Dustin Ragucos: The repeated “phenomenal” and that random bit of singing right after Randall Park asks whether Eminem knows how to drive the car make the song feel like it’s a parody of a tame track by the rapper. It’s a song from a soundtrack (Southpaw), yes, but there’s nothing very special about “Phenomenal”. Enjoy the video for all its novelty. That John Malkovich part already has a room in my heart. [5/10]
Paul Duffus: For some reason it’s reassuring that horrifyingly expensive, indulgent videos are not just the preserve of the fancy young starlets. Forty-plus year old rappers from ye olde ‘00s can get in on the act too. It’s nice to know that there’s no age discrimination in the music industry when it comes to the activity of throwing bundles of money into a wood-chipper, which is what “Phenomenal”‘s utterly baffling video amounts to. Apologies for the obviousness, but as John Malkovich who makes a cameo in this seven-minute space-out epic says, the whole thing is “impressive, impressive but pointless”.
I’ll always like Eminem. At his best, predictably the The Marshall Mathers LP, he created art that not only hit certain cultural buttons of the time but will likely endure the ages. “Phenomenal” is another “Eye of the Tiger”-type of up-and-at-‘em rallying cry and it is also from a movie soundtrack, but it’s no “Lose Yourself”. Woozy beats, a decent hook, ok rhymes. It’s good, but we know he’s capable of great. [7/10]
Evan Sawdey: Once Stephen Colbert kept pronouncing it as “phenomenaw” in his Only in Monroe interview with the rapper, the song lost all dramatic pretenses, which is fine, ‘cos it was struggling like a tenderfooted featherweight to begin with. [3/10]
John Garratt: If I woke up in a dystopian hospital only to realize that I was Eminem, I too would be in a violent mood. And to think—once upon a time people praised this guy’s knack for coupling together odd rhyming schemes. He also provoked his share of controversy. All we’re left with are some reheated Matrix clichés. I’m off to my cryogenic freeze appointment; wake me when this shit finally gets old. [4/10]
Kevin Korber: You’re not phenomenal, Em. You’re boring and repeating yourself, and no guest star-laden, “cinematic” music video could ever make your weak shit sound fresh again. Let it go, dude. [3/10]
Timothy Gabriele: This video must be how investment banker or mass shooter sees themselves, just constantly pacing their way through a series of competitors and arbitrary villains in their path, thyself the center of the known universe. As Raylan Givens once said, “If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.” But nevertheless, Mr. Mathers has included enough self-help pap to assist his fellow narcissists through any potential crisis of confidence; “Nothing’s gonna stick until you apply yourself”, “you gotta give more than you get”, “I’m feeling myself”, “I am a giant”, and, as the song constantly reminds us “I am phenomenal”. Sheesh, maybe he should just stop making John Malkovich slum it in shit like this and go coach a high school lacrosse team already. [2/10]