Rihanna's vocal soaring provides the requisite goosebumps.
Chris Ingalls: Kind of disappointed that this isn't a Peter Gabriel cover, but I have to admit that the idea of an R&B belter providing a song for a Star Trek film is an intriguing collaboration. There's a nice (if predictable) cinematic vibe to the song, and Rihanna's vocal soaring provides the requisite goosebumps. Movie music may dull her edge just a tad, but the song definitely works. So when is she doing a James Bond theme? [7/10]
Pryor Stroud: In a summer where the bouncy, reggae-pop mesmerism of "Work" remains ubiquitous, it's easy to forget that Rihanna is also an arrestingly talented balladeer. "Sledgehammer" provides more than enough evidence of this fact: raw, confrontational, and charged with an emotional intensity so towering that it seems to accrue a sonic materiality all its own, it's a cinematically scaled, Sia-like reverb opera that pushes Rihanna's voice to precipitous heights. "You're just another brick and I'm a sledgehammer," she sings, and during certain moments, within certain notes, you can hear her strike out at this crumbling wall of memories and regrets that's preventing her passage forward. [6/10]
Chad Miller: I was really excited for this song, and it lived up to my expectations. The song flows effortlessly throughout the emotional verses and the passionate chorus. The latter is probably the best part of the song with the towering vocals and huge beats. My one complaint is that Rihanna doesn't sound as emotionally connected to the song as some of her most recent works. [8/10]