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Song Stories

“The Letter”

The Box Tops | 1967

On the first run-through, 16-year-old Box Tops frontman Alex Chilton sang this soon-to-be Number One hit "really softly," he later recalled. "The producer came out and said, 'No, man, you gotta sing it hard. Don't be afraid of the microphone.'" Producer Dan Penn then demonstrated, belting out the song, and Chilton followed suit, nailing it. Penn remembers the session differently: "Everybody thinks I coaxed Alex into doing a lot of vocal tricks, but it's not true -- he just had it. The only thing I ever told that young man to do was sing 'aeroplane' instead of 'airplane.' I was just tryin' to make it flow better."

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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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