Background Information Rihanna started her career in 2005 where she released her debut single, ‘Pon de Replay’, displaying her, ‘girl next door’, outlook, although she had a transition to her new profound, ‘good girl gone bad’, stereotype in order to show her versatility. Rihanna became well known for the single, ‘Umbrella’, which was featured in her album, ‘good girl gone bad’, which was distributed on the 29 th March 2007. This single was a successful chart performance world wide and positive remarks from critics left, ‘Umbrella’, listed number three on the 100 best songs of 2007 published by, ‘Rolling stones’, magazine. Later, in 2008, ‘Umbrella’, gained the approval it deserved because it received a Grammy Award for Best rap/sung Collaboration. This very successful Rnb hit became the result of Rihanna’s world wide success and the great step up she needed in her career. ‘Umbrella’, is a complete performance and uses the microelements: Editing, Camera angles/movement/composition and Mise-en-scene to its advantage by displaying a lot of versatility.
Performance When looking at a range of music videos, you realise there is a mixture of narrative and performance, however, it is rare when approaching something which is completely dedicated to a performance or a narrative. Although, when looking at the music video, ‘Umbrella’, it is a full performance, which states Rihanna’s independence and dominance as a solo artist. By displaying a completely dedicated performance, Rihanna displays a hybrid of RNB and Hip Hop, significantly portraying her new conversion to broaden her appeal. The performance itself demonstrates a a lot of female power, as we see the energy given off during the music video. Rihanna exhibits a sex appeal throughout the whole performance, which males want and females want to have, this again, broadens the target audience among males and females. You notice that this strong performance uses micro elements to reinforce this dominant female role.
When you open up to the music video, you have an instant mid shot sliding across the screen of Rihanna, allowing us to see the mise-en-scene clearly. Immediately, we have a dominant portrayal of the female artist, who wears a black cat suit, she seems to be in control, emphasized because she is the first thing that comes in to view. Overall, we experience a mysterious, dark vibe to reflect the change in Rihanna’s career, exhibited through the tom boy hat which covers her face. In the composition of the shot, we see the hat over lapping her short, edgy hair style which portrays a dominant, rebel stance. The tom-boy hat also creates this power and control in Rihanna that you would usually find in a male. There is low lighting overall, but this contrasts with a strong beam of light which enhances Rihanna’s significance as the light source seems to be coming from her.
In both of these mid shot/close ups, we have the significance of costume, as well as a contrast of colours. First, we look at Rihanna, she is not wearing a typical ballerina dress, it has an edge of dominance because of the colour black, it’s cropped short to display this sex icon. Although, when looking at Jay Z, he wears gold trainers, contrasting with the background, to make him, as an individual stand out as he is very significant in the music industry. However, having Rihanna in this strong but elegant pose, she stands out in comparison to Jay Z because she is taller and more significant reflected through out the whole music video. In both shots, the lighting is very effective, Rihanna has sparkles which display a feminine contrast to the rest of the black back ground. Whereas, Jay Z has a contrast of electric sparkles with the black, similar to those used in Rihanna’s shot.
From these shots, we realise the house style displayed through the effective use of mise-en-scene, a black and white theme with hints of other colours to make them stand out throughout the music video, for example, gold, a colour often associated with RNB and Hip Hop genres. You notice that Rihanna is open to everyone as she reveals herself through nudity, this questions whether she is objectifying her self (notion of looking), creating the idea that she may be labelled as a sex icon. Although, the fact that Rihanna is comfortable in her own skin, creates a form of dominance because she is comfortable with who she is, a dominant, independent women whom fans idolise. On the right, we have a range of mid shots and close ups which display an unusual monochrome effect to reflect the house style. The editing applies stronger lighting which gives Rihanna a glow that makes her stand out in the contrasting black setting. This technique has been used throughout to make her standout in comparison to other characters in the video because she is the main focus. The editing also displays a mirror effect which reinforces the idea that Rihanna is the main focus.
Throughout this particular sequence, there have been a lot of cuts between long shots and mid shots to display Rihanna’s strong body language. Although, her provocative dress sense creates a notion of looking where, Rihanna seems to be portrayed once again as a sex icon. Her wearing something that resembles a maid’s dress reinforces this objectification of her being a women. When Rihanna turns around, the background cuts quickly and the white sits on top of the red, this change in editing, displays Rihanna’s conversion in to an independent women. The colours them selves contrast nicely against each other, making Rihanna stand out because she is set in both backgrounds.
Here, the editing cleverly fits in nicely with the music video because it matches the monochrome house style, having used this metallic water, enhances the beat of the music because it splashes and cuts in time with the music, a form of parallel sound. This metallic water also fades the next shot into the previous shot, a clean and creative method which introduces an new verse to the song. The water also demonstrates some of Rihanna’s control and power in the video, as she dances, the water revolves around her movements, creating ripples of water around the screen. When we look at the shot below, as the water fades into the next close up, the water blurs Rihanna’s face and slowly comes into focus.
Here, you can see a strong impact of power cracking the ice in the background due to Rihanna’s movements, this form of editing gives her power and authority because she is the source of energy. Instantly, when the ice cracks, Rihanna is blurred while the background remains sharp, this contrast makes both the background and Rihanna stand out against each other. The setting itself is harsh and black, the white ice adds to this intensity reflected both in the sound and Rihanna’s strong body language. The long shot displays the composition of the shot, with Rihanna placed in the middle while the ice surrounds her, once again she is the main focus. The light has been made more eye catching through editing, the light increases in brightness as the ice cracks, this power and dominance encapsulated in the performance displays Rihanna's passion for music.
Both of these happen to be long shots which display levels of power and significance. When looking at Jay Z, the composition of the shot has him in the centre, he is in control as the female dancers surround and look up at him performing, while he looks directly at the camera as he would with an actual performance. The male dancers are on the ground while Rihanna stands long and lean in the middle using her prop which reflects the sound (parallel sound), this composition implies that she is the dominant, independent role. Even though Rihanna uses levels to show her importance, both shots have a lot of energy reflected through the electric sparklers, and significance displayed through the black costume and setting.
In this mid shot, we see a female figure, Rihanna who displays a lot of skin, this with the glitter falling down reinforces the provocative appeal that Rihanna has objectified herself to representing. The entire shot is blurred, and slowly comes into focus while Rihanna moves her arms around her body in a slow and seductive way, enhancing that sex appeal. The way the light hits the shot, allows the glitter to stand out, a feminine, diva essence which makes Rihanna seem strong and independent, stereotyped like many other RNB singers e.g. Beyonce.
In this mid shot, we see Rihanna’s strong facial expressions mimicked by male background dancers, displaying her significant role in music as she is an idol. Here, the shot is almost going into a low shot to show Rihanna’s independent women power even during her dance sequence. She wears black to reinforce her significance in every costume change, worn in a style that reflects her target audience that listen to this genre of music (Hip Hop and RNB). In this close up of Rihanna’s face, we have more strong facial expressions to add to her clear message of women authority.
And Now... Rihanna's Superduper Extraveganza
Rules and Regulations
In this game, you will be given a range of questions which you will answer within your groups. In a time limit of 60 seconds, you must answer each question and give a clear answer by putting up either A, B or C.
No shouting out
No fussing over groups
No talking after the given time limit
No abusive language
What’s behind the question mark? A B C ? ? Jay Z A Drummer A Spot Light ?
What happens next… A B C Ice Crashes Scene cuts to Jay Z Rain falls ? ?
How many Costume changes has Rihanna had? A B C ? ? 6 4 5
What microelement is effectively used through the use of the body paint? A B C ? ? Editing Camera movement Mise-en-scene
What is edited in after filming? A B C ? ? Water Glitter Sparks