Headlights (Eminem song)
|Single by Eminem featuring Nate Ruess|
|from the album The Marshall Mathers LP 2|
|Released||February 5, 2014|
|Recorded||2013; Effigy Studios (Ferndale, Michigan)|
|Label||Aftermath Entertainment, Shady Records, Interscope Records|
|Writer(s)||Marshall Mathers, Nate Ruess, Emile Haynie, Jeff Bhasker, Luis Resto|
|Producer(s)||Emile Haynie, Jeff Bhasker, Eminem (add.)|
|Eminem singles chronology|
"Headlights" is a song by American rapper Eminem, featuring American singer and Fun frontman Nate Ruess. The fifteenth track on his eighth studio album The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013), it features production from Emile Haynie, Jeff Bhasker, and Eminem himself. The song is an apology to his mother, Debbie Mathers, whom Eminem has previously dissed numerous times in his songs. It was released as the album's fifth single on February 5, 2014. It has since peaked at number 45 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Background and composition
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Eminem has had a difficult relationship with his mother since childhood. In his music, Eminem has had a history of insulting his mother on various songs, including his debut single, "My Name Is", My Mom and most notably "Cleanin' Out My Closet." "Headlights" is an apology to his mother for the years of insults and "his plea for a united (or at least less dysfunctional) family." The title "Headlights" is a reference to their last meeting. As she drove away, he became fixated on the headlights of her car as he coped with feelings of "overwhelming sadness." In the song, Eminem references to a few incidences from their rocky relationship, getting kicked out of the house on Christmas Eve, constant fighting, and his younger brother Nathan's removal to foster care. He also expresses regret that his mother has not been involved with his children's lives. In the song he acknowledges that his mother wrongfully endured the brunt of the blame for his tough upbringing and even gives her credit for her efforts to raise him as a single parent. Eminem admits that he remains estranged from his mother to this day. He also states that he cringes when he hears "Cleanin' Out My Closet" on the radio and he no longer performs it at shows.
In an interview with Sway Calloway, Eminem stated that, "everything [he] wanted to address" in regard to his mother is on "Headlights" and he likely will not speak on the topic outside of that particular song. He also told Zane Lowe that "It was one of those things that’s bothered me for a little bit. It was one of those things that I needed to get off my chest. So I don’t really have anything to elaborate or expand on that record other than everything that I needed to say, I put on that record."
"Headlights" was produced by Emile and Jeff Bhasker, with additional production by Eminem with additional keyboards by Luis Resto. The song was written by Marshall Mathers, Nate Ruess, Emile Haynie, Jeff Bhasker, and Luis Resto. Recording for the song was done at Effigy Studios in Ferndale, Michigan by Mike Strange, Joe Strange and Tony Campana. The song's refrain is sung by American band Fun.'s singer Nate Ruess.
"Headlights" was met with generally positive reviews from music critics. Julie Leconte of Now said: "The track's genius partially lies in the anticipatory tension it creates in the listener. Em loves to set us up with faux sentimentality, then laugh when we’re duped. But on 'Headlights' the shoe never drops, leaving us with really sad insight into their non-relationship." Colin McGuire of PopMatters said that the song "gives us quite possibly the most touching moment Em has ever put on wax".
DJ Booth stated that "even though the hook on 'Headlights', by Fun's Nate Ruess, is light and airy exactly where it should have been deep, the raw and crushingly emotional lyrics from Eminem, especially ones that put an end to his running feud with his mother, are more than powerful enough to make 'Headlights' remarkable". Andy Gill of The Independent also praised the track, calling it "an almost shockingly apologetic love-letter to the mother he once denigrated so viciously". Edna Gundersen of USA Today stated that "it's an admirable confession" but "a so-so track".
The music video was filmed in Detroit, Michigan on April 5, 2014, and directed by famed film director Spike Lee. It was released on May 11, 2014, Mother's Day in the United States. The video takes a non-chronological look at the turbulent relationship from his mother's perspective.
|Australia Urban (ARIA)||4|
|Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)||64|
|Belgium Urban (Ultratop Flanders)||40|
|Canada (Canadian Hot 100)||54|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||63|
|UK R&B (Official Charts Company)||9|
|US Billboard Hot 100||45|
|US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)||11|
|US Hot Rap Songs (Billboard)||5|
|US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)||25|
|US Rhythmic (Billboard)||17|
|Australia (ARIA)||1× Platinum||70,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
|Australia||February 5, 2014||Contemporary hit radio||Universal Music|
|United States||March 4, 2014||Rhythmic contemporary radio||Aftermath, Shady, Interscope|
|Contemporary hit radio|
|Italy||April 11, 2014||Contemporary hit radio||Aftermath, Interscope|
|United Kingdom||May 19, 2014|
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