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October 26, 2009  | by: Jazmine Reed
Jazmine Reed

Jazmine Reed

She’s back!! Like Madonna and Christina Aguilera before her, Rihanna reinvented herself and her sound for a new album, Rated R, due out November 23rd. Donning a dominatrix inspired outfit on her single, “Russian Roulette” album cover, Rihanna wears a clenching flesh-colored corset with barbwire strategically wrapped around her exposed breasts, accessorized with a sexy, Zorro-like mask, cherry red lips, and a sleek Mohawk teased with new platinum blonde highlights. Good girl gone bad-ass.

Going for shock value, Rihanna released “Russian Roulette”, an eerie, edgy, and almost morbidly slow song as her comeback single written by singer and songwriter, Ne-Yo and herself. It opens with an electric guitar, followed by bass and the following lyrics; “Take a breath/Take it deep/Calm yourself/ He says to me…Take a gun/Count to three.” The song is the narrative of someone being challenged to the dangerous, fatal game of ‘Russian Roulette’ by a man. She is anxious, nervous but feels she has something to prove, cocking the trigger in the end with a gunshot as the resolution. It sounds as if the game is a metaphor of whether or not an obstacle or challenge is going to make her or break her. While it remains to be seen if Russian Roulette will be played relentlessly on the radio like previous chart climbers, “Umbrella”, “Disturbia”, and “Don’t Stop The Music,” the new sound is definitely unexpected from the usual up-tempo, contagious pop songs we’ve become accustomed to.

Rhianna "Russion Roulette"

"Russian Roulette" is Rihanna's first single since her Chris Brown incident

Producer Chuck Harmony explained, “[She] wanted to shock people…whether you like it or not, you talk about it.” And that’s exactly what we’re doing. The song has succeeded in sparking interest and getting our attention, but is the song good?

Personally, I think the public will appreciate Rihanna’s new sound; her breathy, powerful vocals, poetic lyrics, and controversial subject matter. But it does take a few listens before thoroughly enjoying the song. The single seems appropriate with her current personal life.  

When producer, Chuck Harmony was asked whom Russian Roulette was about, he kept mum, but understandably and as expected, all fingers point to ex-boyfriend, Chris Brown. (Brown and Rihanna had a very public domestic dispute last February, landing Rihanna in the hospital and Brown in court; he is currently serving five-years probation.)

“He says “Close your eyes”/ Sometimes it helps/ And then I get a scary thought/ And that is him/ Means he’s never lost.” Brown-inspired lyrics? When listening to Russian Roulette, I hear the voice of a warrior coming back strong with the fierce superwoman attitude which Rihanna has been strutting lately. After all, Rihanna says it best in her one recurring lyric in the chorus: “I’m terrified/ But I’m not leaving/I know that I must pass this test.”

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