In both Walk on Water and Love the Way You Lie, Rihanna and Beyonce start the songs and set the tone. In Love the Way You Lie, the sound is like a fusion of different worlds, so when Rihanna is done, and Eminem starts rapping, the song changes. However, in Walk on Water, Eminem actually continues the tone that Beyonce sets quite seamlessly.
Both songs have a piano but Walk on Water leans into the piano more. Love The Way You Lie switches to a more poppy, catchy beat, which is the biggest strength of Love The Way You Lie sonically. The catchy beat backing Eminem's vocals is a bop that gets stuck in your head. The musical explosions near the chorus, where the volume increases, begging the artist to scream, makes the song memorable.
However, when I listen to Love The Way You Lie, I don't feel like the beat makes me feel any particular way. It's very pliable. Many artists could hear this beat and go in totally different directions from where Em And Rihanna did. Walk on Water, on the other hand, has that novel alien whistling sound stabilizing the beat with the piano and violins, and when I hear that track, I think whistful. It feels sad but in an uplifting way. The track reminds me of gospel a bit without going all the way there. Also, it's got a little hip hop at the end with the scratching, and so Sonically, Walk on Water is better because it makes me feel something.
Both hooks were well chosen for their respective songs. Em and Beyonce are both megastars, and so they are credible performers to speak about the pressures of your fanbase and public opinion when you have achieved everything there is to achieve, and you are still going. Eminem and Rihanna have both been involved in domestic violence situations, so they were perfect performers for that song.
Both Rihanna and Beyonce nailed their hooks, so to decide which one wins, we are going to have to dig into the details. While Rihanna's is excellently sung, she sings it the same way every time. Also, it feels like she was a role player in the song. She did her part and made sure her team didn't lose the game. However, Beyonce, on the other hand, changed up her voice a bit when delivering her hook, going with the song's emotion. So sticking with the sports analogy, Beyonce may not show up huge in the stat column, but she made plays that were pivotal to winning the game. She lent power to the song's credibility and the gospel vibes and carried the song's uplifting tone in her chorus delivery.
Lastly, Eminem and Beyonce were more intertwined in the song's composition. In Love The Way You Lie, Eminem just leaves a space at the end of his verse before Rihanna comes in with the hook each time until the third verse hook, where he feeds into the hook with his words.
In Walk on Water, Em feeds into Beyonce's hook with his lyrics every time. Also, Em has adlibs of him balling up verses during Beyonce's chorus. This creates an effect like you're watching a montage of Eminem trying to write the perfect rhyme, and Beyonce is singing the montage music. However, Rihanna's chorus feels like a cutaway from what Eminem is doing in the verses. It's still relevant, but it's not as tethered as Beyonce's verse is to the scene. Walk on Water wins the Chorus battle.
Walk On Water was a bold concept. In hip Hop, there is a lot of bravado about being the best and always being unfazed by your haters. This is why I appreciate Em and Beyonce doing a song about the pressure of being looked at as a god. Eminem loses his confidence in Walk Water on Water and admits that his music's public criticism and pressure affect him. However, by the end, Eminem regains his confidence. It's a nice arc.
But the song also has an additional meaning. Walk On Water wants to clarify that Beyonce and Em are not gods. They are not perfect, and they are humans with feelings as well. It's cool to see two megastars critic the worship when it be easier just to pretend to be these perfect people they are not.
Also, the concept was particularly impressive because it was simplistic but something that holds special weight to artists like them in the goat conversation. Walk on Water was also geared specifically to where Beyonce and Eminem are in their careers and shows there are still valuable life experiences to write about deep into your artist career. Also, while this song was made from the vantage point of the mountain top, anyone famous can relate or even just anyone who is a role model.
Love the Way You Lie was an excellent concept from top to bottom. It takes you through the entire cycle of the toxic relationship in three verses. In the beginning, the relationship is wonderful and terrible, but we are left with a horrific side when Eminem snaps and hits his partner and then swears he will never stoop so low again. However, the violence just becomes part of the cycle. In the next verse, the couple fights in the second verse. They resent each other, but they don't want to leave. It finally gets too much for the women in the relationship, and she breaks the pattern and leaves. However, she doesn't actually leave because Eminem pleads with her to stay and promises he will be different. However, the big third verse reveal is that by this point, Eminem knows he is lying, and he doesn't care. He just wants her back.
The song ends with the couple going back into the same violent cycle but with the cliffhanger that things will get homicidally violent if she ever tries to leave again. Also, after this, we finally unlock the chorus Rihanna has been saying she loves the way he lies. Revealing even the woman in the relationship knows the man is lying but has been so bogged down she learned to Love the lie. The relationship is so toxic that she comes to thrive off the pain, the burning if you will, which takes on a new meaning when Eminem reveals he would burn the house down with her in it if she ever tried to leave.
Love The Way You Lie wins for the concept. The concept is much more complex than Walk on Water, and the way the song's narrative makes such a complex dynamic digestible is phenomenal.
In Walk on Water, Eminem has a good flow in his first verse, and he switches flows rapidly like his mind is racing with the pressure. In the middle verse, the flow is more steady. However, it's the third verse that takes the cake. Eminem stays mainly in a one-note flow for most of the third verse, but when he reveals he will decide when he bows out of the rap game, he breaks his flow pattern and expands the flow with more syllables, and it's a great moment that it feels like the entire song was building to.
However, Love The Way You Lie wins in the flow department. Eminem switches between multiple catchy flows throughout each verse, playing up the contradictions in his lines and contributing to the song's story. However, if there was any doubt, the teased-out effortless flow switches in his third verse of Love The Way You Lie put the nail in the coffin. That verse has perfect flow until the very last explosive moment.
This is the round that will determine who wins this battle. It's very hard to judge these two songs' lyrics because they are both different. Love the Way You Lie is a storytelling song, so the punches are different. Walk on Water is a ballad, but it's more traditionally lyrical. But which one is better?
I went verse by verse to make my decision. In Walk on Water, verse one, Em does a great job depicting nightmare-like imagery where the scenery changes very quickly as he struggles to reach the bar he set. Also, it's an excellent wordplay on the word bar like standard, but also, a bar is a great rap line. Eminem ends the first verse with a great line: "pressure increases( in creases) like khakis I feel the Ice craking" Ice cracking references the only Water he can walk on in the chorus, which is Ice, meaning his rap career is cracking.
Then verse two, he continues the theme of being defeated by mounting pressure talking about how critics have broken his confidence. Then he says, " I'm not Godsent I'm, not Nas, Rakim, 'Pac, B.I.G., James Todd Smith and I'm not Prince, so…" Not only are they all god status in the culture, but it's incredible how Eminem makes all of that rhyme. This is the first track on Revival, and that's important to note because this third verse is Eminem's Revival. He has beaten himself down in the first two verses, and he doesn't stop the criticism, but you can feel the fire is different. Eminem has stopped accepting these thoughts and started challenging them.
In the third verse, he talks about critics dissing him by saying he's getting clowned and frowned on, but he counters, "But the only one who's looking down on me that matters now's DeShaun." Huge bar Deshaun is his best friend Proof, who would be looking down at him from heaven. Also, he talks about his waning popularity and how he is working so hard to outdo himself, but it doesn't matter to people because they don't care about lyrics. " Take your best rhyme outdo it now, do it a thousand times. Now let 'em tell ya the world no longer cares Or gives a fuck about your rhymes." However, Eminem then realizes none of that matters because after coming from nothing, and having none of the fanfare or any of that and becoming the biggest artist in the world, aka "making a tight rope out of twine," he realizes the music is the purest most crucial thing. He has to fight for it like he did when nobody knew who he was. Also, the twine line references the first verse when he failed to reach the bar.
However, he humbles himself by reminding himself that after almost overdosing, he is "lucky to be around this long" both in life and in the longevity of his career. In the end, he is content with his place and that he was able to make it to where he is, but he also gets to write his own final chapters instead of drugs or critics writing them for him. There had been subtle nods to writing your own story the whole time. During the choruses, he had been repeating the first lines of verses two and three like he was writing his story in real-time.
In Love the Way You Lie, verse one, Eminem starts with an often overlooked but wonderful line. "I can't tell you what it really is. I can only tell you what it feels like" Right away, he sets the stage that the story is so emotionally charged he can only relay it with his feelings. Also, this works as a disclaimer to say it's only one perception of the relationship. Right away, Eminem follows up on this by showing you what he means by how this relationship defies logic. He talks about how wrong feels right and says, "High off her love, drunk from her hate. It's like I'm huffin' paint, and I love her, the more I suffer, I suffocate. And right before I'm about to drown, she resuscitates me." Straight bars, the relationship, brings him up (getting high) and brings him down (drunk =drepressent), and in both cases, the relationship is messing with his head as drugs and alcohol do. Also, he loves her, but she is both killing him and giving him life. She is the reason he is drowning, but she is also the one who resuscitates him. At the end of the verse, to further show how lost he is in this relationship, he talks about hitting her, and when referring to his rage, Eminem says, "Who's that dude? I don't even know his name," like he doesn't recognize himself in this relationship when his anger takes over.
In the second verse, Eminem shows how hot and cold the relationship is. Everything is a contradiction. He talks about how in the beginning, he was so nervous around his partner that he could barely breathe, but that ends with him being sick of even looking at her. He's juxtaposing the early-stage butterflies with late-stage resentment. Then he talks about how you once promised never to hurt this person, and now you both spew verbal venom at each other and physically hurt each other. He talks about how rage consumes both members of the relationship, and everybody assumes that naturally, that would mean they are better off apart, but nope, the next day, the couple is back together, and yesterday's drama is yesterday's drama until it becomes todays. The next contradiction is the promise that things will be different next time, juxtaposed with the realization that for the second time in this song, that has been proved to be a lie, and now the woman in the relationship has run away. Also, the fact that he has even struck her again means he got another chance, which contradicts the line where he said life is no Nintendo game meaning he wouldn't get multiple chances in this relationship.
The third verse in Love the Way You Lie is the most confusing and honest verse. Eminem is pleading with her to stay, and you can hear the urgency in his voice. He admits he can never leave her, and at this point, Eminem is tired of games, so he will say anything to get her back. He tells her they both have tempers, they are the same, and when that doesn't work, he takes all the blame and says things will be different, but this time he doesn't even believe himself and tells the audience this a lie to get her back, and the truth is if she ever tries to leave him again he will burn the house down with her in it. Everything from just the let me burn chorus to the internal and external promises of better times at the end of both verses, one and two, have led to this grim finale of the song.
Walk On Water has the better third verse, I think, the Revival of Eminem and hard-hitting real-life bars of his Walk on Water verse beat out the third verse of Love the Way You Lie, even though that's a great verse as well. However, I believe Love the Way You Lie had a better first two verses than the first two verses of Walk on Water. The arrangement, wordplay, and meaning behind them are just much more meaningful and impactful. So Love the Way You Lie wins the lyrical category, and the song battle 3-2.