Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
Barbadian teen superstar Rihanna could be heading for the record books: her summer anthem "Umbrella" just extended its reign at the top of the UK charts to eight weeks. Will it go another week? The last single to spend nine weeks at #1 was, in fact, Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" (see previous post), which was famously "deleted" (i.e., removed from distribution and chart eligibility) in order to prevent Gnarls overload. So, is "Umbrella" in danger of, er, gouging everyone's ears out? Not yet, says The Guardian's Dorian Lynskey, who gives nine reasons why he's still enjoying the "ella, ella, ay, ay, ay:"
1. It's such an improbable R&B summer smash. Neither laidback and fuzzy nor upbeat and exuberant, it's more like a rock power ballad stripped down to drums, voice, and thundercloud synths. Plus - and more on this later - it's about rain, for crying out loud. Who writes a summer song about rain?
He goes on to cite the track's detailed production, Rihanna's voice (and good looks), and even maintains the much-maligned intro rap from Jay-Z is actually a positive, throwing the rest of the track's brilliance into sharper relief, I guess. The track's current seven-week reign in the US means we should also be inching towards "Umbrella" saturation soon, but one of Lynskey's reasons to hold out is peculiarly British: the endless rain that has apparently been pouring down on the UK all summer makes the song seem oddly relevant. Interestingly enough, the rain has been so bad that an Ireland radio station that's been playing my Snow Police mash-up got in touch with me to do a mash-up commission (in an apparent attempt to break the curse of the summer storms): a combo of "Umbrella" with any song about sun, or warmth, or drought, or dryness of any sort. I gave it a try with "Walkin' on Sunshine," but it didn't really work. Sorry, waterlogged Irish kids