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Song Stories

“Icky Thump”

The White Stripes | 2007

What's an "icky thump"? was the most-asked question upon the earliest airing of the title and lead-off track of from the duo's sixth album. "It's actually 'ecky thump,'" explained Jack White to Rolling Stone, "a Northern English phrase meaning, 'What the heck?'" that he learned from his British-born then-wife, Karen Elson. As a song, it's atypical for the Stripes: Not only does it have a synthesizer, but it also has political heft, confronting America's contentious immigration policies. The Grammy-winning performance also served as a swan song: It was the last time a single by Jack and Meg White as the White Stripes topped the charts.

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Song Stories

“Wake Up Everybody”

John Legend and the Roots | 2010

A Number One record by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes in 1976 (a McFadden- and Whitehead-penned classic sung by Teddy Pendergrass) inspired the title and lead single from Wake Up!, John Legend's tribute album to message music. The more familiar strains of "Wake Up Everybody" also fit his agenda. "It basically sums up, in a very concise way, all the things we were thinking about when we were putting this record together in that it's about justice, doing the right thing and coming together to make the world a better place," he said. Vocalists Common and Melanie Fiona assist Legend on this mission to connect.

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