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Song Stories

“Enter the Ninja”

Die Antwoord | 2010

When the video for "Enter the Ninja" hit the web, the world blinked. The song featured a glowering tattooed MC named Ninja and a tiny angry-eyed blonde name Yo-Landi Vi$$er laying down dance-rap beats in English and Afrikaans while a tiny man afflicted with progeria danced. The self-proclaimed "zef" or white trash band from South Africa was unlike anything else on earth. When asked about their unique sound and look, Ninja explained, "We are the underdog. We are the underbelly. No one had ever presented that. It was something people were shy or scared of—they swept it under the carpet. We made it our thing."

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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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