Music

LOUD

Here’s the official track list for Rihanna’s album LOUD

1. S&M | MUSIC VIDEO

2. WHAT’S MY NAME feat. DRAKE | MUSIC VIDEO

3. CHEERS (DRINK TO THAT) | MUSIC VIDEO

4. FADING

5. ONLY GIRL (IN THE WORLD)

6. CALIFORNIA KING BED | Official Music Video

7. MAN DOWN | MUSIC VIDEO

8. RAINING MEN feat. NICKI MINAJ

9. COMPLICATED

10. SKIN

11. LOVE THE WAY YOU LIE feat EMINEM (Part 2)

Rihanna – Rated R [Album]

1. Mad House
2. Wait Your Turn
3. Hard featuring Jeezy
4. Stupid In Love
5. ROCKSTAR 101 featuring Slash
6. Russian Roulette
7. Fire Bomb
8. Rude Boy
9. Photographs featuring will.i.am
10. G4L
11. Te Amo
12. Cold Case Love
13. The Last Song

Favorite songs of 2009

#2

Rihanna – Russian Roulette

image

Written by: Ne-Yo, Chuck Harmony

Production: Chuck Harmony

Taken from the album Rated R

Released: November 3, 2009

Charts: US #9, UK #2

In 2009 Rihanna was in one fuck of a situation, aside from being the victim of the most high profile domestic abuse case in recent memory, she also had the difficult task of following up the massively successful Good Girl Gone Bad. It seemed the public was waiting on pins and needles to see what she would do next. Would we get Umbrella part 2 in the form of a huge radio record? Or maybe a female empowerment anthem, a huge “fuck you” to Chris Brown? Rihanna surprised us all however, and delivered Russian Roulette, a dark, brooding ballad filled with angst. It certainly got people talking, while many (myself included obviously) loved it, others felt it was too dark and depressing. And while I certainly agree it’s dark, I don’t necessarily think that makes it depressing. In fact, I think Russian Roulette is Rihanna’s most passionate and heartfelt song. While she usually sounds ice cold and almost disconnected from what she is singing about (see: Hard) on Russian Roulette she couldn’t possibly be more engaged or emotionally invested in the material. The surrounding music may be barren, but Rihanna gives this song life.

What I find most interesting about Russian Roulette (and Rated R as a whole) is that the record doesn’t directly address Brown or the events that followed (though it hardly ignores them either). Instead, Rihanna deals with the emotional aspects of being in a dangerous relationship, the split feelings between the fear and uncertainty of walking way, and the determination to make it work regardless of the consequences. These are feelings Rihanna surely dealt with after “the incident”, should she stay or should she go? Russian Roulette details the ultimate test of faith, how far would you go for love? Would you put your life on the line?

Thematically, Russian Roulette is the like the older, more mature cousin of Unfaithful, a song where she used murder as a metaphor for love, it was one of the first times we saw a hint of the darker side of Rihanna that was to come. Stray guitar notes set the foreboding tone early on, the song startles with its chilling gasps, spinning cylinders, and a cold piano line which puts Rihanna’s voice front and center. Rihanna certainly isn’t the next Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston, but this is by a country mile the strongest vocal performance of her career. Not necessarily because she hits soaring high notes (though she does get there during the final chorus) but more so because of her restraint. It’s easy to wail along as the music plays, but it’s much more difficult to hold back and pick your moments, instead of letting it all go right from the start, Rihanna lets the song unfurl in front of her. The verses are cool and collected, Ne-Yo’s writing is evocative per usual, while the chorus is dramatic and soaring. The song reaches it’s emotional high point right as it breaks into the breathtaking middle 8:

“So just pull the trigger, as my life flashes before my eyes, I’m wondering will I, ever see another sunrise? So many won’t get the chance to say goodbye, but it’s too late too pick up the value of my life”

The allusion to suicide is absolutely chilling, and it never fails to make the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It’s the most confessional moment of the song, the point where she admits how close to the edge she was. The song ends with an abrupt and startling gun shot, did she kill herself? While the music video answers that question for us, I personally like how the ending is up for interpretation in the song.

Russian Roulette was the record Rihanna needed to make. Whether you loved it or hated it, the song painted an honest, and at times disturbing picture of a young woman on the rocks. Even if Rihanna moves back to a more upbeat and commercial sound in the future, Russian Roulette will stand as one of the most real and fascinating moments of her career.

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