Rihanna’s Breakout Song Umbrella Almost Went To These Artists First

It's hard to imagine anybody else singing this pop anthem but Rihanna was actually third in line.
Rihanna in her iconic Umbrella video
Rihanna in her iconic Umbrella video

This week marks 17 years since Rihanna released her hit song Umbrella.

Rih’s pop anthem was number one in the UK charts for 10 consecutive weeks – and was the song that really catapulted the rising pop star into the limelight.

It’s fair to say that the song was inescapable that year and was the soundtrack to summer 2007.

However, this breakout hit wasn’t originally intended for Rihanna.

The artists that were offered the song Umbrella first

Speaking to NME back in 2008, Tricky Stewart, the producer of the track revealed that it had been offered to artists before being offered to Rihanna.

Tricky recalled: “In a two-day period, we were in the bidding war of our lives.”

Originally, the song was actually intended for Britney Spears. However, the singer already had a full tracklist for her upcoming album Blackout at the time and, according to NME, her people were struggling to even get those recorded.

The track was then sent to Family Affair singer Mary J. Blige and LA Reid, CEO of Island Def Jam, Rihanna’s label at the time.

However, Mary was busy with prior commitments, later telling Andy Cohen on his podcast: “It was during Grammy time for me, it was a big Grammy time. I was nominated for eight Grammys and I was trying to get myself together for that

“And during that time, that’s when Umbrella came to me and I couldn’t do anything with it because I was so busy with my own life and I was like, you know what? It doesn’t even sound like me anyway.”

So, in the end, the song was given to Rihanna.

Umbrella was a turning point for Rihanna

The then-19-year-old told Billboard in June 2007: “My new look is purposely adult. I did what felt natural.”

It was also, she added, part of her Good Girl Gone Bad mission statement.

“I wanted to show growth as a person and artist. But for me, ‘bad girl’ does not mean ‘wild girl.’ It’s more about taking chances, trying new things — visually and musically.”

Well, given that the song stayed in the UK Top 100 for 71 weeks, it seems like the stars were aligned for Rihanna in 2007 and the hit was just the start of what was ahead for the global icon.


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