[39] Rihanna featuring Jay-Z, ‘Umbrella’

It’s a Heart song, isn’t it? All power chords and stark emotion and, er, a phoned-in rap from Jay-Z. He and the Wilson sisters were like this. They’d bring the overwrought, he’d spit the rhymes. Then he ditched Nancy for his girl B and it was all just AOR/hip hop history. Rihanna of course conveys feeling with the natural poise of an office block, but ‘Umbrella’ benefits from her robotic delivery, keeping its secrets, peeling layers off slowly.

Junior says: “Ella-ella-ey-ey-ey” rather a lot. In fact, she says it pretty much every time she’s confronted by an umbrella of any hue, musical or rainworthy. It’s entered the lexicon.

Best bit: The thumping great beat in Rihanna’s first line.

[7] Rihanna featuring Jay-Z, ‘Umbrella’

Rihanna featuring Jay-Z, ‘Umbrella’

All this “featuring” lark really messes up your mp3 tags, don’t you think? On to more pressing concerns – here’s 2007’s big single, notwithstanding the Leona Lewis chicanery. A note: Leona’s single is quite good, if you can stomach that sort of thing. It’s not a patch on ‘Umbrella’, though, which picks up simple tools, fashions something vaguely unarresting but somehow ends up splendid. I was startled at the universal adoration poured its way, at least at first, but ended up shivering under Rihanna’s um-ber-rella-ella-ella-ay-ay-ay like everyone else.
Junior wasn’t particularly interested in yesterday’s gala play of this single, although she has been known to sing along with the simple title repeat – which has to be one of its chief strengths. Then there are the power chords, which give rock ballad muscle to an ostensibly r’n’b crooner. It’s a record with depth and everyman appeal, and somehow didn’t pall even into its third month at the top.
Only Wet Wet Wet have pulled off that trick before. Right, kids?
Right. Right, eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed we’re attempting two a day here. Expect the trend to continue, and the No.1 to be unveiled with breathless fanfare after a few festive beers on Friday afternoon.