When pop superstar Rihanna rode a pink camouflaged army tank onto stage during her Last Girl on Earth Tour, the message was clear: she has overcome her obstacles and taken the world by storm. Since 2005, the Barbadian songstress’s distinctive voice and knock-out looks have made her one of the world’s biggest-selling musicians; she’s earned nine number-one singles on the Billboard 100 faster than any other artist ever, and her surge to success is anywhere near stopping.

Rihanna is making history … by owning the moment. No matter that Rihanna hails from Barbados, an island where getting a chance to audition for Jay-Z is less likely than a blizzard. The Barbadian’s luck — and superstar stage presence — turned unlikely into a record deal with Def Jam Records, which yielded a 2005 studio album that sent platinum single “Pon de Replay” to the Billboard Top Ten. Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna’s third album, was one of the biggest music industry successes of the past decade. With three number-one hits, including “Disturbia” and Grammy-award winning “Umbrella,” the album went platinum a total of 22 times across seven international charts.

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No doubt, Rihanna’s worldwide fame has been a double-edged sword. The same album that gave the artist a chance to perform at the 2009 Grammy Awards also brought an explosion of international attention when she canceled her performance due to an altercation with abusive ex-boyfriend Chris Brown. But this personal tragedy hasn’t slowed the songstress as she continues to conquer, with her sight set on more than eardrums and music awards; her siren song has also captured our hearts, or at least our eyes.

For example, GQ magazine’s second-best seller of 2010 was the January issue, for which the singer posed topless for the cover. On-line, the GQ January app featuring Rihanna sold more than 12,000 times, almost twice as many copies as GQ’s December edition. As Kanye West said to Interview magazine in December, right now, the pop songstress could have any man — or woman — in the world. Says West, “No woman should have that much power.” But whether she should or shouldn’t is beside the point because, right now, Rihanna does.

What’s next for Rihanna?

Her fifth album, Loud, released in November, is well on its way to breaking the singer’s staggering records, with nearly 800,000 albums sold in the U.S. alone and two number-one hits — “Only Girl (In the World)” and “What’s My Name?” With four Grammy Award nominations on deck, Rihanna is slated to win big on February 13.

Also on Rihanna’s horizon is an acting career. She’s making her big screen debut in Peter Berg’s Battleship, and action epic slated for a 2012 release.

In her own words …

“I try not to depend on it,” said Rihanna when Kanye West asked how she deals with her power over men and women for Interview magazine in December. “It’s just a part of what’s happening right now in my life, and I appreciate it. It helps a lot.”

A little-known fact …

Rihanna’s already had 28 hits on the Billboard U.S. Hot 100 — more than Notorious B.I.G and Patti LaBelle combined.

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