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Rihanna one-on-one: A tall proposition

By Anjali Rao, CNN
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Talk Asia: Rihanna
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pop sensation Rihanna is this week's guest on Talk Asia
  • Barbadian singer was interviewed in Seoul before her concert
  • The 22-year-old opened up about her relationship with Chris Brown

(CNN) -- "Under my um-ber-ella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh."

As I walk into my interview with chart-topping singer Rihanna, I realize that song has been playing on constant repeat in my head for several weeks without respite.

Although Rihanna was very well known by the time "Umbrella" came out, it ensured that everyone with ears and a radio knew who she was.

Preparing for the interview was a breeze as there was so much to talk about; her massive rise to fame, her headline-grabbing sartorial choices, her troubled upbringing in Barbados with a crack-addicted father and of course, the situation with Rihanna's now ex-boyfriend, Chris Brown.

I'm sure you don't need reminding but just in case, Brown and Rihanna were the cutest couple on the pop block until he laid into her one night in early 2009. The photos of a savagely beaten Rihanna were leaked to the press, sparking off a media onslaught to get her side of the story.

Show times
Wednesday, Feb 24: 13.30 GMT (21.30 Hong Kong)
Thursday, Feb 25: 04.30 GMT (12.30 Hong Kong)
Saturday, Feb 27: 12.00, 20.30 GMT (20.00, 04.30 Hong Kong)
Sunday, Feb 28: 09.30, 23.30 GMT (17.30, 07.30 Hong Kong)

That's why when the inevitable demand, "you must not mention Chris Brown" was delivered by Rihanna's record company, it came as no great surprise. An unrealistic request given the attention to the attack, but not unexpected. Leaving it out was not something I was prepared to do and we were busily toing-and-froing over it when in walked Rihanna.

I'd been warned earlier by my producer that she looked incredible; statuesque, towering tall and perfectly put together. Guess that means I won't be shoving my hair up in a ponytail, I thought. From there, much primping and preening with my long-suffering curling tongs ensued. Imagine my girly delight when her first words were, "Oh my God! I LOVE your hair!" We are going to get on just fine, I thought. And we did.

Yes, it's true that standing next to her I've never felt so short and frumpy in my life, but sometimes you just hit it off with someone. It was like we had known each other for ages as we chatted and chatted about ... everything, really.

I wonder if it was that rapport that made Rihanna comfortable enough to bring up C.B herself, even acknowledging it would be several years before she didn't have to talk about "the incident" anymore. What struck me in that moment was how realistic she was for a girl who wasn't even 22 at the time.

Her people weren't best pleased that we were discussing something other than her latest album "Rated R", but in the end, even they admitted to being happy with the interview.

As for us, we were thrilled with what we had. An open, insightful and hugely entertaining half-hour with one of the most lovely celebs I've ever met.

Now, if I can just get rid of that pesky song. "Ella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh..."

 
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