song reviews

The Flaming Lips

Silver Trembling Hands


A classic Lips freakout with nods to Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd: screams, harp arpeggios and a bass line that bears down like a speeding trucker while Wayne Coyne sings about a girl who sees scary stuff, except – cue mellow soul-fusion guitar chords – when "she's hiiiii-iiiigh." Like 2009 compressed into 3:59. This story is from the August 20th, 2009 issue of Rolling Stone. | More »

May 14, 2009

Clipse feat. Kanye West

"Kinda Like A Big Deal"


This seductive cut finds the world's best coke-rap duo crowing cleverly over DJ Khalil's rumbling beat about diamonds, cars and how "it's a blessing to blow a hundred thou in a recession." Kanye nearly outbrags the Clipse, calling himself "the black Marshall meets Jay." | More »

The Flaming Lips



Oklahoma's psychedelic-pop giants team up with local pals Stardeath and White Dwarfs for an arresting reinvention of Madonna's Eighties disco-pop classic. They start out by crafting a dubby haze: a minimal electro beat, some toy-box keyboard plinking and Wayne Coyne giving genuine depth to lines like "Stop playing with my heart/Finish what you start" with his high, earnest falsetto. But brace yourself for the chorus, where the song explodes as the crew unleashes dazzling space-rock ... | More »

March 19, 2009

Ciara feat. Justin Timberlake

"Love Sex Magic"


Let's hear it for the breakdown! The best part of this techno-funk number is the part where you don't dance: Ciara and JT crooning in silky, intertwined falsettos about "falling in love." The rest of the time, they sound positively bored about this dance-floor hookup – even when Ciara sings, "Show me what's your favorite trick that you want to use on me," she sounds about as sexy as a burlap sack. | More »

March 5, 2009

Justin Timberlake

"Better Not Together"


"All the time, I was loving you faithfully/And you took my love/And you turned it around on me" sings Justin Timberlake. The cuckold's revenge ballad is a Timberlake specialty, but this newly leaked track is a lesser effort – it's rumored to be an outtake, and sounds it, rather than a teaser from Timberlake's upcoming album, which is due later this year. The neo-soul-flavored production (lotsa Fender Rhodes) fails to grab the attention; Timberlake's falsetto vocals d... | More »

February 5, 2009

Lady Gaga

"Just Dance"


Sorority girls will surely relate to this mindless but addictive club cut, which finds Lady Gaga drunk, dizzy and wondering how her shirt got turned inside out — but powerless to stop dancing. "What's the name of this club?" she asks over a throbbing, siren-backed beat. "I can't remember, but it's all right." | More »

January 22, 2009

T.I. feat. Justin Timberlake

"If I"


Fans hoping for another "My Love" should keep waiting: Justin Timberlake plays T.I.'s wingman on this very straightforward Timbaland-produced club cut, which is fueled by a sputtering bass line and T.I.'s freak-nasty come-ons: "Imagine me behind you, drillin'." | More »

December 11, 2008

Justin Timberlake Feat. Esmee Denters

"Follow My Lead"


In this benefit single for Shriners Hospitals for Children, Justin Timberlake's protégée Esmee Denters plays Fergie in what sounds like an update to 2003's "Where Is the Love?" Denters' range is impressive, but not very distinctive, and while the music touches on the urban grooves of Timberlake's solo material (check out his pseudo-rap during the bridge), "Follow My Lead" sounds too tossed off for the slick prince of pop. | More »

November 27, 2008

The Flaming Lips

Space Bible With Volume Lumps


If Wayne Coyne ever tires of this pop thing, he'll have a future in film scores. This instrumental from Coyne's Christmas on Mars works a spooky organ line with an off-kilter trumpet and women's screams. It's a cinematic head trip, no visuals required — the "Also Sprach Zarathustra" of Coyne's own 2001. This story is from the November 27th, 2008 issue of Rolling Stone. | More »

November 13, 2008

Kanye West

"Coldest Winter"


Welcome to the winter of Kanye's discontent. On the first two singles from the upcoming 808s and Heartbreak, West drenched his sorrows in Auto-Tune, but he's more clear-voiced on this ode to his late mother. Injecting the glowing synths of Tears for Fears' "Memories Fade" with gut-punching percussion, he croons, "Will I ever love again?" It's an honest sentiment that's fortunately not deep enough to drown in. | More »

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Song Stories


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 »