A pop superstar’s new album, and the marketing machine behind it, raises questions about what’s really being promoted:

“The lowlight of last week’s playback, however, was ‘Nobody’s Business’. A duet between Rihanna and her ex-boyfriend—or is he?—it’s a perky, light affair. ‘You’ll always be my boy’, Rihanna sings, ‘I’ll always be your girl’. In the second verse, the roles reverse, and Brown repeats her words. If we’re talking in banal, logical terms, Rihanna comes first; this could suggest her trying to control the situation, or own the scandal on her own terms.

“But then a lyric arrives that cast no doubt on what’s going on. ‘Every touch is infectious’ it goes; ‘let’s make love in this Lexus’, its rhyme echoes. Here’s a reminder of flesh contacting flesh in a car, and what happened three years ago against a passenger door. A few tracks later, ‘No Love Allowed’ is even more pointed. ‘I was flying ’til you knocked me to the floor,’ Rihanna’s vocal soars.

“You wonder if anyone suggested lyrics like these were a bad idea. You wonder if anyone’s made sure that Rihanna is OK.”