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Released in 2015


Written by Paul McCartneyKanye WestKirby LauryenMike DeanTyrone GriffinDave LongstrethDallas AustinElon RutbergNoah Goldstein

Last updated on March 4, 2021

Album This song officially appears on the FourFiveSeconds Single.

Timeline This song was officially released in 2015

Related session

This song was recorded during the following studio sessions:

Related interviews

FourFiveSeconds” is a song recorded by Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney, released on January 24, 2015. It was the second of the three collaborations between Kanye West and Paul McCartney released. From Wikipedia:

[…] It was written and produced by West, McCartney, Mike Dean, Dave Longstreth and Noah Goldstein with additional writing from Kirby Lauryen, Ty Dolla Sign, Dallas Austin, Elon Rutberg and Rihanna. Previewed by West at the iHeartMedia Music Summit on January 21, 2015, it was digitally released on January 24. “FourFiveSeconds” is a folk-pop and soul song with an instrumentation consisting of an acoustic guitar, organ and bass guitar.

“FourFiveSeconds” received acclaim from music critics who praised Rihanna’s vocals on the song. Commercially, it peaked at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. In doing so it gave Rihanna her 26th top-ten song on the chart, while McCartney set a record by ending the longest break between top-ten singles on the chart. The song also peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Internationally, “FourFiveSeconds” reached number one in Australia, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and Sweden, as well as the top-three in Canada, France, and the United Kingdom.

To promote the song, an accompanying black-and-white music video was directed by Dutch photographer duo Inez and Vinoodh in New York City. Rihanna, McCartney, and West performed “FourFiveSeconds” for the first time at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards on February 8 held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles; the performance received highly positive reviews. “FourFiveSeconds” has been covered by various recording artists, including Canadian rapper Drake and British singer-songwriter James Bay.

Background and release

On January 21, 2015, Kanye West made a surprise appearance at the iHeartMedia Music Summit, where he teased a collaboration with Rihanna that “featured acoustic guitar and a big, soaring chorus and melody with a massive hook.” Earlier, on January 2, recording artist and producer Ty Dolla Sign gave an interview to Billboard magazine where it revealed that he, West, Rihanna and Paul McCartney worked on a track together, which was yet to receive its final title. On January 24, Rihanna posted the song on her official website, Rihannanow.com. The song titled “FourFiveSeconds” was released as single being made available for digital download on January 24 via the iTunes Store. In the United Kingdom it was digitally released on January 26 via Amazon. A CD single featuring “FourFiveSeconds” and its music video was released on February 27 in Germany.

“FourFiveSeconds” was written by West, McCartney, Kirby Lauryen, Mike Dean, Sign, Dave Longstreth, Dallas Austin, Elon Rutberg, Noah Goldstein and Rihanna. It was produced by West and McCartney, co-produced by Dean, while additional production was provided by Longstreth and Goldstein. The single was recorded at the Jungle City Studios in New York City, Windmark Recording in Santa Monica and No Name Studios in Mexico. Marcos Tovar along with Goldstein and Dean had done the recording of the vocals, while Brendan Morawski, Zeke Mishanec, Jeremy “Head” Hartney, Brandon Wood and Jordan Heskett served as assistant recording engineers. The vocal production of the song was done by Kuk Harrell and it was mixed by Manny Marroquin at the Larabee Studios in Los Angeles. Assistant mixing was made by Chris Galland, Jeff Jackson, and Ike Schultz. McCartney played the acoustic guitar, Longstreth played the organ and Dean played the bass guitar.

On February 8, during his Grammy Awards red carpet interview, West explained how the collaboration came to fruition: “I’m executive producer of Rihanna’s album, and I said I’d done a few songs with Paul McCartney and she couldn’t get past this record. She had to have it on her album… So now we at the Grammys doing it“. West further compared Rihanna’s vocals on the song to that of Scottish singer Annie Lennox: “I feel like she has this type of energy in her vocals. And she even brought it to another level of like soul and heart and artistry“. In an interview with V magazine, Rihanna revealed, “The thing that made me fall in love with [‘FourFiveSeconds’] is the juxtaposition of the music and the lyrics. When you read the lyrics it’s a completely different song than what you are hearing. The music is easygoing, but the lyrical content is very loud and in your face.” Although it is a first collaboration by the trio, they have collaborated separately. West and McCartney collaborated on the 2014 single “Only One“, a track dedicated to West’s daughter North. Rihanna and West previously collaborated on Jay-Z’s 2009 single “Run This Town” — which became a commercial success and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart — and West’s 2011 single “All of the Lights”, a track featuring backup vocals by John Legend, Fergie, and Elton John among others.

Composition and lyrical interpretation

“FourFiveSeconds” is an acoustic folk-pop, pop, pop rock and soul pop song, with a length of three minutes and eight seconds. Critics noted how the song has a stripped back feel to it, and that it incorporates elements of country and folk. “FourFiveSeconds” makes use of a simple instrumentation, primarily consisting of an acoustic guitar and organ, as well as a bass guitar in the background. It has been noted that West sings his lines in the song instead of rapping them, which prompted Jim Farber of the Daily News to write that he could have done with auto-tune to smooth out his “unsteady vocals.” “FourFiveSeconds” is written in the key of D major, in common time, with a tempo of 103 beats per minute. Rihanna and West’s vocals span two octaves from the low note of D3 to the high note of D5.

Billboard’s Jocelyn Vena stated that the musical direction of the song represents a departure from the material present on Rihanna’s most recent studio album, Unapologetic (2012), which incorporated EDM and dubstep. Hugh Mclntyre of Forbes also wrote that the song represents a change in musical direction for Rihanna and West, while noting that it is consistent with McCartney’s style of music. Lanre Bakare of The Guardian described “FourFiveSeconds” as an “acoustic ballad” and the antithesis of what Rihanna and West’s previous collaborations have sounded like. Writing for Vogue magazine, Alex Frank described the song as an “unplugged version” of Rihanna’s 2011 single “We Found Love”, and without the dance beats present on her previous singles.

The New York Post wrote that the lyrics “express emotions ranging from the flip to the resigned”. Sharan Shetty of Slate stated that the song is about “heartbreak and redemption”, while a Yahoo! News reviewer noted that it is about “personal travails and confusion”. Nora Crotty of Elle magazine described the single as an “ode to repenting in the morning for the foolish mistakes you made the night before”. Billboard’s Vena stated that a “plucky acoustic guitar” accompanies Rihanna’s vocals while she sings the lines, “I think I’ve had enough/ Might get a little drunk/ I say what’s on my mind/ I might do a little time. Cause all of my kindness/ Is taken for weakness.” After the first chorus West sings, “Woke up an optimist/ Sun was shining, I’m positive/ Then I heard you was talking trash/ Hold me back/ I’m about to spazz.” On the second chorus, he and Rihanna harmonize as they sing, “Now I’m four, five seconds from wylin’/ And we got three more days ’till Friday/ I’m just trying to make it back home by Monday morning.” McCartney’s voice can be heard sped up underneath West’s opening vocals. McCartney originally played his guitar part slower and in a lower key, which West later sped up for the finished release, thus causing McCartney’s voice to sound much higher than its normal tone. McCartney’s lyrics were improvised mid-performance and are for the most part drowned out by West’s vocals except for the lines “We can run around” and “How ’bout a mystery.”

Critical reception

Peter Kandunias of Gigwise praised Rihanna’s and West’s vocals as well as McCartney’s instrumentation. Mclntyre of Forbes noted: “The song puts the spotlight on Rihanna’s vocals, highlighting them in a way that her club-ready, bombastic tunes don’t usually.” Jim Farber of New York Daily News stated that this collaboration is better than the previous West–McCartney collaboration. Additionally, he praised Rihanna’s vocals and stated that they are a lot better than West’s, “who could have used more auto-tune to firm his unsteady vocals”. Farber further noted: “It’s refreshing to hear Rihanna sing with so little affect, in a setting that’s much less processed than most of her recordings”. Vox‘s Kelsey McKinney noted that “Rihanna’s voice shows significant growth in range and tone since her last album”. She adds that Rihanna’s performance in the opening of the song is “more vulnerable than we’ve heard Rihanna since 2012’s ‘Stay’, and hints that her new album may contain more confessional slow jams like this one”.

Spencer Kornhaber of The Atlantic wrote of Rihanna’s vocals: “Listen to the ragged squeak in her voice in the first verse, and how she maintains control as she alternates between contemplative trills and gospel shouts during the bridge”. According to Kornhaber, the song showcases “how distinctive her timbre and phrasing is”, something that wasn’t heard on her previous songs like the 2010 single “Only Girl (In the World)”. Travis Grier of Def Pen Radio thought that the song is a good choice for Rihanna to achieve legendary status, as, “she’s tackled pretty much every genre under the sun and ‘FourFiveSeconds’ just expands her versatility even more”. Crotty of Elle wrote that the song is “awesome” and “sweet”. Billboard named “FourFiveSeconds” the 21st best song of 2015.


The song received a nomination for Collaboration of the Year at the American Music Awards of 2015. Although “FourFiveSeconds” was described by a Los Angeles Times writer as “tailor-made for multiple Grammy nominations” the song failed to receive a nomination in any category for the 2016 Grammy Awards. In 2019, The Federalist named it the best pop song of 2015.

Chart performance – North America

“FourFiveSeconds” debuted at number 37 on the US Mainstream Top 40 chart before the end of two days of airplay. Nielsen Music attributed the quick debut to hourly plays on radio stations owned by iHeartMedia. The song garnered 1,000 plays on 100 reports, with an audience reach of 7.4 million. “FourFiveSeconds” is Rihanna’s 40th entry on the chart, while it is McCartney’s first since the chart’s launch in 1992. For the week dated January 31, 2015, the song debuted at number 54 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. with sales of 53,000 copies and became the chart’s top new entry. Subsequently, it debuted at number 12 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The next week, it moved to number 25 on the Pop Songs chart, becoming its greatest gainer. Additionally, it debuted at number 34 on the US Adult Pop Songs chart and number 25 on the US Rhythmic Chart. On the Billboard Hot 100, it moved to number 15 with sales of over 138,000 digital downloads in its second week. It became McCartney’s highest charting single since 1986, when his single “Spies Like Us” reached number seven on the chart. The same week, it moved ten places from number 12 to number two on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart.

In its third week, the song jumped to number six on the Billboard Hot 100 as a result of the digital downloads; it sold 181,000 copies for the week and peaked at number three on the Digital Songs chart. It marked McCartney’s first top-ten on the Hot 100 chart after 29 years. He surpassed Santana, who recorded a span of 28 years between his top-tens from 1971 to 1999, thus ending the longest break between top-ten songs in the 56-year history of the chart. “FourFiveSeconds” became Rihanna’s 26th top-ten single on the chart and West’s 15th. The same week, it topped the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and became Rihanna’s fourth number one, while West’s seventh. It was McCartney’s second number-one song on the chart following his 1983 duet with Michael Jackson, “The Girl Is Mine“. In the song’s fourth week on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the song moved two places and peaked at number four. The song became West’s highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100 since “Heartless”, which peaked at number two in 2009. It also became McCartney’s first top-five hit in 31 years, one month, and one week; his last top-five hit was his 1983 collaboration with Jackson, “Say Say Say“, which became his ninth solo number-one single. For the issue dated March 7, “FourFiveSeconds” moved to number 10 on the Pop Songs chart with an audience impression of over 70 million. With the achievement, Rihanna tied Mariah Carey for most top 10 songs on the chart; each of them has 23 top 10 singles. Although it didn’t chart on the US Hot Country Songs chart, it has received airplay on a number of country stations in major metropolitan areas. As of July 2015, “FourFiveSeconds” has sold 1,868,000 copies in the United States.

In Canada, “FourFiveSeconds” debuted at number 65 on the Canadian Hot 100 for the week dated February 7. The next week it jumped 56 places to number nine with biggest gain in digital sales and radio airplay for that issue. In its third week it peaked at number four on the chart. “FourFiveSeconds” reached its peak of number three on the chart in its sixth week, for the issue date March 14. As of July 2015, “FourFiveSeconds” has sold 289,000 copies in Canada. […]

Chart performance – UK

In the United Kingdom, “FourFiveSeconds” debuted at number five on the UK Singles Chart for the week ending date February 7, 2015. The next week it reached a peak of number four and sold 41,535 digital downloads. On March 8, 2015, the track reached a new peak of three on the chart. and has sold over 452,000 copies in the country, as of April 2015. As of September 2017, the song was the 311th best-selling song of all time in the UK (including streaming equivalent sales). In Ireland, the song debuted at number fourteen on the Irish Singles Chart for the week dated January 29. On March 19, in its eight-week on the chart, it reached number one. “FourFiveSeconds” attained commercial success in continental Europe too and reached the top-five on over 18 national charts. It debuted at number one on the Swedish Singles Chart on March 6 and stayed on the position for two consecutive weeks. It became fourth Swedish number-one song for Rihanna, second for McCartney and first for West. It was certified double platinum by the Swedish Recording Industry Association (GLF) and sold over 80,000 digital copies in the country alone. […]

Paul McCartney about his contribution to “FourFiveSeconds“:

[…] I just threw ideas at [Kanye]. I had no idea about the end result or whether he would even use any of it until he sent me the three songs for listening. The first time I listened, I was pretty confused. I spoke to one of Kanye’s people, Noah – an incredibly nice man – and asked him, ‘Well, where am I?’. And he laughed and said, ‘Well, the groove itself is your guitar, man!’

What Kanye had done was relatively simple. He had set up the speed of the recording. That’s kind of it. But that was enough for me not to recognize it at first. At some point in the finished version, you can actually see the sound of my voice sounding like Chip and Chap on the outing because it was also on the recording of the guitar! (Paul imitates the sound of his own up-speeded voice and laughs)

Well, well, the guitar, it’s me. The thing is, these are his songs. I trusted him to be able to assess if there was anything that could be used. I delivered the spine, you might say, or maybe it would be better to say that I gave him some pretty basic ingredients, and out of it, Kanye made a cake, a delicious but slightly unusual cake filled with his spices (laughs). He’s a really good cook!

The icing on the cake (laughs)… was Rihanna. He had her added afterwards because he thought the song would be a good fit for her. Then I listened to it one more time. It worked. The next step was that we made a video. It was super, great fun. It was with this Dutch director couple that I forgot the names of. They have some impossible names to remember (Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin), but they did a really fine job. The next step was that we played at the Grammys show in February… Rihanna is an excellent performer so it was a great pleasure. I have to say that I’m glad I jumped on the bandwagon…

Paul McCartney – interview with Danish website SoundVenue, July 3, 2015

Besides playing guitar on FourFiveSeconds was your contribution to this song?

Paul McCartney: Not a lot more, actually. It was mainly just the groove. What I got with Kanye, what are we going to do here? What’s my contribution going to be? On that song you can hear the guitar part was just something I was suggesting to him. Suggesting this might be a good place to go and write a song. And I left it with him and he did…(imitates the chorus)… Just a little bit of singing along with it. And he recorded everything. So in the end he just sent me back this Rihanna song and I didn’t even recognise it at first, cause what he’d done was he’d sped it up. My original thing was a slower groove. It was in a different key, but they changed the key to make it suitable for a female voice, so I didn’t actually recognise it at first. I kind of set the scene with my guitar part and he came up with a really cool song. Because they took it and electronically sped the track up – on the live version we did on the Grammys I sang on the chorus – but if you listen to the song there’s a little bit, I think it’s in one of the verses where Kanye sings. And he’s singing ‘Woke up an optimist’ and you can hear a little voice singing ‘l find a mystery’ and that is me!”

Paul McCartney – interview for NPO Radio 2, June 4, 2015


I think I've had enough

I might get a little drunk

I say what's on my mind

I might do a little time

Cause all of my kindness

Is taken for weakness

Now I'm FourFiveSeconds from wildin'

And we got three more days 'til Friday

I'm just tryna make it back home by Monday mornin'

I swear I wish somebody would tell me

Ooh, that's all I want

Woke up an optimist

Sun was shinin', I'm positive

Then I heard you was talkin' trash

Hold me back, I'm 'bout to spaz

Yeah, 'bout FourFiveSeconds from wildin'

And we got three more days ‘til Friday

I’m tryna make it back home by Monday mornin'

I swear I wish somebody would try me

Ooh, that’s all I want

And I know that you're up tonight

Thinkin', "How could I be so selfish?"

But you called 'bout a thousand times

Wondering where I've been

Now I know that you're up tonight

Thinkin' "How could I be so reckless?"

But I just can't apologize

I hope you can understand

If I go to jail tonight

Promise you'll pay my bail

See they want to buy my pride

But that just ain't up for sale

See all of my kindness

Is taken for weakness

Officially appears on


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Live performances

FourFiveSeconds” has been played in 90 concerts and 2 soundchecks.

Latest concerts where “FourFiveSeconds” has been played

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