At a Glance
Primary Instrumentation, Tone & Mix
Hit Factor Assessment
Why it’s a Hit
Song/Album: Love the Way You Lie / Recovery
Songwriter(s): Mathers, Grant, Hafferman, Riddick
Week on BB Chart: August 21st, 2010
Chart Position: # 1 Billboard Pop Song
Genre: Hip Hop
Sub Genre: Hip Hop / Pop crossover
First Chorus: 0:01(0.1% into the song)
Intro Length: n/a
Outro Length: n/a
Primary Instrumentation Type: Acoustic Guitar / Electronic Drums
Mood: Angry (Verse) / Solemn/Loving/Accepting (Chorus)
Lyrical Theme: Dysfunctional relationship
Primary Lyrical P.O.V: 1st person
Section Length (Length of each individual section within the song)
Here we see the time per section being overwhelming allocated to the verse and chorus sections. The end (ring) is just a synth hit that rings out for 0:04 after the last chorus.
Structure Timeline (Shows when each section hits within the timeline of the song)
Here we see the song kicking off with the chorus, and then each successive section being just about equal in length, save for the turn-arounds.
Total Section Analysis (Total time consumed by each section and its percentage of the total song)
It’s easy to see here that the crux of the song is comprised of two sections – the verse and chorus. As a whole, each of those sections carries just about equal weight and importance in the overall structure of the song.
Momentum/Intensity Factor (Evaluation of the intensity of each section within the song timeline on a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being the most intense)
“Love The Way You Lie” starts off mellow with a solo piano and lead vocal from Rihanna. The momentum then takes a dip during the “slowing tape speed effect” transition into the first verse. The momentum and intensity then take off, led by an angry/intense delivery by Eminem backed by a solid backbeat.
Once again, the momentum is brought down during the chorus intro (where we just have Rihanna’s vocals – right before the music kicks in), and then is brought back up during the body of the chorus. It’s then brought back down again at the end of the section, before the electronic snare hits lead into the 2nd verse.
This overall momentum /intensity pattern is continued throughout the following sections, eventually being brought to a peak during the 2nd half of the third verse where Eminem’s delivery becomes even more intense. We’re then brought back into the same momentum pattern as with the other chorus sections, and finally “fizzing out” during the synth hit at the end of the song.
Chorus (Intro): 9/10
The first chorus in “Love The Way You Lie” does a great job in setting the overall vibe of the song. The somber, yet eerily loving/accepting Rihanna vocal is packed with emotion, and perfectly sets up the counter of Eminem’s angry delivery during the verse. From a structural standpoint, this chorus can also technically be considered an intro, since musically it does differ than the other choruses.
Here we have the perfect blend of total anger and “somber hope” Eminem’s delivery is angry and frantic, while the backing guitar line seems hopeful, yet subtly somber in nature (keeping Rihanna’s emotion in the mix thereby creating good counterpoint). Together they work in perfect unison in creating very engaging sonic tapestry. Eminem’s delivery is spot on, with the intensity and urgency getting right under the skin thereby effectively engaging the listener in the story. His intensity grows throughout the song, reaching an intense peak during the third verse.
In stark contrast to Eminem’s angry delivery, here we have a somber, yet loving/accepting vocal delivery by Rihanna that is well accentuated by the backing music. The lyrics are deep and painful to listen to, but are delivered in a way that gives the listener the impression that she loves this guy, and no matter how poorly she’s treated or abused, she’s still going to love and stick with him..
As with the vast majority of other current hit songs, “Love the Way You Lie” is highly compressed for maximum sonic impact. That being said, there is still some sonic variation between the verse and chorus sections which enables the chorus to “pop” a bit more.
Compares the song being analyzed to all Pop songs that have entered the Billboard Pop top 10: Q1 through Q3-2010.
The key elements present in “Love the Way You Lie” are in-line with all year-to-date top 10 Pop hits EXCEPT:
- It differs in song structure than the majority of top 10 hit Pop songs.
- The song length is 0:35 longer than the average.
- The song does not contain an intro or outro section.
- The song begins with the chorus.
- The primary vocals (verse and chorus) are sung both by a male and female vocalist. This differs than the majority of top 10 Pop songs, where the primary vocal is sung exclusively by a male.
- The primary instrumentation features an acoustic guitar with upfront electronic drums. This differs from the majority of top 10 Pop songs, which feature a synth as the primary instrument.
- The style of “Love the Way You Lie” is primarily a Hip-hop / Pop crossover. This differs from the majority of top 10 hit Pop songs, which are primarily Electro in nature (plus elements of Pop, Club, Hip-hop, Rock, etc…).
Does the song flow in a cohesive manner? The flow between the sections in “Love the Way You Lie” work well together, flawlessly shifting between intensity/anger (verse) and somber love and acceptance (chorus). The quick turn-arounds provide a good transition between sections.
How does the production stand up in maximizing the songs impact? The overall production is compressed and loud (just the way things are these days), but the production characteristics between the verse (Eminem’s section) and the chorus (Rihanna’s) section really accentuate the mood of each. Eminem’s vocals are raw, bringing out the angry nature of the vocal delivery, while Rihanna’s vocals are more lush and full in nature, giving that “innocent love” kind of flair.
Does the instrumentation and sound maximize the vibe of the song? The solo piano during the first chorus/intro does a great job in setting the overall somber / loving tone of Rihanna’s lyrics. The Hip-hop back beat during Eminem’s verse coupled with the hopeful yet somber guitar line does a great job of creating counterpoint to his anger (i.e. you still feel like Rihanna’s feelings are still in there in the background). The music and tone during the chorus works perfectly with Rihanna’s vocal delivery and lyrics in accentuating that somber yet loving/accepting vibe.
Do the lyrics serve the song and jibe with the vibe of the music? Both sets of lyrics within the song, those rapped by Eminem and those sung by Rihanna are extremely well thought out and deep, and contain imagery that wraps the listener right into the story. This is your “classic” dysfunctional relationship, with the guy being abusive to the girl, the girl wants to get out, the guy apologizes, the girl comes back, and repeat… Eventually it wears the girl down, but she loves him, so she’ll take the abuse just to be with him. She knows he’s going to lie every time he says he won’t do it again, but that’s alright with her (or so she thinks).
Vocal Delivery: 10/10
Does the tonality and phrasing of the vocals maximize the songs impact? Both Eminem and Rihanna do a phenomenal job at delivering their vocals to invoke a maximum amount of emotion. Eminem’s delivery is angry and frantic, with the intensity growing throughout the song. Rihanna’s delivery is consistent – somber, loving and accepting.
How easy is it to remember this song after you hear it once? The verse is difficult to remember right off the bat (it’s not easy to keep up with Eminem’s delivery), but Rihanna’s chorus is extremely memorable in nature. The phrasing and tone of her delivery coupled with the instrumentation resonate right after the first listen.
Wow Factors: 10/10
Does this song possess any standout elements or special moments that aid in catapulting it to HIT status? The key “wow” factor in this song is the chorus. Normally I wouldn’t say that an entire section is a “wow” factor, but in this case the intense lyrics coupled with Rihanna’s delivery qualifies.
Does the song provide the listener with a strong payoff (i.e. a hot chorus)? Again, as with the “wow” factor section, the chorus provides the listener with a great payoff. It’s in such stark contrast to the lyrics during the verse.
Does this song have its own unique vibe when compared to other songs/artists in the genre? There are a plethora of hit songs that deal with the topic of dysfunctional relationships, but “Love the Way You Lie” comes across more unique and original sounding than most specifically due to whose singing and how they’re singing it. Both of these artists have personally dealt with the lyrical topic, especially Rihanna, with her dysfunctional relationship with Chris Brown. This gives “Love the Way You Lie” a more immediate and personal quality, because you know the artists have experienced it first hand in their lives. In the end, it gives the song even more of an “uneasy” type feeling.
Does this song have what it takes to stand the test of time? Will it become a staple of the artist’s repertoire? “Love The Way You Lie” is a very strong song (for reasons mentioned in this report) and is sung by two superstars. It has a lyrical theme that quite a few people can relate to, and is delivered in a very compelling way. There is no doubt that this song will be considered a highlight in both Eminem’s and Rihanna’s catalogs. I also believe that the song is strong enough to stand the test of time and become a highly regarded song in the company of other top charting Hip-hop/Pop crossovers.
- “Love the Way You Lie” makes great use of emotion – lyrically, vocally, and instrumentally in creating a highly emotionally charged, engaging song.
- The way that the song is structured keeps the listener engaged throughout – with the somber/loving choruses seamlessly flowing into the angry verses, taking the listener on an emotional journey.
- All in all, just about every facet of this song would qualify to be listed in “The Good” section. The song is just that strong.
- There is nothing negative that I can say about this song, which is quite nice.
There are three primary factors that worked together in catapulting “Love the Way You Lie” to #1 on the Billboard Pop charts:
- Emotion. The descriptive / clever lyrics, spot on emotional vocal deliveries and supporting instrumentation work in perfect unison in creating a highly charged emotional Hip-hop/Pop crossover.
- The “Superstar” factor. Having two current superstars, each representing a different genre (Hip-hop and Pop) coupled with each of them having personal histories that deal with the subject at hand (more so Rihanna) instantly creates a crossover buzz and sensation.
- Uniqueness/Originality. “Love the Way You Lie” takes a lyrical theme that has been used time and time again and turns it into a unique, engaging song. This is achieved both by the clever lyrical content (specifically the chorus), and the unique characteristics of the superstars who sing/rap the lyrics.
- If you’re going to write about a “generic” subject, make sure that you convey it in an original, clever, and compelling manner. This is very well achieved in “Love the Way You Lie.”
- Make sure to convey emotion in both your vocal delivery and instrumentation. If Rihanna sung her vocals any other way, and Eminem didn’t sound like he’s legitimately pissed off and borderline psychotic, the song would never have had the same impact.
- If you’re writing a Hip-hop/Pop crossover, make sure that you have at least one section that is exceptionally memorable (i.e. Rihanna’s chorus). Otherwise it won’t have the same type of mass crossover appeal.