Back to black from blonde and earlier red, the singer reels in one of her most dance-heavy radio jams yet, as she pumps intense choreography into the music video for the song. In the behind-the-scenes making of the “Where Have You Been” video on YouTube, Rihanna explains that her camp didn’t have time for choreography for the past four videos, but for this single, dance fits perfect. “This one is just all performance,” she tells the camera. “It’s all about evoking emotion through your body.”
The song focuses on a search for a lover somewhere in the world. Though the title suggests that Rihanna has possibly found the one after-the-fact, especially later when the words repeatedly cry “where have you been all my life,” the content of the song is based mostly on the desperation for a companion.
I’ve been everywhere, man, searching for someone
Someone who can please me, love me all night long
I’ve been everywhere, man, looking for you, babe
Looking for you, babe, searching for you, baby
The sound is dark and longing, exhausting the ears with sound and wearing out the heart with emotion. Just as she acted with the video and her body, she does with the music: “Where Have You Been”‘s words are spoken through the thick sound instead of the song alone.
It’s a shame that the song’s message is repeated so vigorously. Listeners will quickly catch on to the fact that RiRi is lonely, but a little more variation on the pattern would add so much depth to the context. Perhaps we must settle for the utmost simplicity when relying solely on the music for the story. “WHYB” is sure to be a hit, but like its pals in competition on the charts, the song won’t change the world. See for yourself here.