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Rihanna Hedges Her Bets with “Russian Roulette”

We’ve got a month until we can really say that the Wait is Ova, but today, the wait gets a little easier. In anticipation of 11/23, Rihanna released Rated R‘s first single, “Russian Roulette” at 11:23 this morning.

Rihanna’s ubiquitous radio presence could be measured in gold standard: her 2007 sophomore album, Good Girl Gone Bad produced four Billboard Hot 100 singles (“Umbrella,” “Please Don’t Stop The Music,” “Shut Up and Drive,” and “Hate That I Love You”) while the 2008 re-release, Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded offered up three more (“Take A Bow,” “If I Never See You Again,” and “Disturbia”). And since having bled her album dry, her icy hooks (and, sometimes, just looks) have become something of a standard on hip hop’s super hits.

The Ne-Yo penned and produced “Russian Roulette” finds Rihanna tending toward her darker side. Being as cold as she is, Rihanna’s more emotional songs tend to play out as moody and here, that works in her favor. Foreboding and ominous 808’s keep pace like a heartbeat while Rihanna hedges her bets: “No time to think, my turn to go.” The song will likely be billed as a nod at the Chris Brown scandal, as Rihanna sings about keeping faith in a troublesome relationship. “I am terrified, but I am not leaving/ I know that I must pass this test,” she sings. The song opens with a wild-west guitar lick and closes with a gunshot: “So just pull the trigger.” We can only guess who’s left standing.

As the portent tweets and websites imply, the album should be out before the holidays. Rehashing old drama seems like an odd way to usher in a new album, but as the days get darker, this song will play nicely. And hopefully, come November, her big dog friends (Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Pharrell, Soulja Boy) will return her favors, and the rest of the album will offer even more than her last.

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