Eminem - 'Beautiful'
As we all know, Eminem is at his peak when he's being brutally honest about his life...or writing sex jokes about celebrities... or constructing scary stories about killing people...some of whom are real people from his real life (it gets a little circular and confusing at this point, so let's just keep moving).
It's tempting, therefore, to view this as a companion to 'Sing For The Moment', especially as it is musically based around a mid-tempo rock ballad, the chords to which circle doomily while Marshall once again raises the portcullis and invites people to view the inside of his castle of pain.
(Here's the video. A near-perfect illustration of the song. Detroit used to be amazing, now it's crumbling. Eminem is from Detroit and his song is about how he used to be amazing...)
What he isn't known for is using his knack for turning a phrase to come up with a pithy line or two to help people believe in themselves when life seems to be kicking their guts out. The best he can manage is to remind people that they're beautiful, much like Christina did, and then offer a severe cussing to anyone who says otherwise.
He's on more secure ground with that latter thought (see 'things which Eminem is good at', above), and is most like his old self (or selves) when having a pop at everyone he meets in the line of duty as an international rap star. And clearly this was a song written during a particularly bleak spell, when the upsides to being famous start to look like downsides and the downsides look like hell on earth. A duvet day, in other words.
The best bit is the way he handles the well-worn idea of someone walking a mile in your shoes before they can criticise you. On the one hand, it's a bit rich coming from someone who is so quick with the insults, on the other, he sounds lonely and scared when he talks about trading shoes. Hell, he can't even make up his mind whether it would be a good idea or not. And it does feel like he wants to share, wants to experience your life while you're experiencing his, rather than just saying "I've had it rough, man, back off..." and expecting you the listener to sit quietly and take it, no matter how bad your own life may have been.
I'm chuffed to realise that he wears the same sized shoes as me. It's almost like we're sole-mates or something...
(One extra star awarded for the video)