Rihanna's dark, daring new single: Hear 'Russian Roulette' now

rihanna-russian-singleRihanna debuted her brand-new single “Russian Roulette” right on time this morning at 11:23 AM Eastern via her official website. Written and produced by labelmate Ne-Yo, “Russian Roulette” is the first single from Nov. 23‘s Rated R.

The midtempo tune opens with a screaming processed-guitar solo that segues into an eerie-sexy bass rumble, accompanied by some unsettling imagery: “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.'” Soon thereafter comes the big pull-out-the-stops hook: “And you can see my heart beating/You can see it through my chest/I’m terrified but I’m not leaving.” The music ends dramatically with a single gunshot.

Guns, fear, a man pushing a woman to play a dangerous game — this is risque subject matter for any pop single. It’s even more daring for Rihanna right now, given her very public experience as a victim of violence earlier this year. (This is her first solo release since that February incident.) After a few listens, I think those risks absolutely pay off. Rihanna is in fine vocal form throughout, and Ne-Yo’s songwriting is economical and evocative per usual. I have a feeling “Russian Roulette” is a single we’re all going to be hearing a lot of in the coming months.

Stream it at rihannanow.com or check out a fan YouTube clip after the jump, then tell us: How do you like Rihanna’s new sound? Will you be playing “Russian Roulette”?

More from EW’s Music Mix:
Rihanna reveals Rated R album, “Russian Roulette” single plans

Rihanna: new album due Nov. 23, EW confirms
Rihanna’s new album: What can we expect?
Lily Allen abducts Elton John — in her video dreams


Comments (120 total) Add your comment
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  • Sweet

    As much as I loved Good Girl Gone Bad, this was honestly to me the wrong single to lead off with for the album. It did not make me dance and did not make me feel good. Actually made me extremely depressed. Here’s hoping the second single is more of a Rihanna dance favorite rather then a Rihanna downer.

    • Michael

      This can easily be made into a dance remix.

      • chicken!

        but the song is still terrible.

    • Kerri

      I love Rihanna, but I don’t love this song. What is with her cover? How wild do you want to get girl? OTT.

    • Brevity

      I agree. Considering the massive success of the (club-friendly) Good Girl Gone Bad, I found this to be a puzzeling choice for a lead single. It may be well produced and contain great vocals, but some listeners may not wait to get there. It takes awhile to get into it, even longer to appreciate it. This may need to be remixed… ASAP.

    • Nick T

      The VIDEO Posted is NOT Rhianna’s song!!! :(

    • D. Lu

      Why do Rihanna songs have to make you dance? She’s allowed to experiment with different sounds. Russian Roulette is a very appropriate first single given the trauma she experienced in the past few months.

  • Leah

    The song sounds pretty good, but that barb wire looks painful across her chest. Ouch!!

  • Marcus

    Um. It’s okay, I suppose. But I agree that it would be a better second (or third) single.

    Funny thing is, I was kind of feeling that intro “The Wait is Ova” video more than this.

  • Sweet

    Its definitely not the hit that Umbrella was when it came out a couple of years ago. I doubt it will be a number one.

  • Brett

    I agree, while I know we can’t ignore the tumultuous time that Rihanna has been through with Chris Brown, this isn’t really a hit.
    “russian roulette” is more of an album track, one of those that after buying the album–I grow to love.

    Not a lead single.

    • Michael

      After 500 plays on radio, people will grow to love this.

  • Will

    What is with the gun shot at the end (boooo)….did not like…Too bad she can’t just put Breakin Dishes on this album and put that as her first single…

    • Ellipsian

      I’m still sad that “Breakin’ Dishes” never got its due as a single: it’s the best song on ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ (which says a lot considering the high caliber of quality on the album).

    • cdthechampion

      Breaking Dishes was the best song (after Umbrella) on that album. I bump that song today like it’s still brand new. A true shame it didn’t get it’s due. it seem more appropriate now than ever.

      • Michael

        When I first heard Good Girl Gone Bad, I definitely thought Breakin’ Dishes would be a single. Surprised that they decided to add and release Take a Bow and Disturbia rather than work with the great tracks she had. (And now Lady Gaga is doing the same thing.)

      • Classy:If U Seek Amy!

        I totally agree. “Brekain’ Dishes” was a fire track. Shame it never saw the light of day:-(

  • Chris

    I really like the song. Yes, it’s dark and depressing…but it seems quite good. I’ll have to give it a few more listens to properly sort out my feelings, but I think I’ll be obsessed soon!

  • rirfan4life

    i love it is is definetly going to be number 1

  • Sweet

    Well Rihanna promise big beats and bass for this album. I have higher hopes for the second single. I think if RiRi’s management has sense, they will pull this as first single and release something else.

  • Fatima

    I like it. Who says the first single has to be an uptempo? Take A Bow was one of her biggest hits and its much better than that. I like that she defied expectations. Plus anything the upsets the quite often close-minded R&B audience is amusing to me.

  • rki

    if this song hits number one there is some serious issues with society. this track blatantly promotes staying in a violent relationship regardless of the dangers and its absolutely disgusting. regardless of whether or not she sounds good, this song is depressing and SENDS OUT AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS MESSAGE. Rihanna needs to grow the F up and get some therapy.

    • sue

      My thoughts exactly and my roommate just listened to it and was disgusted. Rihanna needs some counceling. She’s a victim of abuse and now she’s promoting violence throught this song. I love rihanna but am upset over this song.

      • Jae.

        ARE YOU PPL DEAF? She is telling what happens when you stay – DEATH – she is not advocating it. Learn to listen. Sadly most girls stay and never learn and they end up dead or badly beaten.

    • Deacon

      The wonders of a metaphor are lost on people. This song is not promoting violence. It is just saying that falling in love can be dangerous. You gotta take the chance. The crossover to her personal life just makes it deeper. Great single.

    • DD

      You got that right. What is she thinking? What a terrible message
      she’s sending to her women fans. She definitely needs therapy.

  • rki

    there are * oops!

  • Stephen

    Love it..

  • Michael

    It sounds like she just got beat up… too dramatic. I like it but not the club banger i was hoping.

  • confidential

    This song doesn’t do a good enough job at hiding the fact that this girl can’t sing.

    • AshleyBrooke

      I agree, she never could sing. And her voicehas been getting on my nerves for years now. But after reading all these comments, I have to listen to this song to see wtf.

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