First Hit #1: July 31, 2010
Eminem and Rihanna might be famous for their music, but they’re well known for being in volatile relationships. So it’s only appropriate that they got together to make a song about being stuck in a volatile, violent partnership and being unable to get out of it. Their respective personal histories add a tinge of discomfort to the song, which is incredibly raw and dark for what is essentially a pop hit. Eminem, in pure confessional mode this time, doesn’t make himself look particularly good, depicting a man who is a ball of confused rage and unable or unwilling to get out of a situation which is bad for both himself and his abused spouse – it is clearly about his ex-wife, whatever the actual events in their relationship he’s explored his desire to destroy her in his music with alarming regularity. Rihanna’s hook is quite pretty and arguably the reason why the single caught on – it’s superficially a moment of levity in something so angry – but listen to the words and it becomes depressing, a woman who is devoted in spite of having every reason to get out. It’s rare to have a song that’s explicitly about domestic violence hit the top of the charts, and it’s even less common to have both sides of such a relationship explored. It’s just so rare to have something so viscerally unpleasant actually crest the top of the charts, a good beat and well-delivered hook disguising a song that is about some of the lowest depths a person can reach.