Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rihanna Plays Career "Russian Roulette" With New Single...

So yesterday, after months of hype and anticipation, pop megastar Rihanna finally unveiled the new single from her forthcoming album, aptly-titled Rated R (album cover to your left). The track, entitled “Russian Roulette”, is even more aptly-titled, as it is definitely not what most people expected from her. In stark contrast to previous hits like “Disturbia” and “Don’t Stop the Music,” the track is surprisingly dark and even a little disturbing, beginning with a slow, searing guitar solo before pounding, mid-tempo drums, light piano and eerie, distant moans kick in. The arrangement is murky and spare, plodding and thumping rather than kicking and swinging like most pop hits are supposed to.

Rihanna’s voice is plaintive and brooding throughout, and from the very first verse it’s clear that Rihanna is ready to move into a moodier, seedier direction conceptually. She sings “Take a breath, take it deep/Calm yourself, he says to me/If you play, you play for keeps/Take the gun, and count to three/I’m sweating now, moving slow/No time to think, my turn to go.” Rather than switching up the elements of the song for the chorus, everything is simply turned up 20 or so notches, erupting into an epic, imposing stomp as Rihanna belts out “And you can see my heart beating/You can see it bumping through my chest/And I’m terrified but I’m not leaving/I know that I must pass this test/So just pull the trigger.” Is it about Chris Brown? Who knows. But when the gun goes off at the songs conclusion (yes…there is a gunshot at the end of Rihanna’s first single), I don’t think it’s too hard to figure out who was on the receiving end of that bullet.

Reaction to the song as been very mixed (hence the really not clever pun in the title of this article), with many Rihanna fans complaining that the song just doesn’t make for a good first single, doesn’t sound like “S.O.S.”, etc. Well, I’ve taken a day to think it over, and I completely disagree. Rihanna didn’t have to take such a risk on her first single, especially considering the ordeal that this past year has been for her. Instead of playing it safe with Umbrella 2.0, Rihanna is stepping out with an edgy new look, a decidedly less-accessible first single, and a hot fucking album cover, if I do say so myself.

I’m loving it.

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