The name makes my children groan and my friends grimace before quickly changing the subject. As a fan of 80’s music and classic oldies, no one can figure out how I came to like this one particular artist, but it happened somehow. Yes, people have threatened to start up the EA sessions and to call the men with the little white coats… in fact, they’ve done this on more than one occasion. “Why,” you may ask? Because, yes it’s true – I am a fan of Eminem.
The first time I heard Marshall Bruce Mathers III, aka Eminem, was in 1999. This was with the release of his second studio album, The Slim Shady LP. The tune, “My Name Is” was both annoying and infectiously catchy, grabbing my attention even though I’ve never been much of a fan of rap music. As the years went on, I’ve continued to listen to this unique artist as he’s gotten older and wiser – he’s been through a lot and his music has really matured with that experience. For those who are willing to open their minds and truly listen, Eminem has some amazing talent. Here are my top 5 favorite Eminem songs (in no particular order):
1. Love the Way You Lie (feat. Rihanna) – From the moment I heard this song, I was hooked. Not only was Rihanna’s soul-wrenching chorus beautiful and moving, Eminem’s words really pack a punch. Gaining inspiration from his relationship with ex-wife, Kimberley Anne Scott, the song tells about the volitile nature of domestic abuse and how it’s better to walk away, even when there are times when a potentially dangerous relationship seems beautiful. The lesson here is obvious and honest. “You don’t get another chance – Life is no Nintendo game.” The video is equally breathtaking, starring Megan Fox and former “Lost” actor, Dominic Monaghan – a definite must-watch.
2. Not Afraid – One thing that’s always struck me about Eminem is, even when he’s writing some of his more comedic lyrics, he still seems to be aware of how people listen to him and the power his fame gives him over some of his fans. In “Not Afraid,” Eminem points out that his last album wasn’t up to par and promises his fans that he won’t let them down again. He also talks about his drug addiction, how he chose to get clean and, while he did it for himself, it was probably something he did subliminally for his fans as well. The chorus of this song is inspirational, inviting the listener to take his hand so that they can weather the storm together; that they’re not alone as they both fight their inner demons.
3. 3 a.m. – I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, when a lot of musicians used their songs and videos to tell stories. 3 a.m. brings us back to those days, telling a creepy Jekyll and Hyde tale of a sociopath suffering from fugues, where he continually wakes up to discover himself blood covered and surrounded by dead bodies. It’s a creepy song but it’s catchy, even if it does have Eminem trying to pull off that weird nasal accent again. I find the line, “Kiss the naked mannequin man again – You can see him standing in my front window if you look in” particularly funny, considering we had a neighbor who had a naked mannequin standing in their front window for months. It was the subject of many jokes in my household, even before we heard the Eminem tune.
4. Stan (feat. Dido) – This was the first time that I’d ever heard Dido, but I was really drawn in by the breathy chorus, mingled with the soft sounds of rain. As Eminem starts into his lyrics, the listener is drawn into a powerful song about an obsessive fan. While one might be tempted to brush the meaning behind this song aside, history has shown us that there are lots of people out there who do get so wrapped up in their movie and music idols that they begin to lose touch with reality. I find this a brilliant song for pointing out this idol/fan relationship and sending the message of how crazy it can be to many of his younger fans. I always thought of it as a sort of Obsession PSA. Eminem Anon, here we come!
5. Mosh – There are a lot of really great Eminem songs that I love, but Mosh is such a powerful, strong song that I couldn’t help but add it in. An anti-war/anti-Bush song, it’s angry and inspiring, even as it urges you to nod along. I can’t help but listen to this song and want to stop along. It’s songs like this that get the heart pounding and encourage people to do as the song suggests and “speak up and be heard.”
With his latest album, Eminem has again proved that he’s a force to be reckoned with in the musical world. Even if you’re not a fan of rap, it’s hard for a true music lover to listen to his more recent work and not agree that he’s an incredibly talented artist. I’m certainly not afraid to stand up and say that I’m an Eminem fan.
Personal experience, being a fan of the artist
Eminem.com – Screenings of some of his latest videos