Eminem: 50 Greatest Songs

The best from the bloody, bombastic, brilliant career of the hip-hop troublemaker

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45. "Beautiful" (2009)

Eminem's 2009 album Relapse, where he tried to recapture his salad days as the ribald storyteller Slim Shady, was generally considered a disappointment. But "Beautiful," a self-produced track that he reportedly made while still addicted to prescription drugs, was poignant, confronting his frequent bouts with depression. Cuing up a heartening verse from Queen + Paul Rodgers' "Reaching Out," Eminem portrays himself as a modern Pagliacci who "hides behind the tears of a clown." He balances his antipathy toward society with compassionate lyrical warmth. "In my shoes, just to see/What it's like, to be me," he sings in an achingly fragile voice. "But don't let 'em say you ain't beautiful/They can all get fucked, just stay true to you." The rock-ballad melodrama of "Beautiful" points a way forward for what would be his true comeback, 2010's Recovery. "I started writing the first verse and half of the second when I was in rehab going through detox," he told The Guardian in 2009. "It brings me back to a time when I was really depressed and down, but at the same time it reminds me of what that space is like and what never to go back to."

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