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Song Stories

“We R Who We R”

Ke$ha | 2010

Though the first single off her second EP is a synth-fueled party starter, Ke$ha revealed that the song is a response to a slew of news-making teen suicides (like that of Tyler Clementi, a gay college freshman whose roommate humiliated him by spying on him in his dorm room with a webcam). "I was really affected by the suicides … having been subject to public hatred [myself]," the pop singer told Rolling Stone. "Things do get better and you need to celebrate who you are." She calls this track an "anthem for weirdos," giving it the chorus-cum-rallying-cry: "Tonight we're going hard/Just like the world is ours/We're tearin' it apart/You know we're superstars/We are who we are."

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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