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song reviews

R.E.M.

"Supernatural Superserious"

This brisk bundle of pop-chorus sunshine and fuzz-box fisticuffs from R.E.M.'s forthcoming rock-centric album, Accelerate, was originally called "Disguised" until R.E.M. pal and fan, Coldplay's Chris Martin, working on his record next to where R.E.M. were mixing in London, had a better idea. "He was like, 'That's a great song but a terrible title – you should change it to 'Supernatural Superserious,'" R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe explains. That phrase from t... | More »

November 15, 2007

Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé

"Until the End of Time"

4

This schmaltzy R&B slow jam is a bonus cut from the too-soon deluxe reissue of Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds for a reason. Over third-rate Timbaland synth squiggles and strings, Timberlake comes to an important realization while watching the TV news: He loves to ball the ladies. While the track showcases his and Beyoncé's pipes (she doesn't come in until midway through), things take a weird turn when the two start chanting, "This one's for the lovers. . . . ... | More »

September 6, 2007

Beck

"Timebomb"

6

A soul scream gives way to a sound like an alarm clock and a synthetic stomp in this one-off single. As Beck has been telling us for some time now, things are bad, getting worse. And as he's been doing for some time now, he delivers this news over a mash-up of digital overload and melodic know-how. Good, but Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert do better almost every night. | More »

August 9, 2007

Justin Timberlake

"LoveStoned (Justice Remix)"

7

The French dance-floor duo lay it on thick with staccato disco strings, slap-back synth bass, metal-machine sonics and an in-your-face pulse until the groove rocks both harder and stranger than the original. Now it's worthy of Timberlake's confession, "She's freaky but I like it." This story is from the August 9th, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone. | More »

Kid Rock

So Hott

7

Don't take reports of the new Kid Rock album's purported maturity too seriously: This gloriously idiotic first single kicks off with more than a minute's worth of AC/DC-style rifting before Kid finally sings a first line that even Brian Johnson would reject as too on-the-nose: "You got a body like the devil and you smell like sex." (BTW: Does the devil have a hot body?) The shout-along chorus lands somewhere between Warrant and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the digga-digga-da guitar solo... | More »

May 31, 2007

Bob Dylan

Huck's Tune

7

This sober country waltz from Curtis Hanson's poker-tournament drama, Lucky You, is unlikely to net Dylan another Best Song Oscar. But "Huck's Tune" is a bleak beauty with liquid-mercury drips of steel guitar and at least one knockout lyric passage: "All the merry little elves/Can go hang themselves/My faith is as cold as can be," sung by Dylan in a perfectly crusty, malevolent whisper. | More »

April 19, 2007

Beck

"Chemtrails"

Beck spent over two months in an L.A. studio with producer Danger Mouse, comparing notes on their favorite Sixties psychedelic records while recording Beck's 10th album. What's amazing about its first song is that two hyperdetailed sonic architects have produced such elegantly simple music – on a track that could be Beck's most controversial yet. Taking cues from Syd Barrett-era Floyd, "Chemtrails" starts with electro-raga organ drones. But just when you think it's a... | More »

April 5, 2007

R.E.M.

"#9 Dream"

7

R.E.M.'s first recording with original drummer Bill Berry in eleven years is a cover of an ethereal 1974 John Lennon hit, but it ends up sounding more like an outtake from Life's Rich Pageant: While the drums are restrained on the track – the first single from the Lennon-themed charity comp Instant Karma: The Campaign to Save Darfur – Berry's presence alone seems to have pushed the band back in time, most obviously in Peter Buck's ringing minor chords. Sadly, t... | More »

March 22, 2007

Kanye West

"This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race (Remix)"

4

Fall Out Boy's original "Arms Race" is a little annoying, but at least it rocks. Unfortunately, Kanye's rather dark remix of the tune sucks out all of its energy and most of its appeal, putting a sleepy minimalist heat and soulful "ooh"s under the hand's vocals. There's also a silly B-game rap in which Kanye makes fun of FOB's tight pants and says he can't figure out what the song is about. At the end of the day: mildly humorous, but barely worth a mouseclick. | More »

March 8, 2007

Nine Inch Nails

"My Violent Heart"

7

This bite of fight from Year Zero, Nine Inch Nails' forthcoming concept album about an America under far-right tyranny, opens with mastermind Trent Reznor turning his usual self-loathing the other way around: "You and I, we may look the same/But we are very far apart/There's bullet holes where my compassion used to be/And there is violence in my heart." There is plenty of vintage NIN scorch in this music, too: distorted, goose-stepping percussion; vicious spikes of what sounds like ... | More »

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

More Song Stories entries »
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