The Bottom Line
Ever since her “Pon de Replay” arrival in summer 2005, Rihanna has been ubiquitous on pop radio. After topping the charts with two killer dance-pop records, the Barbados singer changed things up with the hit soul-searching ballad “Unfaithful.” Her label Def Jam is once again wasting no time in releasing new material, jumping forward with new single “Umbrella.” The song combines Rihanna’s serious side with her dance floor sensibilities to make for her best track yet.
- Rihanna's maturing voice
- Irresistible chorus
- Uniquely effective rock-r&b production
- Unneccessary Jay-Z cameo
- Drum kit and driving bass line create an edgy, rock-hop sound
- Rihanna's aggressive vocal performance
- Uniquely pronounced “umbrella” makes for an addictive hook
Guide Review - Rihanna featuring Jay-Z - Umbrella
In past work, Rihanna’s teenage voice has carried about as much charisma as a bowl of water. Five-star production and her uncanny knack for melody, however, have been able to make up for any vocal shortcomings. On “Umbrella,” Rihanna is beginning to show major signs of musical growth as she sports her most impressive and aggressive vocal performance to date.
“Umbrella” is unique in that it is constructed of a hip-hop beat but has an edgy rock sound. The song is somewhat stripped-down and consists mostly of a standard drumbeat up until the chorus. At the hook, however, Rihanna kicks her vocal up a notch alongside a roaring bass line, creating an aura of desperation, as if the whole thing could explode at any moment. The experience culminates in Rihanna’s catchy, repetitive pronunciation of the song’s title.
Although “Umbrella” kicks off with an unnecessary and somewhat uninspired rap from label boss Jay-Z, Rihanna more than makes up for the early misstep as she convincingly sings about keeping a relationship together no matter the circumstances. If this lead single is any indication, the upcoming third album, Good Girl Gone Bad should be her best yet.