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Song Stories

“Blank Generation”

Richard Hell | 1977

When Richard Hell came up with verses for "Blank Generation," he certainly didn’t know he was creating a slogan and an anthem for a movement, nor did he bank on the Sex Pistols nicking his idea for their own "Pretty Vacant." Hell says he was "pretty p---ed off” when he first heard the Pistols song, pointing the finger at the punk provocateurs' manager and mastermind: “Malcolm MacLaren had stolen that whole attitude from 'Blank Generation.' But ideas are free property," Hell said. "I stole s---, too." Good thing he owned up to his own theft, as much of "Blank Generation" bears a more-than-coincidental resemblance to "The Beat Generation," a 1959 novelty single recorded by poet Rod McKuen.

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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