After adamantly denying being involved with actor Josh Hartnett, Rihanna is romantically linked to 18-year-old R&B star Chris Brown (pictured at Clive Davis' Pre-Grammy Party). "He's one of my closest friends in the industry," Rihanna tells Allure in January. "He makes me feel like a teenager. I have to act and think like an adult so much. He makes me feel young again." In February, the pair is spotted awfully close in a pool in Jamaica.
Now a household name, Rihanna appears on the cover of Cosmopolitan, with newfound self-confidence. "A year ago, I would have sat here in my shell with my hands in my lap and been very shy," she explains to the magazine. "But now, I can be goofy and outgoing." The Grammy winner also gets to celebrate another single, "Don't Stop The Music," heating up the Billboard charts, reaching No. 3 – right behind Chris Brown's "With You."
Continuing her magazine cover domination, Rihanna appears on the cover of Elle, where she briefly unseals her glossy lips regarding her "friendship" with Brown. "We've always been friends," the singer, who is currently on tour with Kanye West, tells the magazine, "but we're very close now."
Rihanna and Brown are embroiled in a domestic violence drama that results in Brown, 19, being charged with two felonies in the alleged beating of Rihanna. "Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what transpired," Brown says in a statement. In June, Brown is sentenced to five years probation and 180 days of community labor.
Having not uttered a word about her assault, Rihanna steps forward in fashion, before breaking her silence about the incident. "This happened to me...It can happen to anyone," the singer, 21, tells ABC's Diane Sawyer. Rihanna – whose latest album, Rated R, sells 181,000 in its first week – adds of Brown, "He was definitely my first big love."
Rihanna wins her second Grammy award for "Run This Town," a collaboration with Kanye West and Jay-Z. "I just want to thank Kanye and Jay-Z for giving me the opportunity to be apart of such a wonderful song," she says in her acceptance speech. In 2008, she won her first Grammy in the same category with Jay-Z for the hit, "Umbrella."
After her traumatic relationship with Brown, Rihanna finds love again with Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. "I have such a chaotic life, but at the end of the day, that is just my peace," she says of her "easy" relationship with Kemp. "It keeps me sane, really, talking to him and talking to my family." By the end of the year, the couple calls it quits.
Almost a year after the release of her last effort, Rihanna tops the charts with Loud, which boasts hit singles, "What's My Name?" and the Grammy-winning dance recording "Only Girl (In the World)". "What Loud showcases best…is a star undefeated by her worst circumstances – and finding redemption in exactly the kind of pop nirvana that made her famous in the first place," raves EW of her fifth album, which earns her album of the year and best pop vocal album of the year Grammy nominations in 2011.
Though Rihanna is crowned Esquire's Sexiest Woman Alive, the singer alleges that her appeal is entirely unintentional. "At the end of a concert, I don't feel like I've been this sexy thing," the star demurs. "Really, I don't even think about it."
Rihanna jumps from the record studio to the silver screen, making her acting debut in the big screen adaptation of the board game Battleship, opposite Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skarsgard. Despite the star-studded cast, the film opens in second place, grossing $26 million during its first weekend.
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Kevin Mazur/WireImage; Kevin Mazur/WireImage; Ida Mae Astute/ABC; Larry Busacca/Getty; Pacific Coast News; amazon.com; Courtesy Esquire Magazine; Universal Pictures