**Original 2006 US pressing**
With A Girl Like Me, the Barbadian teen-queen Rihanna is looking to transfer all claims of royalty to the summertime pop charts.
If anybody's going to rule them, she pretty much proclaims by way of SOS, a song no less irresistible, intoxicating, and all-out cool than 2005's Pon de Replay, off her debut, she's it. That's not to say this new disc is anything like its predecessor overall. Where Music of the Sun was mostly what its title suggests - a romp through an anglo-friendly island with no sunscreen required - A Girl Like Me is more reflective and a little rueful; you get the sense it was crafted in part to show her range, with executive producer Jay-Z guiding her through it gracefully.
Unfaithful is a noir-ish testing of the R&B waters, and it goes so well that Rihanna wastes no time skinny-dipping her way into the deep end - Final Goodbye, P.S. (I'm Still Not Over You), and A Million Miles Away all betray juicy bits of Beyonce. Back in barefoot bikini-girl land, though - a territory that covers roughly half this disc - the party's still going strong.
Rihanna gives dancehall legend Sean Paul a run for his money with the bouncing Break It Off, and We Ride makes you want to roll down the windows and stick your head out the passenger side.
Crank it up and keep the sunglasses handy.