song reviews

'Glee' Cast

"Loser Like Me"


Click to listen to Glee's "Loser Like Me" For their first foray into original music, the producers of Glee didn't exactly go out on a limb: They hired Swedish songwriting genius Max Martin, the most reliable and prolific hitmaker of the last decade and a half. The results are predictably fizzy: a fiendishly catchy verse with a hopped-up beat and pop-funk chicken-scratch guitars, followed by an even catchier singsong chorus. The lyric, belted out with bright-sided earnestness by Lea... | More »

February 24, 2011

TV on the Radio

"Will Do"


The first single from TV on the Radio's fifth album is a relatively straightforward declaration of heartache from some cerebral artistes – and one of the band's prettiest songs ever. "Will Do" wraps Tunde Adebimpe's falsetto in fuzzy synths, atonal guitars and chamber-group strings, as he pledges his heart to someone who won't be returning the favor any time soon. "I'll be there to take care of you if ever you should decide that you don't want to waste your... | More »

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart



The jangly rockers pump themselves into shoegazing superheroes on the title track of their new LP. Credit for the tidal-wave guitars is partly due to the production team of Flood and Alan Moulder, who recall the latter's own work with My Bloody Valentine. Hail the Nineties revival! Listen to "Belong": The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Belong by Slumberland Records | More »

February 23, 2011

Foo Fighters



Click to listen to the Foo Fighters' "Rope" The Foos went for a stripped down, return-to-basics approach on their forthcoming seventh album, Wasting Light (recorded with Butch Vig in Dave Grohl's garage). The first single rides lower to the ground that the usual Foos anthem, especially during the gnarled-guitar fire-fight at the end, without undercutting the modern-rock heroism that's become one of the few reliable guitar-based brands on contemporary radio. Grohl's the la... | More »

February 22, 2011

Das Racist



Six heavy-lidded minutes of Bollywood-steeped wisecracking from Brooklyn's reigning rap ironists. They reference Marxist theorist Slavoj Žižek as casually as most rappers reference cheeba. They also reference cheeba. Listen to "Swate":   The 50 Best Songs of 2010: Das Racist, "hahahaha jk?" | More »

Erykah Badu

"Gone Baby, Don't Be Long"


Director Flying Lotus creates an alien landscape where Badu fits in just fine. Watching the soul queen's visage glide around a trippy animated spaceship is nearly as hypnotic as listening to the breezily funked-out music. Listen to "Gone Baby, Don't Be Long": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

February 18, 2011

Paul Simon

"The Afterlife"


The narrative wit is sharp on the second track from Paul Simon's forthcoming So Beautiful or So What (due in April): Some dude gets to heaven, fills out forms, waits in line, and tries, unsuccessfully, to mack on some girl. And when it comes time to explain his mortal life to the Almighty, he can only splutter rock & roll gibberish. "Lord, is it 'be bop a lula'?" the unnamed sap implores. "Or 'ooo papa doo'?" Packed with internal rhymes, Simon's verses flow l... | More »

February 17, 2011

Ashlyne Huff

"White Flag"


Click to Listen to Ashlyne Huff's "White Flag" A young-love melodrama in three-and-a-half minutes, courtesy of Nashville-bred pop singer Ashlyne Huff: Boy meets girl; Girl isn't into boy; Boy stalks girl; Girl "throws her white flag in the air" and decides boy isn't so bad after all. The pounding synths sound suspiciously like "California Gurls," but with Huff tossing out hooks in her Miley-esque Tennessee drawl, it's no biggie. Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest... | More »

February 11, 2011

Lady Gaga

"Born This Way"


Click to listen to Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" "Don't be a drag/Just be a queen," Lady Gaga chants in this instant-classic club anthem, over the Eurodisco beats of producers Fernando Garibay and DJ White Shadow. She shouts to the gays, lesbians, bis, disabled, and monsters of all races, with the hilariously dippy line: "You're black, white, beige, chola descent/You're Lebanese, you're Orient!" Gallery: Lady Gaga's Best Looks Despite the obvious tip of the cap ... | More »

February 9, 2011

Fleet Foxes

"Helplessness Blues"


The first fruit (and title track) from Helplessness Blues, the Seattle folk-rockers' upcoming second album, this begins with frontman Robin Pecknold sounding like a troubled Joni Mitchell and ends with him sounding like a utopian Graham Nash. Pecknold wrestles with life's meaning over vigorous acoustic strumming before excusing himself: "I'll get back to you someday soon," he keens, "you will see." Near the three-minute mark, those trademark harmonies explode amid electric guit... | More »

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Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

More Song Stories entries »