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Hit Song Breakdown: Umbrella – Rihanna

April 10, 2008

What makes a hit song work?

why do some song have all the elements but never break anywhere?

why is mmmmmbop stuck in my head?????

why am I asking all these questions?

This is what we will be going over in our weekly post called Hit Song Breakdown.

First up is Rihanna’s Umbrella.

Okay so the backstory: Chris “tricky” Stewart wrote the song in 2006 for Britney Spears. Due to Britney’s general scetcheyness that never happend. Trickey teamed up with “the Dream” and refined the song and they wanted Mary J. Blige to pull it off. Enter LA Reid who basically strong armed the songwriting team into giving it to Rhianna. She did it, Jay-Z helped and it made a gagillion dollars for everyone. Yay Major Labels!

So now on to the actual song.

Title: Umbrella
Artist: Rihanna
Writers: Terius “The Dream” Nash, Christopher Stewart, Thaddis “Kuk” Harrell and Jay-Z

time: 3:46 – Radio Edit w/out Rap

4:14 – Radio Edit w/ Ra


The first thing you hear is the Drums – my god those drums, the most instantly recognizable drum intro since “Walk this way” by Areosmith and Run DMC. But listen closely. D’ya hear what is going on in the back ground? Jay-Z – who cleverly yells out the Artist’s Name and the name of the New Album. Those Roca-Fella boys know how to do it.

So then Jay Z starts his rap. The rap refers to rain, umbrellas, and the glory that is Rihanna. But listen to the background. Its Rihanna and she’s singing the “eh eh eh eh” which becomes the hook!

Then Rihanna starts singing. The Lyrics are good but what is the key element of this first verse? its the hook again, BUT its in the form of the vowel sound of the last word. “you have my heArt” “…worlds apArt” etc.

The chorus comes in at 1:00 min into the song. Perfect.

With the hook being what? OF COURSE ellA ellA eh eh eh just like in the last 60 seconds of the song. And you wonder why this song became the biggest hit of 2007.

And take at a look at the lyrics of the Chorus. First of all they’re inclusive. She uses words like “together” “told you i’ll be here forever” and “we’ll still have each other”. And who doesn’t want to stand with Rihanna under an Umbrella.

Which brings us to our next point. This song uses old tricks but invents new ones at the same time. The lyrics are inclusive but strange at the same time. What other song uses the word Umbrella as the title and the hook of the song?!

These songs usually have some lyrics about love or loss or other generic tried and true words. What the writers have done is make you think about things differently. Most people are just happy singing the hook.

Now a closer examination at the hook. THE HOOK IS NOT A WORD. THE HOOK IS A SOUND EVERYONE CAN MAKE AND PICK UP AFTER THE FIRST VERSE. This is sssssssssoooooooo important to the success of the song.

Now at the risk of being ridiculed by my colleagues let me make a stand on something.



What starts this whole Hit of a Song is that the BEAT is GREAT. it starts with that then the lyrics keep you around. And when I say lyrics i mean HOOK. I mean the ELLA ELLA ELLA EH EH.

The second verse continues with the themes set out in the first; “YOUR part of my eternity,” “we’ll mend YOUR heart.” Wow! Rhianna is so thoughtful she’s always talking about YOU.

The bridge is short and sweet. And once again she’s talking about how much she will help YOU. There could be a sexual connection for the line “come into me” but I think thats just me having to watch her video a billion times.

Then the chorus/hook comes so does her paycheck.

Good job Rihanna and Writers. You made a hit.

______improvements______ dare I say?

  • its a club track but still it could be shorter for me.
  • I don’t really care for Jay-Z rap
  • it could be argued that the song benefited tremendously from the video. but either way its still a great track.




The New Rockstar Philosophy


Jay Z rap

No clouds in my storms
Let it rain, I hydroplane in the bank
Coming down with the Dow Jones
When the clouds come we gone, we Rocafella
She fly higher than weather
And G5’s are better, You know me,
An anticipation, for precipitation. Stacked chips for the rainy day
Jay, Rain Man is back with little Ms. Sunshine
Rihanna where you at?

You have my heart
And we’ll never be worlds apart
May be in magazines
But you’ll still be my star
Baby cause in the dark
You can’t see shiny cars
And that’s when you need me there
With you I’ll always share

When the sun shines, we’ll shine together
Told you I’ll be here forever
Said I’ll always be a friend
Took an oath I’ma stick it out till the end
Now that it’s raining more than ever
Know that we’ll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella
You can stand under my umbrella
(Ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(Ella ella eh eh eh eh eh eh)

These fancy things, will never come in between
You’re part of my entity, here for Infinity
When the war has took it’s part
When the world has dealt it’s cards
If the hand is hard, together we’ll mend your heart



You can run into my arms
It’s okay don’t be alarmed
Come into me
There’s no distance in between our love
So go on and let the rain pour
I’ll be all you need and more


It’s raining
Ooh baby it’s raining
Baby come into me
Come into me
It’s raining
Oh baby it’s raining

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The New Rockstar Philosophy

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 18, 2008 4:39 am

    This is really a good song. I can tell that care was taken to craft a tune that
    moves and brings meaning to the melody. Craft.
    She’s not bad looking either. Wow.

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