River
by Eminem (featuring Ed Sheeran)

Album: Revival (2017)
Charted: 1 11
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Here, Eminem details a story of a failing relationship, where both partners are cheating on each other – the girl with Slim Shady. The hook is crooned by Ed Sheeran, who sings from the unfaithful guy's perspective. It is the first collaboration between the pair, though the English singer has been a longtime fan of the Detroit MC and he's previously spoken about how he cured his childhood stammer by rapping to The Marshall Mathers LP.
  • Sheeran wrote and recorded his part at Russell Crowe's house. The Brit revealed to Billboard he was travelling in Australia when he was contacted about a possible collaboration. "I get an email from Paul Rosenberg, Eminem's manager, and he said, 'We're gonna start putting the album together, send any ideas,'" Sheeran recalled.

    Russell Crowe had previously offered up his home, which is equipped with a recording studio, if Sheeran needed a place to stay, so the Shape Of You hitmaker took him up on the offer and got to work on the track. "I used the studio at Russell's house... played the drums on it, and then played the guitar, and then recorded the thing and wrote the chorus and did the piano on it, and then sent it off and then didn't hear anything back," he remembered. "This was, like, March, 2016."

    Sheeran didn't hear anything back about his contribution for 14 months. Then in May 2017 he was contacted by Eminem producer Emile Haynie. He recalled: "I was in Mexico and my mate Emile who produces a lot for Eminem is like, 'I've done some drums and stuff on the 'River' song that you wrote.' I was like, 'Oh, cool. Are you going to send it to him?' He's like, 'Oh, no. He's done his verses.'"
  • This was Eminem's ninth UK #1 single, a record for a rapper.
  • The NSFW music video begins with a couple of confessionals on relationships from Eminem and Ed Sheeran. We then see Eminem in a volatile hookup with a girl called Sue played by Sarah Ashley Toups from the FOX series Lethal Weapon. He gets Sue pregnant even though she has another man in her life. As the video comes to a stormy close during Sheeran's final verse, Eminem admits that "River" is, "something I needed to get off my chest."

    The visual was dropped on Valentine's Day despite the fact it's the reverse of everything the romantic holiday stands for.
  • The video was directed by Emil Nava. During the filming of the abortion scene between Eminem and Sue, Nava makes use of a mirror camera angle. The director explained to Billboard:

    "That was a part of the film that really developed on the shoot. Actually, that was all improvised. We discussed the scene in full and we knew what the narrative was and we were very much trying to show the story in a different way. That moment is supposed to be her on the phone FaceTiming her friends and then Eminem walks in and she drops the phone and it gets caught against the covers. It's like you're not meant to be watching it."
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