The first single from Rihanna's sixth album is an upbeat dance track, which finds the Bajan beauty singing about finding that special someone. "Yellow diamonds in the light, she croons, "And we're standing side by side. As your shadow crosses mine; What it takes to come alive." The song premiered on September 22, 2011, on London radio station Capital FM and was released on the same day for digital download in the US.
The song is a collaboration with Scottish electro-pop producer Calvin Harris, who is best known for his work with Dizzee Rascal, Kelis and Kylie Minogue. He's also scored a series of Top Ten singles under his own name in the UK including the chart-topping "I'm Not Alone
," which was later sampled by Chris Brown on his own hit "Yeah 3x
Following the song's premiere, Harris tweeted: "Wowow many good comments about song with @Rihanna so happy u like it, i told u she sounded like an angel! THanks #RihannaNavy !! :D"
Harris told London's Capital FM that the Bajan singer's followers - often called Rihanna's Navy - were putting pressure on him via Twitter before it was released to radio. He confessed: "It was crazy all the fans on Twitter, tweeting me saying: 'The song better not be rubbish' before they heard it. There were some mild threatening nature to them, but it's all part of the fun. She sounds great on it."
Part of the music video was shot in a field in the Northern Irish town of Bangor on September 26 and 27, 2011. The farmer who owned the land on which Rihanna was filming was shocked to have spotted the Bajan beauty half naked when he was walking to his tractor. He told BBC News: "I thought it was inappropriate. I requested them to stop and they did. I had my conversation with Rihanna and I hope she understands where I'm coming from. We shook hands." After being asked to leave the field, the singer continued to shoot the promo in Belfast.
The song found the top ten of the Hot 100, jumping 16-9 in the chart week ending October 15, 2011. It was Rihanna's 20th top 10 entry, her first being "Pon De Replay
," which arrived in the top tier in June 2005. The span of six years and four months, overtook Madonna's collection of first 20 top 10s, which stretched six years and nine months to achieve a new best for a solo artist.
Following a stint as her support act on the Australian leg of her tour, Calvin Harris was asked by Rihanna to write a song for her next album. After she turned down several attempts by the Scottish electro wiz, she finally agreed to record this track.
Rihanna's love interest in the video is played by model and former boxer Dudley O'Shaughnessy. According to insiders, she had seen his modeling shots and other pictures when he was a boxer and handpicked him for the role. Calvin Harris also makes a brief cameo appearance during the party scene in a muddy field, popping up behind the decks.
The gritty video portrays Rihanna as addicted to both her lover and to drugs, and she and her beau end up abusing each other. The Bajan singer was criticized by anti-rape campaigners over concerns she is portrayed in the clip as "an object to be possessed by men" and they questioned the message it sends to impressionable fans. Eileen Kelly of the Rape Crisis Centre told Britain's Daily Star, "Rihanna's new video is a disgrace. It sends the message that she is an object to be possessed by men, which is disturbingly what we see in real violence cases."
The clip was directed by Melina Matsoukas, who previously was responsible for Rihanna's visuals for "Rude Boy
", and the controversial "S&M
." Matsoukas explained to MTV News that the video is not intended to refer back to the singer's past experiences with domestic violence, but rather it's a warning about the dangers of addiction. "[The song's] totally rave-y... and that's the feeling, just music rushing over you, and then I started thinking about drugs and addiction and love and how that's an addiction," she said. "We've all lived the ups and downs of being in a toxic relationship. It's really about the obstacles of trying to let it go, but at the same time how great it makes you feel, so it's hard to let it go."
Talk That Talk
's debut at #1 on the UK albums chart coincided with this song's sixth week on top of the UK singles chart. Having already reached #1 on the two main tallies simultaneously earlier in 2011 with "What's My Name
" and Loud
, Rihanna became the first ever female artist to achieve the Official Singles and Albums Chart double twice in the same year with different singles and albums.
The song's eight consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 broke Rihanna's personal record of seven with "Umbrella
During the song's tenth week at #1 on the Hot 100, Rihanna ended up bookending the chart as "Talk That Talk
" re-entered at #100 the same week. The previous time this happened was on March 1, 2008 when Flo Rida's "Low
" topped the chart whilst "Elevator
"was placed at #100.
Actor James Franco was asked to play Rihanna's boyfriend in the video before Dudley O'Shaughnessy took on the role. Franco told MTV News: "She actually asked me to be in that video, the one with the relationship that gets crazy. I couldn't do it. But, I guess, I hope that that means there's mutual love between us."
The song topped the US Hot Dance Club Songs for two consecutive weeks, the only track to remain at #1 on that chart for more than seven days in 2011.
Speaking with Q magazine, Harris admitted the line "we found love in a hopeless place" didn't mean anything in particular. "It could have been Jumpin Jaks in Dumfries," he acknowledged, "although that has sadly closed down. The thing is, I don't know exactly what I was thinking about. I was just playing the song and doing nonsense singing to see if the syllables fitted the song. It was like that. I was singing nonsense and that's how the lyrics happened."
The visual won the Video of the Year award at the 2012 VMAs.
According to British singer Leona Lewis, she was originally given this song but, preferred her single "Trouble
." Lewis told The Daily Star Sunday
: "I worked with Calvin and we recorded 'We Found Love.' But he went touring with Rihanna and she ended up releasing it.
I didn't commit to it because I wanted 'Trouble.' to be my first single," she added, "so I think that was another reason they went with Rihanna. It was the same version and production but mine's better."
This was the most played song on US airwaves in 2012. It was followed by Flo Rida's "Good Feeling
" in second place and The Wanted's "Glad You Came
" in third.
Nicole Scherzinger also turned down the song. "I passed on 'We Found Love.' I got the demo of that song and I was busy at the time," she revealed to Notion magazine. "They'd sent me a few dance tracks and I wasn't able to get to them and I was like, 'Oh, there's so much dance and I want to take a break from it'. That was my fault. I slept on it."