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song reviews

John Legend

"Wake Up Everybody"

8

"Wake Up Everybody" turns back the clock in all the right ways: The lead single from Legend's album with the Roots is a sparkling cover of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' 1975 hit. Over string-drenched retro-funk, Legend splashes his ultrawarm croon all over, cool-rocking the pulpit like he owns the church. Guest rapper Common, meanwhile, stays right on message: "Even in this generation livin' through computers/Only love, love, love can reboot us." | More »

August 2, 2010

Robert Plant

"Angel Dance"

7

Plant is a Zen master who has always marched to his own flute. So it's almost fitting that he's forgoing a much-rumored Led Zeppelin reunion tour in order to revive the band he fronted in the mid-Sixties. First time around, Band of Joy were a British blues-rock footnote. Now they're an American roots crew in which Plant shares vocal duties with alt-country star Patty Griffin. The first offering from Plant and Band of Joy's forthcoming album, "Angel Dance" is a bluegrass co... | More »

July 30, 2010

Robyn

"Hang With Me"

6

Robyn's planning to release three albums this year and the first single from the set's second LP proves she's can crank out catchy jams as fast as pop's biggest hitmakers. "Hang With Me" is revamped version of an acoustic track from Body Talk Pt. 1, made even better with the addition of a fierce, club-wrecking beat. "Just don't fall recklessly, heedlessly in love with me," Robyn coos. Too late. | More »

July 29, 2010

Beck

"Summertime"

6

This crunchy blast of blues-rock is for the geeks, the manga-loving nerds, the people whose favorite Beck album is Stereopathetic Soulmanure. Beck goes back to his lo-fi roots for this tune that he wrote under the guise of Sex Bob-omb, Michael Cera's fictional band in the upcoming movie Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Actors overdubbed several Beck-penned songs for the film, but he takes the reins on the soundtrack for this fun reminder of how he once ruled over something called alternative... | More »

July 28, 2010

T.I. feat. Keri Hilson

"Got Your Back"

5

If T.I. left prison and went straight to the 'musement park, got on a rollercoaster with Keri Hilson, and afterwards they ran into DJ Toomp at the caramel apple stand, and all went into the karaoke tent to commandeer the machine and record the spontaneous feeling of that moment, it'd sound like "Got Your Back." T.I. tells "shoady" how to act while her man's locked up, while Keri equates looking "good" with looking "hood" as she pledges her allegiance. Toomp's digitally-lit... | More »

July 26, 2010

Crocodilies

"Sleep Forever"

7

On the new single from these California fuzz-rockers, Crocodiles deliver another serving of bleary-eyed shoegaze, mixing ghostly harmonies that sound like Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers singing from the bottom of a well with the pitch-black scuzz of The Jesus and Mary Chain. "I will love you till the sky above you shatters," croons Charles Rowell on the high-arcing chorus — just before a blast of distortion-drenched guitar that sounds like exactly that. | More »

The Ghost of a Saber-Tooth Tiger

"Jardin Du Luxembourg"

6

"People say your brain is like cream cheese/Takes the shape of anything you please," sing Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl on the debut single from their new band. It's a fitting line for a chirpy psych-rocker — one with a whiff of Papa Lennon's surrealist whimsy. | More »

July 23, 2010

Cee-Lo Green

"No One's Gonna Love You"

8

The Gnarls Barkley belter remains a master of the unexpected on this knockout reinvention of the Band of Horses ballad. Green meets the lyrics' heartbroken drama head-on, transforming country rock into electro R&B and revealing a buried soul classic. | More »

July 22, 2010

Liz Phair

"Bollywood"

2

Is Liz Phair serious? As tabla-laden electro tinkles behind her, Phair tells a tale of music-biz misadventure, "rapping" in a voice that sounds like a soccer mom impersonating Ke$ha. The results are an insult to rappers everywhere, even the terrible ones. | More »

July 21, 2010

Mavis Staples

"You Are Not Alone"

8

Jeff Tweedy produces an album by a gospel-soul legend at Wilco's Chicago headquarters and writes her a couple of songs to boot. An odd pairing? Perhaps. But this first taste, a simple soul-folk tune à la Bill Withers' "Lean on Me," driven by acoustic guitar, celesta and piano, is the sweetest Tweedy song in a while. And Staples — a civil-rights-era front-liner who dated Dylan — sounds, at 71, as inspiring as ever. "Isolated and afraid/Open up, this is a raid," she sings. ... | More »

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Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

More Song Stories entries »
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