IT was a quiet affair. Nothing at Changi Airport's Terminal 3 signaled the impending arrival of a music superstar.
There was no stretch limousine waiting at the pick-up point.And no obvious extra security. One would have thought that someone like Rihanna would arrive in grand style.
After all, this is the 20-year-old R&B singer who single-handedly glamorised a humble everyday object with her 2007 hit, Umbrella.
She was expected from Perth, Australia, but flight details were not made available to the public.
Still, six teenage fans decided to try their luck. They guessed she would be on the last flight from Perth - and got it right.
And they were rewarded by being allowed to get up close with Rihanna. Much closer than the media got.
For some reason, her minders tried their best to block her from the view of our photographer, Jonathan Choo, and a Razor TV camera woman, despite the fact that it was a public area.
At one point, Mr Choo was yanked back by a minder for apparently getting too close. Rihanna's flight from Perth arrived at 8.40pm. She is performing for the first time in Singapore, at the Indoor Stadium tonight.
The singer was expected to arrive with R&B star Chris Brown, 19, her co-performer during her Australian tour,whom she is rumoured to be dating.
Thirty minutes after the plane landed, Rihanna finally appeared, with only two minders.
Her entourage of 45 had arrived early yesterday to prepare for the show.
The six teenage fans screamed with delight on seeing her, thrilled that their hunch had been proven right.
They surged towards Rihanna and jostled for her attention. Then came the magic word that stopped the singer in her tracks: Elmo.
Student Petrina De Souza, 18, had asked Rihanna to autograph her red knapsack which spots the popular Sesame Street character.
She told The New Paper: "Rihanna was like, 'Oh, Elmo?' and promptly signed on my bag."
Nur Amirah Noor Mohd, 15, sighed: "You're so lucky! Though we can't afford the concert tickets because we're poor students, at least we caught the first glimpse of her arrival in Singapore."
Her classmate, Emily Chan, 15, also used her handphone to film Rihanna all her way to the pick-up point where a black car was waiting to whisk her away.
Amirah said: "I think she's super hot. And she has a great voice for a 20-year-old. Her music video persona is great. She also has a fabulous sense of style. Plus she has a very hot boyfriend."
Emily said they had checked out the flight schedules to try to figure out when Rihanna would arrive.
"We were guessing she'd probably be taking the last flight out of Perth since she just finished her concert on Tuesday night."
$3,800 a night suite
Rihanna is staying at InterContinental Hotel's presidential suite, which costs about $3,800 a night, until Saturday when she leaves for a concert in Manila.
Singapore and Manila are her only two Asian concert stopovers. Organiser Midas Productions said 75 per cent of her Singapore gig tickets have been sold.
|THEY GOT CLOSE: Fans got close to singer Rihanna (in white T-shirt and jeans) at the airport last night - much closer than the media.
According to Rihanna's website, she will also perform in Monterey, Mexico, before heading home to Los Angeles.
Midas Promotions' chief executive Michael Hosking says Rihanna is a simple girl who has not made any "outrageous" requests.
He told The New Paper over the phone: "No special foods, beverages or decor have been requested."
Mr Hosking said Midas has spent more than $1 million to bring Rihanna in.
"Rihanna insisted on staging a concert here. She really enjoyed herself when she was here last year."
Rihanna visited Singapore in July 2007 to promote her Good Girl Gone Bad album.
She burst onto the music scene in 2005 with the hit single Pon De Replay from her debut album, Music Of The Sun. But it was Umbrella from her Good Girl Gone Bad album that made her a household name.
The album, her third, continues to spawn hit tunes such as Shut Up And Drive, and current hit Disturbia.
Rihanna's crew started building her stage at the Indoor Stadium after arriving from Perth yesterday.
Mr Hosking said: "Her lighting specialist arrived three days ago. One can imagine the effort put in."
Since December 2007, her world tour has taken her to Europe, UK, New Zealand and Australia.
Her electrifying performances have wowed audiences but she has also been dogged with health concerns.
Last December, she cancelled three gigs in England on her doctor's advice.
And during her recent concert in Sydney, Rihanna clutched her stomach and rushed off stage during a duet with Brown, who had to finish the show alone.
Rihanna's spokesman told entertainment network Wenn: "It was very hot at the venue, so after Rihanna's set was over, she went off stage and needed to sit down, catch her breath and have some water."
When asked if he was concerned by these reports, Mr Hosking said: "It was just a one-off incident. I've spoken to her management. She was fine during her performance in Perth."
This article was first published in The New Paper on Nov 13, 2008.