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song reviews

DJ Shadow

"Def Surrounds Us"

7

After secretly planting vinyl copies in record shops across Europe, the master of surreal, sample-drenched electronica drops a digital version of this single, his first in four years. It's a time-warping combo of hand claps, video-game bleeps, Nineties jungle break beats and a slow-mo electric-guitar arpeggio, all unspooling amid snippets of the spoken phrase "Though we are alive, death surrounds us." (Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Brightside!) "I've Been Trying,"... | More »

October 5, 2010

Glasser

"Home"

7

Art-rock gorgeousness from a newcomer to watch: Witchy woman Cameron Mesirow lays wind-swept vocals over a plinking marimba riff, then ups the drama with a flood of synths and an epically pining refrain. RS Album Review: Glasser's Ring | More »

October 4, 2010

Hugo

"99 Problems"

6

Ever wonder what a Robert Plant reworking of Jay-Z's "99 Problems" might sound like? New Roc Nation signee Hugo has the answer. This mystic acoustic number feels a bit like a novelty, but the heavy, banjo-laden production hits hard. Photos: Hip-Hop Royalty: How Jay-Z and Beyonce Run This Town | More »

September 30, 2010

Chromeo feat. Ezra Koenig

"I Could Be Wrong"

7

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 »

Rihanna

"Only Girl (In the World)"

5

"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

Madonna

"Set the Right"

5

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"

7

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"

8

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)"

6

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"

7

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 »

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Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

Tag Team | 1993

Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

More Song Stories entries »
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