Rihanna's three-times-VMAs-nominated "We Found Love" video is arguably pop music's best illustration of the "art imitates life" cliché. In the clip that is up for Video of the Year, Best Female Video and Best Pop Video, the song tells the story of a passionate young couple who love and fight hard until the demise of their relationship. Sound familiar?
When the video was released in October 2011, the parallels to Rihanna's real life drama with ex-boyfriend Chris Brown were undeniable. Brown look-alike Dudley O-Shaughnessy died his hair blonde for the gig, and he and Riri even reenacted a portion of police report account of her 2009 car fight with Brown.
Even with all of its sensationalism, "We Found Love" managed to humanize the former power couple who appeared to be exploiting their own pains for the sake of fame. But after "We Found Love" exhausted its promotional run, Rihanna and Brown's story continued to develop.
Rihanna and Brown shocked their audiences on February 20, Rihanna's 24th birthday, when they appeared on remixes to their respective songs, "Birthday Cake" and "Turn Up The Music." But the teaming was tame in concept when compared to the lyrical content of "Birthday Cake," an explicit song about ex-lovers reminiscing about their carnal pleasures. The-Dream, who produced the song, revealed that it was actually Rihanna's idea to enlist Brown for the collaboration.
By June, Rihanna and Brown's relationship took another turn when the entourages of Brown and Drake, who has also been romantically linked to Rihanna, sparked a brawl in the VIP section of New York's W.i.P. nightclub. Brown and Drake's feud reportedly stems from their involvement with the "Where Have You Been" singer.
Two months later, Rihanna revealed her true feelings for Brown during an interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired in August on "Oprah's Next Chapter." Rihanna cried as she recounted losing her best friend and described her attempt to balance her conflicting emotions.
"It was a weird confusing space to be in because to be as angry and as angry and as hurt and betrayed, I just felt like [Chris] made that mistake because he needed help," she said. "I was more concerned about him."
Rihanna and Brown may have found love in a hopeless place, but her music has transcended wishful thinking. Her confident, bold and brash musical choices have afforded her one of pop music's most enviable trajectories for super stardom. It's going to be tough for Katy Perry, Gotye, M.I.A. or Rihanna's song with Drake, to beat out "We Found Love" for the VMAs Video of the Year title.