"Russian Roulette" (CD single)

Music review by
Stephanie Bruzzese, Common Sense Media
"Russian Roulette" (CD single) Music Poster Image
Controversial single about suicide is dark, depressing.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 26 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

In this song, the singer considers ending her own life; worse, she pulls the trigger in the end. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

After the attack by Chris Brown, it’s undoubtedly taken courage for Rihanna to move on with her life and career; still, releasing a song about shooting yourself doesn’t exactly qualify her for the job of role model. 


The song revolves around shooting yourself: “Take the gun and count to three / I’m sweating now, moving slow / No time to think, my turn to go … So just pull the trigger.”

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that RUSSIAN ROULETTE is about a girl holding a gun, deciding whether or not to shoot herself. The song ends with a gun going off.  Though the song includes no graphic language, it does contain references to suicide that will disturb both young kids and teens alike. Parents will want to use the song as way to talk to their kids about the desperate, overwhelming feelings described here, and discuss what to do if the child or a friend ever feels this way.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAl Jackson April 16, 2012

Rihanna,ya could've done better!

This song is HORRIBLY slow and sad.It was so dark and depressing.There is NO POINT of singing boring songs!
Parent Written byCooldee April 23, 2010

Sucide is not the answer!

Sucide and violence are not the answers!
Teen, 14 years old Written byspeyan727 October 10, 2018
Teen, 17 years old Written byBigbillyboy September 24, 2012

I agree.

So I was playing Super Mario Galaxy 2 and when my mom was listening to the radio,this horrible song came on! It was so slow and boring,which is the reason why t... Continue reading

What's the story?

RUSSIAN ROULETTE is the initial single off the album Rated R, Rihanna’s first new record since being attacked by former boyfriend and fellow singer Chris Brown. Like the situation with Brown, the song’s story is deeply serious: armed with a gun, the singer wrestles with whether to take her own life, while a guy standing by attempts to talk her out of it: “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 think of the value of my life.” There’s no explicit language in this disturbing tale, but the subject of suicide is much too mature for the youngest ears.

Is it any good?

Unfortunately, the music in this track is as depressing as the content. The tune kicks off with a promisingly cool beat that's soon overshadowed by a lackluster tempo that drags the song down. While Rihanna gives a solid vocal performance, the downbeat combination of the lyrics and music make it hard to get excited about this single. The one reedeeming thing? The song offers parents a good opportunity to talk with their kids about a serious subject.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the events in Rihanna's personal life. Not many things could be worse than a physical attack by someone you care about, but how could you cope with this traumatic situation besides considering suicide? What should you do if you ever experience the feelings Rihanna describes in the song? How would you handle it if a friend felt this way?

  • Read our article on the incident between Chris Brown and Rihanna to learn more about this tragic situation.

  • How could being the victim of domestic abuse make you devalue yourself to the point of not caring about life?

  • Was it irresponsible for Rihanna's producers to release this song as Rihanna's first single after the attack? Why do you think they chose this song?

Music details

  • Artist: Rihanna
  • Release date: November 17, 2009
  • Label: Def Jam
  • Genre: R&B
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: No
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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