The 8 Ball 09.14.13: The Top 8 Eminem Music Videos
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 09.14.2013
From "Lose Yourself" and "Love the Way You Lie" to "The Way I Am," "My Name Is" and more, 411's Jeremy Thomas counts down the top 8 Eminem music videos of all time!
Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Music Zone! I'm your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, I will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You're free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is "wrong" is just silly. With that in mind, let's get right in to it!
Before you start reading, have you bookmarked 411Mania.com yet? It's the easiest thing in the world to do, and it'll get you your daily dose of entertainment news that much quicker! Typing the URL out in the address bar is such a pain, don'tcha think? Hell, make it your home page and it'll be that much easier for you!
Also, do you Twitter? If not, you should! And while you're at it, add these to your list of people that you follow so that you can get the latest updates!
Welcome, loyal readers (and potential newcomers) to the latest Music 8-Ball! This past Monday Eminem released his latest music video, for his first single off of the upcoming Marshall Mathers LP 2 "Berzerk." That got me thinking about the rapper's videography, which is arguably one of the better videographies over the last decade-plus. The rapper has always been strongly identified with his videos and they've been a big part of his success both critically and commercially. So this week we'll be looking at the greatest videos the rapper has released to date.
Caveat: Was it an Eminem music video (as the primary artist)? It was eligible. Doesn't get simpler than that!
Just Missing The Cut
• "Beautiful" (2009)
• "Mosh" (2004)
• "Mockingbird" (2005)
• "Not Afraid" (2010)
• "The Real Slim Shady" (2000)
#8: "3 a.m." (2009)
Eminem is perhaps best known among the general public for the violence in his lyrical content and the controversy that inspires, from "Kim" and "Kill You" to "Bonnie & Clyde '97," "I Love You More," "Crazy in Love" and so on. As such it would stand to reason that eventually he would do a full-on horror video, and that came in 2009. Relapse is for my money his worst album but there were two really standout tracks in "Beautiful" and "3 a.m.," both of which had great music videos. This one gets the edge for purity of concept; it's Eminem's violent past coalescing into a single focused horror short film. Ironically this is his most overtly violent video to date but didn't get nearly the controversy of other videos; the video for "Space Bound" got more outrage than this because he shot himself in it. Perhaps it's the horror trappings and theatrical elements that allowed people to accept it as something less hot-button; it's also those elements that make this such a good video. This is a five and a half minute long nightmare that plays out as well (if not better) than a lot of horror films today. If Eminem ever wants a career as a horror actor...well, I'd buy him as one a lot better than Busta Rhymes or Snoop Dogg, that's for sure.
#7: "My Name Is" (1999)
This is the video that largely introduced America to Eminem; the rapper had a couple other singles before this off The Slim Shady EP but this was really the one that broke him out and launched him to fame. And right from the get-go you knew exactly what he was about and that his music videos would be things to behold. Starting off with a slovenly white trash family sitting down to watch the TV, it quickly shifts to a series of wacky parodies that provide the candy coating for his particular brand of silly-yet-dark lyrics. The Brady Bunch, Jay Leno, Marilyn Manson, Bill Clinton and many more get lampooned while Em holds very little back what was basically in his opening salvo as an artist. He's done several songs since this one which have taken unfiltered shots at pop culture icons to a kitschy kid-like production track like "Without Me," "We Made You," "Real Slim Shady" and "Just Lose It" but his first one was undoubtedly his best if the videos for the songs; it's stronger on commentary than it is on just random shots at famous people Em felt like slamming. This song and its video were the launching pads that allowed Eminem to become a star and celebrities and parents' association the world over have suffered ever since.
#6: "The Way I Am" (2000)
I liked Eminem a lot before The Marshall Mathers LP, but I didn't really love him until that opus of an LP dropped in 2000. That's the case for a lot of people of course; MMLP took Eminem's momentum from The Slim Shady LP and fired him directly into the stratosphere where you couldn't ignore him in any way, shape or form. While a lot of people fell hard for tracks like "The Real Slim Shady" or the aforementioned "Kill You" and "Kim," this was the song (and video) that really struck me. One of the bigger criticisms about the rapper's videos is that he tends toward particular templates; one is the silly pop-culture/gross-out concept and the other is autobiographical. There's perhaps some truth to that (although I would argue that, as this list shows, he's capable of much more), but part of the reason has to do with how strongly they resonate with people. "The Way I Am" shows Em at perhaps his most fired-up among his music videos, at least until he took direct shots at the war on terror in "Mosh" and this one is stronger because it's personal. He fires off full-bore at all the rumors, the stories and most of all the notion that as a celebrity he isn't allowed to still be a person. His concept of leaping off a building would be used again in "Not Again," though in that one he flew away while this one he hits the pavement. It's quite a statement in both respects, but this one came with the better overall video.
#5: "Like Toy Soldiers" (2004)
This has got to be a bittersweet video for Eminem. On one hand, it's one of his most powerful songs and videos, in which he leaves all of his comedy aside and gets down to the deadly serious topic of rap feuds and how far they can go up to and including death. It's an inspired piece of music and video, with several real-life incidents mentioned including Eminem's feuds with Benzino and Ja Rule (the latter of which saw Ja insinuate that Hailie was going to end up as a crackwhore) and many other beefs, including a few that resulted in violence and lost life. The narrative of the video is very well-told, and that's where the bitter of the "bittersweet" comes in as the man shot and killed in the video is Proof. Proof was a member of D12 and Eminem's best friend for pretty much all of his life; two years after this video was released, he was shot four times and killed over a pool game in a Detroit club. It adds a hauntingly ironic edge to what is already an incredibly well-made music video and while some think it's a bit overly preachy, for my money it ranks among his best in both tracks and videos.
#4: "Love the Way You Lie" (2010)
This is a video that tends to get a lot of crap these days because it happens to be A) a video from Em's later career that B) features Rihanna and Megan Fox. Feel free to hate on both of them if you wish, but they killed it in this song and video, respectively. Neither Mr. Mathers nor Rihanna are strangers to domestic violence of course, and the two parts coming together for this song set the stage for something really epic upon which they both delivered. Joseph Kahn was brought on board to direct the film and he did a brilliant job, casting Fox and Dominic Monaghan as the star-crossed lovers in the clip's storyline. We love to trash Fox around these parts and I realize how edited this is by simple virtue of being a music video, but there are moments in this where she delivers absolutely stunning performance work and Monaghan is amazing as well. It was quite the turnaround to see the man who once said "Put Anthrax on a Tampax and slap you till you can't stand" turn around and take a hard look at the difficult topic of domestic abuse, while Rihanna gives her all for the song and the amount of time she's in the video. And as if there weren't enough reasons to love this, Fox donated the whole of her salary to a battered women's shelter. That doesn't help make it a great video, but it doesn't hurt either and all the other reasons absolutely do.
#3: "Lose Yourself" (2002)
Eminem's won a lot of awards in his career, but one I never thought he would take home would be an Oscar. Trust him to prove me (and everyone else, to be fair) wrong when he delivered this track from his first starring role, 8 Mile. The song won Best Original Song at the 75th Annual Academy Awards and deserved it, even stacked up against songs like U2's "The Hands That Built America" from Gangs of New York and "I Move On" from Chicago. (We'll ignore the fact that somehow a song from The Wild Thornberrys Movie got nominated too.) Normally songs off soundtracks get half-assed music videos that are little more than excuses to show clips from the film, and to be frank there is a little of that here in that it follows the same format. However, that is mitigated by the fact that the video actually elevates the clips into becoming part of the storyline within the song and play into the rags-to-riches theme that the rest of the non-film scenes tell the second part of. Eminem directed the video himself with assistance from manager Paul Rosenberg and Phillip G. Atwell and he shows the same flair for narrative in the video that he has in his lyrics. It's one of my favorite soundtrack videos of all time and a major factor in Em's sustained success in becoming the artist he is today.
#2: "Guilty Conscience" (1999)
This is the most fun (in a very guilty, "I need a shower" way) of Eminem's videos. The song was the third and final single off of The Slim Shady LP and for the video Em recruited actor Robert Culp to redo the voiceover from the track, to great success. The concept of the video matches that of the song, with the shoulder-angel of Dr. Dre trying to counteract the devil that is Eminem himself as they guide three men through potential crimes; an armed robbery, statutory rape and unleashing wrath on a cheating wife and the other guy. The video gives each scene a freeze-frame as Em and Dre argue out their points and it makes for a fantastic concept. The Director's Cut of the video ends with Eminem shooting Dre, though I actually prefer the non-director's cut because the ambiguity just works better. This one is that patented mix of funny and disturbing that Eminem does very well; I don't think anyone doesn't kind of squirm at the middle scene but Em and Dre are just so good and tongue-in-cheek that it works when it has every reason not to.
#1: "Stan" (2000)
"Stan" is quite possibly Eminem's best song (though that's a debate for another time) and is very clearly the rapper's best music video; this was one of those videos that helped change the game of narrative storytelling in videos. Now obviously extended narratives were part of videos before, but this one really elevated the concept in a way that had not been this effectively done before. Like a lot of videos from Em's narrative songs this is a fairly straight-forward short film translation of the song with Devon Sawa playing the crazy obsessed Stan while Dido, whose song "Thank You" was disturbingly sampled for the song, plays Stan's girlfriend. The production values for the video were off the chart and the way that the whole thing was laid out just worked; it was another great example of how the rapper's lyrics are practically tailor-made for videos. This video actually managed to drive home the point of the song even more effectively than just the audio did, which honestly is something you wouldn't have thought possible before seeing it. It stands as one of my favorite narrative videos of all time and definitely Eminem's best video.
MUSIC VIDEO A-GO-GO
Before we depart, I leave you with this week's Music Video A-Go-Go and it was a pretty easy one to pick. As I said before this list was inspired by "Berzerk," which didn't crack the top eight or honorable mentions but is still a really good video. So for those who haven't seen it (or who want to again, check it out below:
And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.