Thursday, 18 August 2011

Rihanna - Umbrella

Artist: Rihanna (Feat Jay-Z)
Track: Umbrella
Year: 2007
Director: Chris Applebaum
Genre: R 'n' B/Hip Hop
Main Audience: 14-20's
Type: Mainly performance but there are some narrative bits

The song Umbrella was realised in the summer of '07 when it was raining all the way through Britain and flooding, the song therefore stormed through the charts and became number one, it stayed at the top for ten consectutive weeks. It then became a worldwide hit and one video of the year at the MTV video music awards, amongst other awards inlcluding best song. This song effectively made Rihanna where she is today.

The video is very relevant to the lyrics, as there is either rain or umbrellas involved in almost each scene. It's about how it doesn't matter whats happened she's sticking with that person (the umbrella is to help them stick together through the 'rain' within their relationship). Jay-Z features at the begining of the song, like the Katy Perry and Snoop Dog video, Chris Applebaum has challenged the typical fish eye lense for the rap bits, he is also surrounded by females which is a typical aspect.

The longest scene is about 5 seconds, this signifies that it is a fast pace video and their are lots of straight cuts and fade ins. There are a few close ups of the star, mainly when she is hitting a high note and holding a note on. The special effects used are the illusion of rain on the screen (1:15) and lights falling as if they were rain droplets. Smoke is used at the begining to show the outline of Rihanna's body and to make her mysterious. The costume and dancing are very provocative and have a sexual aspect to them, it also has a hint of the the Male Gaze theory(Laura Mulvey). For example at 2:32 Rihanna is see painted silver and is not wearing any clothes, she covers her self up by her movements but some say it was very risque.

There is a great relationship between the lyrics and the visuals. The main lyrics of her song is 'umbrella' and 'rain', so Chris Applebaum went with a simple idea of using a umbrella in multiple scenes, this therefore relates highly to the lyrics. As said before the special effects include the illusion of rain and lights falling down to create a rain effect, Rihanna and her dancers are also dancing in rain towards the end with the lights falling down.
The relationship between the music and the visuals relates as well, the genre is hip-hop so it typically involves dancing and beats, this video is a perfect example of this. Usually R 'n' B and hip hop are more risque and sexual as that is the nature of the music.

There are many problems that face this kind of video when in the making, for example the choreography, getting Rihanna, her dancers and the set perfect and in sync otherwise it could look tacky and not well rehersed. Mise-en-scene has to be perfect too, because as said before you don't want the set looking cheap, it will give the video a bad name, and at the end of the day all they want to do is sell it. Making this type of video would be hard for me to achieve due to the fact that my budget is minimal, I don't have access to all these special effects and getting someone to basically wear no clothes would be hard. Also finding that many dancers would be hard because time is limited and costume like this would be very expensive.  


  1. Interesting - I'd never seen this one.
    Consider what challenges you might face in making a vid along these lines, SFX aside (location, mise-en-scene/set dressing, sheer numbers, choreography etc).
    Also worth greater consideration of the sexuality, eg compare the male dancers to female performers in 99% of (male) rap vids, link into wider debates - controversy over her X Factor performance, the govt report into sexualisation of teens thru mags, music vids etc. Think about the shape she steps inside too; the vid is full of not so subtle symbolism.
    The naked, grey-body-painted look strikes me as a postmodern, intertextual touch - see if you can discover where this has been used before.

  2. once again, don't allow pics to be orphaned like this, move up with text - and generally use caption tool


Please leave constructive criticism :)