hit song, Hook, Music Video, Rihanna, Terius "The Dream" Nash, Terius Nash

Umbrella – Anatomy Of A Global Hit

The Song
Umbrella is a worldwide hip-hop/pop crossover and first single released from Rihanna’s third studio album, Good Girl Gone Bad. It was written by songwriter/producer Terius “The Dream” Nash who is also signed to Islan/Def-Jam as an artist.

Umbrella is really remarkable for three things:

  • 1) It was passed over by many well known artists before being recorded by Rihanna.— The song was originally offered to Britney Spears with the lyrics written especially for her, however she turned it down. The song was then offered to Mary J. Blige; she also turned it down. This makes me wonder how developed was the demo before being presented to them. Sometime people cannot ear anything until a demo is fully produced. Jay-Z has a good ear for great hooks, so it must have been easier for him to extrapolate.
  • 2) It was originally written with Apple’s Garageband— The beat from Umbrella is a loop taken from Apple’s Garageband. Now, we’ve all heard about indy bands using Garageband but generally, they will use anything that produce a sound as long as it’s free. It’s the first time GarageBand is mentioned in the context of a wildly popular pop song.
  • 3) The Production Was Kept Simple— Technically, this song is near perfect. The rap at the beginning is optional and is frequently removed by many radio DJs. The chorus and verses hooks are massive. For me, the bridge is not as strong as the verse and the chorus but it ends with a nice climb that perfectly prepare for a last round of choruses. This song would have been so easy to overproduce, I’m glad that they kept it simple and to the point.

The Video
The Umbrella video is from filmmaker Chris Applebaum. I must admit that this video has some pretty good visual ideas. The metallic makeup has been done before (James Bond, Spandau Ballet, etc.), but this whole “animated covergirl magazine page look with the water splashes” is quite effective.

This video has tons of post-processing and glossy compositing, which I love. Check out the other videos on his web site. The progression from 1994 to now is incredible. He went from trashy low-budget handy-cam stuff to this glossy hyper-processed glam look that he has now. Oh, and Rihanna looks incredible, as usual…

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3 thoughts on “Umbrella – Anatomy Of A Global Hit

  1. Regal says:

    Now that you mention it, the Bridge does sound under-produced.. with the same drum pattern minus hats and the snare replaced with a clap… very minimalistic approach but how effective and appropriate is it really.

  2. Oskar says:

    Umbrella is a bechmark song actually. Lots and lots of songs, and productions really, will use it as baseline.

    Regarding Garageband, Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy has praised Garage Band on several occasions. Allt the songs were written and preproduced on an Apple MacBook and Garageband, and several elements were left untouched after being imported into Logic. Patrick has on several occasions stated that he would have no problems doing a complete album in Garage Band.

    Really cool if you think about it.

    Cheers.

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