Rihanna: The Greatest Star, The Worst Nicknames

We try to come up with a nickname befitting Rihanna's superstar status, in Bigger Than the Sound.

I realize this is probably not important, what with all the horrible stuff going on in the world, but Rihanna totally needs a good nickname.

More specifically, she deserves a good nickname, one befitting her status as a true pop&B icon. To wit, she has scored a staggering 10 #1’s on the Billboard Hot 100 — making her the youngest ever to achieve such a feat — including four in 2010 alone. She has released six albums since 2005 (her next is due in November), which have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. She has won four Grammy awards, is the official ambassador of Barbados (where she ranks somewhere between Doug E. Fresh and rum on the nation’s “greatest exports” scale), has signed lucrative endorsement deals with everyone from Gucci to Vita Coco, makes really great, slightly controversial music videos , takes amazing meet-and-greet photos, commands a huge fanbase she affectionately refers to as her Navy and is a true pioneer of the hair arts .

And yet, the best moniker we have been able to come up with for her seems to be “RiRi.” Or maybe “The Bajan Beauty,” which sounds like something Bob Barker would’ve come up with while hosting the 1978 Miss Universe pageant. Clearly, this needs to change.

After all, Madonna is the “Queen of Pop.” Lady Gaga is “Mother Monster.” Mariah Carey is “Mimi.” Rihanna has earned the right to be mentioned in the same sentence as all three, yet she often isn’t. And I can think of no other reason beside the fact that she does not have a truly great nickname. Sure, I guess you could call her “The Princess of the Roc,” but really, that was Teairra Mari’s handle first (and everyone seems to be rushing to transfer it over to Willow Smith), and in a lot of ways, it just seems lacking. Rihanna demands something new, something descriptive, something that manages to capture everything that makes her so sensational: her youth, her heritage, her effervescence. Also, on a selfish note, I am desperately looking for new ways to refer to her in stories. My job is hard sometimes.

Of course, coming up with suitable sobriquets is actually a lot tougher than you’d imagine. An honorary title must not only fit like a glove — could Aretha Franklin really be anything but the Queen of Soul? — but it must be earned. Elvis didn’t become the King, overnight, after all. Yet I can think of no current star in need of a nickname more than Rihanna (is it any wonder that she once sang “What’s my name?”). And since no one else seems to be stepping up, I’ve created a list of potential choices — nicknames befitting of a true star. Of course, if you’ve got one, let me know in the comments below. Like I said, nicknaming is hard work.

The 21st Century Girl: Works on two levels: One, it plays up the fact that Rihanna is basically the face of 21st-century pop: a multi-national, genre-bending, tech-crunching (have you seen her Twitter account?) superstar. Two, it is a play on that old T.Rex song, and T.Rex are awesome — just like Rihanna. Who cares if Willow Smith has a song by that name too? Rihanna is the 21st Century Girl.

The Admiral: Since she is the commanding officer of the Rihanna Navy. The only downside? David Robinson seemingly locked this one up back in 1986.

The Bajan Baroness, or the Baroness: If all the other royalty nicknames are taken (shoot, even Fergie is the Dutchess), well, then let’s dub Rihanna the Baroness. Not only does it sound cool, but there’s a certain badass swagger to it. I’m sure no one remembers the old G.I. Joe character at this point anyway.

The Caribbean Queen: You know, because Barbados is located in the Caribbean. And because Rihanna is a queen. Also brings to mind Billy Ocean, which is always a good thing.

The Divine Miss R: This one might piss off Bette Midler fans. Also, it seems sort of old-fashioned to refer to Rihanna as “Miss.” Still, I think there’s something to this one. It sort of captures her “respect the bitch” essence.

Lil’ Sis, or Sis: Because she really seems like everyone’s kid sister (and because Kid Sister was already taken). Fun, flirty and just a little bit fierce, just like Rihanna.

The Only Girl: A nod to one of her biggest hits, also the fact that she really is the only girl in the pop game worth caring about. In a pinch, could be shortened to “The One.”

The Pride of Barbados: It’s the national flower of her homeland. Also, people there are proud of her. Its scientific name is caesalpinia pulcherrima, so maybe also “’Pini”?

The Saint Michael Siren: Gives props to the Bajan parish where she was born and also pays tribute to her voice. Of course, also sort of paints her as a seductive bird woman who lured sailors to their death.

Which Rihanna nickname is your favorite? Or can you do better? Let us know in the comments!