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Song Stories

“The Great Pretender”

The Platters | 1955

Heirs to the smooth crooning style of the Ink Spots and the Mills Brothers, the Platters were kings of the 1950s ballad. Tony Williams had tonsillitis when he sang the lead vocal to this smash, bringing additional rawness to his delivery of the forlorn lyric. After battling Dean Martin's "Memories Are Made of This" and Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons" up the pop charts, "Pretender" becoming the first single by an R&B group to hit Number One. And unlike so many of the popular singing groups of that time, this one featured a woman, Zola Taylor, in the vocal mix. The song had a comeback in 1987 when Freddie Mercury released a solo album with this song as the lead and title track.

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Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

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