Rihanna’s 2008 Hit ‘Umbrella’ Was So Iconic She Had to Ban Umbrellas From Her Shows

Rihanna is responsible for many hit songs, from “Shut Up and Drive” to “Diamonds.” The pop songstress first rose to fame in the early 2000s and has been in the limelight ever since, launching multiple hugely successful businesses.

Rihanna is now expecting her first child with her boyfriend A$AP Rocky—but for many fans, the story of her early years in the spotlight is incredibly intriguing. In fact, Rihanna was so popular when she first burst onto the scene that she had to ban an item that was featured in the title of one of her earliest hits. 

Rihanna’s hit song ‘Umbrella’ is one of her best-known tunes

By the year 2007, Rihanna had already released two studio albums. However, it was her third album, Good Girl Gone Bad, that cemented the Barbados-born singer’s status as a superstar. The album featured several tunes that became very popular with listeners, including “Take a Bow,” “Disturbia,” and “Shut Up and Drive.” However, it was the song “Umbrella” from the album that ended up becoming one of the runaway hits of the early 2000s, with many dubbing it the “song of the summer.”

“Umbrella” was one of the highest digital debuts in the United States at the time and ultimately, it remained at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for seven consecutive weeks, according to Billboard. The publication notes that so many users downloaded the song from the streaming platform iTunes, that iTunes even crashed for a while. To this day, “Umbrella” gets consistent play on the radio, remaining one of Rihanna’s crowning achievements in terms of her musical ventures. 

Why did Rihanna have to ban umbrellas from her shows?

The popularity of “Umbrella” ended up causing some issues for Rihanna. In March 2008, NME reported that Rihanna was forced to ban umbrellas from her concerts, based on some security concerns. One of the security guards outside the concert venue in Aberdeen revealed “we don’t normally ask people to leave an umbrella outside. But we were taking precautions over a potential accident. We were told that Rihanna’s song features dancing with umbrellas on stage. We didn’t want the crowd following her actions and someone getting their eye poked out.”

The song ‘Umbrella’ was originally written for Britney Spears

Rihanna smiles in front of a black background
Rihanna | Mike Coppola/Getty Images

“Umbrella” might have been made famous because of Rihanna’s inimitable vocals, but as it turns out, the song was originally written for Britney Spears. According to Vice, the tune was written by Terius “The-Dream” Nash and Christopher “Tricky” Stewart, the team behind the song “Me Against the Music,” which was made popular by Britney Spears and Madonna. In early 2007, they reunited to record a new song, one that would ultimately become “Umbrella.” Vice notes that Nash and Stewart originally approached Spears to record the song for her album Blackout – however, the artist rejected the song.

Then they reached out to hip-hop icon Mary J. Blige, but reportedly, she was attending the Grammy Awards at the time and didn’t get the chance to hear a demo of the song before Rihanna’s label, Island Def Jam, bought the tune for Rihanna. It turned out to be a smart move, with the song doing a lot to help cement Rihanna’s image as a “bad girl” who loved rebellious fashion and outspoken lyrics. Still, it would have been interesting to see how Spears and Blige would have interpreted the song – and whether it would have become the same big hit that it did with Rihanna’s influence.

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