To promote her new album, Unapologetic, Rihanna has set off on an ambitious globetrotting tour that will hit seven countries in seven days. Rolling Stone contributor Jeff Rosenthal is on the plane with a small army of fans and assistants, and an extravagant amount of champagne.
This morning was another long one. We left our London hotel at 3 a.m., getting to the airport an hour later. As these things go, we finally took off a little before 11. For those eight hours, with darkened eyes and pallid faces, we smiled. We re-enacted Rihanna’s dance moves: an MTV cameraman doing the best rendition of her jelly-leg routine from “Cockiness (Love It),” Def Jam’s Gabe Tesoriero surprising us all with his version of her, uh, lap-patting “Birthday Cake.” We recited her onstage banter word for word, tightening her script until it broke: the introduction to “What’s My Name?” goes, as Rihanna said in just about every city, “My name isn’t oh-na-na. It’s Rihanna!” Someone started a rumor that one of the passengers was a child actor from Jurassic Park. Since we hadn’t seen her on the plane in days, an on-air personality from Canada’s MuchMusic printed up a missing poster that depicted Rihanna, looking for answers while walking up and down the aisle. A writer fell asleep while typing, his entire screen filled with a series of j’s and k’s. Twenty people surrounded him and laughed.
A day earlier, the entirety of the plane had risen up as one, journalists starting jokey chants of “Save our jobs!” and “Just one quote!” (Fans, kept to the back section of the plane, joined in with a spoofed-up version of one of her songs: “Where have you been?/ Cause I never see you out/ Are you hiding from me/ On our flight?”) It was all an effort to lure Rihanna out of her private quarters, to be able to write about something other than the fact that we all had nothing to write about. She never came out, and the bad press continued. (She ended her London show by screaming, “Haters are liars!” It’s something she’s said often, but never before on this trip. It seemed directed at the journalists that she herself had invited.) READ MORE