Even though the song at No. 20 was pretty much an unstoppable force of nature itself.
I loved “Umbrella” from pretty much the first time I heard it on my MacBook’s tinny speakers, the way its minor-key bluster and I’ll-stand-by-you lyrics were propped up by some deeply buried synths that sounded like they’d been coated in mud that had been collecting for weeks. Little did I know then that “Umbrella” would become a pop cultural juggernaut, with the “ella, ella, ella, ay, ay, ay”; the seemingly lazy Jay-Z intro that proved itself to be crucial (the Jay-free AC mix of the song sounded unfinished, naked even); the not-half-bad but superfluous Chris Brown remix; and the weird parallels that my brain drew between the track and “Rock Me Amadeus.” (No, really.) But even though it’s been hated on by some, and even though 2007 was a year that was chiefly marked by my patience being worn thin by everyone–blog bands, bloggers, bands with bloggers in them, OneRepublic, Timbaland, Nicole Scherzinger’s endless attempts to come out with a “first single” from her perpetually delayed album–”Umbrella” was my always-one-dial-flip-away security blanket, a song that I could rely on whether I was spending my days staring into a monitor or staring out a car window. The one irony of it being so omnipresent is that I’d probably have placed it higher on my personal end-of-year list if it’d, say, stalled out at No. 20 on the pop charts and faded from the radio around mid-July. But I guess that also ties into a larger thread about music in 2007, and how the fact that it was within arm’s reach–not to mention free!–at all times led to it being slightly devalued. So maybe the fact that it’s No. 20 on our list does mean that it’s song of the year, although I suspect that my saying so will inspire howls of protest from my cohort. [No doubt. -- Sen. Ed.]