"S&M" (CD single)

Music review by
Stephanie Bruzzese, Common Sense Media
"S&M" (CD single) Music Poster Image
Parents recommend
Violent sexual behavior is the topic of mature R&B track.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 57 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Promoting violence in any form, let alone in the bedroom, is a troubling message for people of any age.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Promotes potentially harmful behavior.


Lyrics refer to violence in the bedroom: "Sticks and stones may break my bones / But chains and whips excite me."


The song is about extreme sexual behavior.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, as its title suggests, the song "S&M" is about violent sexual behaviors. Though Rihanna doesn't use graphic language in the tune, its extremely suggestive lyrics are way too mature for kids. For example: "Oh, I love the feeling you bring to me, oh, you turn me on / It's exactly what I've been yearning for, give it to me strong."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byMomma K. June 27, 2017

Very sexual song is all about sex

In S&M, Rihanna sings all about sex, lyrics like 'Sex in the air I don't care I love the smell of it' and 'Sticks and Stones may bre... Continue reading
Adult Written byclarence August 5, 2015
Teen, 13 years old Written bySomebody26 January 18, 2019

Clever and Catchy

Rihanna expresses her love/hate for the paparazzi in a rather "unique" way instead of just singing cliche lyrics about how terrible her life is. The s... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byspeyan727 October 10, 2018

What's the story?

"S&M" is the fourth single from Loud, R&B star Rihanna's fifth full-length record. The song's title says it all: These lyrics are all about violent behavior in the bedroom. While there's no explicit language or super-graphic references here, the suggestions are strong enough to make this tune too mature for young audiences.

Is it any good?

Though "S&M" starts out with a cheesy synthesizer hook, it gains steam when its solid beat and Rihanna's powerful pipes kick in. Questionable lyrics aside, the infectious musical arrangements in this track make it a good candidate for club rotation and the inevitable remix.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Rihanna would release a song about violence when she has been a victim of abuse (by former boyfriend Chris Brown) in her personal life.

  • This song combines sex and violence; is it ever OK to glamorize violence?

Music details

  • Artist: Rihanna
  • Release date: February 11, 2011
  • Label: Def Jam
  • Genre: R&B
  • Parental advisory: Yes
  • Edited version available: Yes
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate