Rihanna, "Russian Roulette"

3.5

Rihanna has yet to publicly discuss the February altercation with her ex-boyfriend, Chris Brown. But on "Russian Roulette"-her first single since the incident occurred-she seems to touch upon the agony it caused her. "Say a prayer to yourself/He says close your eyes, sometimes it helps," Rihanna sings over a steady pulse. "And you can see my heart beating/You can see it through my chest/ That I'm terrified, but I'm not leaving/Know that I must pass this test." The song recalls Rihanna's previous dark ballad "Unfaithful," but it's far grittier in tone-it ends with the sound of a gun being cocked and fired-and her vocals are heavier with emotion. When Rihanna takes a final, dramatic breath before the song's haunting conclusion, the listener instinctively braces, too, wondering what will happen next. -Mariel Concepcion