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song reviews

Taylor Swift

"Sweeter Than Fiction"

7

Swift does a whirlwind tour of the prom scene in every John Hughes movie, crushing all their highlights into one Eighties-style synth-pop tune. Written for the soundtrack of the film One Chance, about an opera singer, it's her collaboration with fun.'s Jack Antonoff – who throws in a delightful guitar solo straight from Fleetwood Mac's "Gypsy." | More »

Disclosure

"Apollo"

6

This electronic brother duo from the U.K. usually go in for body-jackin' garage beats. Here, they try something even more basic: a straight-up main-room house banger with menacing synths and gauzy vocal samples. It's well made, but the no-frills beat doesn't quite have the duo's usual pumping zing. | More »

Eric Church

"The Outsiders"

7

The nominal country singer behind "Springsteen" and "Homeboy" doubles down on his hard-rock/hip-hop fixations with a song that opens on an unfuckwithable snarl-rap, ramps into a high-lonesome stadium chorus over a Southern-rock stomp, then feigns a Black Keys garage skronk before barreling into a prog-metal capper. As cultural ambassadorship goes, he could teach Brad Paisley a thing or two. | More »

Warpaint

"Love Is to Die"

7

Teased in a recent ad for Calvin Klein, this is an unnervingly sexy death-wish weave of droning guitar shimmer, abstract typing-pool rhythms and the salt-caramel-goth harmonies of Theresa Wayman and Jenny Lee Lindberg. Produced by Flood, mixed by Nigel Godrich, it suggests the L.A. quartet's second LP, due in 2014, just may be a killer. | More »

October 23, 2013

TLC

"Meant to Be"

5

The third TLC-greatest-hits album since the death of the goddess Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes comes with this new Ne-Yo-penned track, which recalls the lilting prettiness and the sweet realism of the group's finest moments, minus the crazysexy drive that made their legend. Like a lot of music today, it's sort of like the Nineties, just not as fun. | More »

David Bowie

"Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy for the DFA)"

7

James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem unretired from remixing to make this bold 10-minute "Hello Steve Reich Mix" of Bowie's "Love Is Lost." He starts with halting hand claps (inspired by Reich) and prolongs a disjointed mood in the first half, until the keyboard hook from Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes" cues the drop of a minimalist groove that's blue, blue, electric blue. Murphy's coup is to ship Bowie back to Berlin. | More »

Deadmau5 and Jonathan Doyon

"Suckfest9001"

6

Joel Zimmerman and his rodent headpiece can be predictably commercial. But this buzzing electro-house jam breaks into a cool, extended trance build-up before the intro riff zooms back in around the five-minute mark – an unexpected move on first hearing that remains welcome each time after. | More »

Skrillex and Alvin Risk

"Try It Out (Try Harder Mix)"

7

American dubstep's biggest star teams up with D.C. up-and-comer Risk for a thrilling night drive through a neon city. The skidding FX and slam-dunk bass aren't surprising, but the way they leaven it with chilly keyboards gives it both craft and staying power. | More »

Paris Hilton feat. Lil Wayne

"Good Time"

3

No needless disrespect to Hilton, who has put out listenable and even enjoyable music in the past, but rave-by-numbers tracks like this are often the reason pop music gets a bad rap to begin with. Worst off, sadly, is Wayne, a rapper who once had everything to lose. | More »

October 10, 2013

Jake Bugg

"Slumville Sunrise"

8

A rockabilly burner from the new sheriff of Nottingham about a long, painful night in a town he loathes. By verse two: "My face upon the concrete/The dirt is in my mouth." Yet he still makes it sound like a victory.    | More »

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Song Stories

“Stillness Is the Move”

Dirty Projectors | 2009

A Wim Wenders film and a rapper inspired the Dirty Projectors duo David Longstreth and Amber Coffmanto write "sort of a love song." "We rented the movie Wings of Desire from Dave's brother's recommendation, and he had me go through it and just write down some things that I found interesting, and they made it into the song," Coffman said. As for the hip-hop connection, Longstreth explained, "The beat is based on T-Pain. We commissioned a radio mix of the song by the guy who mixes all of Timbaland's records, but the mix we made sounded way better, so we didn't use it."

More Song Stories entries »
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