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Song Stories

“Sail Away”

Randy Newman | 1972

At first blush, “Sail Away” sounds like a love song. But a closer listen to the haunting piano ballad reveals it to be a slave trader’s sales pitch to Africans for life in America, with the cruel irony being that none of his promises prove to be even remotely true. Newman told Rolling Stone this kind of bait and switch is his M.O. "One thing with my music," he said, "you can’t sit and eat potato chips, and have it on in the background at a party."

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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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