Even though it was launched 8 years ago, for me, “Russian Roulette” is one of Rihanna’s best songs ever. A few days ago, I heard one of her songs on the radio, while driving my car. It played in my head all the day. So when I came home, I couldn’t stand but go through her songs. So, I must confess, “Russian Roulette” still brings me that feeling of sadness and excitement together. It’s one of this feelings you can’t explain and, for me, it means that the song went right to the heart.
I can’t explain the feeling, but I can clearly explain how it works and why. For first, it’s the topic – Russian Roulette, a mix of mystery, tragedy and risk. I don’t even know which risk can be compared to this one. They say that you have to take the risk of playing a casino game on a website like this and quadruplicate it a thousand times. It’s a legend which raises too many fears and questions. And in Rihanna’s song, of course, this topic is related to a love tragedy – a metaphor about two lovers, suffering from their love. Here, Russian Roulette comes like a salvation, an escape for two suffering and loving hearts. When no one has the courage to end the relationship, the Russian Roulette in this video means the only way to make the right decision.
Secondly, it’s the lyrics. The love you are ready to die for is described here. The cruel love which makes you suffer every day: “And you can see my heart, beating, Now you can see it through my chest, Said I’m terrified but I’m not leaving, I knowthat I must pass this test, So just pull the trigger”. It’s like a cry from the depths. It implies sacrifice and courage.
For third, it’s the music and singing style. The beat helps you feel the tragedy of this love story. The slow rhythm, together with the beat and the quiet Rihanna’s voice makes the entrance a magical one. It keeps you nail-biting. And if you are attentive to the lyrics, which say “Take a breath, Take it deep, Calm yourself, he says to me, If you play, you play key, Take the gun, And count to three”. It makes you eager to listen till the end, what will be the end of the story. At the same time, the chorus in crescendo adds intrigue and really sounds like a cry from the depths. Rihanna conveys the meaning in the best way, “living” and feeling every word she sings.
We cannot also ignore Rihanna’s talent as an actor. The video, like it should be, is tragic, mystical and gloomy. The video, as well as the lyrics, is a kind of metaphor. The lights, the dark, the spaces where the characters appear, the actors themselves – everything makes you feel the tragedy. And when it comes to the chorus: “And you can see my heart, beating, Now you can see it through my chest, Said I’m terrified but I’m not leaving, I know that I must pass this test, So just pull the trigger” together with Rihanna’s voice, it altogether makes you thrill.
What I like most in this song is the perfect mix of the lyrics, music, voice, video and the acting. Of course, the hardest work was made by Rihanna. She is the singer and the actor. She lives the tragedy of the main character, and it is mainly her success – bringing the message to the public in the best possible way.
It is not a surprise that this song has been highly rated by the critics. They say it’s a kind of reflection of Rihanna’s own tragedy in her relationship with Chris Brown. In 2009, the year of release, “Russian Roulette” got to the top-ten best Rihanna’s songs. For me, it’s the best one in her music carrier, until now.