Back in 2012, Rihanna‘s “Diamonds” soared to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the week ending on December 1. It became one of the best-selling singles of all time and nabbed Rihanna her 12th No. 1 single. At the time, “Diamonds” tied her with Madonna and The Supremes for the fifth most No. 1 singles in the chart’s history.
“Diamonds” was written by Sia and its producers, Benny Blanco and Stargate. After premiering on radio in September 2012, it served as the lead single off of Rihanna’s seventh studio album, Unapologetic. Blanco says the song came together overnight and was shopped around to Eminem before landing in Rihanna’s hands a few months later. Initially, he and Stargate had Lana Del Rey or Kanye West in mind while making the beat.
Blanco details the making of “Diamonds” and the impact that the song’s had on his career below:
“I originally went to [the studio] with Stargate. We were in New York and were making just a track… I was like, ‘Man, we should really make something for Lana Del Rey’ that’s what I think it was. We made the beat, and I was like ‘Oh my god, this is so sick!’
I gave the beat to Paul Rosenberg to give to Eminem. I didn’t think anything of it, and then Sia was [in the studio] writing songs, and she was about to leave for the night. She called a car, and the car [was] going to be there in 15 minutes. So in 12 minutes, she wrote the entire song and did the harmonies and everything – everything on the spot.
We had the song for a while, and then all of a sudden it was like, ‘Yo bro! Remember that song? We’re cutting it. Rihanna wants to cut it now!’
Then later, I get a call and Stargate was like, ‘Yo, Rihanna’s gonna cut it.’ They’re in London, like they’re gonna cut it right now! And I was like, ‘Really?’ I was like, ‘I didn’t even know that song was that good?’ And they’re like, ‘Bro, you gotta trust me! This thing is gonna be crazy! They’re gonna cut it. They wanna put it out!’
They cut it, and they were like, ‘You guys gotta turn it [“Diamonds”] around in one day. We’re putting this out.’ And we’re like, ‘Holy shit!’ I think Stargate just sent it. I remember I was with Sia when we got it. We were in a furniture store randomly. We heard it, and we were like, ‘Holy shit! This is so crazy!’
We didn’t even go in the studio with [Rihanna] to cut it… that’s the rarest thing. I think it’s the only song in my career that I haven’t. Maybe one other… I usually record everything, mix it all, and do the whole thing… but they just did. It just happened, you know?
I met [Rihanna] one time in passing. It’s so weird for me because usually I have such a good relationship with all the artists. Most artists that I work with will spend the night at my house when they’re in town. Most artists I work with I’m best friends with, they know my family, and come over for dinner. Hi Rihanna, if you’re reading this!
When it came out, Paul Rosenberg hit me and was like, ‘What the fuck?” Eminem wanted to cut that song!’ I was like, ‘What! I didn’t hear anything from you for months!’ When we were making the song, I was like, ‘Yo, this can also be so good for Kanye!’ We tried to send it to Kanye, and I think nothing happened. Then he wound up getting on the remix of the song. So it’s just weird how the world works, you know?
It really resonates with a lot of people, and she made it so fucking good. It’s the ultimate of ‘not always knowing.’ I didn’t know that song was going to be big. I didn’t know what the future was going to be of that song. We just made that song, and I trusted all the people around me, and she made the song into something so special that I could’ve never imagined. She’s so talented, and the chance to work with her, even from afar, is a fucking dream.”
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2017.