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Song Stories

“Mr. Peterson”

Perfume Genius | 2010

Learning, the debut album by Mike Hadreas, a.k.a. Perfume Genius, was filled with personal dirges, including an eponymous song about smoking weed with a high school educator named Mr. Peterson, who later committed suicide. "It is about a teacher I had in freshman year," Hadreas said. "I hadn't thought about what went down for a while. I hadn't thought about a f---ing actual thing in a while. But I got flooded, that song came out." Despite extracting from his real-life experiences, Hadreas said, "to word-by-word take everything literally, I'd suppose would be a mistake."

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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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