|A great song is more than just lyrics and instrumentals. Described by critics as “a touching attempt at an inspirational ballad” and an “epic confessional”, "Beautiful" by Eminem paints a vivid and motivational picture inside the listeners’ mind. “Beautiful” debuted in the U.S. at #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 (wikipedia). “Beautiful” also took the runner-up spot at the 52nd Grammy Awards for Best Rap Song. The first verse and a half of “Beautiful” was written by Eminem while he was in rehab. He promised himself that when he was released, he’d finish the song. “Beautiful” was written by Eminem (Marshall Bruce Mathers III) and produced by Dr. Dre (Andre Romelle Young) after Eminem’s four year hiatus from rap (wikipedia).
Anyone who listens to the song that just sits back and enjoys the background drum beat in 2/4 time or the electric guitar during the chorus is missing out on a great inspirational story entwined in the lyrics. The song tells of the pain and suffering endured by Eminem over the course of his drug rehabilitation. The power of “Beautiful” comes from Eminem aiming his beat-downs at his truest target, himself. Rhyming about things he actually cares about, he came up with a more painful, honest and vital song than anyone could have expected at this late date (Rolling Stone). Some people find it strange that Eminem turned this song into a public confessionals but it puzzles critics enough to evoke very positive feedback, and even sometimes sympathy. None of this is new territory for Eminem. He's turned himself into a cartoon before, played many rounds of rotisserie murder and been glorified by critics for turning shock into art (L.A. Times).
After months of hype leading to the release of Relapse, Eminem perfected everything and prepared the album for launch. Relapse debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard Top 200 chart, selling 608,000 copies in its first week. One of the most anticipated album releases of 2009, it ultimately sold over 1.8 million copies in the United States and spawned three singles that attained chart success. Upon its release, Relapse received generally mixed reviews from most music critics, who were mostly divided in their responses towards Eminem's lyrics and themes. It earned him a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album (Wikipedia). Despite calling it an "impressively focused and clever work", Los Angeles Times writer Ann Powers gave it a generally mixed review and found its music "not transcendent", stating "Eminem could have pulled his music into a new category. What he presents is still powerful, but narrowly cast" (Wikipedia). Even Rolling Stone itself said “There's a lot of hate on Relapse. Eminem hates himself for getting sober only slightly less than he hates himself for doing drugs in the first place. He hates himself for being famous, for hating his mom, and for taking so long to make this album. If you hate Eminem, he probably wouldn't blame you. But Relapse is reason to be glad he's still around” (Rolling Stone Magazine). Even before opening the album, you know what it’s going to be about. The artwork on the album cover features a headshot of Eminem composed by a mosaic of thousands of pills. The album cover also features a sticker that represents a prescription drug label, on which the patient is Eminem and the prescribing doctor is Dr. Dre.
The song starts off with the two verse chorus accompanied by an electric guitar solo and says “Lately I’ve been hard to reach / I’ve been too long on my own / Everybody has their private world where they can be alone / Are you calling me? / Are you trying to get through? / Are you reaching out for me? / I’m reaching out for you”. The chorus gives the listener a general idea of what the song is going to be about and even has an effect that can make the listener feel as distant as Eminem does. The first lyric in the song is “I'm just so fuckin' depressed / I just can’t seem to get out this slump” which instantly alludes to Eminem’s emotional state, the hiatus in his career and his drug problem. He goes on to the next to say “I took my bruises, took my lumps / Fell down an I got right back up / But I need that spark to get psyched back up / And in order for me to pick the mic back up” which represents a major part of Eminem’s life, his struggle to come up from a trailer trash kid in the middle of a dangerous urban environment, overcome adversity and make his life as successful as he could. This couple of lines also references Eminem’s fall into drug addiction and his efforts to maintain his rap career and reputation. Throughout the rest of the song he begs the listener to picture themselves in his position with lyrics like “But you’d have to walk a thousand miles / In my shoes, just to see / What it’s like, to be me / I’ll be you, let’s trade shoes / Just to see what it’d be like / To feel your pain, you feel mine”. During the entire song the listener can sense how misunderstood and distant Eminem feels from the real world.
After all is said and done, “Beautiful” is an uplifting and inspirational memoir that allows listeners to see through the lyrics into the struggle Eminem has endured over the course of his life. The song is no jingle or feel good tune but it contains so much emotional power in six minutes of music and it allows anyone hearing it to derive motivation from a simple rap song. Even after Eminem ends his rap career, this song will live on in infamy as a ballad to inspire a generation and that is exactly why is should be ranked on the Rolling Stone Top 500 songs of all time.