Rihanna Plays ‘Russian Roulette’ On New Single

Haunting ballad seems to refer to an abusive relationship.

Yes, the wait was ova on Tuesday (October 20) at 11:23 a.m. when [artist id="1940303"]Rihanna[/artist] released her first single from her forthcoming album, Rated R. The song is a collaboration between Ne-Yo (who’s worked on several of Rihanna’s hits, including “Hate That I Love You” and “Take a Bow”) and Chuck Harmony. While Ne-Yo and Rihanna’s previous efforts together have always been about the ups and downs of love, but fans won’t be able to listen to this single without thinking about her former relationship with Chris Brown.

The nearly four-minute-long song, which is available to stream on her site, opens with a searing guitar solo that transitions into a pulsing beat, which stays constant during the eerie, haunting ballad. Without saying anything literal about Brown assaulting Rihanna in February , “Russian Roulette” seems to be about an abusive relationship.

The track opens with Rihanna softly singing: “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.”

The Russian roulette metaphor continues in the chorus, in which she sings, “And you can see my heart beating/ You can see it through my chest/ I said I’m terrified, but I’m not leaving/ I know that I must pass this test/ So just pull the trigger.”

In the next verse, the song’s character seems scared that the man speaking to her will always have power over her: “Say a prayer to yourself/ He says close your eyes/ Sometimes it helps/ And then I get a scary thought/ That he’s here means he’s never lost.”

Before the song ends with a gun being cocked and fired, Rihanna sings, “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 to pick up the value of my life.” Her voice soars into the chorus one last time.

In artwork for the single, Rihanna wears a blond, slicked-back Mohawk, an eye patch and a corset. She’s topless and tied up in barbed wire, but she looks defiantly at the camera, mouth slightly open, as she holds a chain hanging from the ceiling.

On Tuesday, Rihanna also announced that her forthcoming album, out on November 23, will be called Rated R. Def Jam also announced that the song’s video, shot by “Take a Bow” director, Anthony Mandler, will premiere soon on ABC.

“The best and safest way I can say this is that Rihanna has some stuff to say and she’s going to say it,” Ne-Yo told MTV News before the song was released. “And she ain’t going to make no apologies for it. … I’ve heard a good majority of the album … world, get ready. That’s all I’m going to say: World, get ready.”