Given its general grittiness (and the fact that it’s called Hell: The Sequel), Eminem and Royce Da 5’9″ ’s Bad Meets Evil album seems like the last place you’d ever find Bruno Mars. And yet, the pompadour-powered crooner shows up to sing the hook on “Lighters” (he also produced the track with his Smeezingtons cohorts), a decidedly upbeat ballad that provides a brief respite from the blood-and-guts boasts that Em and Royce pack on the disc.
And sure, the track feels out of place because of that fact, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming a rather sizeable Billboard hit. So it makes sense that there’d be an accompanying video that matches its uplift ethos every step of the way. And now, that video, directed by Rich Lee (“Not Afraid”), has arrived.
In the new “Lighters” clip — which, it should be noted, does not contain a single lighter (though it does include the now-ubiquitous shot of Dre’s headphones) — Em and Royce journey from the darkness into the light, a metaphor that works rather well with the song’s message, if you think about it. Their voyage begins when Eminem discovers a secret chamber beneath his home, descends and wanders through a series of subterranean tunnels with only a flare to guide him. Royce is down there, too, though he’s locked up in a jail cell. He escapes thanks to a tunnel located behind a poster (“Shawshank” reference!). The two stumble through the dark, eventually breaking free, emerging into the light.
When they finally do, the video reaches its rather (visually) stunning conclusion, as Em and Royce — plus an army of onlookers and Mars, who has been plaintively playing his piano the entire time — witness the slow ascension of a million paper lanterns, as the soft twilight slowly envelops them.
It’s a stirring image, for sure, and yes, you can probably read plenty into it. Both Em and Royce have traveled dark roads in their past, but here, even if it’s just for one moment, one song, they’ve stumbled into the light. It’s sorta deep, and though it may not be in step with the messages they’re pushing on Hell: The Sequel, well, sometimes it’s nice to have a change of pace.
What do you think of Em and Royce’s “Lighters” video? Share your thoughts in the comments!