Rihanna is addressing a former lover on this R&B power ballad, telling him to stop being so stubborn and just take her back. She knows that like her, he's been hurt by their breakup, so she urges him to swallow his pride and "kiss it better." The song was first previewed in December 2014 on Rihanna's Instagram page.
Rihanna wrote the song with:
American songwriter and producer Jeff Bhasker who has won Grammy Awards for the songs "Run This Town" by Jay-Z, "All of the Lights" by Kanye West, and "We Are Young" by Fun. His other credits include co-writing and co-producing Mark Ronson's smash hit, "Uptown Funk."
British singer-songwriter and actress Teddy Sinclair (real name Natalia Cappuccini), who started her recording career under the name of Verbalicious and released her debut single "Don't Play Nice" in March 2005. The song charted at #11 in the UK singles chart but her then record label later filed for bankruptcy and little was heard from her for a few years. Cappuccini then adopted the stage name Natalia Kills from the interjection "you killed it!", after her record company advised her that her legal name was "indescribable." She released two albums under that name, before reverting to Teddy Sinclair in 2015.
American vocal producer Thaddis "Kuk" Harrell who was a member of a songwriting–production team comprised of himself, Christopher "Tricky" Stewart and Terius "The Dream" Nash. Harrell was the vocal producer and co-writer of Rihanna's Grammy-winning single "Umbrella" and earned another Grammy for the vocal production of Rihanna's "Only Girl (In The World)". His other credits include being a composer and engineer on Beyoncé's chart topping "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)."
Producer/songwriter Glass John, whose other credits include Chris Brown's 2013 single "Home." John caused a stir at the end of 2015 when he took to Twitter on an extended rant about the delay in completing Anti and how Rihanna's alleged boyfriend Travi$ Scott was sabotaging the LP.
John then went on to claim that "Kiss It Better" was supposed to be the album's lead single, tweeting, "ME AND MY WIFE (meaning Rihanna) WENT IN THE STUDIO W/ CLASSIC HIT MAKER @JEFFBHASKER TO CREATW A CLASSIC ANTHEM. And f--king Travis prevented it from being her first $ingle and launching her album last year."
Rihanna was scheduled to perform this song at the Grammy Awards in 2016, but she had to cancel after coming down with bronchitis.
The sultry black-and-white music video was directed by British fashion photographer Craig McDean. It features Rihanna moving around and rolling about in various stages of undress. The singer is literally the only thing in the frame throughout the clip.
McDean, who had previously shot Rihanna for magazines such as T and Vogue, told The Fader that he filmed the video in Los Angeles over a "very long night." McDean added that the inspiration for the clip was based on ideas which were inspired by dadaism and surrealism. "It all comes from you as a person, your inner inspiration and ideas you've had inside for a lifetime," he said.
McDean also spoke about the prominent use of dice that he and creative partner Masha Vayukova incorporated into the video: "Me and Masha watch the same kind of films, we look at a lot of books and art and it all merges together on the set, which is a great playground for visual experiments," he said. "Sometimes it's all about combining things that might not make any sense, [like] subconsciousness and dreams. Dice is such a graphic and surrealistic object so it came into play."
Rihanna recorded the song at Jungle City Studios, New York City and enlisted Extreme's Nuno Bettencourt to play guitar on the track.