When I wanted to be a rock star growing up, all I got was a hairbrush for a microphone and a broom for a guitar. My, how times have changed. Rihanna wants to be a rock star and she’s got way more toys than I ever did. The only thing she’s missing, to hear her tell it, “is a black guitar,” but more about that later.

We’re not sure what crawling around on all floors in nothing but chain mail and headdress with ram horns on it has to do with being a rock star and we don’t understand it any more after watching the video for “Rockstar 101" several times. Simlarly, turning into Slash—the truly amusing part of the video—has also got to be the strangest, if not hottest, homage the guitarist has ever been paid. Toward the end, Rihanna does get said black guitar, plus a hat like Slash wears, sun glasses and long curly hair. He plays on the track; maybe he was busy the day of the video shoot?

When you’re this rich, you really get to play dress up in body paint and you get to be shot by the most amazing photographers in the world. Plus, you get to grab your breasts in videos sheathed in designer wear and people think it’s hot, not lewd.

The song is a dramatic, repetitive, grinding  track with no hook or melody within miles. It’s odd. Rhianna’s “Rated R” has spawned a hit in “Rude Boy,” but basically it has been an album for Rihanna to work out some issues as she becomes an adult. Anyone who fell in love with “SOS” or “Umbrella” has surely wondered where that girl went.

Both Rihanna and Lady GaGa have brought performance art into the pop mainstream in a way that we’re not sure we’ve ever seen before (sorry, Madge). It seems to be working better for Lady GaGa right now than Rihanna: after half a year, “Rated R” has yet to hit the million mark in sales and that’s  after at least four singles. Maybe it’s too jarring a switch from her earlier music.

What do you think?  Do you miss the old Rihanna or embrace the new one?