If that notion sounds strage to you consider this: Rihanna is 24 years old, and she's already had 12 number one hits. Over the past six years, she's been the biggest presence on the radio by far, as singles like "S&M," "Umbrella," "We Found Love," and many others have dominated the airwaves. While Lady Gaga and even Beyonce will have a failed single from time to time, just about anything Rihanna records becomes a smash hit.
The one time she struggled to make a dent in the charts was with 2009's Rated R, a rather dark pop album that chronicled her feelings after being beaten by Brown. Still, as uncommercial that album was, it still gave her a chart-topping hit with the reggae stomper "Rude Boy," and "Hard" received a fair amount of airplay as well. At this point, she could record a note-for-note cover of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, and pop and R&B radio stations would end up playing it to death.
Still, she's not the first person to have a good run of hits, so why wonder how immortal she could end up being? Because she's still really young. The Beatles have the most number one hits of all-time with 20, Rihanna already has 12, and in all likelihood, she's just getting warmed up. For comparison, Madonna also had 12 number ones, but her first didn't come until she was 26, older than Rihanna is now. As hard it is to believe, Rihanna has the majority of her career in front of her, and she's likely be topping the charts for quite awhile. I expect her to obliterate the Beatles record, and score 25 number ones, maybe even 30. There's no reason why she shouldn't keep dominating the charts.
Let's remember, whether we like it or not, looks play a huge role in pop success, and Rihanna is one of the most beautiful women in the world. The one thing that might slow her down is the negative reaction to her decision to get back together with Chris Brown. Keep in mind, though, her latest single "Diamonds," was about that very decision, and the public still ate it up, sending it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. People may not agree with the decisions Rihanna makes, but they continue to be fascinated by her, and they continue to love her music. Don't expect her dominance of mainstream pop and R&B to end any time soon.
Admittedly, she'll probably won't be important as Michael Jackson or Madonna were, but she could still have the greatest career of any pop-star we've seen. She puts out albums at an extremely high rate, and the public loves every single she releases. Over the next ten years, she'll likely have a stream of hits that would make Elvis Presley jealous, and by the time her career is through, she will have established a continued dominance of mainstream music unlike anything we've ever seen. Nothing - not even Chris Brown - will be able to stop her.