The music video for “Stay” was directed by Sophie Muller. On February 10, 2013, whilst walking the red carpet of the 55th Grammy Awards, Rihanna held an interview with Ryan Seacrest who officially revealed that the music video would premiere on E! News the following day. Rihanna described the production saying,
“The video was really, really simple. I pretty much stayed put in a bathtub, and we shot it really tight, really close. There’s Mikky Ekko in the video as well. This is the first time I’ve ever collaborated with him, so I’m excited about that because he’s actually the one who wrote the song and I kinda just fell in love with it so much and in love with the tone of his voice and we wanna keep him a part of it, so you’ll see him in the video.”
The singer added,
“It’s a very emotional song and it’s personal, so you just think about, it’s almost like telling a story, and when you tell a story, even to yourself — if you’re saying it out loud and expressing how you feel — it needs to be powerful because it needs to be authentic.”
On February 11, Rihanna leaked an “uncut” version of the video on Twitter prior to the official premiere, featuring the singer performing to the track in one singular take, without Mikky Ekko. The official version premiered on E! News later that day. It was then uploaded to Rihanna’s official VEVO account at 8AM ET the following day.
The video opens with a shot of running water. Rihanna is then presented undressing and climbing into a bathtub. Throughout the rest of the video, the singer is presented nude in the tub full of cloudy green water; subtle camera angles protect her modesty. Rihanna is shown wearing little make-up and with long hair tangled and wet over one side of her face. The singer seems morose and sad as she occasionally flickers her eyes to the ceiling and puts her head in her hands, showing off long manicured nails and a diamond stud earring. The low-key video also features Mikky Ekko, who performs his parts of the song separately including scenes of him perched on the edge of a different bathtub, gazing into a mirror, in front of an unlit fireplace, and sitting on a grand chair.The video switches between the pair throughout the course of the video until it concludes with a single tear falling from Rihanna’s eye as she sinks lower into the bathtub.