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Nate Ruess’ Expert Opinion on Elton John, Nicki Minaj Songs

The fun. singer on Smashing Pumpkins, Titus Andronicus and more

Nicki Minaj and Elton John

Nicki Minaj and Elton John

Rick Kern/Getty; Val Wilmer/Getty

To mark the arrival of Nate Ruess' solo debut, Grand Romantic, we asked the fun. singer to run through every track on the LP. Then, for a twist, we played the frontman five songs, old and new, and quizzed him on his thoughts. 

Elton John

UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 22: Photo of Elton JOHN; First publicity pictures - in Hampstead (Photo by Val Wilmer/Redferns)

Val Wilmer/Redferns

Elton John, “Ballad of a Well-Known Gun”

This is a little more bluesy than the Elton John I'm accustomed to, but it's great. He sounds pretty amazing on the track. Right now it's stuck in my head.

Lou Reed

Lou Reed, portrait, London, January 1972. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Michael Putland/Getty

Lou Reed, “Romeo Had Juliette”

If I were to hear this for the first time, I wouldn't say right off the bat that it's Lou Reed. But then you realize how cool it is, so you're like, "This has to be Lou Reed." I love the fact that his vocal is so up and dry on the recording. It's essentially spoken word. It kind of reminds me of the Dire Straits track "Romeo and Juliet." It's interesting how those guys went back to Shakespeare and found different ways to reinvent classic romance.

Rusted Root

Rusted Root, “Send Me on My Way”

You know what's crazy? I always see the name Rusted Root, and I never knew who they were. Then I pulled this track up yesterday in bed. My girlfriend was next to me, and she started freaking out. She loved the track! If that's what Rusted Root sounds like, I'm so down for the cause. I'm about to get their album.

Smashing Pumpkins

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 22: Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins performs on stage at Wembley Arena on July 22, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by C Brandon/Redferns via Getty Images)

C Brandon/Redferns

Smashing Pumpkins, “Cherub Rock”

When I was growing up in the Nineties and Siamese Dream came out, I was more into the accessible stuff, like "Disarm" and "Today." I never really gave "Cherub Rock" the love it deserved until I pulled it up yesterday, and I knew every single part. Billy Corgan is freaking phenomenal on guitar. Every single thing on this is a hook. That's such a testament to him.

Nicki Minaj

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 19: Recording artist Nicki Minaj (C) performs with dancers during the 2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 19, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Clear Channel)

Ethan Miller/Getty

Nicki Minaj feat. Beyonce, “Feeling Myself”

This is the perfect song if you have ADD. The way Nicki says "laser" is so cool and memorable.

Diet Cig

Diet Cig, “Breathless”

Diet Cig is the best band name I've ever heard. I say that as I have a cigarette. [Laughs] The song reminds me of this band called Lemuria that I listen to all the time. Lyrically and structurally, it's fucking awesome. It's barely two minutes, which is such a great length. I was begging for more by the time it was over.

Titus Andronicus

Matthew Greeley

Titus Andronicus, “Dimed Out”

Thank you for introducing me to the best song of the year. It's tough to even listen to any other song — I just want to listen to "Dimed Out." I've been talking to all my friends about it. The energy is perfect, and the bridge is so fucking spectacular. Those are the best lyrics I've heard in forever. I want to get a tattoo of those bridge lyrics across my face.