'Pon de Replay' - 2005
Rihanna's debut single sees her marketed explicitly as a product of Barbados, with the vernacular in the title and the slight accent in the pronunciation. (And just in case that didn't quite translate for you, it's off the album Music of the Sun.) The idea, more or less, is a female Sean Paul; the dance club scenes in the video are meant to be immediately recognizable as not of the American variety. But Rihanna was still a work in progress: by cribbing Aaliyah's baggy-jeans-flat-stomach-bikini-top look, Rihanna confirmed she'd yet to fully formulate her own identity.
By Amos Barshad