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song reviews

Teddybears feat. the Flaming Lips

"Crystal Meth Christian"

7

Swedish beatmasters (and Robyn producers) cook up warm, gurgling funk while the Lips' Wayne Coyne gets nasty, telling the titular Christian, "You take a diamond and make it sand." | More »

August 19, 2010

Antony and the Johnsons

"Imagine"

7

"Imagine there's no heaven/It was easy when I tried," sings Antony in his startling warble, reshaping John Lennon's melody amid spare guitars. Then he sends that falsetto "you" into the sky like a white dove. An unlikely, gorgeous reinvention. | More »

August 18, 2010

Ice Cube

"Drink the Kool-Aid"

6

In the video, Cube wears a T-shirt with a gangsta-fied Kool-Aid smiley face — a great metaphor for his journey from N.W.A to TBS. The gutbucket beat is crackin', but Cube wastes time dissing "young bucks" who might step up to him on the mic. That's beneath his stature. | More »

August 17, 2010

Jerry Lee Lewis

"Mean Old Man"

8

Kris Kristofferson sang the original version of this country stomper, but its hard-edged crankiness is pure Jerry Lee. "If I look like a voodoo doll . . . who'd rather bite you back than crawl, that's what I am," Lewis snarls on the single, the first from his upcoming album, Mean Old Man. Amid an intense beat and slide guitar from the Stones' Ronnie Wood, the 74-year-old's voice is in prime form — pitch-perfect and tough as nails. Never has "Get off my lawn!" sounded thi... | More »

August 16, 2010

Kanye West feat. Beyonce and Charlie Wilson

"See Me Now"

7

"I'm Socrates, but my skin more chocolaty," shouts Kanye, who goes on to detail several feats of attention-whore behavior — cruising in Ferraris, rocking fur coats, walking into high-end restaurants with no shoes on. But the sound is remarkably warm, a gospel-style mix of heartfelt crooning (from Beyoncé and ex-Gap Band singer Charlie Wilson) and plush accompaniment that's perfect for worshipping at the altar of Yeezy. | More »

August 12, 2010

Weezer

"Memories"

6

It's odd how Rivers Cuomo and Eminem always seem to drop new records at the same time. They both represent a lost golden era to their fanboy cult, and they get knee-jerk hostility from the same Stans who wildly overrated them 10 years ago. But the rest of the world still likes them as much as ever. "Memories," the first single from the forthcoming Hurley, is a clever goof that skewers the Weezer cult by making fun of Nineties nostalgia. Over a chugging groove built on synths and power ch... | More »

Soundgarden

"Black Rain"

8

Cut in 1991 but never released (it'll be on Soundgarden's forthcoming best-of), this grunge nugget finds Chris Cornell rocking like Sammy Hagar on a three-state killing spree. Obscure demo? No way — this burns as much flannel as anything in their canon. | More »

August 11, 2010

Taylor Swift

"Mine"

8

Yes, we know: It's tough watching the kids grow up. And here's Taylor Swift, once the voice of heartbroken fifteen year olds everywhere now singing about living in sin with a college dude, imagining "a drawer of my things" at his crib while her dude assures her "we'll never make my parents' mistakes." (Uh-huh.) Sure, it's formula: spare, acoustic guitar-driven opening; big fat chorus; lyrical perspective-shift, from hers to his, for the feel-good final verse. But it&#... | More »

August 10, 2010

Menomena

"Taos"

8

"Show me your teeth, I'll show mine," Menomena's Justin Harris yelps in this blues-rock epic. The Portland, Oregon, trio fulfill their end of the taunt, clamoring like the Black Keys if they had recruited an angry sax player. | More »

August 9, 2010

Bryan Ferry

"You Can Dance"

6

As the former frontman of Roxy Music, this arch romantic sets a mighty high bar. He doesn't reach it on this slow-grinding single, but the layered guitars and Ferry's suave croon make for an elegant celebration of sexual tension. | More »

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Song Stories

“Promiscuous”

Nelly Furtado with Timbaland | 2006

This club-oriented single featuring Timbaland, who produced Nelly Furtado's third album, Loose, was Furtado’s sexy return after the Canadian singer's exploration of her Portuguese heritage on Folklore. "In the studio, initially I didn’t know if I could do it, 'cause Timbaland wrote that chorus," Furtado said. "I'm like, 'That's cool, but I don't know if I'm ready to do full-out club.'" The flirty lyrics are a dance between a guy and girl, each knowing they will end up in bed together but still playing the game. "Tim and I called it 'The BlackBerry Song,' she said, "because everything we say in the song you could text-message to somebody."

More Song Stories entries »
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