Going to the dark side was only a modest win for Rihanna. “Rated R” got the Barbadian beauty more critical accolades than any other album she’s ever put out, but didn’t work out as well commercially. Granted, it’s sold just a hair under a million copies, but keep in mind that it’s only about 40% of what her previous album, “Good Girl Gone Bad”, sold. And since Rihanna’s much more of a pop star than an actual artist, record sales matter, and the general consensus is that the somber tone of many of “Rated R”‘s tunes is why it didn’t connect the way her previous project did.

So it’s no surprise that Ri-Ri has returned with a sunnier, brighter sound. She premiered “Only Girl (In the World)” on Ryan Seacrest’s show this morning, and it’s certainly more pop radio friendly than anything she put out from “Rated R”. It’s a bouncy, peppy track that should fit in nicely on Top 40 radio next to Gaga and Ke$ha. It might need some time to grow on me, though, since I don’t find it as catchy as “S.O.S.” or “Umbrella”, both of which were as perfect as pop songs get. Can “Only Girl” return Rihanna to world domination? We’ll find out soon, I guess. Her fifth album, “Loud”, hits stores in November.

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