The music video for “Only Girl” was directed by Anthony Mandler and premiered online on October 13, 2010.
In an interview with Just Jared, Rihanna explained the filming of the video and the video’s simplistic theme, “It’s really, really beautifully shot in these crazy, crazy, crazy places. We shot landscapes that we found a couple hours outside of L.A. It looks so unreal. It looks fake, like something out of a postcard with the beautiful hills… We had a lot of sunshine those couple of days, so it really worked with the whole essence of the video. But really, the video just shows this big landscape and the only person there is me.”
The video mimics the carefree lyrics to the song, which suggest that she is the “only girl in the world”. The majority of the video features Rihanna prancing around hillsides wearing a mohair sweater and shorter skirt, a bustier and mini floral skirt, and lastly, a white bra and “boy shorts.” The video uses the simplistic theme of predominantly focusing on Rihanna frolicking on a hillside with life size flowers placed near her with an array of artistic sceneries and props. Other scenes include Rihanna surrounded by multi-colored balloons, riding on a swing that hangs from the sky, lying in a bed of flowers and then dancing in front of a tree covered with blinking lights that adds to the surreal imagery.
Tanner Stransky of Entertainment Weekly reviewed the video positively, commenting on the video’s simplistic theme, noting it makes it seem “as if Rihanna is speaking directly to you, the viewer, and she is your one and only amid swallowing rolling, beautiful, swallowing landscapes. It’s an effect that makes you focus squarely on RiRi, who’s ensconsced in flirty outfits and sporting that fire-red ‘do she wore to the VMAs last month.” Joyce Lee of CBS wrote, “Rihanna has officially moved on from her edgy Rated R days and has taken on a more girly and upbeat look with her new music video, ‘Only Girl (In the World).'”Brittany Talarico of OK! complimented the transition from Rihanna’s previous effort, Rated R, which featured darker themes and lyrics, stating, “Goodbye spikes and leather, hello bows and flowers! Rihanna looks like an ephemeral beauty in her latest musical for her upbeat hit ‘Only Girl (In the World).’ She has traded in her dominatrix, spikey look for a softer side — and lets her fiery red hair down!”. A reviewer of Mail Online also complimented the colorful video, calling it “beautifully shot”. The reviewer went on to say that, “Her clothing is floral and feminine and her flame red hair has been tousled and has a huge bow in it […] The tone is completely different to the hard edged, heavier image and sound she produced on her last record which came in the wake of the highly publicised attack at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, singer Chris Brown.” Seth Sommerfield of Spin also noted Rihanna’s image change from her previous album’s video’s, stating that it is “far from the overtly sexual edge she flaunted on Rated R” and called it “whimsical [and] beautiful”. At the MuchMusic Video Awards held in Canada on June 19, 2011, the song was nominated for “MuchMusic.com Most Watched Video of the Year”, but lost to Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite”.