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Another Spin
A blog by Scott E. Shepherd · A continuing look at popular music, past, present and future.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Marié Digby has “Umbrella” Well-Covered
Newcomer shows her talent on Rihanna’s latest hit…and more

Filed under: News, Recent Releases, Technology

In a relative few months, then virtually unknown R&B artist Rihanna shot up the pop charts with "S.O.S.," sampling from Soft Cell's "Tainted Love." Since then she has become one of the biggest new artists; her latest song "Umbrella," is widely popular, with its catchy yet slightly annoying chorus of "umbrella-ella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh." Though considered primarily R&B/Soul, Rihanna's music covers a wider spectrum of pop and rock styles in her songs, so it's not surprising that someone would cover "Umbrella." What is surprising is that another relatively unknown singer would re-record it, not as a R&B/Hip-hop tune, but as a folksy-pop song—and do it well.
Though it's now beginning to get more nationwide airplay, Marié Digby's version of "Umbrella" began as a video on YouTube. There is some controversy because Digby was already under contract with Hollywood Records when she released her "amateur" video, but Digby defended herself, saying she was taking her promotion into her own hands. In the video, Digby takes an acoustic guitar and just plays for the camera, and sings. Hollywood Records has released a slightly more polished version, which is what can be heard on the radio.
"Umbrella" is a well-written song and Rihanna is talented enough to make it into a crafted R&B song with enough pop flair to make it an easy crossover. Yet Digby has transformed the song to a softer folksy tune that, in my opinion, resonates the true feeling of the song better (even with keeping in the "ella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh"). It could be that I have a stronger affinity to the pop/rock world than R&B, and I'm not trying to take away from Rihanna at all, but I like Digby's version better.
Digby's debut EP is now on iTunes, and Hollywood Records plans to release her first full-length album next year. Digby also covers Linkin Park's "What I've Done" on her EP, much in the same manner of "Umbrella" and just as effectively. People interested in this new talent should check out her myspace site, which includes a snippet of "Umbrella" and a few songs from her upcoming album.
Whether you like Rihanna's version of "Umbrella" better or not, you should check out Marié Digby's take. Though a little obscure now, it won't be long Digby challenges Rihanna with her own song, and I predict someday people will be trying to make hits by covering her.

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Another Spin is a reworking of an older music column of the Partial Observer, written by my alter-ego, "Dr. Spin."

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