song reviews


"Distant Lights"


Click here to listen to Ivy's Distant Lights New York pop trio Ivy make melancholy sound chic. This new single is typically seductive: sleek beat, wistful melody and a vaguely noirish scene set by Dominique Durand in a voice pitched halfway between a coo and a sigh. Gallery: The Week's Hottest Live Shots | More »

Limp Bizkit



The new jizz-oint from Bizkit's first disc in six years clings defiantly to the frat-tastic funk of circa-1999 rap rock — complete with "a shout to you ladies with the hot tits." So, welcome back Fred Durst, a 40-year-old man who still says "tits." Listen to "Shotgun": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

June 3, 2011


"Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall"


Chris Martin says Coldplay's upcoming album is influenced by old-school New York graffiti, and in a recent photo the bandmates are dressed in neon chillwear like they just walked off the set of Breakin' 3: A Brit-Pop Odyssey. But the first single doesn't go for the sound of early hip-hop so much as its sense of year-zero possibility. Over a rave-tinged keyboard melody, leavened by producer Brian Eno's rainforest-of-the-soul ambience, Martin sings of kids dancing until morn... | More »

Lil Wayne

"How to Love"


How to love? Lil Wayne has a theory. You grab an acoustic guitar. You toss in some strings. You rap a little, sing a little, whisper sweet nothings: "I admire your poppin' bottles and dippin'/Just as much as you admire bartendin' and strippin'." This Tha Carter IV single is a casual ground-breaker – the gentlest, most melodic rap ballad since LL Cool J's "I Need Love." Wayne sings prettily – though he uses Auto-Tune, he doesn't sound like the cyborg W... | More »

Romeo Santos



Romeo Santos — who, in Aventura, fronted the world's most popular Latin band — is a ladykiller with an unearthly falsetto that recalls Aaron Neville's. His debut solo single blends Dominican bachata with R&B — plus coos and come-ons in Spanish and English — with predictably suave results. Listen to "You": Gallery: The Week's Hottest Live Shots | More »

June 2, 2011




The fuzz-rock revivalists slow down for a pretty, poppy ballad about nursing a broken heart by getting stoned. "Milk­shake," released as half of a one-off single, probably would have been all over the radio 20 years ago - and the melody is so sticky-sweet that you almost feel like it could do the same today. Listen to "Milkshake": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

June 1, 2011

Arctic Monkeys

"Reckless Serenade"


Over a "Sweet Jane" bass line, Alex Turner sings the praises of a girl so awesome that "topless models doing semaphore wave their flags as she walks by and get ignored." Sounds like a catch! The slinky surf-guitar melody is pretty fetching too. Listen to "Reckless Serenade": Gallery: The Week's Hottest Live Shots | More »

May 31, 2011

DJ Khaled feat. Drake, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne

"I'm On One"


The credits make this sound like a posse cut, but it's unmistakably Drake's party. Over fidgety synths as cold as Toronto in January, he croons about fame's rewards and kvetches about its annoyances ("All that hype don't feel the same next year, boy") - a serviceable stopgap till his next LP. The others keep it brief: Ross makes gangsta clichés sound improbably cool, Weezy fires off half-asleep punch lines and Khaled bellows his name once before vanishing. Lis... | More »

May 26, 2011

Reeve Carney feat. Bono and the Edge

"Rise Above 1"


Amid the all many disasters that beset the Broadway version of Spider-Man, Bono and the Edge's songs emerge pretty much unscathed by critics. Now that the show has been revised and restaged, this centerpiece anthem of struggle over adversity may become a metaphor for its slog towards redemption. "Rise Above" is a trademark soaring U2 ballad, with  the elegant grandeur cranked up to Andrew Lloyd Weber levels. But show tunes need big voices too, and, singing next to Bono on this versi... | More »

May 25, 2011

Steven Tyler

"(It) Feels So Good"


Steven Tyler's first official solo single has his doofiest parenthesis-abusing title since "Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)." He uses an Aerosmith-style guitar riff and some chintzy synth drums, but he can't shape them into anything resembling an Aero­smith song – it sounds more like late-period Genesis, circa "I Can't Dance." Even when he honks a harmonica, it's impossible not to notice how offensively wussy the guitars are. "(It) Feels So Good" ends up s... | More »

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Song Stories


The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

More Song Stories entries »