Hello, and welcome to Radio Rants. Today, we’re doing the one song I haven’t reviewed yet in this week’s Top Ten, Bad Meets Evil’s “Lighters”.
Bad Meets Evil is the name given to a duo Eminem was in alongside
Royce da 5’9″ Not Eminem. The duo was mildly active in the late 1990’s and early 00’s before being revived back in June with their EP Hell: The Sequel, where “Lighters” is from. So between the group name, the EP name, and the song name, this should be a pretty hard track: lighters start fires, which there are in Hell, which is where bad meets evil.
…then Bruno Mars happened. Opening with a nice vocal/piano combo that throws back to “Nothin’ on You”, Mars’ chorus is particularly strong, if a little cheesy once the strings come in. And Bruno, “A sky full of lighters”? I’m all for cool sounding lyrics, but I can’t imagine a venue where the crowd is situated above you like the sky. A sea full of lighters, absolutely. I know I’m being nitpicky, but it’s one of those lines that always bothers you once you think about it. Alright, Eminem’s turn.
…oh, God, again? Do we really need another pissed-off Em rap? Hi, Eminem, you can pulverize a verse into the ground. Your technique is stacked and your rapid-fire flow kicks ass, but find a newer approach. I’m pretty sure the guy hasn’t so much as chuckled publicly since “Not Afraid” came out; every big hit of his can basically be summed up as “Eminem ____, and he’s pissed about it”. Watch.
Forever: Eminem has haters. And he’s pissed about it.
Airplanes pt. II: Eminem would be dirt poor if he wasn’t famous. And he’s pissed about it.
Not Afraid: Eminem is stepping his game up, and so can you! And he’s pissed about it.
Love the Way You Lie: Eminem knows what domestic abuse is. And he wrote a song articulating it really well.
I Need a Doctor: Eminem’s mentor needs to release Detox already. And he’s pissed about it (and so is everyone else).
They’re all great verses, but so singular. The stinger is that Eminem can be a really funny guy. “Will Smith doesn’t have to curse in his raps to sell records/Well, I do/So fuck him, and fuck you, too” still makes me laugh, and even “We Made You” was chuckle-worthy. But his verse on “Lighters” isn’t particularly memorable, nor is it especially clever. And at almost a minute and a half with little to no change in flow, it feels like it goes on and on.
But at least the production by The Smeezingtons is solid. A thumping drum beat and soft synths make up most of the track’s production, which is fittingly grand. Granted, a little hamfisted, and the pop star chorus/serious verse Em track is feeling played out by now, but it’s still decent. Next up, Royce Da 5’9″.
Like Em, he seems to have had a tough time coming up in the business, but in “Lighters”, he actually sounds fittingly happy about having a car that “starts itself, parks itself, and autotunes”. And that lightness (comparatively, as his verse is still filled with “Look at me, fuckers” talk) makes his verse more fun to listen to than Em’s, and Royce has some nice wordplay, too. But sometimes, he really makes you think before the joke clicks. For example, his last line before the chorus with Bruno Mars is “Now Bruno can show his ass without the MTV awards gag”, which is kind of baffling until you remember this minor promo incident two years back. It’s a stretch, but clever once you get there.
Ultimately, “Lighters” is an ok song. The darker tone of the verses contrasts awkwardly with the bright, shiny chorus while the production does its best to cater to both sides. It’s also flat out too long, and the “Pop Star+Pissed Em” formula makes it feel like “Love the Way You Lie Pt. III”. Cheer up, Slim.