Hollyweird: Rihanna and the 'Umbrella' Curse

by Trey Taylor

Hollyweird, in collaboration with @velvetcoke, takes stock of once-known but obscure or forgotten stories about popular celebrities and cult figures.

Back when "Umbrella" was an inescapable earworm and every girl had a shorn speak-to-the-manager haircut, Rihanna was riding high off of the success of her The-Dream penned single. Its catchy bars were written in minutes, and the rainfall themes were an apt metaphor for self-preservation from our collective miseries. But nobody had expected the chart-topper to wreak massive environmental destruction.

It started in the U.K. There is a subsection of the Wiki for Rihanna's single that spells out the story. It's called the "Rihanna Curse." A weeks-long rain spell coincided with the single's reign atop the charts. A day before its release? Sunny and warm. A day after? Severe weather warning.

"Rihanna's song 'Umbrella' has been number one there for nine weeks... and for nine weeks, monsoon-like rains have drenched the nation," reported the NZ Herald. Between June 11th and July 29th, 2007, "33 successive raindays (days with 0.2mm or more rainfall) [were] recorded in Dublin."

Originally, tabloid newspaper The Sun pointed out the connection between the erratic weather and the precipitous bop. The drama was heightened when a line was drawn between the music video's release and the undeniable fact that it was filmed on a notoriously unlucky Friday the 13th (April 13th, 2007).

The Sun urged readers to turn the tides by downloading more "positive" weather-related songs to climb the charts, such as Katrina and the Waves' "Walking on Sunshine" and DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince's "Summertime." Their attempts were unsuccessful in displacing RiRi. Time to call in the Navy?

This was no isolated incident, either. New Zealand experienced some record-making weather after its release there, including flooding and tornadoes. Likewise in Romania, dry spells were replaced with torrential rains and some of the worst storms in the country's history when the song entered the Top 10.

Photo via YouTube

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