Just over three years after Chris Brown was charged with domestic abuse for assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna on their way to the 2009 Grammy Awards, and one week after the disturbing police report detailing the incident was leaked, the music superstars have reunited — at least professionally. Brown appears on a remix of Rihanna's "Birthday Cake," and she on his new song "Turn Up the Music." (Listen to the songs below.) This "stomach-turning" partnership comes as Brown continues to serve five years of felony probation for abusing Rihanna, and mere days after Brown unleashed a Twitter tirade against critics who complained that he did not deserve the excessive spotlight he was given at the Grammy Awards earlier this month. Even more "unbelievable" is Brown's first line on "Birthday Cake": "Girl I wanna f*ck you right now/ Been a long time, I've been missing your body." What should we make of this collaboration?
It's deplorable, plain and simple: What Brown did to Rihanna, as explicitly detailed in police reports, is nauseating, says Lucy Jones at the U.K.'s Telegraph. The mere existence of this collaboration is awful. You can bet "it'll be hard to wave your hands in the air in the clubs to 'Birthday Cake,'" even if it is a catchy tune. "It doesn't matter if Rihanna and Chris Brown's 'Birthday Cake' is a great pop song — it leaves a horrible taste in the mouth."
"It doesn't matter if Rihanna and Chris Brown's 'Birthday Cake' is a great song — it leaves a horrible taste in the mouth"
Brown's second chance has arrived: The Chris Brown forgiveness train keeps chugging along, says Michael Musto at The Village Voice. The music industry proved at the Grammys that it has forgiven Brown, and now Rihanna is sending the message that she has too. "The public, guided by the music industry itself, obviously is experiencing the same pangs of forgiveness and acceptance." The depressing message is that "success tends to make past horrors melt away." The fact that these two are collaborating again could make "you just cry," but it also signals that Brown is officially being given his second chance.
"Rihanna and Chris Brown together again: Ugh"
But the songs aren't even that good: Cast the fierce debate over these collaborations aside, and you're left with "two forgettable, regrettable remixes," says Marc Hogan at SPIN. Brown's guest verse on Rihanna's "Birthday Cake" "basically consists of repeating Rihanna's first verse with little vocal range and even less personality." Similarly, Rihanna's contribution to his "Turn Up the Music" can't save the already underwhelming track. Musically uninteresting and unimpressive, these remixes feel "intended more for gossip bloggers than for, you know, actual music listeners."
"Rihanna and Chris Brown team for two forgettable, regrettable remixes"
"Birthday Cake" — Rihanna f/ Chris Brown
"Turn Up the Music" — Chris Brown f/ Rihanna