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15 Songs You Can't Believe Are 25 Years Old

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"Orange Crush," R.E.M.
A year after a Rolling Stone cover story declared them "America's Best Rock & Roll Band," R.E.M. was one of its biggest. The same year the band signed a multi-million dollar deal with Warner Bros., it released this song – its first Number One on the alternative charts. The band went on to release nine more albums, yielding many hits, before calling it quits in 2011.

 "(You Got It) The Right Stuff," New Kids on the Block
In 1988, 100,000 New Kids fans a week would dial 1-900-909-5KIDS, and they would be greeted with the message: "Hi! We're the New Kids on the Block. Now here's some 'right stuff' just for you!" Three- to five-minute daily messages would follow, bringing joy to fans and loads of moolah to the Kids franchise. The brainchild of Maurice Starr, who had previously assembled New Edition, New Kids became a boy-band sensation, their images plastered on lunch boxes, doll faces, comic books and a Saturday morning cartoon.

Today, the youngest Kid is 40, but fans – now far from tweens themselves – still think they have the right stuff. In 2008, the group reunited for a tour that featured Lady Gaga as a supporting act, and they continue to perform.

"Suedehead," Morrissey
After the Smiths broke up, Morrissey asked Stephen Street, a former Smiths engineer and producer, to write some songs with him. Figuring the band would get back together, Street collaborated on what he considered to be some Smiths B-sides. This one, Morrissey's debut solo single, charted better than any Smiths song.

While Morrissey and Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr are constantly asked about a possible reunion, it seems highly unlikely. Street went on to produce Blur, the Cranberries and the Kaiser Chiefs.

"Desire," U2
While touring stadiums in 1987, members of U2 became fascinated with American music, especially black Southern music. So as the band rocketed to mega-stardom, it decided to channel the roots of American rock in its album Rattle and Hum. The band recorded at the famous Sun Studio in Memphis, covered Jimi Hendrix and collaborated with B.B. King. This one, partially inspired by the Stooges' song "1969," features the famous Bo Diddley beat.

"Wild Thing," Tone Loc
In Spike Lee's 1986 film She's Gotta Have It, rapper Fab 5 Freddy beckons the film's heroine, "Let's do the wild thing! I mean, let's get loose!" Inspired by that scene, Matt Dike and Mike Ross – two white twentysomethings starting a hip-hop label – decided to write a song. Fab 5 made a few demos with them, but he didn't quite have it. So they recruited a gravel-voiced unknown named Anthony Smith, a.k.a. Tone Loc.

Tone-Loc, who later had success as a voice actor, wrote some lyrics for the song, but they were too X-rated. Most of the more subtle yet suggestive lyrics were written by Young MC, while a sample of Van Halen's "Jamie's Cryin'" provided the main riff.

"Handle With Care," Traveling Wilburys
While working on his comeback album Cloud Nine, Harrison called on a few pals to help come up with a B-side to his single "This Is Love." He was joined by Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan at Dylan's home studio in Malibu, where they recorded "Handle With Care." When Warner Bros. Records heard the song, the label knew it was too good for a B-side and suggested a larger collaborative project. The guys took on fictitious names in a band initially named the Trembling Wilburys. Less than two months after the Wilburys' first song was released, Orbison died.

"Is This Love," Whitesnake
Videos for the band's two biggest hits, "Is This Love" and "Here I Go Again," featured singer David Coverdale's leggy girlfriend, Tawny Kitaen, whose wind-blown hair, short dresses and writhing on expensive cars quickly became iconic. Coverdale later said this power ballad was initially intended for Tina Turner, but a Geffen exec wasn't having that.

Coverdale's 1989 marriage to Kitaen lasted only two years. She later appeared on The Surreal Life and Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »
 
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