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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

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

Tag Team | 1993

Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

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