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song reviews

Jenny Lewis

"Just One of the Guys"

6

The former Rilo Kiley singer leaves the boys' club behind in this lushly textured rocker produced by Beck. Lewis' anxious melodies and witty, cutting lyrics about her biological clock mark a welcome return for indie's queen of ennui. | More »

Devonté Hynes

"April's Bathroom Bummer"

7

Best known for his work as Blood Orange, Hynes is a sighing one-man band on this melancholy excerpt from his score to Palo Alto. The track's a downer, but a few hopeful piano chords make it a beautiful bummer. | More »

May 15, 2014

Lil Wayne feat. Drake

"Believe Me"

6

Lil Wayne says the upcoming Tha Carter V may be our last chance to kiss his ring, so it's great that "Believe Me" evokes his classic years. Over a creeping beat from Vinylz and Boi-1da, Drake references platinum brands from One Direction to Rolex, while Weezy pops off: "I'll fire this Nina like it's her first day on the job and the bitch overslept."   | More »

First Aid Kit

"Cedar Lane"

7

This Swedish sister duo have come a long way from their days covering Fleet Foxes on YouTube, and this single from the upcoming Stay Gold is worthy of its own online worship. A rueful melody played by members of the Omaha Symphony Orchestra drives the track; the sisters' wrenching harmonies grab your attention from the first note and never give it back. | More »

Judas Priest

"Redeemer of Souls"

8

With their sci-fi rock opera Nostradamus behind them, the heavy-metal firebrands return to their roots with a song about a diamond-eyed biker screaming for vengeance in the sky. Galloping riffs, dueling solos and Rob Halford's battle shrieks make it classic Priest at its metal core. | More »

Usher

"Good Kisser"

5

A woman who gets lipstick on Usher's leg and is up at 5 a.m. to fix him steak and eggs deserves something more than this half-mast funk-soul jam. It's like watching a guy rev his engine for five minutes and never leave the driveway. | More »

Dionne Warwick feat. Ne-Yo

"A House Is Not A Home"

4

Fifty years after Warwick first belted this schmaltzy heartbreak song, she's teamed with Ne-Yo to recut it as a smoother, jazzier ballad. Although a bass groove and Ne-Yo's vocal quivering make it sound modern, they've also polished away its fundamental sadness. | More »

Tori Amos

"16 Shades of Blue"

7

Amos gets proper credit as a drama-pop master (young soul-spillers from Perfect Pussy to Lorde owe her a debt), but she's often underrated as a sonic pathfinder. Here she marries twitchy, low-key electronic burble with confessional piano massaging for a subtle, intense song about the way good art (Cezanne, specifically) can beat bad times. | More »

May 2, 2014

Prince

"The Breakdown"

7

Prince just signed a new deal with Warner Bros., the label on which he made his classic Eighties albums before acrimoniously leaving to release his music on his own. "The Breakdown," a glam-slam of a lush funk ballad, seems to inaugurate a new era by looking backward with a contrition that's rare for him. "Give me back the time/You can keep the memories," he sings, perhaps clearing the air for that comeback blowout we've always hoped he's still got in him. | More »

Mastodon

"High Road"

6

If you were praying for the complicated sludge thunder of Mastodon's early albums to return on their upcoming Once More 'Round the Sun, well, that ain't happening, hesher. This single has more in common with the tighter, punchier metal of 2011's The Hunter: straightforward drumming and a sung chorus, but plenty of riff chunk and fist pump to go around. | More »

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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."

More Song Stories entries »
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