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Song Stories

“Baby Got Back”

Sir Mix-a-Lot | 1992

While watching a Budweiser commercial during the Super Bowl, Sir Mix-a-Lot thought the skinny female models in the ad didn’t represent reality. So he wrote this ode to ample bottoms, featuring its famous to-the-point lyric: “I like big butts and I cannot lie.” MTV banished the video, featuring shaking booties and sexually suggestive fruit, to 9 p.m. or later. “I thought my career was over,” he told Rolling Stone. “Then I called Rick Rubin, and I told him the video was banned, and he was like, 'Great!' We sold another 2 million records.”

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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