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Released: March 2007

Despite the fact that this was the lead single off her third album, in a lot of ways this felt like the first time we'd ever heard from the Barbadian. Featuring an introductory rap from her Def Jam boss Jay-Z (giving the song his weighty stamp of approval) ‘Umbrella’ was Rihanna’s irresistibly simple statement of intent that set her apart from her contemporaries. A sparse, run-on groove courtesy of The-Dream, the humming, rockist pose of the simple chord progression, Rihanna’s monotone, robotic delivery and the simple message of the solidarity of friendship, it felt almost too fragmentary to work. And yet it did in spectacular, game changing fashion. Its detached beauty allowed it to stand out a mile from the rest of the pop out there. (PE)


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