Needed Me

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"Needed Me"
Needed Me cover.png
Single by Rihanna
from the album Anti
Released March 30, 2016 (2016-03-30)
Recorded 2014 Westlake Recording Studios, (Los Angeles)
Genre Electro-R&B
Length 3:11
Rihanna singles chronology
"Kiss It Better"
"Needed Me"
"This Is What You Came For"

"Kiss It Better"
"Needed Me"
"This Is What You Came For"

"Needed Me" is a song recorded by Barbadian singer and songwriter Rihanna from her eighth studio album, Anti (2016). It was written by Rihanna, Brittany Hazard, Charles Hinshaw and Derrus Rachel together with its producer DJ Mustard and its co-producers Twice as Nice and Frank Dukes. The song was serviced to the urban radio stations on March 30, 2016, as a follow up single from Anti together with "Kiss It Better". Afterwards, Def Jam released "Needed Me" to mainstream radio. "Needed Me" is a "mellow" dubstep-flavored electro-R&B song, that contains a downtempo and loose production with synthetic sounds. The song's lyrics discuss romantic rejection.

In the United States, the song peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 becoming Rihanna's 29th top 10 single on the chart, spending sixteen weeks in the top ten and later becoming the singer's longest-charting hit. The song's accompanying music video was directed by film producer Harmony Korine and premiered on April 20, 2016, in celebration of 420. The video is set in Miami and depicts Rihanna with a gun, riding on a motor bike, before attending a strip club where she kills a man. Rihanna performed "Needed Me" during the Anti World Tour. The song received a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Performance at the 59th ceremony.

Writing and production

On September 15, 2014, American producer DJ Mustard confirmed that he and Rihanna had collaborated on a song for the singer's eighth studio album, Anti: "We haven't got our club record just yet but we have a ballad that I really like and that she likes too."[1] DJ Mustard worked on fifty songs in an attempt for them to be included on Anti, "Needed Me" was one of the last songs that he worked on. Speaking about the writing and production process Mustard stated "I was at the studio and I was like "I don’t want to go, I don’t feel like going, I’ve done so many songs, she's not going to like it’… The next day they told me she liked it. It was great that I had a team (Twice as Nice) that could take me and actually get it done because if it wasn’t for them I probably wouldn’t have went. There would have been no ‘Needed Me’."[2]

"Needed Me" was written by Dijon McFarlane, Rihanna, Nick Audino, Lewis Hughes, Khaled Rohaim, Te Whiti Warbrick, Adam Feeney, Brittany "Starrah" Hazzard, Charles Hinshaw and Derrus Rachel. It was produced by DJ Mustard with co-production done by Twice as Nice & Frank Dukes.[3] "Needed Me" was recorded at the Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles. The vocal recording and production was done by producer Kuk Harrell while Blake Mares served as a recording and production assistant. "Needed Me" was mixed by Manny Marroquin at Larrabee Studios in Universal City, California and was assisted by Chris Galland & Ike Schultz. The song was mastered by Chris Gehringer at the Sterling Sound Studios in New York City.[3]


On March 29, via her official Twitter account the singer confirmed that "Needed Me" alongside "Kiss It Better" would be released as follow up singles and impacted radios on March 30, 2016.[4] She also revealed the artwork for both singles, with "Needed Me" having Rihanna wearing a giant pair of jeans and "Kiss It Better" having a close-up of Rihanna's face.[5] Initially served to urban stations, following the single's success, Rihanna's former label, Def Jam (with whom she parted ways in 2014), confirmed they would be pushing "Needed Me" as an official single at pop radio.[6] On May 31, 2016, Rihanna released five official dance remixes for the song: R3hab remix, Salva remix, W&W remix, Attlas remix and Cosmic Dawn Club Mix.[7]

Composition and lyrical interpretation

"Needed Me" is a "mellowish" dubstep-flavored electro-R&B song[8] with "trippy, trappy production",[9] and a length of three minutes and five seconds.[10] The song is written in the key of G minor with a tempo of 111 beats per minute.[11] Rihanna's vocals span from F3 to C5 in the song. Her vocals throughout the verses consist of tuplets.[12] Instrumentally, "Needed Me" features "heavy bass triggers",[13] a "pulpy, throbbing beat"[14] and a "buzzing, grinding bassline."[15] It starts with Mustard's signature line "Mustard on the beat", before transforming into a "swirling, airy, atmospheric production" with "distorted, high-pitched vocal sample."[16] Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph described the track as a downtempo song with synthetic sounds, elements of electro bubble, and a loose, casual vocal.[17] Lyrically, the song touches upon themes of romantic rejection,[17] with the singer talking "about a lover who obsessively lusts after her,"[9] which can be seen in the lyrics: "Didn't they tell you that I was a savage? / Fuck your white horse and a carriage / Bet you never could imagine / Never told you, you could have it / You needed me".[17]

Many critics considered it a kiss-off track.[18][19] Forrest Wickman of Slate noted that lyrics stand for reversing stereotypical gender roles.[16] In the other hand, Erin Macleod of NPR Music stated that the song's lyrics were metaphors for anti-colonialism. Macleod picked up on the track's lyrics such as "Didn't they tell you that I was a savage?, Fuck ya white horse and ya carriage", and stated that the phrases seem to be that of a conversation between two lovers but could possibly be speaking against the larger narrative of colonialism.[20] Jon Caramanica of The New York Times declared that, on "Needed Me", she sings "about using men for sex and disposing of them like tissues,"[14] while Adam R. Holz of Plugged In added that Rihanna "obscenely and explicitly brushes off a clingy guy by demeaning his prowess in bed."[21] For Bianca Gracie of Idolator, the singer displays as "a confident, self-empowered woman who can throw away immature men as quickly as she changes her lipstick."[22]

Critical reception

David Sackllah of Consequence of Sound considered it the best song on the album, calling it "the ultimate kiss-off to an ex" and "masterful."[19] Idolator's Bianca Gracie praised the song for being an "addictive track [that] has all the potential to become every female's anthem."[22] Considering an album highlight, Jon Caramanica of The New York Times explained that "Rihanna has always shined when at her most assertive," and praised her singing for being "reserved and cool."[14] Safy-Hallan Farah and Eve Barlow, writers of Spin, were positive towards the song, with Farah considering it an obvious highlight and Barlow regarding it as an "upgraded 'Rated R'-era swag."[23] Patrick Ryan of USA Today praised the song's lyrics and Rihanna's attitude, stating that "Needed Me is also a raw and refreshingly defiant confessional by Rihanna. This is the empowering pop star we've been missing."[24] Alexis Petridis of The Guardian also praised its lyrics, labelling them "great".[25] Troy L. Smith of Cleveland was positive, praising "the stellar production" and "Mustard's forceful synths [that] take center stage on a soaring hook."[26]

Brittany Spanos of Rolling Stone enjoyed the song's flow, while also adding that it "sounds like our collective fantasy of Rihanna."[18] Forrest Wickman of Slate stated that "Needed Me" was a departure from DJ Mustard's usual production style and compared it to the work of Drake on his 2013 album Nothing Was the Same.[16] Jessica McKinney of Vibe declared that "It's for the #Navy members who need a beat to gets them up and moving as well as for the others that would rather not move at all, choosing instead to sit back with hands lifted and sing to the chorus or ad-libs."[13] Amy Davidson of Digital Spy called it an "all about female empowerment, and if she sounds indifferent, it's because she's too busy not giving a damn about some "faded f**k" feeling jaded after being the latest guy she's cast aside."[27] Emily Mackay of NME praised the song's trip hop groove, noting Rihanna's vocals as chilling continuing to praise the "chilly, mature Rihanna that speaks, not the nudge-nudge romper of ‘S&M’." Mackay also noted that "the warning of 'Don’t get it twisted' also echoes ‘Flawless’ from Beyoncé's self-titled 2013 album, already a hard comparison not to draw."[28]

In a less favorable review, Jordan Bassett of NME called it an "airy, forgettable R&B that's not quite worthy of Rihanna."[15] Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph thought it was "more atmosphere than actual song."[17] Chris Gerard of PopMatters criticized her vocals for being "inexplicably slurred [...] dreary and tired," adding that the song was "third-rate at best compared with most of Rihanna's prior work."[8] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine found it to be "frustratingly familiar territory."[29]


Billboard ranked "Needed Me" at number 9 on their "100 Best Pop Songs of 2016" list: "We already knew that Rihanna was a savage -- her supreme self-confidence and total lack of f---s to give have made that abundantly clear over the years. But in case you missed the memo, "Needed Me" is the perfect reminder, pairing nihilistic razor-sharp lyrical barbs with a bass-heavy down-tempo beat that could almost be confused with a pained love song—but only if you weren't paying attention. The way she eviscerates a former lover ("Don't get it twisted / You was just another n---a on the hit list") is delivered so casually and with so much barely-concealed contempt that it can't even be called cocky; she's just stating the truth, and if you haven't caught on by now there's no hope left for catching up."[30] Pitchfork would later list "Needed Me" on their ranking of the 100 best songs of 2016 at number 88.[31] In the annual Village Voice's Pazz & Jop mass critics poll of the year's best in music in 2016, "Needed Me" was ranked at number 21, tied with Ariana Grande's "Into You" and Miranda Lambert's "Vice".[32]

Commercial performance

"Needed Me" became Rihanna's 29th Hot 100 top 10 hit, tying her with Michael Jackson for the third-most Hot 100 top-tens.

"Needed Me" debuted on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 91, with 28,781 copies being shifted on the week of February 20, 2016.[33] It kept on climbing the following weeks, until it reached the top-forty on the week of April 30, 2016, becoming her 43rd top 40 single and made her the eleventh artist with most top 40 hits.[34] "Needed Me" entered the top-twenty on the week of May 21, 2016, climbing from number 22 to number 13, and placing at number 5 on Streaming Songs.[35] The following week, on the week of May 28, 2016, "Needed Me" rose to number ten on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Rihanna's 29th Hot 100 top 10 hit, tying her with Michael Jackson for the third-most Hot 100 top 10s, trailing only behind Madonna (38) and the Beatles (34).[36] On the issue dated June 18, the song rose to number eight,[37] the following the song dropped to number nine before rising to number seven in the issue dated July 2, 2016; ultimately, the song spent 16 non-consecutive weeks in the top 10 without ever reaching the top five, surpassing the record previously held by Kelly Clarkson's "Behind These Hazel Eyes", which spent fifteen weeks in the top 10 while only peaking at number six.[38][39] "Needed Me" became Rihanna's longest-charting hit on the Billboard Hot 100 as of the issue dated 3 December 2016, spending 42 weeks on the chart, surpassing the 41-week chart run of "We Found Love". It ultimately left the chart on the issue dated 24 December 2016, after 45 weeks.[40]

On the July 30-dated issue, "Needed Me" climbed to number 2 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, after remaining seven weeks at number three. It also became her 10th track to reach the top two positions on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. "Needed Me" spent eight consecutive weeks at number two before finally hitting the top spot on that chart on the issue dated September 24, 2016, becoming Rihanna's sixth leader on the chart.[41] According to Nielsen's mid year report in July 2016, "Needed Me" was the ninth most streamed song of the year, with a total of 146,364,000 audio streams.[42] On the issue dated August 20, 2016, "Needed Me" topped the Hot Dance Club Songs chart, becoming Rihanna's fourth chart topper of the year on that chart (after "Work", "This Is What You Came For", and "Kiss It Better") and her 27th overall.[43] As of October 2016, "Needed Me" became the most streamed song by a female artist in the US, surpassing her own song, "Work".

In the United Kingdom, the song debuted at number 90, following the song's video release, on the week of April 28, 2016. After spending ten weeks fluctuating on the charts, the song made its climb to number 38 on the week of July 14, 2016, becoming her 43rd top-forty single.[44] In France, "Needed Me" was Rihanna's lowest peak with a single, reaching number 94, before being released as a single. After being released, the song went as far as number 154 on the week of April 23, 2016.[45] In Australia, the song debuted at number 48, where it remained for two further weeks until it left the charts.[46] It became her lowest charting single in the country, along with its parent single, "Kiss It Better".[46] In New Zealand, "Needed Me" reached number 14 as its peak position, becoming her 41st top-twenty single.[47] In Germany, "Needed Me" became her lowest charting single, peaking at number 57.[48]

Music video

The music video was directed by filmmaker Harmony Korine.

In March 2016, media outlets reported that Rihanna was filming the music video for "Needed Me" during her Anti World Tour. The reports featured photos that saw Rihanna topless outdoors and images of Rihanna dressed in a backless bronze leather jumpsuit while riding on the back of a motorcycle.[49] On April 20, 2016, Rihanna posted three video stills onto her official Instagram, and announced that the song's official music video would be released later that day in celebration of 420. The same Instagram stills revealed that the music video was directed by filmmaker Harmony Korine.[50]

The video is set in a "gritty" area of Miami and features appearances from gun carrying and bike-riding characters. The video moves on to feature tattooed strippers in slow motion with low lit candle lighting. Rihanna, meanwhile, plays the action anti-hero, smoking and staring out into the distance from the patio of her luxurious pad, in a sheer cover-up. Later, she slowly makes her way through the grungy strip club with a pistol, setting her sights on one unlucky tattoo-heavy guy getting a lap dance—and kills him.[51]

Aisha Harris of Slate stated that the accompanying video for "Needed Me" was inspired by Korine's film Spring Breakers, a sentiment also echoed by Jamieson Cox of The Verge,[52] with Harris also noting that "it's difficult to tell if this video is trying to say anything particularly meaningful or is just an example of empty exploitation. Maybe it's a bit of both, but one thing is for sure: It's impossible to look away from."[51] Adelle Platon of Billboard called it "a badass clip",[53] while Brittany Spanos of Rolling Stone noted it to be reminiscent of her "Bitch Better Have My Money" video and named it "violent" and "dark".[54] Patrick Ryan of USA Today placed the music video at number one on his list of "6 music videos that prove Rihanna is a 'Video Vanguard'". Speaking on the video Ryan stated that "Rihanna creates indelible characters in each of her videos", but praised the ones that came from the "ANTI era" which he described as being a " gun-toting, DGAF ice queen: half-naked, smoking a joint oceanside one minute, before sauntering into a strip club to mow you down the next. With Spring Breakers director Harmony Korine at the helm, Needed Me explores the hazy, sordid underbelly that this version of RiRi inhabits, with visuals so eye-poppingly WTF that you can’t look away from the carnage."[55]

Live performances

Rihanna included and performed "Needed Me" on the Anti World Tour.[56] Josh Duboff of Vanity Fair praised the "Needed Me" performance, noting that it "came alive more in the live setting than [it] do[es] on the album, perhaps due to Rihanna's evident passion in selling [it]."[57] On August 28, 2016, "Needed Me" was part of the third medley Rihanna performed at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, along with "Pour It Up" and "Bitch Better Have My Money".[58]

Track listing

Dance Remix EP[7]
No. Title Length
1. "Needed Me" (R3hab Remix) 3:19
2. "Needed Me" (Salva Remix) 3:59
3. "Needed Me" (W&W Remix) 3:25
4. "Needed Me" (Attlas Remix) 4:23
5. "Needed Me" (Cosmic Dawn Club Mix) 5:21

Credits and personnel

Credits adapted from Rihanna's official website.[3]

  • Rihanna – vocals, writing
  • DJ Mustard – writing, production
  • Twice As Nice – writing, co-production
  • Frank Dukes – writing, co-production
  • Brittany "Starrah" Hazzard – writing
  • A. Sneed – writing
  • Alicia Reneé – writing
  • Charles Hinshaw – writing
  • Derrus Rachel – writing
  • Marcos Tovar – vocal recording
  • Kuk Harrell – vocal recording, vocal production
  • Blake Mares – additional recording
  • Thomas Warren – additional recording
  • Manny Marroquin – mixing
  • Chris Galland – mixing assistant
  • Ike Schultz – mixing assistant
  • Chris Gehringer – mastering



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[94] Platinum 70,000^
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[95] 2× Platinum 80,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[96] 2× Platinum 160,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[97] Platinum 90,000^
France (SNEP)[98] Gold 66,666*
Germany (BVMI)[99] Gold 200,000^
Italy (FIMI)[100] Platinum 50,000double-dagger
New Zealand (RMNZ)[101] Platinum 30,000*
Sweden (GLF)[102] 2× Platinum 80,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[103] Platinum 600,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[104] 5× Platinum 5,000,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Release history

Region Date Format Label Ref.
United States March 30, 2016 Urban radio
  • Roc Nation
  • Westbury Road
May 24, 2016 Contemporary hit radio Def Jam [6]
Various June 1, 2016 Streaming (Remixes)
  • Roc Nation
  • Westbury Road

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  97. ^ "Danish single certifications – Rihanna – Needed Me". IFPI Denmark. Retrieved 31 July 2018. Click on næste to go to page if certification is from the official website.
  98. ^ "French single certifications – Rihanna – Needed Me" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  99. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Rihanna; 'Needed Me')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
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  102. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat" (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. Retrieved December 7, 2016. Type Rihanna in the top right search bar. Click on "Sok" and select Needed Me and see certification.
  103. ^ "British single certifications – Rihanna – Needed Me". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Needed Me in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  104. ^ "American single certifications – Rihanna – Needed Me". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  105. ^ "Needed Me (Dance Remix) / Rihanna TIDAL". Tidal. Retrieved July 22, 2016.

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