Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Eminem featuring Rihanna, "Love the Way You Lie"

"Love the Way You Lie" has several factors working against it. It's a duet by two superstars who seemingly have no business performing together other than the fact that the resulting track will sell records. It combines a feminine pop-ballad refrain with some pretty rough rap, which doesn't always pan out (see: Mariah Carey and Jay-Z; Nelly Furtado and Timbaland). And of course, it's about domestic abuse. And yet it works. "Love the Way You Lie" explores both sides of an abusive relationship in a way that's heart-wrenching, honest and revelatory — particularly on the abuser's side. Eminem raps with increasing fury as the song progresses ("I can't tell you what it really is/ I can only tell you what it feels like"), breaking only to hear Rihanna's cries on the chorus: "Just gonna stand there and watch me burn?" she asks. "Well that's all right, 'cause I like the way it hurts." Em, of course, struggled with an unhealthy relationship with his ex-wife Kim Mathers; in 2009, Rihanna's then boyfriend, R&B singer Chris Brown, pleaded guilty to assaulting her. That this song didn't come across sounding clichéd or tasteless is a testament to both artists' skill.