rhythmically repeating the title hook over a bed of soft, syncopated bass and some hi-hat taps, with a soothing synth line eventually emerging to tie things together. The arrangement expands through the second verse—light piano, a jazzy guitar lick, warm vocal harmonies—before dropping back for Drake’s half-sung verse. The overall effect is frenetic and extremely catchy—one listen and it’s likely “Work” will be stuck in your head all day. The single is streaming on Tidal and iTunes.

Darian Alexander is an attorney and writer based in New York.