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Is Eminem's “Stan” Based On A True Story? 10 Facts You Didn't Know About The GRAMMY-Winning Rapper
Eminem

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Is Eminem's “Stan” Based On A True Story? 10 Facts You Didn't Know About The GRAMMY-Winning Rapper

Brush up on your Slim Shady knowledge ahead of his Super Bowl 2022 Halftime Show performance on Feb. 13

GRAMMYs/Feb 12, 2022 - 04:56 pm

Eminem is heading to Inglewood, Calif. this Sunday (Feb. 13), where he will perform at the Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show alongside frequent collaborator Dr. Dre, rap superstars Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Dogg, and the queen of hip-hop soul herself, Mary J. Blige. The show is already shaping up to be legendary, with the five rap icons poised to take over the SoFi Stadium around 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST.

Although Eminem is the top-selling hip-hop artist of all time, there are still a few lesser-known facts about the elusive Detroit rapper. For example, did you know Eminem starred in a two-minute commercial during Super Bowl XLV — the longest ad in Super Bowl history at the time? Brush up on your Slim Shady knowledge ahead of his highly anticipated performance at this year’s Super Bowl below.

1. Eminem was the first rapper to win an Academy Award

Eminem’s GRAMMY-winning song “Lose Yourself” from the 2002 film 8 Mile won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, making him the first hip hop artist ever to win the award. However, Marshall Mathers was not expecting his song to win — so much so that he skipped the ceremony and spent the night hanging out with his daughter, instead.

At the 2020 Oscars, Shady surprised attendees with a performance of the popular track, nearly two decades after it won him the award.

2. He’s broken 13 Guinness World Records

Over the course of his 34-year career, Eminem has broken 13 Guinness World Records. In 2015, his GRAMMY-nominated single “Rap God” broke the record for Most Words in a Hit Single. The Detroit native also holds titles like Fastest-Selling Rap Artist, Largest Vocabulary For A Recording Artist, and Fastest Rap in a No. 1 Single, the latter of which he clenched with 2020’s “Godzilla.”

3. He was the first artist to have 10 consecutive No. 1 debuts on the Billboard 200

In 2020, Eminem scored his 10th consecutive No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 with his 11th studio album, Music To Be Murdered By. The 49-year-old was the first artist to achieve this, breaking his then-tie with Kanye West. In terms of non-consecutive No. 1 debuts on the chart, Eminem sits behind Bruce Springsteen and Barbra Streisand, who have both released 11 No. 1 albums; JAY-Z, who has 14; and the Beatles with 19.

4. Eminem recorded “My Name Is” after meeting Dr. Dre

For their first meeting, Eminem went to Dr. Dre’s home studio and recorded what would become his 1999 hit, “My Name Is.” The track earned Eminem one of his first-ever GRAMMY Awards and marked the beginning of one of the most iconic rapper-producer relationships in hip-hop history.

5. He wanted to be a comic book artist before pursuing rap

Before he had hip-hop dreams, Eminem had ambitions of being a comic book artist. Although he wasn’t big on reading — the only book he’s read cover-to-cover is allegedly LL Cool J’s I Make My Own Rules — a young Mathers was fascinated with comics. Superhero comics also provided an outlet while in rehab for drug addiction, Eminem revealed on “The Jonathan Ross Show” in 2009. Eminem’s love of comic books has occasionally popped up in his music career, such as his “Mosh” music video and “The Slim Shady Show” series. He was also the focus of his own Marvel Comics story, “Eminem/Punisher #1.

6. "Lose Yourself” is Eminem’s biggest hit

“Lose Yourself,” the diamond-certified 2002 hit from 8 Mile, is Eminem’s most successful single to date. The song peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 — becoming his first single to do so — and reached the top spot on 24 national charts worldwide. It was also nominated for five GRAMMY Awards, ultimately winning Best Rap Song and Best Male Rap Solo Performance in 2004.

7. He’s won 15 GRAMMY Awards

Eminem has won a total of 15 GRAMMY Awards and has been nominated 44 times. He took home his first two trophies at the 42nd GRAMMY Awards for “My Name Is,” which won Best Rap Solo Performance, and The Slim Shady LP, which won Best Rap Album. He’s performed at the GRAMMYs four times, the first being his iconic duet of “Stan” with Elton John in 2001.

8. Rick Rubin executive produced two of Eminem’s albums

Rick Rubin worked with Eminem as the producer and executive producer of his eighth album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, which won Best Rap Album at the 2015 GRAMMYs. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Em revealed he was drawn to working with the legendary producer because he wanted to “experiment with new, older breakbeats” and “retro” sounds. Rubin also produced and executive produced Eminem’s ninth album, Revival.

9. Eminem turned his famous “Mom’s spaghetti” line into a restaurant

"His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy / There's vomit on his sweater already, mom's spaghetti,” is a line most Eminem fans know by heart. Although the famous “Lose Yourself” lyric was not inspired by Eminem’s own life — he was writing in-character as 8 Mile protagonist Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith Jr. — it did inspire a business venture. In 2021, Eminem opened Mom’s Spaghetti restaurant in Detroit; a pop-up version of the eatery will also be present at Super Bowl LVI.

10. “Stan” is not based on a true story

Eminem’s 2000 smash-hit “Stan” was not based on a real person. However, the song, which tells the story of an obsessed fan who kills himself and his girlfriend after Eminem fails to respond to his letters, was inspired by the rapper’s real experiences. After receiving disturbing fan mail in response to his sophomore album, The Slim Shady LP, Eminem wrote the track as a “message to fans” not to take his lyrics literally. The Dido-sampling song became a career-defining hit and the term “stan” became an official addition to the Oxford English Dictionary.

4 Reasons Why Eminem's 'The Slim Shady LP' Is One Of The Most Influential Rap Records
Eminem

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4 Reasons Why Eminem's 'The Slim Shady LP' Is One Of The Most Influential Rap Records

Eminem’s major label debut, 'The Slim Shady LP,' turns 25 on Feb. 23. The album left an indelible imprint on hip-hop, and introduced the man who would go on to be the biggest-selling artist of any genre in the ensuing decade.

GRAMMYs/Feb 23, 2024 - 03:44 pm

A quarter century has passed since the mainstream music world was first introduced to a bottle-blonde enfant terrible virtuoso who grabbed everyone’s attention and wouldn’t let go

But enough about Christina Aguilera.

Just kidding. Another artist also exploded into stardom in 1999 — one who would become a big enough pop star, despite not singing a note, that he would soon be feuding with Xtina. Eminem’s biting major label debut The Slim Shady LP turns 25 on Feb. 23. While it was Eminem's second release, the album was the first taste most rap fans got of the man who would go on to be the biggest-selling artist in any genre during the ensuing decade. It also left an indelible imprint on hip-hop.

The Slim Shady LP is a record of a rapper who was white (still a comparative novelty back in 1999), working class and thus seemingly from a different universe than many mainstream rappers in the "shiny suit era." And where many of those contemporaries were braggadocious, Eminem was the loser in his rhymes more often than he was the winner. In fact, he talked so much about his real-life childhood bully on the album that the bully ended up suing him.  

It was also a record that played with truth and identity in ways that would become much more difficult once Em became world famous. Did he mean the outrageous things he was saying? Where were the knowing winks, and where were they absent? The guessing games that the album forced listeners to play were thrilling — and made all the more intense by his use of three personas (Marshall Mathers the person; Eminem the battle rapper; and Slim Shady the unhinged alter ego) that bled into each other.

And, of course, there was the rhyming. Eminem created a dizzying array of complicated compound rhymes and assonances, even finding time to rhyme "orange" — twice. (If you’re playing at home, he paired "foreign tools" with "orange juice" and "ignoring skill" with "orange bill.")

While the above are reason enough to revisit this classic album, pinpointing The Slim Shady LP's influence is a more complicated task. Other records from that year — releases from Jay-Z, Nas, Lil Wayne, Ludacris, and even the Ruff Ryders compilation Ryde or Die Vol. 1 — have a more direct throughline to the state of mainstream rap music today. So much of SSLP, on the other hand, is tied into Eminem’s particular personality and position. This makes Slim Shady inimitable; there aren’t many mainstream rappers complaining about their precarious minimum wage job, as Em does on "If I Had." (By the time of his next LP, Em had gone triple-platinum and couldn’t complain about that again himself.)

But there are aspects of SSLP that went on to have a major impact. Here are a few of the most important ones.

It Made Space For Different Narratives In Hip-Hop

Before Kanye rapped about working at The Gap, Eminem rapped about working at a burger joint. The Slim Shady LP opened up space for different narratives in mainstream rap music. 

The Slim Shady LP didn't feature typical rags-to-riches stories, tales of living the high life or stories from the street. Instead, there were bizarre trailer-park narratives (in fact, Eminem was living in a trailer months after the record was released), admissions of suicidal ideation ("That’s why I write songs where I die at the end," he explained on "Cum on Everybody"), memories of a neglectful mother, and even a disturbing story-song about dumping the corpse of his baby’s mother, rapped to his actual child (who cameos on the song). 

Marshall Mathers’ life experience was specific, of course, but every rapper has a story of their own. The fact that this one found such a wide audience demonstrated that audiences would accept tales with unique perspectives. Soon enough, popular rappers would be everything from middle-class college dropouts to theater kids and teen drama TV stars.

The Album Explored The Double-Edged Sword Of The White Rapper

Even as late in the game as 1999, being a white rapper was still a comparative novelty. There’s a reason that Em felt compelled to diss pretty much every white rapper he could think of on "Just Don’t Give a F—," and threatened to rip out Vanilla Ice’s dreadlocks on "Role Model": he didn’t want to be thought of like those guys. 

"People don't have a problem with white rappers now because Eminem ended up being the greatest artist," Kanye West said in 2015. You can take the "greatest artist" designation however you like, but it’s very true that Eminem’s success meant a categorical change in the status of white rappers in the mainstream.

This turned out to be a mixed blessing. While the genre has not, as some feared, turned into a mostly-white phenomenon, America’s racial disparities are often played out in the way white rappers are treated. Sales aside, they have more room to maneuver artistically — playing with different genres while insulting rap a la Post Malone,  or even changing styles completely like Machine Gun Kelly — to commercial approbation. Black artists who attempt similar moves are frequently met with skepticism or disinterest (see André 3000’s New Blue Sun rollout, which was largely spent explaining why the album features no rapping). 

Sales are worth speaking about, too. As Eminem has repeatedly said in song, no small amount of his popularity comes from his race — from the fact that white audiences could finally buy music from a rapper who looked like them. This was, as he has also bemusedly noted, the exact opposite of how his whiteness worked for him before his fame, when it was a barrier to being taken seriously as a rapper. 

For better, worse, or somewhere in between, the sheer volume of white rappers who are currently in the mainstream is largely traceable to the world-beating success of The Slim Shady LP.

It Was Headed Towards An Odd Future

SSLP laid groundwork for the next generation of unconventional rappers, including Tyler, the Creator.

Tyler is a huge Eminem fan. He’s said that listening to Em’s SSLP follow-up The Marshall Mathers LP was "how I learned to rap." And he’s noted that Em’s Relapse was "one of the greatest albums to me." 

"I just wanted to rap like Eminem on my first two albums," he once told GQ. More than flow, the idea of shocking people, being alternately angry and vulnerable, and playing with audience reaction is reflected heavily on Tyler’s first two albums, Goblin and Wolf. That is the template The Slim Shady LP set up. While Tyler may have graduated out of that world and moved on to more mature things, it was following Em’s template that first gained him wide notice. 

Eminem Brought Heat To Cold Detroit

The only guest artist to spit a verse on The Slim Shady LP is Royce da 5’9". This set the template for the next few years of Eminem’s career: Detroit, and especially his pre-fame crew from that city, would be his focus. There was his duo with Royce, Bad Meets Evil, whose pre-SSLP single of "Nuttin’ to Do"/"Scary Movies" would get renewed attention once those same two rappers had a duet, smartly titled "Bad Meets Evil," appear on a triple-platinum album. And of course there was the group D12, five Detroit rappers including his best friend Proof, with whom Eminem would release a whole album at the height of his fame.

This was not the only mainstream rap attention Detroit received in the late 1990s. For one thing, legendary producer James "J Dilla" Yancey, was a native of the city. But Eminem’s explosion helped make way for rappers in the city, even ones he didn’t know personally, to get attention. 

The after-effects of the Eminem tsunami can still be seen. Just look at the rise of so-called "scam rap" over the past few years. Or the success of artists like Babyface Ray, Kash Doll, 42 Dugg, and Veeze. They may owe little to Em artistically, but they admit that he’s done great things for the city — even if they may wish he was a little less reclusive these days

Is Eminem's "Stan" Based On A True Story? 10 Facts You Didn't Know About The GRAMMY-Winning Rapper

Usher's Biggest Hits, From Baby-Making Slow Jams To Dance Floor Classics
Usher performs in Boulogne-Billancourt, France in September 2023.

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Usher's Biggest Hits, From Baby-Making Slow Jams To Dance Floor Classics

As Usher preps for the Super Bowl halftime show and his first album in nearly a decade, revisit the entertainer's biggest hits and underrated gems that made him the King of R&B.

GRAMMYs/Feb 8, 2024 - 05:52 pm

With eight GRAMMYs, over 65 million albums sold, and nine Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s, Usher is undoubtedly one of the biggest stars of his generation. And 20 years after his diamond-certified magnum opus, 2004's Confessions, the 45-year-old triple threat is reminding fans and critics alike that he's still got it.

In the midst of his highly successful (and twice-extended) Las Vegas residency, Usher was announced as the 2024 Super Bowl halftime show headliner, coinciding with the Feb. 9 release of Coming Home — his first solo studio album in eight years. On paper, Usher is the perfect halftime performer that checks all the boxes: the voice, the choreography, the stamina, the hits, the charm. If his electrifying appearance alongside the Black Eyed Peas' 2011 performance is any indication of how Feb. 11 will go, it's bound to be one for the books. 

Super Bowl halftime shows usually last around 13 minutes, but for an artist of Usher's caliber, the high-stakes performance is over 30 years in the making. In 1991, a 13-year-old Usher appeared on Star Search, which led to an audition with LaFace Records. While singing Boyz II Men's "End of the Road," he displayed his knack for captivating an audience even way back then, before appearing on the soundtrack for the 1993 film Poetic Justice starring Janet Jackson and Tupac

His debut single, "Call Me a Mack," mostly flew under the radar at the time, though his star power gleamed in the accompanying video. In the decades since, Usher's eight albums and 16 No. 1 hits on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart have helped him earn the unofficial title of "The King of R&B," paving the way for other household names like Chris Brown, Trey Songz, Ne-Yo, and protégé Justin Bieber.

Though the aptly titled Coming Home marks his first solo album since 2016's Hard II Love, he's continued to whet fans' appetite with several one-off singles, including "Bad Habits" and "Glu." For the lead single from Coming Home, "Good Good," he recruited Summer Walker and 21 Savage, signaling a new chapter for the music veteran. Following his announcement, Usher described the forthcoming LP as a body of work that not only honors his legacy, but tells "a story that is open to interpretation and that will connect with people in different ways."

As the world awaits Usher's Super Bowl halftime show and new music, GRAMMY.com is revisiting 15 songs that made him a force to be reckoned with in entertainment.

"You Make Me Wanna," My Way (1997)

Three years after his 1994 self-titled debut album failed to garner much attention, Usher crashed the second half of the decade with his breakout hit "You Make Me Wanna." Inspired by the then 19-year-old's real-life experiences of juggling multiple women, he sings frankly about being stuck in a love triangle: "You make me wanna leave the one I'm with/ Start a new relationship wit' you."

Peaking at No. 2 on the Hot 100, "You Make Me Wanna" set Usher's career ablaze as the lead single off 1997's seven-time-platinum My Way album — helping him stand out among a sea of fellow R&B newcomers, including Joe and Ginuwine.

In 1998, the success of "You Make Me Wanna" also earned Usher his first-ever GRAMMY nomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. That same year, he was chosen as Janet Jackson's opening act for the U.S. leg of her Velvet Rope Tour, setting a precedent for the show-stopping performances he's since become known for.

"Nice & Slow," My Way (1997)

So many of Usher's best songs focus on the art of lovemaking, but "Nice & Slow" is notable as his first No. 1 on the Hot 100 — and for cementing his sex symbol status.

Only 20 years young at the time, Usher delivers suggestive lyrics (e.g., "I got plans to put my hands in places/ I never seen, girl you know what I mean") with such bravado that it's easy to mistake the then-budding entertainer for someone twice his age.

Moments before laying down the sensual track, producer Jermaine Dupri set out to create a "ballad that's gonna knock out the world," he said in 2003's The Billboard Book of Number One Hits. Over 25 years later, "Nice & Slow" is still quintessential Usher, as it gave way to a long string of slow jams like "Do It To Me" and "Climax" that make the ladies swoon.

"Bedtime," My Way (1997)

Around the release of Confessions, Usher declared himself a "sexaholic" (which he later refuted). But the hearthrob's sexual appetite first appeared on his album My Way, as evidenced by one of the LP's closing tracks, "Bedtime." In the opening line, he sings, "Craving your body all through the night/ Feels like I'm going through withdrawals."

Penned by R&B mastermind Babyface, the number is structured a little bit like a lullaby but isn't as captivating as "Nice & Slow." Still, it earns a spot on this list for being one of the very first in his catalog to ooze grown and sexy vibes.

"U Remind Me," 8701 (2001)

Kicking off his now-iconic 8701 era, "U Remind Me" follows Usher as he falls for a girl who resembles his ex, but ultimately decides against dating her for that very reason.

Produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, "U Remind Me" shares similarities to "You Make Me Wanna" as both songs center around inner conflict, but the most noticeable difference is the vocal delivery. His runs and ad-libs carry more weight in "U Remind Me," which also charted higher internationally. According to what Jimmy Jam told MTV at the time, the goal was for "people to hear Usher sing and go, 'This boy can sing. He's a singer.'" 

Becoming his second No. 1, "U Remind Me" paid off critically for him as well, earning the child prodigy his first GRAMMY for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 2002.

"U Got It Bad," 8701 (2001)

After "U Remind Me," Usher slowed things down with his third chart-topper, "U Got It Bad," which is believed to be about then-girlfriend, Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas of best-selling female group TLC, who also stars in the accompanying video.

Interpolating Prince's "Adore" and Maxwell's "Fortunate" from 1987 and 1999, respectively, "U Got It Bad" finds Usher struggling to accept that he's fallen deep for someone, a slow-burning feeling intensified by a guitar solo that soars midway through. The smoldering track showcased that he was a fully developed star capable of conveying emotion in addition to crafting tunes that fill the dance floor.

"Yeah!" feat. Lil Jon and Ludacris, Confessions (2004)

Usher was at his commercial peak when he tried his hand at crunk music à la "Yeah!" with Lil Jon at the helm. Somewhat of a catalyst for his foray into EDM (more on that later), "Yeah!" marked the first of four consecutive No. 1s off Confessions and Usher's longest-running chart-topper at 12 weeks. Naturally, it was crowned the most-played song of 2004 despite the label's hesitation to release it as a lead single.

Of all of Usher's party anthems, "Yeah!" wins for holding its relevance 20 years later; to this day, it remains a staple at wedding receptions, sporting events, and countless other celebrations. Plus, Ludacris' scene-stealing guest verse, where he rhymes "ridiculous" and "conspicuous," is forever etched in our memory.

In 2005, Usher added to his GRAMMY collection after "Yeah!" took home Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. It was such a smash that "Ursher, Jon and Luda had to do it again" in 2004's "Lovers and Friends," which narrowly missed the No. 1 spot, and then again with "SexBeat" in 2020.

"Burn," Confessions (2004)

True to the diaristic nature of Confessions, "Burn" sees Usher grappling with the aftermath of a failed relationship. "Sendin' pages I ain't supposed to/ Got somebody here, but I want you/ 'Cause the feelin' ain't the same/ Find myself callin' her your name," he laments in the second verse.

"Yeah!" took Usher's stardom to the next level, but "Burn" gave fans a deeper glimpse into his personal life. By then, his two-year relationship with TLC's Chilli had run its course. As Usher noted himself to MTV News, "It's unfortunate when you have to let a situation go because it's not working. Although you may want to stay, you've got to let it burn."

That level of vulnerability resonated with broken hearts everywhere; "Burn" dethroned "Yeah!" when it skyrocketed to the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100. Subsequently, Usher held the No. 1 and 2 spots on the chart, becoming the first artist to achieve such a major feat since the Beatles 40 years earlier. 

"Confessions Part II," Confessions (2004)

While "Burn" saw Usher pulling back the curtain, he left it all on the table in one of the most talked about songs of his three-decade career: "Confessions Part II."

In "Part I," he sings about having a "chick on the side," but "Part II" marks the point of no return as he confesses to impregnating his mistress. As expected, "Confessions" sparked rumors that Usher got another woman pregnant while dating Chilli. In reality, it was recorded before their breakup and based on Jermaine Dupri's situation. Still, Usher delivers the story as if it was his own.

Even though "Confessions Part II" revolves around infidelity, it's difficult to not feel sympathetic toward him as the track winds down: "This by far is the hardest thing I think I've ever had to do/ To tell you, the woman I love/ That I'm havin' a baby by a woman that I barely even know/ I hope you can accept the fact that I'm man enough to tell you this," he says in the spoken interlude.

"My Boo" feat. Alicia Keys, Confessions (2004)

Usher and Alicia Keys were both at the top of their game when they joined forces for "My Boo," an ode to young love that's guaranteed to make you cry nostalgic tears of joy. Even the most cynical hearts can't resist singing along: "I don't know about y'all, but I know about us and, uh/ It's the only way we know how to rock," a twenty-something Usher croons in the outro.

The romantic duet is even sweeter when you realize that Usher and Keys have known each other since they were teenagers. Their undeniable musical chemistry won a GRAMMY for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals.

At the time of its release, "My Boo" went straight to No. 1, which means he spent an astonishing 28 weeks atop the Hot 100 in 2004, proving that the year unequivocally belonged to none other than Usher.

"Bad Girl," Confessions (2004)

"Caught Up" was the final single off of Confessions, but Usher's reign could have carried well into 2005 and possibly even '06 if deep cuts like "Throwback," "Superstar," "Can U Handle It?" and "Bad Girl" were released as singles. The latter appears as a snippet in the beginning of the music video for "My Boo," leaving you wanting more.

In "Bad Girl," Usher prefers women who look "fresh out of Elle magazine" and can buy their "own bottles." Fueled by hypnotic electric guitar riffs, "Bad Girl" exemplifies his fondness for a late-night rendezvous: "Look at them bad girls moving it/ Making faces while they doing it/ Ah, I want to take one to the restroom/ So close, I'm smelling like your perfume," he sings in the second verse.

The song also took on a life of its own when Usher performed it at a 2005 concert special with Beyoncé, who steals the show without ever touching the mic.

"Best Thing" feat. Jay-Z, Here I Stand (2008)

When "Best Thing" arrived, Usher and Jay-Z were both newlyweds. So, of course, Usher was feeling particularly inspired by then-wife Tameka Foster.

Recorded during Hov's Heart of the City Tour, "Best Thing" celebrates commitment over "trickin' and kissin' miscellaneous chicks." Of the song's background, Usher reportedly said, "If you are a playa, you're a playa. If you're a real man, you're a real man, but you know you got to — in some point in life — you've got to grow up. Grow away from certain immaturities."

He and Foster divorced the next year, but "Best Thing" speaks to something bigger: the beginning of his transition into manhood.

"OMG" feat. will.i.am, Raymond v. Raymond (2010)

With easygoing lyrics like "I fell in love with shawty when I seen her on the dance floor/ She was dancing sexy, pop-pop-popping, dropping, dropping low," "OMG" sounds like a continuation of "Yeah!" but with hints of Eurodance.

Written and produced by Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am, "OMG" gave Usher's post-Confessions career a much-needed boost. Despite spawning the No. 1 single "Love in This Club," his previous studio effort, 2008's Here I Stand, was deemed a commercial disappointment. 

Although "OMG" was criticized for Usher's use of auto-tune, the party classic thrusted him back to the top. What's more, he displayed a willingness to reinvent himself at a time when EDM started to infiltrate the charts. It not only became Usher's ninth No. 1 hit, but it produced his first of four entries on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart, while paving the way for his other dance-pop hits like Pitbull-featuring "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love" and "Without You" with David Guetta.

"Numb," Looking 4 Myself (2012)

At first listen, "Numb" may sound like just another synth-heavy banger about leaving your troubles on the dance floor, but the song is actually a well-crafted culmination of what was going on behind the scenes for the R&B superstar.

In the years leading up to his seventh album, Looking 4 Myself, Usher experienced some turbulent times. Months before their divorce, Tameka Foster went into cardiac arrest prior to undergoing cosmetic surgery (depicted by scenes of Usher comforting a woman in the hospital in the accompanying video for "Numb"). A couple years later, fans booed him after he walked off stage mid-show in Berlin. Then, in the midst of a highly publicized custody battle with Foster, his 11-year-old stepson died after a tragic jet ski accident.

In true Usher fashion, he sang and danced through the pain: "Keep on doing the same old thing/ And you expecting change/ Well, is that really insanity/ Or just a losers' game?" he ponders in the second verse.

Stalling at No. 69 on the Hot 100, "Numb" is one of Usher's lowest-charting songs — but along with "Sins of My Father," which deals with breaking generational curses, it spotlights his depth as an artist.

"Tell Me," Hard II Love (2016)

Usher set out to make music he wanted to with 2016's Hard II Love. Though it marked his first album to miss the top spot in eight years, the 15-track LP is a welcome return to his R&B roots. He does just that in "Tell Me," a nearly nine-minute carnal extravaganza that acts as the album's centerpiece and encompasses the physical, emotional, and spiritual connection between two lovers.

At face value, "Tell Me" boasts Usher's endurance in the bedroom, but on a deeper level, it's about intimacy — an element missing from a great deal of today's R&B, especially from the male perspective. His golden falsetto shines through, making eight and a half minutes sound like the sweetest serenade.

"Boyfriend" (2023)

Last summer, things got interesting when Keke Palmer stopped by Usher's acclaimed Vegas residency, where she was serenaded by the "There's Goes My Baby" singer. Seen by millions, the lighthearted moment turned negative when Darius Jackson, the father of Palmer's child, publicly shamed her for the sheer outfit she wore to the show.

But in the name of entertainment, Usher seized the moment, flipping the controversy into a new earworm. Adding fuel to the fire, Palmer stars in the video, which appears to be filmed in Vegas. And the lyrics are as cheeky as they come: "Somebody said that your boyfriend's lookin' for me/ Oh, that's cool, that's cool/ Well, he should know I'm pretty easy to find/ Just look for me wherever he sees you."

The stunt jokingly earned Usher the nickname "Domestic Terrorist," but more importantly, it illustrated his power to still generate buzz as a well-established artist amid the rise of R&B's new class comprising younger male singers like Steve Lacy, Jvck James, Brent Faiyaz, and Lucky Daye.

Thirty years after his debut, Usher proves he's the last of his kind with the voice, sales, and stage presence to back it up. In a recent interview with Vogue, he described his highly anticipated Super Bowl performance as a "celebration for everybody, for all of us, from the beginning up until this point." 

It'll be the single biggest showcase of his career, but judging by his showmanship, he'll meet the moment while reminding the world of his greatness as a new, exciting era begins — one that demonstrates he's still at the top of his game.

Justin Timberlake's Biggest Songs, From His Best *NSYNC Moments To The Solo Smashes

10 Halloween Songs That Have Won GRAMMYs: "Thriller," "Ghostbusters" & More
Ray Parker Jr performs "Ghostbusters" for Freeform's "31 Nights of Halloween Fan Fest" in 2019.

Photo: Image Group LA via Getty Images

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10 Halloween Songs That Have Won GRAMMYs: "Thriller," "Ghostbusters" & More

With Halloween celebrations in full swing this Oct. 31, revisit 10 eerie or ghoulishly titled songs that have all been awarded music's top honor, from the 'Exorcist' theme to Eminem and Rihanna's "The Monster."

GRAMMYs/Oct 31, 2023 - 12:56 pm

If the holiday of trick or treating, pumpkin carving, and decorating your front porch with skeletons is your favorite of the year, then you'll no doubt already have a playlist stacked with creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky bangers ready to fire up on Oct. 31. But if you want to add a bit of prestige to your supernatural soundtrack, there's another list of Halloween-friendly songs to check out — one that highlights another celebrated annual occasion.

While the GRAMMYs might not yet have awarded Rob Zombie, Jukebox the Ghost, or And You Will Know Us by the Trail of the Dead, it has embraced the odd musical spooktacular in several forms. In 1988, for example, it gave Halloween obsessive Frank Zappa Best Rock Instrumental Performance for Jazz from Hell. A year later, it handed Robert Cray Band Best Contemporary Blues Recording for Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. And it's also dished out goodies (of the statuette, rather than the sweet, variety) to the likes of Mavis Staples' "See That My Grave Is Clean," Chick Corea's "Three Ghouls," and Mastodon's "A Sultan's Curse."

With Halloween 2023 fast approaching, here's a closer look at ten other tracks which left the music industry's biggest awards show completely bewitched.

Stevie Wonder — "Superstition" (1974)

It seems unlikely that Stevie Wonder walked under a ladder, crossed a black cat, or 'broke the lookin' glass' while recording "Superstition" — the squelchy Moog-funk classic kickstarted his remarkable run of 25 GRAMMY Awards when it won both Best Rhythm and Blues Song and Best R&B Vocal Performance Male in 1974. Taken from what many consider to be his magnum opus, Talking Book, "Superstition" also gave Wonder his first No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 in over a decade. And the soul legend further leaned into its supernatural theme in 2013 when he appeared as a witch doctor in a Bud Light Super Bowl commercial soundtracked by the Tamla favorite.

Mike Oldfield — "Tubular Bells" (1975)

Incredibly, considering how perfectly it complements all-time classic horror The Exorcist, Mike Oldfield's prog-rock epic Tubular Bells was recorded long before director William Friedkin came calling. Mike Oldfield, then aged only 19, used a variety of obscure instruments across its two mammoth pieces. Yet, it's the brilliantly creepy Steinway piano riffs which open Side One that are still most likely to bring anyone who experienced the movie's hysteria in a cold sweat. Oldfield was rewarded for helping to scar a generation of cinemagoers for life when a condensed version of his eerie masterpiece picked up the Best Instrumental Composition GRAMMY.

The Charlie Daniels Band — "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" (1980)

The Charlie Daniels Band certainly proved their storytelling credentials in 1979 when they put their own Southern country-fied spin on the old "deal with the devil" fable. Backed by some fast and furious fiddles, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" tells the tale of a young musician named Johnny who bumps into Beelzebub himself during a jam session in the Peach State. Experiencing a downturn in soul-stealing, the latter then bets he can win a fiddle-off, offering an instrument in gold form against Johnny's spiritual essence. Luckily, the less demonic party proves he's the "best that's ever been" in a compelling tale GRAMMY voters declared worthy of a prize, Best Country Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group.

Michael Jackson — "Thriller" (1984)

The 1984 GRAMMYs undeniably belonged to Michael Jackson. The King of Pop picked up a whopping 11 nominations for his first blockbuster album, Thriller, and then converted seven of them into wins (he also took home Best Recording for Children for his narration on audiobook E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial). Remarkably, the title track's iconic John Landis-directed video didn't feature at all: its making of, however, did win Best Music Film the following year. But the song itself did pip fellow superstars Prince, Billy Joel, and Lionel Richie to the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance crown. Jackson would also win a GRAMMY 12 years later for another Halloween-esque anthem, his Janet Jackson duet "Scream."

Duran Duran — "Hungry Like the Wolf" (1984)

Produced by Colin Thurston, the man behind another early '80s Halloween-friendly classic, (Bow Wow Wow's "I Want Candy"), "Hungry Like the Wolf" cemented Duran Duran's status as MTV icons. Alongside their much raunchier earlier clip for "Girls on Film," its jungle-themed promo was also responsible for giving the Second British Invasion pin-ups the inaugural GRAMMY Award for Best Music Video, Short Form; it featured on the Duran Duran compilation that was crowned Best Video Album, too. Frontman Simon Le Bon had been inspired to write their U.S. breakthrough hit by Little Red Riding Hood, giving the new wave classic its sinister, and appropriately predatory, edge.

Ray Parker Jr. — "Ghostbusters" (1985)

Ray Parker Jr. not only topped the Hot 100 for four weeks with his ode to New York's finest parapsychologists, he also picked up a GRAMMY. Just don't expect to hear "who you gonna call?" in the winning version: For it was in the Best Pop Instrumental Performance where "Ghostbusters" reigned supreme. The fact that Parker Jr. wrote, performed, and produced the entire thing meant he still took home the trophy. However, Huey Lewis no doubt felt he should have been the one making the acceptance speech. The blue-eyed soulman settled out of court after claiming the spooky movie theme had borrowed its bassline from "I Want a New Drug," a track Ghostbusters' director Ivan Reitman admitted had been played in film footage intended to inspire Parker Jr.

Ralph Stanley — "O Death" (2002)

Traditional Appalachian folk song "O Death" had previously been recorded by the likes of gospel vocalist Bessie Jones, folklorist Mike Seeger, and Californian rockers Camper Van Beethoven, just to name a few. Yet it was Ralph Stanley's 2002 version where GRAMMY voters first acknowledged its eerie a cappella charms. Invited to record the morbid number for the Coen brothers' period satire O Brother, Where Art Thou, the bluegrass veteran won Best Male Country Vocal Performance at the 2002 ceremony, also picking up a second GRAMMY alongside the likes of Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, and Emmylou Harris when the soundtrack was crowned Album Of The Year.

Skrillex — "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" (2012)

David Bowie fans may well feel aggrieved that his post-punk classic "Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)" was entirely ignored by GRAMMY voters, while the bro-step banger it inspired was showered with awards. The title track from EP Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites added Best Dance Recording to Skrillex's 2012 haul: the asymmetrically haired producer also walked away with Best Dance/Electronica Album and Best Remixed Recording: Non-Classical for his work on Benny Benassi's "Cinema." Packed with speaker-blasting beats, distorted basslines, and aggressive synths, Skrillex's wall of noise is enough to scare anyone off their pumpkin pie.

Eminem and Rihanna — "The Monster" (2015)

Who says lightning can't strike twice? Just four years after picking up five GRAMMY nominations for their transatlantic chart-topper "Love the Way You Lie," unlikely dream team Eminem and Rihanna once again joined forces for another hip-pop masterclass. Unlike their previous collab, however, "The Monster" didn't go home empty-handed, winning Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 2015 ceremony. The boogeyman hiding under the bed here, of course, isn't a Frankenstein-esque creation, but the mix of paranoia, self-doubt, and OCD that leads the Real Slim Shady into thinking he needs a straitjacket.

Jason Isbell — "If We Were Vampires" (2018)

While the Twilight franchise may have failed to add a GRAMMY to its trophy cabinet, it did pick up several nominations. But four years after the Team Edward vs Team Jacob saga wrapped up, folk hero Jason Isbell proved mythical bloodsuckers weren't a barrier to awards success. Emerging victorious in only the fifth ever Best Americana Roots Song category, "If We Were Vampires" is a little less emo than the various Twilight soundtracks. Still, as a love song dedicated to wife Amanda Shires, and the quiet acceptance that the Grim Reaper will inevitably end their story, it's certainly no less emotional.  

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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