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Rihanna featuring Jay Z - “Umbrella” (2007)

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Rihanna featuring Jay Z - “Umbrella” (2007)
Image: L: Columbia; R: Def Jam

There are a few reasons Beyoncé is performing “Crazy In Love” to this day. The first? It cemented the fact that the now global superstar could be a solo act. Upon its release in 2003, Beyoncé was still technically a member of Destiny’s Child but decided to put out a record all by herself. Obviously, it was a sweeping success with multiple lingering No. 1's on the Billboard Hot 100. The second? It empowers its audience to admit exactly how it feels to love *gulps* a man. Perhaps love is too benign a word. “Maintain an honest-to-goodness obsession for” is more like it.

Even if it’s been a while since someone’s got you sprung, “Crazy In Love” does what every good song should do: Summons the (hopefully not-so-distant) memory.

To hear The-Dream tell it, he wrote “Umbrella”—from start to finish—in about the time it took to sing the demo. So, in about four and a half minutes, one of the great pop standards of the 21st century was born. He told himself, “Write a hit!,” and so he did with the song that took Rihanna from star to superstar, lodging at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks. It was initially offered to Britney Spears and then Mary J. Blige, who must have subsequently kicked themselves (or their teams) for not jumping on it. It probably would have been a hit by any artist, but it does seem perfectly suited for Rihanna, who sings with a fierceness befitting devotion. Tricky Stewart’s chrome-coated drums, midtempo in their lumber, give the whole thing a majesty fit for a newly crowned pop queen.

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