Almost Perfect: Umbrella by Rihanna

The greatest love songs and poems are all hymns to Ishtar.  Popular love songs often use blunt psychological manipulation also (appeals to pleasant emotions, desire to be loved, etc.) but at their core they have one single universal theme.  The beauty is in expressing the theme indirectly, ambiguously, and hypnotically.

The song “Umbrella” by Rihanna is just about as perfect a hymn to Ishtar as I’ve ever seen.  Rihanna channels Ishtar from the ancient past to the glorious present, as if to prove that she never dies.  There is no way she wrote the lyrics; they are beautiful and universal.  And the imagery in the music video is very well-done — whoever put in the triangles knew what they were doing.

As a poem and song, the lyrics and musical pacing will stand the test of time.  The video, while excellent, has three slight flaws:

  • Jay-Z is a moron.  The imagery in the original song; of rain, deluge, and sparking downpour is powerful.  Trust Jay-Z to completely miss the symbolism and make up some assinine line about “stacking chips for a rainy day” to demonstrates just how clueless he is.  WTF is this, a poem about farming?  Someone shut him up.  Thank God the dance remix running on Energy 92.7 doesn’t have his stupid blathering on it.
  • Rihanna’s hair is wrong.  She has a great face (beauty that comes from being not too remarkarble or “unique”).  And her hair is pretty in a contemporary way.  But this is ancient imagery, and she should have long, straight hair if she wants to strike directly to the heart.
  • The very tail end, where she’s singing “come into me”, should show the camera moving through a blue arch.  That would be just right.

The sweetest lines (I put … in place of the lines that are nonessential for the symbolism):

And we’ll never be worlds apart

Baby cause in the dark

that’s when you need me there
 

You’re part of my entity, here for Infinity
When the war has took it’s part
When the world has dealt it’s cards
If the hand is hard, together …

When the sun shines, we’ll shine together
Told you I’ll be here forever

Now that it’s raining more than ever
Know that we’ll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella

You can run into my arms
It’s okay don’t be alarmed
Come into me
There’s no distance in between our love
So go on and let the rain pour
I’ll be all you need and more

It’s raining
Ooh baby it’s raining
Baby come into me
Come into me
It’s raining
Oh baby it’s raining

6 thoughts on “Almost Perfect: Umbrella by Rihanna”

  1. I don’t know the name of the remix. I just heard a remix here on 89.5 in Seattle which wasn’t bad, but I didn’t like it as much. The remix they use here distorts and chops her voice. The one on E92.7 uses her voice as is, which is perfect.

    More on the symbolism — Ishtar historically inverted/twisted the myth of Pandora’s box, and saying “no, the box isn’t the thing that brought trouble upon you; in fact it is the thing that shelters you from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. Pandora’s box was a triangle, and in the video, they invert the symbolism to make it an umbrella. It’s just about perfect, and Rihanna has the right voice to be saying “when the world has dealt its cards, if the hand is hard” — as if she had nothing to do with bringing the rains down.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *