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song reviews

Incubus

"Adolescents"

5

Five years after their last album, Incubus are still smoothing and softening the tantrum edge of what used to be called new metal, and still doing it pretty skillfully. The churning guitars here give arena emo an arty gloss. Listen to Incubus' "Adolescents":  Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

May 18, 2011

Jai Paul

"BTSTU (edit)"

7

"Don't fuck with me," coos this 22-year-old in a parched Smokey Robinson falsetto, until a dirty, throbbing synth pulse sweeps in, rendering more nuanced emotion unintelligible. It's the first single from a U.K. laptop-rocking soulman (see: James Blake) whose forthcoming LP should melt both hearts and brains. Listen to Jai Paul's "BTSTU (edit)": Gallery: The Week's Hottest Live Shots | More »

May 16, 2011

Bad Meets Evil

"Fast Lane"

7

"I hope that I don't sound too heinous when I say this, Nicki Minaj/But I wanna stick my pain-us in your anus," Eminem rhymes on "Fast Lane." Oh, please, Em, you've been way ­heinouser before. And, in fact, the track - the first single from Bad Meets Evil, the newly revived duo with his Detroit pal Royce da 5'9" - is fired by mic-ninja rap attack, not jaundiced shock tactics. Eminem kicks it 1999-style, reconnecting with the hungry young lunatic who sounded like he only had... | More »

May 12, 2011

Britney Spears feat. Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha

“Till the World Ends (The Femme Fatale Remix)”

8

Britney's kinkiest and trippiest single since "Toxic," if not ever, becomes a trash-disco Yalta. Co-writer Ke$ha drawls over the slowed-down sleaze-bot groove. But Minaj makes it a keeper; she sneers, "I ain't talking poultry when I say this chicken's friiiiied," as synthesized fowl cluck along, summing up this remix's wild humor. Listen to Britney Spears feat. Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha, "Till the World Ends (The Femme Fatale Remix)": Britney Spears' Life... | More »

May 10, 2011

Miley Cyrus

"Smells Like Teen Spirit (Live)"

4

Performed in Ecuador (born for the Internet), this embodies the kind of slimy pop serendipity that would make Kurt laugh, and then cry, and then laugh again (then sleep, probably). Miley may have the least Cobain-ian vision of teen spirit ever. But she rides it like a demon steed straight to karaoke hell. Listen to Miley Cirus' "Smells Like Teen Spirit (Live)": The 12 Most Unlikely Covers of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' | More »

May 6, 2011

Young Jeezy feat. Lil Wayne

"Ballin'"

7

Jeezy's last album was called The Recession. On his new single, the recovery is in full swing: "I'm on them Diddys, spendin' dirty money," he raps over a razor-sharp beat. Not to be out-balled, Weezy offers, "So many cars, I'm like, 'Eenie-meenie-minie-moe'/So many colors in the diamonds, kaleidoscope." Listen to "Ballin'": Gallery: The Week's Hottest Live Shots | More »

May 4, 2011

Santigold feat. Karen O

"Go"

7

Hipster siren Santigold has said her new single is about "the new American Dream." If said dream includes Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O getting her Interplanetary Warrior Priestess on over an electro-punk track you can jump-rope to, then America must be doing just fine. Listen to "Go": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

May 2, 2011

Pitbull

"Give Me Everything"

6

Miami rapper Pitbull gets a long way on intensity, chomping down on songs like chew toys. On "Give Me Everything," a Black Eyed Peas-like club-pop cut with a plaintive Ne-Yo chorus, he spits silly rhymes ("If you slip, I'm gonna fall on top of your girl") with five times more conviction than they deserve. Listen to "Give Me Everything": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

April 29, 2011

Cults

"Abducted"

6

This buzzy New York duo take Sixties girl-group pop sounds and wash them out in haunting reverb. Singers Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin sound extra-ghostly on this sugary ode to lost love, trading eerily happy verses about kidnapped hearts. Listen to "Abducted": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

April 27, 2011

Beyonce

"Run the World (Girls)"

7

From "Independent Women" to "Single Ladies," girl power has long been Beyoncé's Topic A, and "Run the World (Girls)" is a blistering return to the theme. She forsakes fashionable sounds — no Eurodisco synths! — to belt over Diplo and Switch's ferocious dancehall beat. The message is party-hearty feminism. But with Gaga, Britney, Katy, Rihanna and Taylor all vying to be the queen of pop, you can bet B isn't looking to share the throne. Listen to "Run the Worl... | More »

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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."

More Song Stories entries »
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