Rihanna – Umbrella (Def Jam, 2007)
This review originally appeared as part of The Stylus Decade, January 2010.
It’s a snowball of a song: accruing power as its arrangement steadily builds, its anthemic status boosted by each week spent at the top of the charts (seven in the US, and a decade-besting ten in the UK). Even as late as January 2009, we could still buy into its happy-ever-after sentiment—as demonstrated on the last Chris Brown tour, where Rihanna habitually strolled out unannounced, dressed down in sweater and jeans, for a re-worded duet (Brown: “You can be my Cinderella, ella, ella.”) But as the fairy tale fractured, key elements of the track’s magic drained away, perhaps diminishing its stock value in polls like these. Well, didn’t we all expect it to place higher than 70th?