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Song Stories

“Go On”

Jack Johnson | 2008

Danny Riley, a cousin of Johnson's wife, was diagnosed with brain cancer while in high school. Some time after graduation, he went to live with Johnson and his family. While attending college in Santa Barbara, Caifornia, he succumbed to the disease at age 19. A year later, Johnson released this song, which juxtaposed coming to grips with Riley's death and watching his own son grow and learn to tread water for the first time. "It's about learning to let go of someone you love," he told Rolling Stone, "watching them swim away."

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Song Stories

“Bleeding Love”

Leona Lewis | 2007

In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

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