At about 2 minutes and 30 seconds into this glossy new video, a nearly-nude Rihanna poses provocatively inside a huge triangle. But long before that blatant moment of female sexuality director Chris Applebaum establishes "Umbrella" as a multi-faceted metaphor. From the way Rihanna's short skirt mimics the look of an open umbrella to the suggestive way she places a closed one between her legs, the artist presents her femininity as a sensual and protective attraction. But as she combats the rain with her body, she sings about her emotions being symbols of strength and safety as well. Her desire and her heart are two parts of the same feeling, just as she dances in black & white and color.
Yet as mentioned, this all becomes clear rather quickly. The inclusion of Jay-Z in the beginning ads nothing to the theme, and though they cascade all around him and Rihanna - there are no sparks flying here. There is a lulling effect in Rihanna's voice that is both sexy and mildly boring, and the video wallows between these two poles. But strangely enough, the song itself succeeds precisely because of this ambiguity.