Shut Up And Drive

Album: Good Girl Gone Bad (2007)
Charted: 5 15
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Songfacts®:

  • In this song, Rihanna revs up the motor vehicle metaphors in a sexually charged song loaded with innuendo:

    Got a ride that's smoother than a limousine
    Can you handle the curves...
    If you can, we can go all night


    And that's before you've looked under her hood.

    She's far from the first to drive down this road: Prince famously did it in "Little Red Corvette."
  • This was written and produced by the team of Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers, who discovered Rihanna in Barbardos in 2003. They brought her to America, recorded her demo, and got her an audition with Jay-Z's Def Jam Records. Other labels passed on her, but Jay-Z saw her potential and helped make her the biggest thing to come out of Barbardos since the Great Hurricane of 1780. Her first single was "Pon De Replay," which was co-written and co-produced by Sturken and Rogers. It went to #2 in America and set the stage for her ascent. "Umbrella," with a rap from Jay-Z, was the first single from her third album, Good Girl Gone Bad, and also went to #1. "Shut Up And Drive" was her next single, and another solid hit, climbing to #4.
  • In a Songfacts interview with Carl Sturken, he explained how "Shut Up And Drive" came together. "We'd been working very closely with Rihanna and were in the process of recording songs for her third album," he said. "I was literally sitting on the front step of my house, getting ready to drive to the studio, and the title just came to me. I thought, 'That's pretty cool. OK, what do we do with that?'

    So I came down to the studio and told Evan I had an idea. I started putting together a little sort of beat, and I knew that at a certain part of the chorus he'd want to sing that title. And that's really all I had.

    The music, when we first started out, was sort of like 'The Glamorous Life' by Sheila E. That's sort of where the beat was coming from. I was imagining doing something along those lines, and also, Fergie had a song called 'Glamorous' with a similar vibe.

    It was the Fergie song I was sort of thinking about, but Evan said, 'No, we should rock it out, man.' Because he knew from talking to Rihanna that she wanted to do a rock song, or something more rockish. So I started putting the chords together, and the lyrics were really easy to write because the minute we started thinking of the car metaphors, we could just go to town. You know, the Lamborghinis and the Ferraris, there's no end to things you can write, so that was like shooting fish in a barrel."

    Rihanna was thrilled with the results. "We recorded it in Barbados over the holidays because there was just no time to record in those days - she was running around the world," Sturken added. "When she heard it, she got super excited. Like, 'Oh my God, I can't believe you guys wrote this for me.' Because no one else was doing anything like that for her."
  • Rihanna's foray into rock with this track met with some resistance from Def Jam, which was focused on hip-hop and R&B. According to Sturken, getting the song included on the album and released as a single involved "more drama than Game Of Thrones."
  • New Order members Gillian Gilbert, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris and Bernard Sumner all have songwriting credits on this track even though they had nothing to do with writing it. That's because "Shut Up And Drive" borrows the chords from Orgy's cover of the New Order song "Blue Monday," and any elements taken from a cover song need to be cleared by the publisher of the original. In this case, the New Order writers got 40% of the publishing on "Shut Up And Drive."
  • The video, directed by Anthony Mandler (Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable," The Killers "A Dustland Fairytale"), leaves no doubt it will be a very smooth ride indeed. At the beginning of the video, she and her dancers are auto mechanics; later, Rihanna drops the flag on a drag race in a trope popularized in the 1955 James Dean movie Rebel Without A Cause.
  • This was used in four 2008 movies:

    Beethoven's Big Break (2008)
    Wild Child (2008)
    21 (2008)
    College Road Trip (2008)

    And then I Love You, Man in 2009. It stayed in the pits for a few years, but then returned in a scene from the animated Disney film Wreck-It Ralph where Vanellope learns how to drive. The song also appears on episodes of CSI: Miami ("Chain Reaction" - 2007) and RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars ("Revenge of the Queens" - 2016).

Comments: 1

  • Luxxury from La, CaGillian Gilbert, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook (and Stephen Morris) are credited because they're the band New Order, and this song interpolates (not samples) their 1983 hit "Blue Monday."
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