Tom Holland and “Umbrella”: the internet’s most important video

It’s a Pavlovian reflex. When this video appears on the internet, we are obliged to look at it. When it’s over, we have no choice but to relaunch it. We may know it by heart, impossible to resist. I obviously mean the now legendary video in which Tom Holland dances to Rihanna’s “Umbrella”.

Two minutes and twenty-two seconds of pure exhilaration. 142 seconds capable of curing a depression, reversing the curve of unemployment, and perhaps even resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A mix “genderfuck” of romance, sports performance and umbrellas. The golden age of the internet is undoubtedly behind us (the golden age of the real world too for that matter).

But there is one thing that can never be taken away from us, in any case, as long asElon Musk won’t have bought out YouTube, and it’s the video of Tom Holland dancing to “Umbrella.” It’s only been five years since it first aired, and yet it’s hard to imagine a world in which it doesn’t exist.

To find inner peace, some turn to ASMR, yoga or therapy. Me, I turn to Tom Holland who dances on “Umbrella”. When I’m sad, I watch the video of Tom Holland dancing to ‘Umbrella’. When I’m tired, I watch the video of Tom Holland dancing to “Umbrella” by Rihanna. When it rains and I peel them in an open space heated to 19 degrees, I watch the video of Tom Holland dancing to “Umbrella”.

We’re not going to lie to each other: in 2023, I’ve already watched it more times than I’ve brushed my teeth. And speaking of teethI challenge anyone to watch this performance without a smile: it’s scientifically impossible.

This hip hop has been approved as a flu remedy by 100% of doctors.

Explosion of androgyny

Let’s go back a bit: this video comes to us from “Lip Sync Battle”, a show in which celebrities compete by dancing and miming the lyrics of famous songs, and which no one will remember, if not for these 142 triumphal seconds. This now cult episode, broadcast in May 2017, opposes Tom Holland and Zendaya, who at the time shared the poster in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Tom Holland, best known at that time as the latest incarnation of Spider-Man, had debuted in the title role of the musical Billy Elliot. In addition to being a young actor with an irresistible charm, he is therefore a talented dancer, who hides behind his youthful air a dose of rather exhilarating bravado. And that’s what he will reveal to the whole world during this historic performance.

In a nice introduction, the actor dressed in a suit and bowler hat twirls around to the famous tune of Singing In The Rain. Then the video switches. With a transition as hair-raising as the connection of 2001, a space odyssey, the music takes us through fifty years of history in a second, and transports us from Gene Kelly to Rihanna. The first notes of “Umbrella” resound, accompanied by the “Uh-huh, uh-huh” by Jay Z. Zendaya, stage left, is already hallucinating. And then Tom Holland appears.

At this precise moment, we are all Zendaya.

The actor has an outfit and a black wig identical to those of Rihanna in the music video for “Umbrella”. He wears lipstick. A tight-fitting satin jacket. Fishnet stockings. And a lace mini-short. What could be treated as a gag with hints transphobic (“haha, a man disguised as a woman!”) is, on the contrary, unfailingly sensual.

Tom Holland won the “lip sync battle” that night. But above all, it has won the hearts of the internet.

Tom Holland, who was then only twenty years old, is known for playing a high school teenager in the cinema; this may be the first time the world has seen it this way. (Through “this way”, I mean the one that produces uncontrolled giggles). On stage, a dozen women in mini-shorts dance alongside Tom Holland, but no one is watching them. L’actor is magnetic, and all over the world, men and women are contemplating a sexual reorientation in the face of this explosion of androgyny.

Ecstasy and perfection

We are at fifty seconds of video. Tom Holland, from behind, undulates in rhythm with his umbrella. The cries of the delirious crowd confirm it: we are witnessing the D-Day of lipsync, the Gettysburg of televised competitions. I never stanned, but there, I stand.

Emotional ecstasy is combined with technical perfection: the fan that blows just right on the actor’s little wig, the synchronicity of the movements, the realization virtuoso who brings together in the same plan the prowess of Tom Holland and the wonder of Zendaya.

Tom Holland leading the people.

Overwhelmed by the confidence and control of this seductive Spider-man, Zendaya collapses on the ground. And she hasn’t seen anything yet. As Tom Holland continues to wiggle, the rain starts dripping onto the television set. And then the sparks come.

A moment almost as historic as the storming of the Bastille.

We are close to sensory overload. Zendaya is so dazzled by the power of the show that she looks away for a moment, and looks at the audience, dazed, as if to say “Do you also see what I see?”. We mortals will never be able to identify with Zendaya, 1.78 meter goddess, movie star and icon of the fashionexcept in this moment, where we understand at the same time as her that her future boyfriend is making history.


Eh yes. If the video deserves to be preserved in a museum, it is not only for its tens of millions of views, its general public eroticism or its reversal of gender codes. We can also see the beginnings of what will become the most adorable “power couple” on the planet. In the video, their complicity is obvious. Two months after the broadcast, when rumors already abound, a first People article will claim that Tom Holland and Zendaya are together. But the two co-stars will continue to deny, until an unexpected confirmation in 2021 – a cursed year on all counts except this one.

Of course, Tom Holland won the “lip sync battle” that night. But above all, it has won the hearts of the internet. When I get to purgatory, Ted Danson will tell me without a doubt reproachfully I watched the video of Tom Holland dancing to “Umbrella” 25,871 times, wasting precious minutes of life. And I will tell him that I have no regrets.

Find every week Friendsthe podcast of Anaïs Bordages and Marie Telling in which they (re)discover cult series or films.

Tom Holland and “Umbrella”: the internet’s most important video