rihanna: umbrella video.
RIHANNA's "Umbrella" video is one of the best pop videos I've seen in a long time. The video was directed by Chris Applebaum, who worked with Rihanna recently on her video for "S.O.S."
While "Umbrella" may be a song that shows Rihanna at her best vocally, the music video shows Applebaum at his artistic best. And to be quite honest, his artistic best doesn't make much sense. It raises a lot of questions, but it works. The video starts out with some sexy shots of Rihanna. Then we see Jay-Z, and what's this? IT'S RAINING LIGHT. And are those back-up dancers? Sort of. Rihanna gets sexy again, and then...WHOA, WHOA...is she battling Alex Mack in silver blob-mode? Or is she swatting away an ex-lover in the form of Capri Sun (see video)? Oh wait...now she has an umbrella, but if it's raining...why is she awkwardly dancing around with it? Now the screen is duo-toned and she's a French maid. More awkward (sexy?) dancing. And now...WHAT THE FUCK? WHY IS SHE SILVER? What is this crazy (amazing?) part of this video, and what does it have to do with the rest of the song? And why is Rihanna even hotter when she's silver and sitting in a triangle? After silverness, Rihanna is sexy again as expected when she's making lewd suggestions about cumming into her. And then, wait...back-up dancers? Sort of. These back-up dancers dance a bit more than the first group, but their moves look like they came out of a sixth grade dance assembly. And then it's all over, and you feel kind of empty inside.
The genius in this video isn't just its absurd content...The editing is just fucking brilliant. By adding crazy liquid to one scene, Rihanna flailing her arms about actually looks intriguing. Even the duo-tones in the one scene distract us from her mediocre hip-hop moves. Rihanna is sexy, but her sexy moves look like she's trying a bit too hard. Literally, she looks like a Good Girl Gone Bad who doesn't quite know what to do with herself yet. Thankfully, a few cuts and effects bring up Rihanna's bad girl factor. Arguably you can say she was on point in a few shots, but the only time we see a full-body shot of her on her toes is when she's hanging on to something. That is editing genius, because now you have me suspicious of whether Rihanna is actually a skilled dancer who is too classy to move in sexy ways. I give extra props to the choreographer, who elected to choose simple moves that Rihanna can pull off to some degree.
Most of the moves in the video are so simple that I question them. While I appreciate the stillness of the surrounding dancers when Jay-Z is rapping, why the hell are the back-up dancers so terrible in the ending sequence? The art of choosing back-up dancers that are better than you has been mastered in this industry (see Lindsay Lohan's "Rumors", Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend"). However, in this video they seem to be a necessary addition that is completely unnecessary. Explanation? Sure. They have to be there because we expect them to be. BUT we're not supposed to take our eyes off of Rihanna and her sexiness. She is the most important aspect on the screen. Who cares about them? The costumers even emphasize this point by placing the dancers in entirely black costumes with black hats, to the point that they're nearly indistinguishable from one another or the background. They have no personality, because they don't need to have one. They are just texture, and this creative choice makes it seem like Rihanna actually does have a personality.*
WATCH: RIHANNA- Umbrella (download)
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* I meant that in the nicest way possible. Rihanna is totally the shit.