song reviews

Chromeo feat. Ezra Koenig

"I Could Be Wrong"


On this magnificently cheesy synth-pop jam, indie rock's reigning Columbia grad (Vampire Weekend's Koenig) duets with electro-funk's reigning Columbia Ph.D. candidate (Chromeo's Dave 1), singing in falsetto about a mind-game-playing hottie. The real scene-stealer, though, is the scorching sax solo at the end. Video: Chromeo at Lollapalooza 2010 | More »


"Only Girl (In the World)"


"Love me like I'm a hot guy," begins Rihanna. Sadly, the rest of the lyrics are less gender-bendingly strange, and the trance beat won't keep you in the club unless someone else is paying for the drinks. Video: Rihanna Sings "Livin' On a Prayer" With Bon Jovi | More »

September 27, 2010


"Set the Right"


A just-surfaced outtake from 2003's American Life, "Set the Right" drops a simple, catchy tune over a blend of folky guitar and austere electronics. Less successful are Madonna's odd delivery (proper British vowels, casual Midwestern r's) and disingenuous claim that she won't take political sides. Photos: Celebrating Madonna: The Queen of Pop's 50 Most Iconic Moments | More »

September 22, 2010

El Guincho

"FM Tan Sexy"


Courtesy of Pablo Díaz-Reixa, a Barcelona resident and rhythm-drunk sample chef, this dance track suggests Animal Collective with a taste for Spanglish R&B. Pop a bottle of Cava for your papi and enjoy. Photos: The Hottest Live Photos of the Week | More »

September 19, 2010

Elton John

"If It Wasn't for Bad"


Russell is an Oklahoma-bred singer who wowed John 40 years ago and later fell off the map. The lead track from their duets album is a wise-cracking lament, with John echoing Russell's distinct nasal twang. The song transitions to an Electric Light Orchestra-style fantasia, before the keyboards take it all back to the chorus. The end result is both masterful and gratifyingly odd. Photos: Random Notes: Justin Timberlake, Elton John, Bono, Gnarls Barkley | More »

September 16, 2010

Kanye West feat. Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz

"Power (Remix)"


A five-and-a-half-minute reimagining of Kanye's fantastic "Power," this remix adds heavier synths, the beat from Snap!'s "The Power" and Jay-Z, who rises to the occasion with clever, strident verses: "We're on that Norman Mailer shit/ In search of the truth even if it goes through Taylor Swift." | More »

September 13, 2010

Mark Ronson feat. Spank Rock and Kyle Falconer

"The Bike Song"


Ronson delivers a breezy summer single just under the wire, pairing loose-limbed funk with a creamy tune about cruising through the city on two wheels — and refusing to grow up. Video: Mark Ronson Previews His Fall LP 'Record Collection' | More »

September 10, 2010

Kanye West

"Devil in a New Dress"


First he apologized to Taylor Swift. Now the contrite-Kanye trend continues on this bit of gorgeously swirling soul. Kanye confesses to being an asshole, then calls himself "the LeBron of rhyme." A year ago that would've been a boast, now it's an ironic wake-up call. Photos: Kanye West's Meltdowns | More »

September 7, 2010

Kings Of Leon



Lesser men than the Kings of Leon might follow up an arena-rock blockbuster like 2008's Only by the Night with a scrappy bid for street cred — something akin to the horny garage rock of their early days, perhaps. But the Followill boys have as much reverence for street cred as they do for wheat beer and William Tecumseh Sherman. The first single from their forthcoming fifth album is a rough beast that loads up on atmospherics without scrimping on ass-shaking potential or big, soulf... | More »

August 23, 2010

Devendra Banhart feat. Beck

"Life During Wartime"


The unearthly theme song for Todd Solondz's latest film of the same name was crafted for its meek social worker protagonist to perform in the middle of the movie. But a better version plays as the credits roll: Banhart sings lead, his L.A. buddy Beck provides harmony, and their arrangement of layered acoustic guitars and shape-shifting electronics are a perfect contrast to Solondz's wry, cranky lyrics: "Why did I roam around on my own," the pair croak. "I should've stayed at ho... | More »

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »