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song reviews

Ray LaMontagne

"Supernova"

7

Nice-guy singer-songwriter LaMontagne cut his new LP with the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, who laces this prim folk-pop come-on with psych-bubblegum guitars and Morse-code keyboard bleats. Auerbach's production turns an upbeat tune into something surprisingly rich without getting in the way of LaMontagne's easeful voice. | More »

Kendrick Lamar

"M.A.A.D City (James Blake Harmonimix)"

7

Electro-mope maestro Blake tacks a Madchester keyboard melody onto Kendrick's tense 2012 cut and folds stuttering drums in and out; suddenly lyrics such as "seem like the whole city go against me" sound like the kind of paranoia you get after too much molly. | More »

Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Tyga

"Senile"

8

This track from Young Money compilation Rise of an Empire is imperious indeed – Minaj brags, "All these rappers is my sons, and I'm always nine months," and Weezy tells us he can "make a lion say, 'Meow.'" Yet it's D.A. Doman's slippery, spooky beat that steals the show, running up your spine with a hot weirdness that can even make Tyga's placeholder rhymes seem like a loopy revelation. | More »

February 21, 2014

Nicki Minaj

"Lookin' Ass"

7

The first taste of Minaj’s album The Pink Print is like if TLC had punctuated "No Scrubs" with a few dozen rounds of machine-gun fire. The beat is all sumptuous minimalism, the lyrics are all vicious hate: "Bunch of non-mogul-ass niggas frontin' like they got a plan/Boost Mobile ass nigga," she blazes, and the Boost Mobile men of the world pack up their little dicks and skulk back to Mom’s basement.    | More »

Bruce Springsteen

"Highway to Hell"

8

In which Bruce and crew run through an AC/DC stone classic with revelatory results. New blood Tom Morello, veteran Nils Lofgren and Springsteen himself all take quick solos, and the Australian audience loses its mind. Never let it be said that Springsteen can't get any crowd anywhere in the world on his side within one perfect riff. | More »

Conor Oberst

"Hundreds of Ways"

7

Mr. Bright Eyes drops country signifiers all over this tune from his first record in three years: Sun Studios slap-back rhythm guitar, lap steel, allusions to Carolina rhinestones and Bakersfield cash. But he isn't aiming for outlaw mystique so much as homey Grateful Dead-like equanimity that's rooted in foggy wisdom and sidelong advice. | More »

Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks

"Little Fang"

7

This track from Animal Collective yelper Tare's latest side project, with its spacey keyboards and off-kilter harmonies, combines all the least-cloying aspects of his main band into one supercatchy cut. The result is still psychedelic, but the comedown is gentler. | More »

Karen O and Ezra Koenig

"Moon Song"

7

This Oscar-nominated acoustic valentine, penned by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O with director Spike Jonze, was pretty cute when Scarlett Johansson sang it in Her. Now it's even cuter: Karen and Koenig of Vampire Weekend bring out the song's full duet poetry, whispering their bliss as if alone in their own lunar love pool. | More »

Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX

"Fancy"

6

Sicker than your average supermodel, Azalea has a licorice-sweet flow on the latest leak from her forever-delayed debut, The New Classic. The Aussie gal deftly handles the ratchet beat while Charli XCX's earworm hook holds it all down. Does it bring '88 back? Well, no. But they can swing on chandeliers with the best of them. | More »

February 7, 2014

Miranda Lambert

"Automatic"

7

Add Nashville's toughest mega-diva to the list of iPhone-hating celebrities that already includes Arcade Fire and Louis C.K. "C'mon, let's take a picture/The kind you gotta shake," she sings on this slow-build remembrance of simpler times. She evokes snail mail and cassettes with the same heart-hitting wistfulness her country elders devoted to farming, and it kills. | 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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