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song reviews

Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris

"We Found Love"

4

The first release from Rihanna's as-yet-untitled sixth LP is much ado about very little indeed. Scottish Euro-dance specialist Calvin Harris tosses pumped-up synths and 4/4 beats at an insipid tune and half-baked romantic catch-phrase - "We found love in a hopeless place" - which RiRi repeats approximately 350 times, hoping it will start to mean something. It's the worst single of Rihanna’s career. It will probably top the Hot 100 anyway. Listen to "W... | More »

Dev

"In The Dark"

6

This California electrohop diva is known for her slithering monotone on Far East Movement's "Like a G6." Here, Dev speak-sings about her sex drive over a Nineties Latin house beat like a top-shelf version of Ke$ha – seductive, not sleazy. Listen to "In The Dark": Related• Photos: The Week's Hottest Live Shots | More »

September 23, 2011

Lana Del Rey

"Video Games"

6

With her self-described "gangster Nancy Sinatra" look and crackedactress name, Lana Del Rey has a burnt mystique that's almost as striking as her debut single's torpid majesty. Del Rey (real name Lizzy Grant) stretches her sloshed-succubus pout over an orchestral track somewhere between Cat Power and Fiona Apple, as she evokes a jobless afternoon of cheap, lazy splendor: "Kissing in the blue dark/Playing pool and wild darts/Video games?" The beautifully washed-out video only adds to... | More »

September 22, 2011

Daft Punk

"Drive"

6

If Daft Punk are the Beatles of dance music, then this lost 1994 nugget – from a new compilation celebrating Scottish label Soma's 20th birthday – is their Cavern Club: all adrenaline, sweat and raw aggression. (Their Pete Best? A vintage Roland 909 drum machine, duh.) Don't expect any glitter-caked disco samples, though. Three years before their breakthrough LP, Homework (and way before the robot costumes and psychedelic pyramids), Daft Punk specialized in twisted, brut... | More »

September 21, 2011

MGMT

"All We Ever Wanted Was Everything"

7

For their version of this aching, uncharacteristically folksy ballad by post-punk goths Bauhaus, MGMT stir in enough dubby echo and effects to give it their own woozy imprimatur. Gloom becomes psychedelic sparkle, as is their way. Listen to "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything": Related• Photos: MGMT and More at Outside Lands 2011 | More »

September 20, 2011

Childish Gambino

"Bonfire"

6

Donald Glover would like you to start taking him seriously as a rapper. On his new single, the Community star reels off cheeky one-liners, mostly about how often he gets laid. His flow shamelessly mimics Lil Wayne's, but then again, it's been a while since Weezy sounded this hungry. Listen to "Bonfire": Related• Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

September 19, 2011

Drake feat. Rick Ross

Free Spirit

8

Drake's latest is an irresistible sleaze-rap about the rapper’s obsession with, well, tattooing his name on a young lady’s body. The beat is appropriately moody and louche. (Dig that sax sample!) As for Rick Ross, his peccadilloes are even kinkier than Drake's: "I fondle the money, fornicate with a fortune." Listen to "Free Spirit": Related• Fall Music Preview: The Season's Hottest Albums | More »

September 13, 2011

Blink-182

"After Midnight"

7

Older, possibly wiser and presumably more fully clothed, the torchbearers of the early-'00s pop-punk boom have returned with their knack for tunesmithery intact. The second single from Blink-182's sixth LP, Neighborhoods – the first was the sweeping "Up All Night" – is a melancholy confession about partying too hard: "We'll stagger home after midnight/Sleep on and on in the stairwell/We'll fall apart on the weekend." The midtempo ballad is a bit on the stolid s... | More »

Noel Gallagher

"AKA...What A Life!"

7

The Oasis bro's latest solo tune is a piano-driven dance rocker that sounds a little like Coldplay, who now wear the Brit-pop crown that Oasis first forged. But there's more ecstasy than melodrama here, which bodes well for his LP. Here's hoping for a Chemical Brothers remix. Listen to "AKA...What A Life": Related:• Video: 'The Death of You and Me'• Noel Gallagher Admits Lying About Oasis Split | More »

Mary J. Blige

"25/8"

6

Congratulations appear to be in order for Mr. Blige, who, according to Queen Mary's new single, receives not just round-the-clock loving but bonus time too – 25 hours a day, eight days a week. It's goopy stuff, but it's also far more neck-poppin' fun than Beyoncé's "1+1." Listen to "25/8": Related:• Photos: 2011 Essence Music Festival | More »

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

More Song Stories entries »
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