Song of the Day #3,273: ‘Kiss It Better’ – Rihanna vs. R.E.M.

One of the unfortunate trends of Montauk Madness’ first round was the failure of many women to advance. Of 32 acts appearing in Round Two, only four are female. That is down from 15 of the original 64 participants.

Chalk up the poor performance to some very difficult matchups (Miranda Lambert and Shakira faced Bob Dylan and The Beatles, respectively!) as well as a disheartening lack of appreciation for such artists as Tift Merritt and Lana Del Rey.

Rihanna was one of the quartet of women who advanced, taking out indie band Spoon with 71% of the vote. Now she faces much stiffer competition, and another alternative band, in R.E.M., who won Round One unanimously over Stew.

While I’d love to see some of the four remaining women advance to Round Three, it ain’t gonna be Rihanna over R.E.M. — not based on my vote, anyway.

(Also, Happy Birthday to my daughter, Sophia, a Rihanna fan who turns 15 today!)

[Intro]
Kiss it, kiss it better, baby
Kiss it, kiss it better, baby

[Verse 1]
Been waitin’ on that sunshine, boy
I think I need that back
Can’t do it like that
No one else gon’ get it like that
So why argue? You yell, but cha take me back
Who cares, when it feels like crack?
Boy, ya know that you always do it right

[Pre-Chorus]
Man, fuck yo pride
Just take it on back, boy, take it on back, boy
Take it back all night
Just take it on back, take it on back
Mmm, do what cha gotta do, keep me up all night
Hurtin’ vibe, man, it hurts inside when I look you in yo eye

[Chorus]
What are you willing to do?
Oh, tell me what you’re willing to do
(Kiss it, kiss it better, baby)
Oh, what are you willing to do?
Oh, tell me what you’re willing to do
(Kiss it, kiss it better, baby)

[Verse 2]
Been waitin’ on that sunshine, boy
I think I need that back
Can’t do it like that
No one else gon’ get it like that
So why argue? You here, here to take me back
Who cares, when it feels like crack?
Boy, ya know that you always do it right

[Pre-Chorus]
Man, fuck yo pride
Just take it on back, boy, take it on back, boy
Take it back all night
Just take it on back, take it on back
Mmm, do what cha gotta do, keep me up all night
Hurtin’ vibe, man, it hurts inside when I look you in yo eye

[Chorus]
What are you willing to do?
Oh, tell me what you’re willing to do
(Kiss it, kiss it better, baby)
Oh, what are you willing to do?
Oh, tell me what you’re willing to do
(Kiss it, kiss it better, baby)

[Verse 3]
I’ve been waitin’ up all night
Baby tell me what’s wrong?
You’re gonna make it right, make it all night long
I’ve been waiting up all night
Baby, tell me, what’s wrong?
Going to make it right, make it all night long

[Pre-Chorus]
Man, fuck yo pride
Just take it on back, boy, take it on back, boy
Take it back all night
Just take it on back, take it on back
Mmm, do what cha gotta do, keep me up all night
Hurtin’ vibe, man, it hurts inside when I look you in yo eye

[Chorus]
What are you willing to do?
Oh, tell me what you’re willing to do
(Kiss it, kiss it better, baby)
Oh, what are you willing to do?
Oh, tell me what you’re willing to do
(Kiss it, kiss it better, baby)
What are you willing to do?
Oh, tell me what you’re willing to do
(Kiss it, kiss it better, baby)
Oh, what are you willing to do?
Oh, tell me what you’re willing to do
(Kiss it, kiss it better, baby)

[Outro]
Kiss it, kiss it better, baby
Kiss it, kiss it better, baby

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15 thoughts on “Song of the Day #3,273: ‘Kiss It Better’ – Rihanna vs. R.E.M.

  1. Dana says:

    While I would love to give Sophia the birthday present of a Rihanna vote and would also like to see a woman advance, my vote goes to R.E.M. here. Though I feel the band lost their way at some point in the 90’s, I loved what they did through Automatic for the People. I concede that I was a Rihanna detractor early on, but have come to appreciate her more of late.

    Anyway, as to the lack of women advancing, i believe part of the problem is your unequal distribution in the initial selection as well as the relative obscurity of at least some of the women you did enter into the contest in the first place. I suspect female artists like Carol King, Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt, Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell, Sheryl Crow, Sara Bareillis and so on, would have fared much better, but you omitted all of them while putting up the likes of Pink Floyd, Ben Folds and Paul Simon taking up 4 slots (I would have had both considered for their complete work with bands and solo) and obscure artists like Belle and Sebastian and Stew.

    I think this reflects and reveals the fact that, while you have come a long way from your younger years when male artists strongly dominated your personal favorites (just as we have come a long way in terms of gender equality as a society generally), your personal bias for male artists remains, particularly where you allow some of those teenage nostalgia artists (like Pink Floyd) to be chosen. So, don’t blame the voters for the lack of women advancing when the fault arguably lies with the slate of candidates put up for consideration in the first place.😄

  2. Clay says:

    I think it’s a fair point, and one I could have addressed up front by changing my criteria for selecting artists. I own only a single album by most of the women you listed, and I populated my original list with artists who have multiple albums in my collection.

    In retrospect, I kind of wish I had combined the solo/group artists such as Simon, Folds and Morrissey to make room for other contestants. Of course, Ron Sexsmith would have been one of those.

    In terms of my personal preference for male vs. female artists, I think it goes deeper than it goes wide, if that makes sense. I would be absolutely thrilled with a final four of Tift Merritt, Miranda Lambert, Aimee Mann and Fiona Apple, but I doubt anybody voting here would share my enthusiasm.

    • Amy says:

      ummmm… I know you won’t reveal your own personal victor just yet, but I seriously doubt it is any of the four you mentioned there, though I would guess at least one of them made your personal final four, depending on how the final brackets matched up.

  3. Peg says:

    Happy Birthday Sophia ❤️❤️

  4. Amy says:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/artists/the-60-greatest-female-singer-songwriters-of-all-time/ I’m afraid I’m going to have to wholeheartedly agree with Dana here. When you first released the initial slate, I scanned the list for Carole King and Carly Simon, and, when I realized you were including singing artists such as Frank Sinatra, I looked for Barbra Streisand. When I noticed you included legends regardless of your overwhelming love/appreciation for them, I thought – for just a moment – you might have overcome your aversion to her voice and included Joni Mitchell, largely considered the greatest songwriter of all time. While I was disappointed not to see any of my favorites, such as 10,000 Maniacs/Natalie Merchant (I would have combined these artists, as Dana suggested might have been done with Ben Folds and Paul Simon) or Tracy Chapman or Mary Chapin Carpenter or the Indigo Girls (who are currently touring together with Carpenter and Shawn Colvin, a sort of Lilith Fair throwback!), I was not surprised you opted not to include any of them.

    So… if you’re bemoaning the fate of the 23% of the artists you originally selected, you will have to begin your penance by vowing to devote some more time to doing the sort of deep delve you did into Bowie’s canon of work to some of the artists listed on the site I’ve linked here (or any of another dozen you can just as easily find). As I scrolled through that list, I found a few I want to know better, and then thought of all the more recent superstar talents, such as Alicia Keys, Pink, Adele, or Amy Winehouse, who you also might have considered adding. Not to mention legends such as Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper and Madonna, you chose to dismiss.

    All that said, I will wish Sophia a very Happy Birthday while voting for R.E.M. Out of your initial 15 female artists, I likely voted for at least half of them despite some tough competition (see Beyonce in Round 1!), and I’m hopeful that at least a couple of them (though realistically perhaps only one) will advance to the third round. I would have consistently voted for Carole King, Bonnie Raitt, Tracy Chapman, and Joni Mitchell, but I know I would have lost any of those early battles had you included those artists simply to have a more representative contest. Hell, infrequent voter/commenter, but all around superstar feminist Alex only showed up to slay Beyonce, so perhaps we all have to share this penance. 🙂

    (You must have known you would rile us up with your post today 😉 )

    • Clay says:

      My initial intention with this bracket was to run through it myself and not open it up to reader votes. The idea was that I would use a structured framework to systematically produce my all-time favorite artist.

      I came up with the lineup with that in mind, which explains why Joni Mitchell and Barbra Streisand aren’t here. There isn’t anybody on this list I don’t like quite a bit — nobody earned their way through reputation.

      My only rules were that I had to have a solid familiarity with the act’s discography, and the discography had to be at least a few albums deep. That rules out someone like Carole King, who has released 17 albums, only one of which I know at all. Yes, Tapestry is one of the greatest albums of all time, but that’s a different list in a different game (one I think we should play!).

      Because this started as a personal project, I didn’t pay attention to representation. Could I have included, say, Sarah McLachlan over Stew, knowing full well that neither would likely survive the early rounds? Sure, but I like Stew better than Sarah McLachlan, so he made the cut.

      When I decided to open this up for public votes, I should have gone back and re-formed the bracket, allowing room for artists I don’t care much about personally. That would have allowed for a far more representative batch of artists — across gender, genre, era, etc. Maybe I’ll do that next time.

      • Amy says:

        As I was driving home from Publix tonight, a rather mediocre Jimmy Buffett cover of “Brown Eyed Girl” came on the radio. For a second, I thought about whether a Buffett would find his way into my personal showdown (he wouldn’t) before I remembered… like a bolt of lightning from above — that you violated the very rules you said you set out for yourself, and blatantly admitted to doing so on this very blog!! I was certain that you don’t own multiple Van Morrison albums and, sure enough, you confessed to just that in the first round match ups:

        “Initially, I went with Barenaked Ladies here, my rationale being that I own and enjoy nine of their albums vs. only one by Morrison.

        But that one album is Moondance, as perfect a record as I own, and when it came down to casting my vote, I just couldn’t throw it out in the first round to see a bunch of talented Canadians advance.”

        You end that post with a query … “how about you?”

        Carole King’s “Tapestry,” Carly Simon’s “No Secrets,” Tracy Chapman’s eponymous album all would satisfy the criteria you allowed for Van Morrison… to have produced one perfect record, and you would have allowed some more women in the mix.

        All that said, I’m curious to see which of your favorite artists your loyal readers will crown as the victor. And whether your own final winner would have been the same had you not created the random bracket system that caused you to lose some favorites early on. In retrospect, perhaps you could have created a Pixar type tier system that enabled artists to go against others in the same tier and ending with a final 64 to 1 list that would more accurately capture your true order for the artists you love (with those four female artists you so appreciate getting ranked higher than those they would have easily stayed in an early round).

      • Clay says:

        In my defense, I own (or have owned) at least four Van Morrison albums, though I don’t listen to any of them other than Moondance.

  5. Clay says:

    Longer response to come, but I’ll note that Adele was in the first round!

  6. The Cool Guy (Daniel) says:

    After some extremely difficult I’ve had to make in the last couple battles, I’m glad I finally get a respite. I can’t say I feel too passionately for either of these artists. I’ll be content regardless of who goes through. I love “Can’t Get There from Here” by R.E.M and though I’m not an avid fan from what I’ve heard off of “Document”, “Fables of the Reconstruction”, and “Automatic for the People” there are plenty of songs that like but those are probably balanced by songs that I couldnt stand that I think are alternative for the sake of it and you can’t understand any of the lyrics. Listening to what you said about the lack of female artists in this competition I’m gonna vote for Rihanna.

    Though I have enjoyed many of her hits in the past, I feel she’s only become stronger as an artist. She’s a great model for young girls of how to be a strong independent woman. I would give it to her for “B**** Better Have many Money” alone. I’d much rather give it to a female artist who I love as a person and thoroughly enjoy many of her songs than an alternative band that is very talented and cool at times but I’m apathetic about in the end.

  7. Peter says:

    The good old ranking-problem.., I like the approach of favoring artists you are familiar with and love what they do instead of fame, influence or whatever.
    The female-problem… is non-existent for me as I don’t care if anyone shares my love for Anna Tivel, Mary Gauthier, Eilen Jewel, Frazey Ford, Kathleen Edwards, The Dixie Chicks, Gillian Welch, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bonnie Raitt, Kelley McRae, Aoife O’Donovan, Suzie Ungerleider, Dr. Lu or Tift… or not 🙂 Life-enriching experiences, that’s what it is about.

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