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Rihanna - 'Umbrella'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:20 UK time, Friday, 18 May 2007

RihannaThere will always be certain things about the record-buying public that confuse me, like how Rihanna achieves global superstar status while Rachel Stevens is sitting at home waiting for someone to invite her to the opening of a new jar of coffee, when they both appear to have taken the same career path - pretty, nice-but-dull girl sings amazing songs with slightly underwhelming voice. But then, perhaps this is an issue stemming from my disappointment that 'Unfaithful' could've been so much better if sung by someone like Kelly Clarkson who has the vocal chops for it, rather than making us aware of Rihanna's vocal limitations.

ANYway, I appear to be digressing before we've even started, because the matter at hand here is Rihanna's new single 'Umbrella', which ought to be awesome purely by virtue of being called 'Umbrella'. Thankfully it delivers on all this promise and more - it takes a few listens to fully appreciate (and I suggest the louder the better, but once the neighbours start banging on the wall you're on your own), buit once it works its way into your brain, you can kiss goodbye to mental peace for the next few weeks.

Ace things about this song include the way Rihanna says the word "umbrella" (with specific emphasis on the 'r', and an invisible 'e' right before it), and the chorus-ending refrain of "umbrella-ella-ella, eh-eh-eh". It's impossible to do it justice in print, but it's fabulous. And you can call me a big sap if you like, but there's something very cute and endearing about the us-against-the-world sentiment of "you can stand under my umbrella". Also, since I bitched about her voice two paragraphs ago, it's only fair that I point out that she sounds great on the long note in the middle eight, so perhaps she's been honing her technique.

It's not perfect, sadly - Jay-Z's rap at the beginning verges on pointlessness to such an extent that the song would be vastly improved without it, and it's not as haunting as 'Unfaithful' or as catchy as 'S.O.S.'. But these are minor quibbles, and the video comes with an ace umbrella-based dance routine that I'm itching to learn, so I can't in good conscience mark it down too much. Besides, I don't want to upset Rihanna - that brolly looks hella pointy...

Four starsDownload: Out now
CD Released:
May 28th

(Steve Perkins)


  1. At 10:47 AM on 18 May 2007, Kat wrote:

    They put her on the radio after Beyonce one day which kinda doomed her for me a bit.

    This song though, it just seems so sad. The chorus is almost begging for a movie scene.

  2. At 11:26 AM on 18 May 2007, Bop Pop wrote:

    Literally the exact thoughts that come into my head when I think of this song. Although my head-based thoughts are decidedly less grammatical and paragraphy, I must say.

    P.S. I think you missed out a fifth star in the rating there...?

  3. At 12:49 PM on 18 May 2007, Sev wrote:

    Very cute song. It really is growing on me.
    By the way, I absolutely don't think "Unfaithful" would have been better by Kelly Clarckson, I mean I love Kelly but that song was DEFINITELY for Rihanna. "Vocal limitations"??? Just because she's not a yeller like Mariah or Whitney, doesn't mean she has no voice.
    Oh, by the by, is this already a new album for Rihanna? Gosh, she keeps popping them out every 9 months!!

    Hey, I wish Jay-Z would back up Rachel too, then she would be able to give us more great music. Miss you, Rachel.

  4. At 04:22 PM on 18 May 2007, Sarah wrote:

    I really don't see the hype with this song. I just can't bear it! It doesn't ring anything new to me, and I think most people like it because its deemed cool in my school anyway.

    And Rachel Stevens? No way is she a singer. I went to this huge live concert thing, and everyone sang live. She came on and lip synched. Hmm?

  5. At 04:52 PM on 18 May 2007, Flossy wrote:

    How can you say that about Unfaithful, I love that song. This song is ok but no where near as good as Unfaitful or SOS. Love the way she says Umberella!!!!

  6. At 01:01 AM on 19 May 2007, Mia wrote:

    I like 'Umbrella'.
    but i didn't at first, i agree with everything you said up there ^.
    You really do have to listen to it a few times and loud to actually start to like it!
    And yes Jay-Z's part...pointless.

  7. At 05:25 PM on 19 May 2007, Tim wrote:

    i love this song it justs sits in your head! when i was in an exam i found my self signing in my head umberella ella ella eh eh eh!!!!!!!! very good song

  8. At 07:16 PM on 19 May 2007, Chris wrote:

    Yo that clip with Rihanna and my man Jay is hot!!!!!!

  9. At 12:43 PM on 20 May 2007, hot girleee wrote:

    this song iz de best song in da world lvin it whoeva sed tht they dont like it have no taste in music cuz this song iz sooooo sownd!!!

  10. At 08:30 PM on 20 May 2007, Anna wrote:

    Well.. At first i hated this songg !!
    But then it got ah bit catchyy Lol
    Ella Eh Eh !
    Under My Umberella !

  11. At 12:25 PM on 21 May 2007, shelby wrote:

    hello evry one im in a happy mood unbrella is a sick tune i could listen to it over and over again talk soon mmmuuuaaa !!!!!!

  12. At 02:36 PM on 21 May 2007, sheri wrote:

    I swear the chorus of this song sounds familiar! There was this song back in the 90's (lol) that had the same "ella ella eh eh eh" bit. The video was similar, with the female singer covered in gold paint!!

    Help guys! anyone wanna help me out?

  13. At 03:08 PM on 21 May 2007, Kat wrote:

    May be The Cranberries - Zombie. Here's the youtube, check it out and let me know..


  14. At 10:38 AM on 22 May 2007, carebear wrote:

    hi Rihanna hi i love your new song it is so good frome kerry carrick in frome.........

  15. At 01:11 AM on 23 May 2007, danii wrote:

    I LOVE THIS TUNE SOOO MUCH ITS GREAT although her performance on GMTV this mornin was terrible, looking great though! x

  16. At 02:18 PM on 24 May 2007, gemma hammond wrote:

    hi i am a big fan i love umbrella its like one of the best songs u have done.

  17. At 03:11 PM on 26 May 2007, Carla wrote:

    Are you kidding?? This song is awesome

  18. At 05:10 PM on 01 Jun 2007, Eve wrote:

    I love this song! Gets stuck in your head. I am ashamed to admit that I like Rachel Stevens - she's a guilty pleasure, like chocolate, hehe.

  19. At 12:42 PM on 05 Jun 2007, jodie wrote:

    will u put umbrella on my site ple3se

  20. At 01:03 PM on 05 Jun 2007, MadeItTo44 wrote:

    First time I heard this I swore it was a cover. Even the vid looks famil but can't figure out what song it was. If anyone see's an old guy walking around going ella ella ella eh eh eh you have just seen me. One last thing. J-z, pointless. So why do all these ladies feel they need him to clutter up their song?? I like him, just not needed in the video, Rihanna really hit it out of the park with the imagry and point shoes, even if it's not her in them. And YES, she had something to do with making this video...

    Love you Rihanna

  21. At 04:24 PM on 05 Jun 2007, dodger wrote:

    i love this song its so cool. its great that rhianna is singing about protecting someone and being there for them, rather than just singing about sleeping around or how fit someone is.

    dodgerxxxxx :)

  22. At 03:23 AM on 06 Jun 2007, el wrote:

    at first i hated it. but i really loved the theme when she sings Omborlla eh eh eh !!
    as some others said, it sounds familiar, i just cant figure out who! Help anyone!!?

    Beyonce is wild in her dance, I think Rihanna is way better, only that the silver paint scene is not needed , it would look more like a deitrich movie without that scene

    And is there a name for the umbrella dance (at 1:44) , i want to learn THAT !!

  23. At 01:49 PM on 12 Jun 2007, shannon logue wrote:

    i love dis song soooooo much i would pay n e thing to go and c her in concert !!!!!

  24. At 06:57 PM on 13 Jun 2007, JO wrote:

    hi a think that the song umbrella is mint n she is a really really good singer

  25. At 11:36 AM on 25 Jun 2007, mizz fan wrote:

    hi this is a very good song plzx and u play it at 8.00 clock in the morning plz thta u so much

  26. At 02:04 PM on 09 Jul 2007, sarah wrote:

    ello i love you, ur a cool gal and a brill singer i wish i was you anyway keep up with the good music lvyas chik sarah x x x

  27. At 11:58 AM on 10 Jul 2007, sarah wrote:

    rianna ya songs r all mint luv yuuh xxx

  28. At 02:16 PM on 28 Jul 2007, anna wrote:

    hello i have to say this but this video is sad cos every time it gets played it starts to rain
    love anna

  29. At 01:28 AM on 29 Jul 2007, Princessie wrote:

    I luv this song."Little Miss Sunshine"(Rihanna) I mean I hate how the cd iz called "Good Girls Gone Bad" but then again change iz good so i dont mind.I like all the songs she ritez but this one is soo different. I heard that there waz a fling goin on with them and Beyonce got mad. Well anywhu,Rihanna U rock and u should stay rockin. Did anybodie her the remix with Chris Brown. U can b my cinderella ella ella eh eh eh eh, under my umbrella ella ella eh eh eh eh eh.TTYL

  30. At 08:42 PM on 09 Aug 2007, Emma wrote:

    it's ok, but i've never been over the moon about it. some ace stuffon her album, some mediocre stuff too. she's actually becoming an individual in the pop world now though, a lot better than her days of pn de replay!

  31. At 11:44 AM on 24 Aug 2007, Mary wrote:

    Mika, with his hard hitting influenceual song about making people feel better about themselves gets no stars and a poor review, and yet a stupid repeptitive song gets four stars?

    This song is very repitive and although the lyrics about looking after your friends is a nice concept, the actual layout and music put to the lyrics is dumb and does not get the message across.

    It's a song that only brain dead chavs like, end of.

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