Eminem’s “Houdini” Reviews Range from Outlandish to Profound: Stereogum “The world’s best music blog” and The New York Times called “Eminem’s New Song “Houdini” Is Really, Really Bad”

Byle hieu

Jun 9, 2024

Marshall’s new single provoked some strong reactions in the media. Some respected publications loudly dismissed the song, while others made an effort to examine its impact.

The New York Times is a reputable publication that just loved discussing Eminem at the beginning of his career. Now, they decided to include Marshall’s single in the weekly review. The article starts with a piece about “Houdini” and includes Em’s name in the title. It seems that as much as they despise Shady they understand his attention drawing star power. This stellar example of thoughtful journalism is called “Eminem Loses the Magic, and 10 More New Songs” and is hidden behind a paywall. Fear not; we’ve brought it to you here.

“Eminem attempts to recapture past glories on his exhausting new song “Houdini,” the first single from his upcoming 12th album, “The Death of Slim Shady (Coup de Grâce).” Atop a garish, carnivalesque beat that interpolates a sample of the Steve Miller Band’s “Abracadabra,” the M.C.’s crass alter ego Slim Shady surveys the current cultural moment and strings together some stiltedly rapped jokes, desperate to offend at every turn. Oldest trick in the book“.

But a snobbish, grumpy NYT piece has nothing on a snarky Stereogum review. The author took his time to watch a video and listen to a song and didn’t hold back explaining in four dense paragraphs why he didn’t like it. You knew that he didn’t from the very beginning. He called the article “Eminem’s New Song “Houdini” Is Really, Really Bad”.

He started by asking, “How does he do it? More than 20 years after he took an abrupt swerve into making terrible music, Eminem continues to find new ways to get even shittier. It’s truly amazing. Scientists should study him”.

However, it seems that only these two were really written with some emotion in mind. The industry publications decided to stick to a rather formal tone.

Time wrote not as much a review as an opinion piece about the current state of societal morals titled “Why Eminem’s ‘Houdini’ Is Exciting His Fans and Revolting His Critics” focusing on a music video more than a song. The article starts with the statement: “The video is hypercharged by three surefire paths to virality in this era of social media: nostalgia, shock value, and celebrity cameos”. And finishes with, “‘Houdini’ practically hits every square in an imaginary game of virality bingo. Love him or hate him, it’s hard to argue with the fact that, at least in the cultural zeitgeist, Shady is back”.

Even Pitchfork tried to sound neutral and stick to the facts. However, they made a point of reviewing a video, not a song.

The Rolling Stone review, named “Eminem Attempts to Make His Career Disappear With New Song ‘Houdini’”, sounds like the author didn’t even listen to a song or was terrified to make his opinion known. It recites the news agenda around the single’s promotion and quotes a couple of lines pulled from Genius, it seems.

Again, the NME review does not analyse the song; it just comments on “Without Me” references and a quote from their 3-star “Music to Be Murdered By” review that implied that Marshall would do better if he retired.

These reactions seem so far off reality now, a week after the single’s release. It was a week that showed how much “Houdini” is welcomed by the audience internationally. The song’s record breaking streaming numbers, solid chart performance, and steady social media buzz it has produced show that, once again, Marshall hit where he aimed.

So, The Guardian, which published its opinion piece on “Houdini” now, not in the first hours since release, paints a more complex and interesting picture of the song’s reception. The article titled “Guess who’s back? How Eminem is storming to the top of the charts again” starts with a controversial statement: “His new song Houdini is set to be the fastest-selling single of the year, eclipsing even Taylor Swift – despite being ignored by rap fans and radio stations alike”. By the way, at the moment, we know that it indeed eclipsed Taylor Swift and debuted at No.1 in the UK Top 40 as a result of Eminem’s biggest selling week in 19 years. However, what the author meant is that Eminem did not address the audience of a hip hop genre exclusively and did not follow the trends and fashions of the genre. Even his controversy now is nowhere near as outrageous as the genuinely unhinged Kanye’s behaviour. Even though it is kept from the radio, Eminem can still attract listeners who span three generations now.

Have you read a “Houdini” review that stood out for you? Share with us in the comments!

By le hieu

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