Tag Archives: Lose Yourself

Looking Back At Oscar’s Best Original Songs

Since this Sunday is Oscar night, I’d thought I’d take a look back at a few “original songs” that have been nominated (or won) for an Oscar.  (As I’m looking through the list, I am shocked that nothing from Simon & Garfunkel’s soundtrack to The Graduate was nominated.  As Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers has been saying lately, “Damn you Oscar!”)

Bruce Springsteen – “The Streets of Philadelphia” (Philadelphia, 1993)

I would have picked “The Wrestler”, but shockingly it was not nominated for Best Original Song.  (Damn you Oscar, again!)  Streets of Philadelphia does some quality lyrics from Springsteen: “I heard the voices of friends vanished and gone” that captures the image of a man wandering around the streets desolate and alone.  However, musically I find it to be pretty bland – it sounds like Springsteen just discovered a drum-machine.

Elliot Smith – “Miss Misery” (Good Will Hunting, 1997)

If there are any other reasons for hating “My Heart Will Go On” other than the fact it’s trite and soul-less, it’s Smith losing “Best Original Song” to it and Celine Dion.  A heartbreaking song from Elliot Smith (who wrote quite a few of those) about a break-up.  Trying to come to terms with it, he asks the girl whether she actually does miss him, or in fact lying to herself.  He tells her that he “keeps a good attitude”, but meanwhile drowns his sorrows with Johnny Walker Red.  Without a doubt, Smith’s best known song and though it’s the “popular one”, it’s among his best.

Bob Dylan – “Things Have Changed” (Wonder Boys, 2000)

“I’ve been trying to get as far away from myself as I can,” Dylan declares half-way though this song.  A good portion of this song is extremely cynical – “I used to care, but things have changed”, “All the truth in the world adds to one big lie”.  But there’s also some humor beneath the cynicism – “I’m well dressed, waiting on the last train”, and the image of Dylan dressing in drag and then later picking up a woman and pushing her around in a wheel-burrow is hilarious.  Overall, in contrast to his younger self, Dylan tries to convince himself that it’s easier not to worry about the problems of the world.

Eminem – “Lose Yourself” (8 Mile, 2002)

When this song came out, who knew that Eminem could write a song that was inspiring and positive?  While Eminem has plenty of good songs, this is the closes thing he came to perfection. The intro is one of the most famous pieces of music from the past decade, and a hook that is triumphant and catchy.  He starts out nervous: “His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, there’s vomit on his sweater already”. As the song gains momentum, he gains confidence and realizes this is life or death: “Success is my only motherfucking option, failure’s not”.   While the song will always be linked to 8 Mile, it took on a new meaning when it was used in the Chrysler commerical earlier this year.

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Does Anyone Care About Eminem Anymore?

Does anyone really care about Eminem anymore?  I guess a lot of people do, as he’s been a current trend on Twitter, since he announced that he was going to release a new album called Recovery in June.  But I’m just curious as to why anyone really cares at this point.  When he first appeared on the music scene in late 90’s and early 2000’s he was certainly among the most interesting of musical stars, and certainly the most controversial.  Whatever you think about his misogynistic and homophobic lyrics (and it’s hard to argue that a lot of his lyrics aren’t those things)  the guy let you into his tortured life and for a while it seemed fascinating.  Like Lennon and Cobain before, for Eminem music and life intersected so much, it’s hard to tell where they stopped.

The best song he Eminem ever recorded was “Lose Yourself” because it came off as a triumph of over-coming the odds, and the song had a momentum that is rarely heard in rap.  After that though, he seemed to rest on his laurels, just releasing dribble and lame shots at celebrity.  Last year’s Relapse didn’t get the attention that everyone thought it would, because so much had been said about his drug abuse that it felt like we knew it already.  The audience didn’t need to hear his perspective.  Eminem ceased to be actually interesting.  Before he had been different – a white rapper, he used different personas.  But drug abuse made him like many other musicians.  There was nothing that hadn’t been said before.  Perhaps Eminem has learned as much as the lead-off single from Recovery, eschews his normal celebrity-bashing lead singles.  On the “Not Afraid” song he raps that Relapse was “Ehh”.   That might the most personal and true thing he’s said in a while.  But it’s just not Relapse that’s “ehhh”.  It’s Eminem’s whole career since 2002.

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