Recently, Rihanna appeared on the British version of singing competition The X-Factor, performing her monster hit “We Found Love” while wearing a sweet plaid jumper over a prim white shirt. Her hair was in dainty curls. At first it seemed that the young star known for raunchy club cuts and guest turns on tracks by hardcore rappers had gone all Doris Day for the family show. But a glance at her boyish black shoes revealed a phrase inscribed on the side of one: “F—- OFF.”
The profane footwear choice was a punkish gesture from the Good Girl Gone Bad, complementing her rise as the queen of risqué hitmaking. It wasn’t overtly sexual, yet it beckoned toward an undeniable reality: 21st-century pop music is very dirty.