Rihanna‘s new single has arrived without much fanfare, allowing only a few days to get hyped up before “The Wait Is Ova”. The song in question, “Russian Roulette”, premiered exclusively on the singer’s site at 11:23 AM ET. A bizarre, particular time that may take on some more significance when the album arrives — maybe?
Unlike previous efforts, the lead single is a slow-burning ballad that instantly brings to mind her “incident” with Chris Brown, prior to the 2009 Grammys. Whilst the lyrics attempt to disguise the subject matter, even the talk of bullets cannot hide the fact that this is about an abusive relationship. Ne-Yo confirmed this point when speaking to MTV News:
“The best and safest way I can say this is that Rihanna has some stuff to say and she’s going to say it. And she ain’t going to make no apologies for it. …I’ve heard a good majority of the album … world, get ready. That’s all I’m going to say: World, get ready.”
Whilst she doesn’t go for the jugular, Mr. Brown’s influence is written all over this record (“And you can see my heart beating/You can see it through my chest/And Im terrified but Im not leaving”). The song opens with a guitar solo, quickly eclipsed by a continuous bass beat. Rihanna’s vocals are high in the mix, presumably a result of her voice improving — a year of touring can work wonders.
It’s a departure for her, taken from the “Unfaithful” mold instead of her usual uptempo first singles (see “Pon Da Replay”, “Umbrella”). “Disturbia” and her recent outfits have highlighted that she is a fan of shock tactics. As if we needed reminding, the song begins to fire up before being ended by a solitary gunshot. The single’s artwork is similar, in that it’s provocative, displaying the Barbadian singer wrapped in barbed wire and wearing a bizarre eye-patch.
The reality is that the slow burning song would not propel a chart-hopeful to success, but with Rihanna’s emotions on display, and Ne-Yo on production duties, this is bound for the top of the charts. Not without incident, however…
A number of sites have already drawn parallels to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” Russian Roulette reference (“Russian Roulette is not the same without a gun”). And whilst Gaga only made a short reference, Rihanna has dedicated the entire song to the imagery; given that Gaga’s line was edited out for radio stations, Rihanna’s single might not make it onto the airwaves.
Rated-R is out November 23rd, as the singer recently announced via her new Twitter account. Def Jam recently spoke of the video (paparazzi shots) which will premiere soon on ABC’s prime-time slot. In the meantime, the song can be heard at Rihanna‘s site.