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Song Stories

“Cry Me a River”

Justin Timberlake | 2002

This breakup aria marked the formation of the Timberlake-Timbaland team, and its scandalous video — in which Justin stalks an actress dressed to look like Britney Spears, with whom he had just ended a three-year relationship — made clear the inspiration for “River.” “It's a good-ass video,” Justin Timberlake told Rolling Stone. “I didn't want anyone to come off smelling like roses.” A year later, Britney wrote and recorded her response to JT — the apologetic ballad “Everytime.”

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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