The not-so-unlikely power trio of Kanye West, Rihanna and Paul McCartney have at long last released the video for their collab track “FourFiveSeconds.” Featuring all three performers (with an obvious emphasis on Rihanna), the clip is a gorgeously understated example of how a great song and great lighting is really all you need.
Dressed in all denim and shot in lush black and white, Rihanna appears in both close-up and silhouette, seizing most of the screen time in order to belt out her bold verses. We’ve been impressed with her performance on “FourFiveSeconds” for a while now, but to watch her expression as her voice nearly breaks makes the video absolutely essential. The song’s stripped-down arrangement (it’s only vocals and McCartney’s choppy guitar) becomes immersive now that it’s paired to tightly-framed shots of Ye and Riri’s ecstatic and pained looks. As her and Kanye slowly slip into more desperate lyrics, their bodies become unhinged and it’s clear a fight might just break out. It’s them against the world (or at least a jail cell).
But then, there’s Paul McCartney. The former Beatle and rock n roll super-legend is the video’s fleeting foundation–the cool and collected straight man to Rihanna and Kanye West’s borderline wildin. Now that he’s emerged as a full-fledged member of Kanye’s writing team, McCartney seems to be settling into the role of the kindly elder. On both “FourFive Seconds” and “Only One,” we hear the Beatle providing a simple chord progression over which Kanye can reprise his 808s-era half-rap crooning. It’s working. Here’s hoping the intensity of “FourFiveSeconds” carries on. Can we please have R8 now? Please?