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Song Stories

“Graceland”

Paul Simon | 1986

Paul Simon caused a tremendous stir in 1986, audaciously recording this blend of pop and South African mbaqanga music with South African musicians in their homeland. Some grumbled that he shouldn’t have “supported” the apartheid government then in power, but fans loved the new sound, taking the album to Number Three and pushing the title track into the Top 40. Simon has long been slow in the studio, and the same goes for this song. “The two longest songs on this album were ‘The Boy in the Bubble’ and ‘Graceland,’ ” Simon told Rolling Stone. “It took three or four months to write each of them.”

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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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