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song reviews

Chrissie Hynde

"Dark Sunglasses"

7

After 35 years fronting the Pretenders, Hynde is releasing her first solo album, Stockholm, produced by Bjorn Yttling of Swedish outfit Peter, Bjorn and John. Its cutting, springy first single is about people trading it in for wealth and status – the opposite of Hynde, who's still a pure-of-heart rock & roll crank. | More »

Drake

"Draft Day"

7

Drake's latest statement-of-Drakeness casually big-ups his sports bros Johnny Manziel and Andrew Wiggins over a dreamy sample of Lauryn Hill's "Doo Wop (That Thing)," then drops a little Jennifer Lawrence fan fic: "On some Hunger Games shit/I would die for my district." It's baller brio with a characteristic light touch. May the odds be ever in your favor, son! | More »

Sam Smith

"Stay With Me"

6

The British crooner du jour opens this slow-burn, piano-soul monster with "'Cause it's true, I'm not good at a one-night stand" like he knows the line is money in the bank (which, c'mon, it is). Then the gospel choir backs him up like it's Memphis '67. If ninth-graders still made mixtapes for their crushes, this would be on all of them. | More »

March 20, 2014

Frank Ocean, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Diplo

"Hero"

7

The cross-generational collaboration – part of a Converse ad campaign – throws Clash vets Simonon and Jones together with omnidirectional beatmaker Diplo and R&B rebel Ocean. It's every bit the punky hip-hop party you'd expect, with spacey dub energy and a children's choir adding uplift. How about an EP, guys? | More »

Big Boi

"Mother of Dragons"

4

Big Boi goes full Game of Thrones fanboy on the HBO-helmed Catch the Throne mixtape, with references to Khaleesi, White Walkers and the Lannisters in 22 bars. There's some dragon-size bass, but Sir Luscious Left Foot's wordplay feels more like live-action role-playing in a 25-minute ad. | More »

Tame Impala

"Stranger in Moscow"

4

 You might expect these Aussie acidheads to turn a Michael Jackson cover into a trippy rock fantasia. Instead, it's an oddly faithful rendition of MJ's chill trip-hop groove – the kind of pleasant karaoke jam you forget by the next morning. | More »

Boots

"Howl"

Producer Jordy Asher (a.k.a. Boots) got the divine stamp of approval with his work on Beyoncé. The beat on this solo release – a symphony of wobbling synths, layered moans and crosscutting rhythm crack – is another fly résumé-builder. Asher, a recovering indie-pop singer, doesn't quite have the vocal thrust it demands. But that's what gods are for.   | More »

Lily Allen

"Our Time"

6

The handful of tracks that Allen has released off her upcoming Sheezus so far have set online comment sections ablaze with accusations of racism, sexism and general tastelessness. This swaying girls-night anthem should take some of the heat off: There's no cheeky social commentary, just sweet, hooky synth pop.   | More »

March 7, 2014

Coldplay

"Magic"

6

Coldplay's new single skates close to the wintry post-dubstep soulfulness coursing through much of U.K. pop these days: A skeletal beat carries the weight before the guitars kick in and Chris Martin goes from mushmouth croon to cathartic woowoo. They've released another song, "Midnight," where they go all-in with the Eeyore EDM, and their new album (due out in May) is called Ghost Stories. Sadplay, anyone? | More »

Pitbull feat. G.R.L.

"Wild Wild Love"

5

This Dr. Luke-produced cut continues Pitbull's chart-domination campaign, complete with hooks sung by a girl group newer than some of the food in your freezer. When the Miami MC shouts 'em out at the end ("G.R.L./What better than five beautiful women?"), even he doesn't sound entirely sure who they are. | 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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