Thursday, November 5, 2009

Single Review: Russian Roulette

Single Review: Russian Roulette

Rihanna’s new single was, sadly, met with apathy. As a Rihanna fan, I understand her fans’ disappointment. They expected something catchy and danceable in the vein of Disturbia, SOS, or Umbrella. Instead, Rihanna’s upcoming CD is being preceded by a barely midtempo song with some of the most depressing and intense lyrics ever recorded. This song has little hope of commercial viability. It would be a buzz-kill in a club or on the radio. The references to domestic violence are so thinly veiled that only a real idiot wouldn’t pick up on the allusion. Perhaps the pure emotion of the track will grab listeners, but this choice of single was a huge gamble. And yet, I love it. There’s a genius to this song that I will do my best to sort out here.

When it comes to the subject of domestic violence, I find this song can be seen as a bit of a paradox. I applaud Rihanna for releasing a song that so clearly evidences the emotions of being trapped in an abusive relationship. The interplay between her fear and her determination to complete this “terrible game” completely ties to what I understand are common emotions of women in abusive relationships. I feel both her desperate desire to escape and simultaneous unwillingness to do so. Yet, I can see how some would argue that this doesn’t quite send the right message to women in a similar situation. In the song, Rihanna chooses to play Russian roulette. She doesn’t walk away.

However, the gunshot in the final seconds shows how Rihanna is destroyed at the hands of the game. Although she emotionally cannot escape, it’s clear at the end of the song that she should have left while she could. I think this song will emotionally resonate with many people and hopefully those individuals will correlate staying with someone physically and emotionally abusive to playing with a loaded gun. In the song, Rihanna chooses the more common path—the path destined for tragedy. She makes her decisions based off of the same emotions that the abused men and women experience. Anyone who saw the picture of her post-beating knows where her path ended. Hopefully Russian Roulette makes the abused see a little more clearly how important it is to leave an unhealthy relationship. Thank God Rihanna had the courage to pick this song.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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