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Song Stories

“Boom Boom Pow”

Black Eyed Peas | 2009

"Boom Boom Pow" was not a typical lead-off single for the Black-Eyed Peas, but it resonated so strongly with their fans that it became the group's first Number One hit. Filled with digital effects and an electro feel, the song served its purpose well, according to will.i.am. "We could've been like, 'We haven't been out for a while, I just got finished doing this Obama thing -- we need to hit 'em with a little "Where’s the Love,"'" he told Rolling Stone. "But I think we’re supposed to give people an escape instead. Something to make them excited about life and forget the things that haunt them."

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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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