First Hit #1: June 9, 2007
Give it to Jay-Z, he’s got enthusiasm. His opening, which isn’t actually saying much of interest – mostly that Rihanna is pretty great, and also Jay-Z is pretty great, his favorite lyrical topic – does serve the purpose of a good warm-up act, getting people excited for the song that comes after it. It was especially important for a song like Umbrella, which I’ve never been that fond of as it was. The weird echo lyric that kind of defines the chorus has never really appealed to me, and that’s the central hook of the song. But honestly, apart from the hook, it is some pretty decent dance pop with a somewhat unique take on the standard declarations of devotion theme that pops up a lot in the genre. Umbrella is barely new, but as metaphors for sticking together go it’s at least somewhat charming and it’s arguably one of the better songs to crest the top of the charts in 2007.
Honestly, I expected to hate this like I used to, but Jay-Z actually did manage to make me listen with a fresh perspective, and the song is actually pretty decent if you discard the baggage of its ubiquity. It’s weird that I generally caught this half-way through every time until now, but that’s the nature of pop radio. Listening to the whole thing, good warm up act can do wonders.