Headlights (Eminem song)

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Single by Eminem featuring Nate Ruess
from the album The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Released February 5, 2014
Format Digital download
Recorded 2013; Effigy Studios (Ferndale, Michigan)
Genre Hip hop
Length 5:43
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
"The Monster"
"Calm Down"
Nate Ruess singles chronology
"Just Give Me a Reason"
Music video
"Headlights" on YouTube

"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. In the song, Eminem apologizes to his mother, Debbie Mathers, for dissing her in his earlier songs and for showing scorn and resentment towards her in the past. 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[edit]

A 30-second sample of "Headlights" by Eminem featuring fun. lead singer Nate Ruess from his eighth studio LP The Marshall Mathers LP 2.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

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."[1] "Headlights" is an apology to his mother for the years of insults and "his plea for a united (or at least less dysfunctional) family."[2] 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 he has never let his mother be involved in 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.[3] Eminem admits that he remains estranged from his mother to this day.[4] He also states that he cringes when he hears "Cleanin' Out My Closet" on the radio and he no longer performs it at shows.[5][6]

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.[7] 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."[8]


"Headlights" was produced by Emile and Jeff Bhasker, with additional production by Eminem and 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.[9] The song's refrain is sung by American band Fun.'s singer Nate Ruess.[10]

Critical reception[edit]

"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."[11] Colin McGuire of PopMatters said that the song "gives us quite possibly the most touching moment Em has ever put on wax".[12]

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".[13] 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".[14] Edna Gundersen of USA Today stated that "it's an admirable confession" but "a so-so track".[15]

Music video[edit]

The music video was filmed in Detroit, Michigan on April 5, 2014, and directed by famed film director Spike Lee.[16] It was released on May 11, 2014, Mother's Day in the United States.[17] The video takes a non-chronological look at the turbulent relationship from his mother's perspective.[18]

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2013–14) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[19] 21
Australia Urban (ARIA)[20] 4
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[21] 64
Belgium Urban (Ultratop Flanders)[22] 40
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[23] 54
Ireland (IRMA)[24] 60
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[25] 63
UK R&B (Official Charts Company)[26] 9
US Billboard Hot 100[27] 45
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[28] 11
US Hot Rap Songs (Billboard)[29] 5
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[30] 25
US (Digital Songs)[31] 47
US Rhythmic (Billboard)[32] 17


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[33] Platinum 70,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
Australia[34][35] February 5, 2014 Contemporary hit radio Universal Music
United States[36][37] March 4, 2014 Rhythmic contemporary radio Aftermath, Shady, Interscope
Contemporary hit radio
Italy[38] April 11, 2014 Contemporary hit radio Aftermath, Interscope
United Kingdom[39] May 19, 2014


  1. ^ Tardio, Andres (October 30, 2013). "Eminem Apologizes To His Mother On "Headlights" | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHop DX. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  2. ^ Jon Caramanica (November 5, 2013). "Eminem Grows Older, but Not Up". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Billy Johnson, Jr. (October 31, 2013). "Eminem Finally Apologizes to Mom on Headlights | Music News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Eminem Apologizes To His Mother In New Track "Headlights" - AOL On". On.aol.com. October 31, 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Eminem Apologizes to His Mother on ‘Headlights’". Rap-Up.com. October 30, 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Eminem Apologizes To Mother Debbie Mathers In ‘Headlights’ [AUDIO]". Ibtimes.com. October 30, 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  7. ^ Harling, Danielle (November 6, 2013). "Eminem Says Pharoahe Monch Is Ahead Of His Time | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHop DX. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Eminem in Zane Lowe Interview (Part 3)". Theboombox.com. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Here Are Eminem's Real Production Credits For 'MMLP 2' - XXL". Xxlmag.com. November 1, 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Eminem Embraces Pop On 'Love Game' Featuring Kendrick Lamar + 'Headlights' Featuring fun.'s Nate Ruess (NSFW)". Buzzworthy.mtv.com. October 30, 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  11. ^ Julia LeConte (November 5, 2013). "Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP 2 | NOW Magazine". Nowtoronto.com. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  12. ^ McGuire, Colin. "Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP2". PopMatters. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  13. ^ Eminem Follow @Eminem  . "Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP 2 - Stream & Read Album Review". Djbooth.net. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  14. ^ Andy Gill (November 8, 2013). "Album review: Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (Shady/Interscope) - Reviews - Music". London: The Independent. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  15. ^ Edna Gundersen, USA TODAY 10:07 a.m. EST November 5, 2013 (November 5, 2013). "Review: Eminem's 'MMLP2' returns to original's wild wit". Usatoday.com. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  16. ^ http://www.vibe.com/article/eminem-recruits-spike-lee-headlights-video-detroit
  17. ^ "Watch Eminem's "Headlights" Video (Directed by Spike Lee)". Complex Media. May 11, 2014. 
  18. ^ http://www.xxlmag.com/rap-music/new-music/2014/05/eminem-reconciles-mother-headlights-video/
  19. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Eminem feat. Nate Ruess – Headlights". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  20. ^ "ARIA Report". ARIA Charts. Retrieved April 14, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Ultratop.be – Eminem feat. Nate Ruess – Headlights" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
  22. ^ "Ultratop.be – Eminem feat. Nate Ruess – Headlights" (in Dutch). Ultratop Urban. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
  23. ^ "Eminem Album & Song Chart History" Canadian Hot 100 for Eminem.
  24. ^ "Chart Track: Week 11, 2014". Irish Singles Chart.
  25. ^ Zywietz, Tobias (February 15, 2014). "Chart Log UK". Zobbel.de. Tobias Zywietz. Retrieved February 15, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Archive Chart: 2014-07-12" UK R&B Chart.
  27. ^ "Eminem Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Eminem.
  28. ^ "Eminem Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for Eminem.
  29. ^ "Eminem Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Rap Songs for Eminem.
  30. ^ "Eminem Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Pop Songs for Eminem.
  31. ^ . February 15, 2014 http://www.billboard.com/artist/301722/eminem/chart?f=395. Retrieved February 15, 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. ^ "Eminem Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Rhythmic Songs for Eminem. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  33. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2014 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved October 9, 2010. 
  34. ^ Mulherin, Daniel (February 3, 2014). "Chart Wrap: Pharrell gets happy, Avicii and Vance hit new highs". The Music Network. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  35. ^ "The Music Network Chart Wrap: Feb 5". Radio Today. February 5, 2014. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Top 40/Rhythmic-Crossover > Future Releases". All Access Music Group. Archived from the original on February 13, 2014. Retrieved February 13, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Top 40/Mainstream > Future Releases". All Access Music Group. Archived from the original on February 15, 2014. Retrieved February 15, 2014. 
  38. ^ "Eminem – Headlights (feat. Nate Ruess) (Aftermath Records)". Radio Airplay SRL. Retrieved April 10, 2014. 
  39. ^ Lane, Daniel. "This Week's New Releases 19-05-2014". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 19, 2014. 

External links[edit]