8. "Pon de Replay" (2005)
If you heard Rihanna's debut single in 2005, you're forgiven for initially dismissing her as part of a Caribbean-tinged pop wave that included Lumidee's "Never Leave You (Uh Ooh, Uh Ooh)" (which, like "Pon de Replay," also relied on Lenky Marsden's Diwali riddim) and Nina Sky's "Move Your Body." Originating as an Evan Rogers–produced demo that secured the teenage Rihanna's deal with Def Jam, the track offered some evidence that the Barbados-born singer might end up outpacing her contemporaries. Her voice sounds distinctively bright and confident – check out the way she chants "everybody run" on the verses, then shifts to flat-out singing near the track's end – and her unique tone already stood out. That year, she told MTV News, "I can't tell you where I'll see myself in five years, but I can tell you I will work my best to be the most successful artist that I can be."