The Physics of Rihanna: Can You Actually “Pour It Up”?

The video is straightforward but the song raises some basic questions about physics

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Don Arnold / WireImage / Getty Images

Rihanna performs live on stage at Allphones Arena on Oct. 3, 2013, in Sydney

At first glance, the new video for Rihanna’s single “Pour It Up”  (which you can watch below, if you don’t care that it’s not safe for work) is mostly about stripping, twerking, thrones, water and money.

Listen to the words, though, and it begins to raise another level of questions. “Pour it up, pour it up,” she sings. “That’s how we ball out.” But what is “it” and how is it being poured “up”?

Though the verb “pour” can sometimes indicate high-volume movement in any direction (as in, “we poured into the venue”), it usually means that something, often a liquid, is falling out of a vessel (as in, “pour out a little liquor“).

So, when it comes to the most common sense of the word, gravity dictates that things that are poured go down, not up. That basic law of physics even applies to the dollar bills that Rihanna sings about (as in, “money on my mind, throw it, throw it up, watch it fall from the sky…”) and tosses around throughout the video, unless there’s some sort of unmentioned air current lifting the benjamins as they’re poured out and subsequently up.

But don’t worry about the science of the song. There is a physics-approved substance that Rihanna could be pouring up: a chain of beads.

With beads like this, they do actually go up when being poured onto the ground. Simply “throw [the chain] up,” as Rihanna implies, and then you can “watch it all fall out” while you “pour it up.” In this case, the momentum of the falling chain accomplishes the pouring action; the time delay created by the chain switching directions causes the upward motion. (There’s a more complete explanation of the science here.)

As you can hear in the “Pour It Up” video, “pour the chain of beads up” just doesn’t fit the rhyme scheme, but that must be what the songwriting team meant. Mystery solved!

(MORERihanna Plays With a Slow Loris in Thailand, Gets Locals Arrested)

14 comments
SaraMagalhães
SaraMagalhães

why are you taking a song about money and strippers so seriously? lmao I'm dying at this article. whoever wrote this has A LOT of free time in their hands

sterls07
sterls07

This article makes me gag 

rdiggs3613
rdiggs3613

Thats her in the background with the cap on

rdiggs3613
rdiggs3613

Obviously, she is talking about the experience of being in the strip club because that is the specific purpose of the song. I think she goes to strip clubs occasionally. Only an idiot would use this song to find discrepancies with the laws of gravity. Pour it up = pour a bottle(bottle service-which is expensive) to a high level in a cup thats physics, chemistry, measurements... Throw you up watch it fall from the sky. Throw a large amount of dollars over a stripper or stage, the money will fall to the stage or any wet spots on the strippers. Strippers will collect the money at the end of their set. It is what it is!

FunnyForever
FunnyForever

Did she do the same thing as Natalie Portman in black swan? Use another dancer's body and put her face on the body using movie magic???

FunnyForever
FunnyForever

Anyone can swing on a pole as a stripper.......but I like the rhythm of the song...it's catchy.......who is the stripper dancing in the background???

FunnyForever
FunnyForever

Rihanna looks stupid trying to flex.....anyone including children can open their legs open....and there is another woman stripping in the background..........Rihanna cannot dance........I don't see what is the big deal with this video??

JobexxJobexx
JobexxJobexx

LOL sure can:  artistic license or post-colonial speak or street liberties or projects-origins or metaphorical lyricism...

MichaelFørd
MichaelFørd

It's not meant to be taken literal. It's an expression and this is mindless entertainment. You prefer she pour it down? Despite your best efforts, you're not an intellectual. And you got paid to write this tripe?

SippySipM
SippySipM

Pour 'it' up as in pour the cup up. In other words, fill the whole cup up. #duh