This Is What You Came For vs. Cheap Thrills


Date Aired
August 20, 2016
Running Time
Previous review
Next review

Todd plays "This Is What You Came For" on the piano...


Holds it...


...and plays "Cheap Thrills".

A pop song(s) review

Todd: Let's talk about Rihanna.

Video for "Umbrella"
Jay-Z: Uh-huh, uh-huh, yeah, Rihanna

Todd (VO): Rihanna is one of the biggest pop stars alive, no one disputes that. But I don't think it really sinks in just how successful she is. What pop star has the most buzz right now, at this moment in time?

Todd: Possibly Kanye, or Taylor Swift, or Drake, or Beyoncé?

Video for "We Found Love"

Todd (VO): I honestly wouldn't necessarily pick Rihanna because this is not really a peak year for her, the way that 2007 or 2012 were. But that's because Rihanna...

Todd: ...doesn't need peaks, she's just always there.

Brief clips of various Rihanna songs, including "Kiss It Better", "What's My Name", "Stay", "S&M", and "Don't Stop the Music"

Todd (VO): It's hard to even comprehend the staggering, mind-destroyingly insane amount of hit songs Rihanna has gotten onto the pop charts in her eleven-year career. The Now That's What I Call Music people [brief clip of commercial for the 58th edition] could've just made compilations of Rihanna hits for the last decade...

Todd: ...and they wouldn't even have to slow down their output.

Clip of teaser for...

Todd (VO): In January of this year, with major fanfare, she released ANTI, her first album in four years.

Todd: Don't assume that means she was taking some time off though.

Video for "Bitch Better Have My Money"

Todd (VO): Except for a brief period in 2014, she has continued to pump out single after single after single.

Todd: Shouldn't seem like that, right? Well, there's a big reason for that. For the most part, those songs aren't very good.

Videos for "Where Have You Been"...

Todd (VO): Of her many, many hits, Rihanna has maybe released two songs in the past six years that I'd really wanna listen to a second time. They just seem to exist as a constant background noise, catchy enough to get into heavy rotation, but not memorable enough to make any lasting impact. [...and "Work"] So that's a big reason why, despite all the hype for the new album, I couldn't really be bothered to care. I mean, look, here's the big new single she has, "Work".

Rihanna: Work work work work work work
He say me have to work work work work work work
He see me do me dirt dirt dirt dirt dirt dirt
So me put in work work work work work work

Todd (VO): Yes, thank you. That was a clip of Rihanna performing in the role of [Clip of...] Helen Keller in the climactic scene of The Miracle Worker. She is finally gonna get that Tony this year, I can feel it.

Todd: It's... yeah, it's a nothing of a song.

Todd (VO): Its only noteworthy aspect is that Rihanna seems to be singing it after having a root canal.

Todd: So if you excuse me, we're gonna review two Rihanna songs not from that album, because who cares?

Videos for "This Is What You Came For" and "Cheap Thrills"

Todd (VO): Instead we're gonna look at two other songs written for Rihanna by other artists. Because Rihanna is such a powerful force that [Single covers for Rihanna's featured appearances on Coldplay - "Princess of China" and Maroon 5 - "If I Never See Your Face Again", and a still from the SNL sketch "Rihanna and Shy Ronnie"] everyone eventually gradually winds up in her orbit. The two Rihanna songs we'll be looking at today are "This Is What You Came For" and "Cheap Thrills". And not one of the [Image of the Billboard charts, showing...] three other hit Rihanna songs I could be covering right now. Told you she was everywhere.

Todd: And you know what? Usually these versus episodes, I will save my final judgment for the end of the episode, but you know what? Why wait? Let's listen to them both right now and come up with a final verdict! Play 'em!

Rihanna: Baby, this is what you came for
Lightning strikes...

Todd: Eh, it's alright.

Sia: Baby I don't need dollar bills
To have fun tonight (I love cheap thrills!)
Baby I...

Todd: Yeah, it's pretty okay. [beat] Look, I don't know what to tell you, they're Rihanna songs.

Todd (VO): With increasingly rare exceptions, they're gonna rate a 6 out of 10. And yes, that includes the one of them that isn't technically a Rihanna song. We'll get to that.

Todd: I don't find either of these songs particularly interesting, except for the fact of the people behind them. Now take the one that actually has Rihanna on it, which arguably isn't a Rihanna song either.

Todd (VO): "This Is What You Came For" is a song by Scottish DJ Calvin Harris with Rihanna as featured vocalist. And I've said this before.

Todd: I have never, ever liked Calvin Harris.

Clip of "Feel So Close"
Calvin: I feel so close to you right now

Todd (VO): For a long time, he represented everything I didn't like about modern dance music! I don't get how you're supposed to dance to this!

The drop plays

Todd attempts to dance to it by awkwardly fidgeting and flailing his arms in his chair.

Clip of "How Deep Is Your Love"
Ina Wroldsen: How deep is your love?

Todd (VO): That said, lately he does seem to have finally found something that resembles a groove. And maybe I underestimated him! He definitely holds a unique place in modern dance music. [Clip of "Summer"...] In a genre where most acts don't have any sort of [Brief clips of Martin Garrix - "Animals" and a performance by deadmau5] recognizable image and even use gimmicks that hide their identities entirely, Calvin Harris is one of the few producers who seems to aspire to old school pop stardom, and even occasionally sings with his own voice!

Calvin: We fell in love
As the leaves turned brown

Todd (VO): Although he really shouldn't; he sings like ass.

Todd: And then we have the opposite of providing a recognizable face.

Clip of a live performance of Sia - "Elastic Heart"
Sia: And another one bites the dust

Todd (VO): Let us now look at the strange case of Sia. The pop singer who simultaneously became huge and disappeared from the public eye. The pop star who wasn't there. [Clips of other live performances by Sia] In case you don't know, she was a former indie singer who did some work behind the scenes as a songwriter for other artists; a fluke appearance on a David Guetta song led her to release some pop songs of her own, which launched her in the mainstream. But confusingly, her push for fame has coincided with her shunning attention! Performing with her back to the audience, hiding behind giant wigs, [Brief clip of "Elastic Heart"] not appearing in her own videos, and just in general doing everything to hide her identity! Isn't that crazy? What kind of performer does that?

Todd: [long pause] Yes! Yes! [Picture of Todd on "Shut Up and Talk"] I am aware of the hypocrisy! [grunts] For the record, what I do is totally different! I have an excellent reason I don't show my face: [Picture of someone in a grey hoodie] I'm in the Witness Protection program! I pissed off some people in the Cambodian mob a while back, so I have to lie low.

Clip of "Soon We'll Be Found"

Todd (VO): For Sia, though, there's no reason to hide herself. She dressed and performed like a normal person for years. We know what she looks like! Ya picked up your gimmick too late, goddammit!

Todd: So those are the major players. Let's look at the songs.

Todd (VO): One is about leaving the club with someone. One is about going to the club with someone; they're a bi--pretty similar. "This Is What You Came For" is... basically just another club anthem.

Rihanna: Baby, this is what you came for
Lightning strikes every time she moves

Todd (VO): The plot is you go to the club, there's an amazing woman there, you go home.

Rihanna: And everybody's watching her
But she's looking at

Todd (VO): But who is this amazing woman that Rihanna is singing about? This amazing, wonderful woman who is so stunning that...

Todd: ...lightning strikes every time she moves?

Clip of Taylor Swift - "Style"
Taylor: Cause you got that James Dean daydream...

Todd (VO): Before we continue, you should know that this song was written by Taylor Swift, because this is the [Collage of pictures of Calvin Harris, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, and Sia] "Clusterfuck of Every Single Popular Artist Alive" episode! [Back to "This Is What You Came For"] In fact, this song has spawned one of the year's more bizarre spectacles of showbiz drama; one so amazing and dramatic, that I would even dare call it Taylor's [Picture of Taylor Swift Shitlist Aug 2016, which is lengthy and includes Calvin Harris at Number 2] second biggest feud of the year, after that whole thing with Kanye.

Clip of Kanye West - "Famous"
Kanye: I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex
Why? I made that bitch famous
Swizz Beatz: Goddamn!

Todd (VO): Yes, that is a naked wax sculpture of Taylor Swift that Kanye West put in his video, while claiming that he's going to fuck her cause he made her famous.

Todd: Amazingly, Taylor Swift has come out the bad guy in that one!

TMZ footage of Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris

Todd (VO): Anyway, Calvin Harris is one of the many, many people Taylor Swift has dated, and after the breakup, Taylor revealed that she ghostwrote this song. This apparently pissed off Calvin Harris [Footage shows screenshots of Calvin Harris subtweeting Taylor Swift] a lot? I'm not sure why? I think maybe Taylor was trying to say about Calvin Harris...

Kanye: I made that bitch famous
Swizz: Goddamn!

Todd: Cause otherwise, I don't see why Taylor Swift wanted credit for this!

Todd (VO): It's not like it's some masterpiece of songwriting! It-it doesn't even have verses! It has one verse!

Rihanna: But she's looking at

This part of the song continues as Todd sits motionless

Todd: Wow, you earned every speck of that writing credit, huh?

Todd (VO): And the thing is, I wasn't that surprised to find out who wrote it. Cause the first time I heard this song, I thought it was Taylor Swift! Rihanna just has this way of absorbing the mannerisms of her writers.

Todd: For example: Sia!

Clip of Rihanna - "Diamonds"
Rihanna: I saw the life inside your eyes (So shine bright)

Todd (VO): Sia's one of Rihanna's writers, and they've pretty much sounded exactly like each other for years.

Todd: And her current hit, "Cheap Thrills", is a prime example.

Sia: Come on, come on, turn the radio on
It's Friday night and I won't be long

Todd (VO): "Cheap Thrills" was also written for Rihanna. Rihanna eventually ended up passing on it. Perhaps it was too generic even for her. There's really not a lot to it. In essence, it sounds like the most basic, average, simplest Rihanna song ever! Right down to using the famous four chords of pop. [Pop song chords gag] Pop Song Chords: THIS JOKE HAS RUN ITS COURSE! (NOT FUNNY ANYMORE)

Sia: Til I hit the dance floor, hit the dance floor

Todd (VO): Just like I wasn't surprised to find out Taylor Swift wrote "This Is What You Came For", I wasn't surprised to find out that "Cheap Thrills" was written for Rihanna, because it is such a Rihanna song. Island beat, Caribbean accent, [Single cover for the TyRo remix of the Sean Paul version of "Cheap Thrills", picture of Sean Paul with Rihanna] a remix with Sean Paul? [Brief clip of Rihanna - "Rude Boy"] Gee, who does that remind me of? Surprised Sia didn't just name this song [Back to "Cheap Thrills"] "Cheap Thrills (Aye Aye, Nah Nah Nah, Ella Ella)".

Todd: And there's not much to the lyrics either. It's about partying when you're broke.

Sia: Baby I don't need dollar bills to have fun tonight
(I love cheap thrills!)

Todd (VO): Of course, I'm fine with that. I'm on record for really liking songs about broke partying. I mean goddamn, we already have a ton of songs about [Clip of Pitbull ft. TJR - "Don't Stop The Party"] partying in expensive clubs, drinking expensive booze, and I'm just, why do you need to party? You're rich! I'm sorry, were you too bored with how fancy your mansion was? Leave the partying to the people who need it!

Sia: I don't need no money

Todd (VO): At the very least, it's more lyrically together than "This Is What You Came For". Like, for example, what is with the title?

Rihanna: Baby, this is what you came for.

Todd: ...I feel like I'm being accused of something!

Rihanna: Baby, this is what you came for
Lightning strikes every time she moves

Todd (VO): [Sarcastically] Look, a hot chick! This is what you came for, isn't it? You pervert!

Todd: You don't know what I came for, goddammit! Get off my ass!

Todd (VO): And this is the big problem with me: the chorus is in the third person, yet the verse is in the first person!

Rihanna: We say nothing more than we need

Todd (VO): I guess even Taylor's realized that it doesn't sound right to sing "everybody's watching me, lightning strikes every time I move".

Todd: Or she's officially so up her own ass that she refers to herself in the third person now! [Picture of Taylor Swift frowning] Bring Taylor Swift a pealed grape! But no, for as much stink over who wrote this, the lyrics are not why this song is successful. Hell, the melody is not why it's so successful!

Todd (VO): Every big song needs something that makes it stick out. Something that catches the ear. "This Is What You Came For" has one real hook, and it is all Calvin Harris.

Rihanna: You-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

Todd (VO): See there, that. That hook. Those subtly off robo-vocals. That's the hook. But for me, the real earworm, the thing that really digs into you, is this part right here:

Rihanna: You-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

Todd: Did you hear that?! Play it again!

Rihanna: Oh-oh-oh-oh

Todd (VO): It started out high...

Todd: [Gesturing] ...then went low! That's not how it's supposed to work! You start low...

Clip of U2 - "With Or Without You"
Bono: With or without you
Todd: ...then you go high!
Bono: Oh-oh!

Todd: That's how pop songs work! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

Rihanna: You-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

Todd (VO): I'm not joking. That drop is a searing splinter in my brain! It makes me feel like I'm going crazy! It's like when you see that picture of Michael Bublé sticking his [Picture of...] corn-on-the-cob in his mouth end first like it's a goddamn hot dog.

Todd: No! No, you're doing it wrong, goddammit!

Todd (VO): But hey, doing it wrong isn't necessarily the wrong thing to do. I mean, it got my attention.

"Cheap Thrills" does not have anything like that to make it subtly wrong or even all that interesting except for one thing, and that is Sia herself. Sia is one of the great voices of the 2010s, and that does a lot of work. If Rihanna sang this song, I'm not sure it would've been as big. I mean, look. Sia even deigned to appear in the video. See there she is. In the...[An arrow appears pointing out a blurry Sia to the left in the video, but the video keeps moving making it hard to see] the far...over...just...over to the left, just...

Todd: [Gesturing] ...move the...

Todd (VO): Really, even without the weird face thing, has there ever been more of a disconnect between singer and their songs than Sia? At least, you know, pop Sia? Of course Sia didn't intend to write this for herself!

Sia: Gotta paint my nails, put my high heels on
It's Saturday and it won't be long

Todd (VO): Is...does anyone believe that Sia is some kind of crazy party girl? Gets excited to get dressed up and go out?

Sia: Gotta do my hair, put my makeup on

Todd (VO): Bullshit! You don't even need to put makeup on!

Todd: You don't have a face!

Todd (VO): In a weird way, Sia's lack of identity is her identity. Her album is called [Album cover of...] This Is Acting, so that you know it's not really an expression of her soul or anything. It's an act! [Picture of...] Even Daft Punk have an identity: they're robots! Sia is an empty vessel out of which music comes! Which, honestly is also kinda true of Rihanna nowadays. But Sia brings that weird tension that makes it work. Otherwise it would probably just be another Rihanna song. I guess that's why I prefer it to the actual Rihanna song we have. But...actually, this song isn't necessarily bad either.

Todd: Yeah, both of them are growers. I like them a little more every time I hear 'em.

Todd (VO): And who knows? Maybe by the end of the year, they'll make the top 10. But still, I kinda want something more, you know? Is "okay" really what we're shooting for here?

Todd: Can't we do better than this?

Clip of Meghan Trainor - "Me Too"
Meghan: If I was you, I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me...too

Todd (VO): Oh right, I forgot about the rest of this year.

Todd: You know what? Never mind. Considering how bad this year has been, I'll take half-finished Rihanna castoffs. Works for me.

Gives thumbs up, then gets up and leaves

Rihanna: Oh-oh-oh-oh
Sia: (I love cheap thrills!)

Closing tag song: The Wanted - "Walks Like Rihanna"

"Cheap Thrills" is owned by Monkey Puzzle Records
"This Is What You Came For" is owned by Sony
This video is owned by me


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.