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Song Stories

“American Boy”

Estelle feat. Kanye West | 2008

Estelle made a successful U.S. debut -- and won a Grammy for it -- when she wrote an ode to more than one "American Boy." The lady from London spanned the States as she celebrates guys from Cali, New York and Miami, but Estelle forgot to slip in a note about fellas from the Midwest. She made up for it, however, by making room for 16 bars by Chicago's own Kanye West. "Kanye basically just brought his own cheeky self to the track, his own sense of humor," Estelle said of West's contribution. "At first he was like, 'How can you rap over a dance beat?' -- and now he's done it!"

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Song Stories

“Bleeding Love”

Leona Lewis | 2007

In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

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