Fair use is a US legal doctrine that permits limited use ofcopyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. ... Examples of fair use in United Statescopyright law include commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, and scholarship.
“Death of a bachelor” (Panic! At the Disco)
This song channels Frank Sinatra, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday in 2015. Panic! At The Disco main man Brendon Urie posted on his Instagram in reference to the song's release.
"I attach his music to so many memories: opening presents on Christmas day, my grandparents teaching the rest of the family to swing dance, watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit with my siblings (Sinatra makes a cameo in the form of a cartoon sword singing 'Witchcraft')."
"His music has been a major player in the soundtrack of my life. So it's only right that I return the favor and/or pay it forward. I wrote a new album this year and even in the few songs that don't sound remotely similar to any of his music I still felt his influence in the writing and the need to relate so personally to each song." Speaking to Pete Wentz, who was hosting Zane
Lowe's Beats 1 radio show, Urie half-jokingly said of the song: "It's like if Sinatra and Beyoncé made a song together. It's like some Beyoncé beats with some Sinatra vocals. It's really crazy." Urie expanded on his jokey declaration that the song is a mash up of Sinatra and Beyoncé. "I wrote the song actually trying to make a Sinatra song ...and then I hit this wall, just writing-wise, where I was getting so frustrated," he explained to The Associated Press. "So I took a break from it and went back to this beat I had worked on like months before and it kind of had this 'Drunk In Love,' Beyoncé-kind of feel. ...It was just like a happy accident." Brendon Urie got married to Sarah Orzechowski in 2013 and this song also serves as a kiss-off to the single life.
"'Death Of A Bachelor' is very important to me," he wrote. "It expresses the bittersweet (but mostly sweet) end of an era. A look back at a part of my life now deceased. An It's A Wonderful Life-esque look into a possibly different future. But mostly an appreciation for the present." Urie explained to Pete Wentz the background to this song, which details giving up his single life.
"You kinda find this person that you connect with and you can kind of throw away your history," he said. "You don't want to just forget about it. You just don't need to look back. You don't regret anything from the past. You don't have any want to go back to a life of being a bachelor." "You know I met my wife Sarah and I was just like, this is it," Urie added. "I figured out that this is the happiest that I've ever been." Urie addresses the fact that music fans seem to prefer single
"You're a rock star. You should be this single dude that goes around and sleeps with a bunch of girls," he said. "That's not really me, you know. This was just my voice, telling exactly how I felt at that time." Death of a Bachelor became Panic! at the Disco's first #1 album in the States after selling the equivalent of 190,000 units in its first week. The LP surpassed the band's previous best #2 position in the US Billboard Chart, which Pretty.Odd achieved in March 2008.
“Uma Thurman” (Fall Out Boy)
The song's guitar lick is sampled from the opening credits of the 1960s sitcom The Munsters.
The chorus of this track references the scene in Pulp Fiction where Uma Thurman's straight-faced character asks John Travolta to dance with her during the twist contest at Jack Rabbit Slim's. There are also references to another Tarantino movie, Kill Bill. Bassist Pete Wentz told the story of the song: "Originally, when we came up with the idea, and there was this sample in it, which is a sample from The Munsters TV show, people kept saying 'oh cool, like Quentin Tarantino, cool' when we played it. We decided why don't we kind of create this world around that?"
"To me, Uma Thurman and Winona Ryder, they were these women in pop culture who were quirky, but that made me only crush on them harder, and rather than going with the traditional Uma Thurman role, we thought a lot about Kill Bill and who her character was in that, and this kind of resilience and this violence, but there's something that's authentic about it (like a woman taking revenge or being empowered)."
"So that's what the chorus of the song's about, and the verses are what you would do to try and capture this woman's affection."
Pete Wentz referenced his other 'crush,' Winona Ryder, on the Folie a Deux track, "She's My Winona."
The song's music video follows a girl named Sarah who wins the prize of becoming Fall Out Boy's assistant for 24 hours. Her tasks include walking Joe Trohman's zebra, singing karaoke with Patrick Stump, going paint-balling and go-kart racing with Pete Wentz, and working out with Andy Hurley.
Sarah's last task is to get inside a tank and smash a truck with the letters "Article 1, Section 36.03" written on the side: a reference to Alabama's Supreme Court blocking same-sex marriage in the state.
Asked by Billboard magazine how the video's concept came about, Pete Wentz replied: "I remember…You know all those…I think they might be beer commercials or maybe a soda commercial and they aired in the Super Bowl and this guy gets surprised and he goes to a OneRepublic show..."
"And I was like, dude, how cool. The go-to question in interviews is like, how crazy is it backstage? What's life like? And I was like, what if we could just create a version of that that's on steroids and let somebody experience it. So, that's where the idea came from, and then it was like, what are the aspects of each of our personalities and let's amp them up to the highest degree that they could create."
The video features cameos from several stars including Big Sean, Brendon Urie from Panic! At The Disco, Action Bronson, Big Data and MAX.
Asked by Billboard magazine what came first, the music or the lyrical concept, Pete Wentz replied: "We had the tracks done. But people kept saying, 'Oh, Pulp Fiction,' so we were like, 'Why don't we write something in the Quentin Tarantino world?' Then the Uma idea came up. We reached out to her; I don't know how she feels about the song, but she's OK with us naming it 'Uma Thurman.'"
TV shows where Fall Out Boy have performed the song include Late Night with Seth Meyers and the 2015 Much Music Video Awards.
Asked by NME in 2016 if Uma Thurman ever responded to the lyrical namecheck, Pete Wentz replied:
"We sent it to her to clear it to make sure she was OK with the song and she was OK with it, I guess, theoretically. I think she said it was 'cute' or something. I don't know how I'd feel if some band had a song called 'Pete Wentz', but fortunately my name doesn't sing very well so I think I'm safe. It'd be weird.
“The Handler” (Muse)
This raucous anthem is the sixth track from Muse's Drones, a concept record about a man being indoctrinated by the system to be a human drone. The LP starts with the protagonist losing hope and becoming dead inside. Then the album becomes increasingly darker with the third to sixth tracks tracks. "They're about being overcome by these oppressive forces," vocalist Matt Bellamy told Rolling Stone. "Midway through 'The Handler,' in the darkest places, the protagonist, or me, since I'm singing in the first person, feels this desire to actually feel something," he continued. "They decide, 'I don't want to be used by others. I don't want to be controlled. I don't want to be a cold, non-feeling person. I want to actually feel something.' The desire to fight against the oppressors sinks in."
The song features a middle section that harks back to the title track from Muse's 1999 debut, Showbiz. "The lyrics are almost a question and answer with that song," Matt Bellamy told Q magazine.
“Cool for the summer” (Demi Lovato)
This seductive summer anthem was written and produced by Swedish hitmaker Max Martin (Britney Spears, Katy Perry). The hitmaker was assisted by his fellow Swedes Ali Payami (Taylor Swift's "Style"), Alexander Kronlund (Britney Spears' "Lucky") plus Texan songwriter Savan Kotecha, who has co-penned many of One Direction's hit tunes. Demi Lovato also helped with the lyrics.
The sexy tune is about a summer fling. It introduces a more provocative, adult sound for the former Disney teen star. "It's like I've spent so long just kind of people-pleasing, making everybody happy with being the best role model I can be," Lovato admitted to Ryan Seacrest. "At the end of the day, yes, I am outspoken about the things I believe in: Mental health advocacy work, I have a charity, I have these things that make me a role model. But at the same time, none of these things are really representing the badass that I am."
Lovato unveiled the song on July 1, 2015 at a fan event hosted by New York's Z100 (WHTZ-FM). on the rooftop of the Gansevoort Park Avenue hotel. She ended the poolside performance by leaping into the water to join dozens of her young fans.
The song finds Lovato singing: "'Don't tell your mother. Kiss one another. Die for each other." Asked by BBC Radio 1's Scott Mills whether the lyrics are about a forbidden love, the singer didn't dismiss the idea. "Possibly, possibly," she said. "It's not so much about who it's about, maybe the question is what is it about and I kind of let my fans decide that."
With a crew of buff male backup dancers dressed in colorful, revealing beachwear, Lovato performed this song at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards. It was her first time performing at the awards; she was joined midway through by Iggy Azalea.
The song was released as the first single from Confident. However, Lovato told Billboard magazine the original idea had been to lead the album with the title track. "But 'Cool For The Summer,' you can't really release in October, so we were like, 'Okay, you know what? I think we have a change of plans, and we'll go with "Cool For The Summer,"' she said. "It was really spontaneous but it worked."
Asked by UK talk show host Alan Carr if the song is about lesbianism, Lovato responded, "I'm not confirming and I'm definitely not denying. All my songs are based off of personal experiences. I don't think there's anything wrong with experimentation at all."
Demi Lovato talked about her choice to record the song in a video clip. "I thought it was an awesome representation of where I'm headed. I think for so many years, I cared too much about what people thought. Now I can just be who I am. I can be open," she revealed. "I can kind of bring attention to people's sexuality, taking away the stigma and the shame of wanting to try things."
"I think this is obviously a sexy pop song, but it can inspire people to be themselves," Lovato continued. "I know it was an awesome journey for me to be able to put that out in front of the world and not feel ashamed about it."
Demi Lovato sings:
Got a taste for the cherry
I just need to take a bite
Lovato was accused of pilfering the lyrical idea for the song from Katy Perry. (The Californian star famously sang about kissing a girl with cherry-flavored lips.)
Lovato defended her tune by tweeting: "Sounds nothing like it and with all the advances we've made in the LGBT community. I think more than one female artist can kiss a girl and like it."
“Gypsy Woman” (Crystal Waters)
"Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" was written by Crystal Waters, Neal Conway, and Nathaniel S. Hardy, Jr. It was the break-out single for Waters, the first single released from the album.
The song was written for someone else, but it led to Waters' music career instead. Interestingly, Waters wasn't looking to become a singer - she went to university studying business and computer science, and started a career working as a computer tech in Washington, D.C., which somehow led to her writing demo songs for production companies. "Gypsy Woman" was originally written for the Dance-Pop musician Ultra Nate, but when Waters recorded a demo herself, the production company drew up a recording contract for her on the spot and never passed the song to its intended vocalist.
The song is best remembered for the chorus refrain "la da dee, la da da," which in the video coincides with these syllables being written over and over in cursive in a spiral, including on the top of a spinning umbrella. The song was somewhat polarizing, as some listeners found this repetitive string of non-words unbearable.
This song was also parodied in the TV comedy variety series In Living Color, which also had its day in the early '90s. Kim Wayans turned it into a Fred Flintstone tribute, complete with lyrics that substituted "yabba dabba doo" for the "la da dee, la da da" part. Waters got off easy: the show turned Vanilla Ice's hit into "White, White Baby."
The lyrics are some of the more socially conscious words you'll hear in an upbeat dance tune. The song is about a homeless woman who is a gypsy. She still wears make-up and thinks of herself as beautiful despite busking on a street corner.
Speaking of gypsies, they're kind of hard to classify as an ethnicity, per se. They are originally from India, but wandered up into all of Europe. Nomadic by tradition, they settled into various pockets of culture and are variously called Roma, Romani, Sinta, Kale, and Bohemians. The name comes from the mistaken belief that they were from Egypt.
“B---h better have my money” (Rihanna)
Penned by Rihanna with Jamille Pierre, Badriia Bourelly, and Travis Scott, the Bajan singer premiered this expletive-laden trap anthem at the iHeartRadio Music Awards on March 29, 2015. Actress Taraji P. Henson introduced Rihanna as a boss, and she more than lived up to the billing with her fierce, bleeped performance of the cash-obsessed track.
Also stylized as "BBHMM", the grimy track finds Rihanna demanding that she gets paid what she's owed, and quickly. It has a similar theme to Ri-Ri's 2012 strippers and dollar bills-themed anthem, "Pour It Up."
Roc Nation producer Deputy helmed the tune, with help from Kanye West. Travis Scott and Canadian teenager Wonda Gurl both provided additional production for the song.
The title phrase dates back to Keenen Ivory Wayans' 1988 blaxploitation film spoof I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. Rappers who have used the misogynistic lyric include:
West Coast rhymer AMG on his 1991 cut of the same name, (actually a diss song aimed at rival DJ Quik).
Old Dirty Bastard during his 1999 single "Got Your Money"
Drake on his Nothing Was The Same track "Worst Behavior" (Bitch you better have my money when I come for the s--t like O.D.B.")
How's this for an irony: It could be that Rihanna owes someone else some cash because of this song! Fans of Houston singer/songwriter Just Brittany have pointed out the similarities of her 2014 track "Betta Have My Money" and the Bajan superstar's single. Brittany herself took to Twitter to claim that Rihanna had "jacked" her song. She later deleted the tweet.
Badriia "Bibi" Bourelly, a musician from Berlin, Germany, originally penned the song in a Los Angeles studio with Deputy. She recalled to Noisey: "We were just vibing with Deputy in one of the local studios I record out of. It was back when I was into writing to beats, which I don't do anymore. He played me it, I went in and started saying something like 'BITCH BETTER HAVE MY MONEY!,' because I was feeling ratchet that day."
"We got that s--t done in three hours, then Dep went home and worked on it some more," Bourelly added. "It came out the way it did, and people seemed to like it."
The seven-minute NFSW cinematic video was co-directed by Rihanna and Megaforce, a quartet of French filmmakers who've previously masterminded videos for everyone from Kid Cudi to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It originated from an idea that the Bajan star came up with in 2014.
The explicit and violent clip follows Rihanna as she kidnaps and tortures a wealthy socialite, played by Canadian actress and model Rachel Roberts. to get back what she's owed. At the end of the visual it is revealed that the woman is actually the mistress of Rihanna's cheating accountant boyfriend, who is played by Hannibal's Mads Mikkelsen.
Rihanna described the revenge fantasy story line to Vogue as, "Just a way to describe a situation. It's a way to be in charge, to let people know that you're all about your business."
Julia Roberts' actor brother Eric Roberts makes a cameo appearance. The Runaway Train star has featured in a number of music clips, including the ones for The Killers' "Mr. Brightside" and "Miss Atomic Bomb," Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" and "It's Like That," plus Akon's "Smack That."
The torture scenes as well as the shots of Rihanna covered in blood and cavorting naked proved divisive among fans online. Asked by NME if he anticipated the controversy, Leo Berne of Megaforce replied: "With the other videos that we've done, some of them could have been controversial, but it's never been our aim to do that. It's just the tone of the video [this time]. The song is about kidnapping, and we wanted to stay true to the tone of the song. It was never our intention to be controversial."
Asked if he has a favorite moment on the video, Berne replied: "I think it's the very last shot when her face is all covered in blood. I really like that shot because it's quite iconic. It was the very last shot of a very long day when we started at 5 p.m. and finished at 11 a.m. the following day."
Rachel Roberts is locked in a trunk and hung upside down, but it was being put under water that was the biggest challenge for the actress. "I can tell you the most challenging was the underwater scene where I was holding my breath while Rihanna held me under," she told MTV News. "I thought, you know, I'm pretty good in water, but there's still a sense of nervousness just because it's water."
One of the stars of the video, Seattle resident Sanam, who plays one of Rihanna's friends, had no previous acting experience. According to an interview with Vice, Rihanna randomly found a selfie Sanam posted on Instagram and direct messaged her about the project. "When we were down there, the first day I met her, I was like, 'How did you find me?'" Sanam told Vice. "She was like, 'I saw you on my Explore page.' She saw that picture of me where I was wearing my nath and my tika. She was like, 'I just thought you were so cool, and I was like, I don't know if I should message her or not. I don't know if she's going to be down.' I'm just sitting there, like, 'Are you crazy? How could you be nervous to message me?'"
“Hello, I love you” (The Doors)
Jim Morrison wrote this in 1965 after seeing a beautiful woman walking on the beach. He wrote these lyrics in this notebook:
Sidewalk crouches at her feet
Like a dog that begs for something sweet
He wrote the rest of the song that night, crafting the most popular song about beachside beauty since "The Girl From Ipanema." He also popularized a pickup line - "Hello, I love you. Won't you tell me your name?" - that has yet to work for anyone but Jim Morrison.
The Doors first recorded this song in 1965 when they put it on a six-song demo before Robby Krieger joined the band. They didn't put it on an album until 1968, when they needed material for their third LP Waiting for the Sun. The plan was to use an extended piece based on Morrison's poetry called "Celebration of the Lizard" for the entire first side of the album. When that didn't work out, they looked for other material and dredged up "Hello, I Love You." It was a good call: The song went to #1 in America, giving them their second (and last) chart-topper, following "Light My Fire."
Many fans considered this a sellout to Top 40 music. It was very radio-friendly, and not as deep or introspective as previous Doors songs.
The music is similar to The Kinks' song "All Day And All Of The Night." So similar, that The Doors paid royalties from the British single to The Kinks after the threat of legal action.
Looking back, Ray Davies was philosophical about the episode, recalling to Mojo magazine September 2012: "The funniest thing was when my publisher came to me on tour and said The Doors had used the riff for 'All Day And All Of The Night' for 'Hello, I Love You.' I said rather than sue them, can't we just get them to own up? My publisher said, 'They have, that's why we should sue them!' (laughs) Jim Morrison admitted it, which to me was the most important thing. The most important thing, actually, is to take (the idea) somewhere else."
Robby Krieger ran his guitar through a fuzz box to get a distorted effect like Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love."
The line "Queen of the angels" refers to Los Angeles, the "City of Angels." The Doors were from LA.
This was the first Doors song that was successful in Europe, reaching #15 in the UK.
The R.E.M. song "Pop Song '89" is a play on this. Instead of talking about sex, they talk to the girl about politics and the weather.
Artists to cover this song include Neil Young, The Cure, Missing Persons, Adam Ant, Eurythmics, Simple Minds and Buddy Rich (in a big band style). The only other charting version of the song came in 2010 when a version by the cast of the TV series Glee went to #66.
This song was used both in the movies Platoon and Casualties of War.
“Side to side” (Arianna Grande feat Nicki Minaj)
This finds Grande in a relationship with a bad boy despite the warnings from her friends. It appears they have had so much sex, Grande can't walk straight - he's got her "walkin' side to side."
This island-sounding jam features a verse by Nicki Minaj, marking the third time the two superstars have collaborated on a song. The pair previously appeared on Jessie J's 2014 track "Bang Bang" and The Pinkprint's "Get on Your Knees."
The reggae pop song's dancehall riddim was supplied by Swedish hitmaker Max Martin and his co-writing and production partner Ilya Salmanzadeh. Martin and Ilya produced as a pair four of Dangerous Woman's eleven tracks and also separately worked on another one each.
Two other hitmakers, Savan Kotecha and Alexander Kronlund, are also credited as writers along with Grande and Minaj.
The video finds Ariana Grande spinning, boxing and weightlifting in the gym clad in a combination of spandex and casual threads from GUESS's "Active" women's line. She's later joined by Nicki Minaj for a post-workout session in an electric blue sauna.
The clip was directed by Hannah Lux Davis, who has filmed a number of videos for the pair. She shot Grande's "Focus" and "Into You," as well as Minaj's "Only" and " The Night Is Still Young" visuals. They also all worked together on the trio's collaboration with Jessie J, "Bang Bang."
The lyrics detail the painful downside of having an overly active sex life. "That whole song is about riding leading to soreness," Grande confessed to MTV News. "'Ride dick bicycle' is the lyric, indeed."
Grande is referring to Minaj's line where she sings:
Ride dick bicycle
Come true yo
Get you this type of blow
Minaj covers the bridge of this song with two distinct sections, one sung ("This is the new style, with the fresh type of flow"), one rapped ("All these bitches flows is my mini-me"). She also appears at the beginning of the song namechecking Grande, then at the end where both singers close out the song together, with Minaj repeating her sung section from the bridge.
The song opens with the chorus, which shows up four times in the song, but with different elements in each repetition. Each chorus builds in intensity, with more backing vocals added for each progression.
Musically, the track never gets very dense, which pushes the vocals out front. There are lots of different instruments and vocal tracks in the mix, but they are constantly coming in and out. Listen for hand claps, finger snaps, synth stabs, a woodblock, and even a saxophone.
“Miss you much” (Janet Jackson)
This song was written by the production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. They had a lot of success on Jackson's previous album, Control, in 1986 - the breakthrough album that helped Jackson break the pop mold and become a sex icon with a funky edge.
This was inspired by a breakup letter Jimmy Jam received from one of his old girlfriends, who signed it with what would become this song title. He thought it would be perfect for Jackson.
In the album title Rhythm Nation 1814, the "1814" was the project number assigned to the album on the A&M Records record label; that it shared the same number as the year the US national anthem was written was a coincidence realized and acknowledged by Jackson and producers later on.
This was one of seven Top 5 singles from the album. It was the first time any album produced so many hits, although Michael Jackson (Janet's brother) had seven Top 10 hits from his 1983 Thriller album.
TIME magazine named this song the second best-selling single of the year (it sold over four million copies), between Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise" at number one and Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" at number three.
Although Jackson didn't receive a songwriting credit for this track, she had some worthwhile ideas, according to Jimmy Jam. He told Idolator: "When we got to Rhythm Nation, I had done the [instrumental] track to 'Miss You Much' and I just pointed at a note on one of the keyboards and she just walked in and hit the key and that became the string part on the song. She had lyric ideas walking into the studio."
This song was featured in the movie Ghost Dad, a 1990 comedy starring Bill Cosby.
Because her previous album, Control, was released three years earlier, Janet's vocals were a little rusty from the lengthy break, so Jam and Lewis didn't want her to record the lead for this song right away. Jam remembered: "The idea was to do the backgrounds first to get her voice back in tip-top singing shape, because she hadn't sung for probably two years."
“Famous” (Kanye West)
Kanye West riffs here on his longevity and success since his rise to fame. That includes, at least in the rapper's mind, making Taylor Swift famous. West's misogynistic reference to Swift on this track stole all the headlines as soon as it was made public:
I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex
Why? I made that bitch famous
I made that bitch famous
The lyric refers to when West infamously rushed the stage as Swift was collecting the award for Best Female at the 2009 MTV VMA's. He claimed Beyoncé should have won the prize, which led to a media backlash against rapper. Swift, however was seen as the victim and became even more likable in the public eye.
The pair made amends at the MTV VMA Awards in 2015, when Swift handed West the lifetime achievement prize.
When West asked Swift to release "Famous" on her social media accounts, she declined and cautioned him about dropping a tune with such a strong misogynistic message. According to her spokesperson, the songstress "was never made aware of the actual lyric, 'I made that bitch famous.'"
Clearly Swift's family weren't expecting the jab. The singer's brother Austin posted an Instagram video where he threw a pair of Yeezy sneakers in the garbage.
West later released a statement denying he was dissing Taylor Swift. He went on to argue his case for the lyric:
"2nd thing I asked my wife for her blessings and she was cool with it.
3rd thing I called Taylor and had an hour long convo with her about the name and she thought it was funny and gave her blessings.
4th Bitch is an endearing term in hip hop like the word Nigga.
5th thing I'm not even gone take credit for the idea… it's actually something Taylor came up with… She was having dinner with one of our friends who's name I will keep out of this and she told him. I can't be mad at Kanye because he made me famous! #FACTS.
6th stop trying to demonize real artist Stop trying to compromise real art. That's why music is so f---ing watered down right now. I miss that DMX feeling. I miss that feeling so that's what I want to help restore."
West recruited Rihanna to sing the sultry chorus. The pair previously collaborated on the Bajan songstress' hit single "FourFiveSeconds" along with Beatles legend Paul McCartney.
Swiss Beatz accompanies both West and Rihanna. The hip-hop artist and producer previously rapped the bridge on the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy track "So Appalled."
The song samples Sister Nancy's "Bam Bam" during the bridge. The dancehall legend's reggae staple has also showed up in Lauryn Hill's "Lost Ones," Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth's "The Basement," and Main Source's "Just Hangin Out."
West also borrows from Nina Simone's "Do What You Gotta Do" chops it up and lets it ride through the outro. West previously sampled the jazz legend on his Yeezus track "Blood On The Leaves."
Swift seemed to respond to West in her acceptance speech when she won the Grammy for Album Of The Year (for 1989) shortly after this song was released. "There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame," she said. "But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you are going, you’ll look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there and that will be the greatest feeling in the world."
When Kanye West originally shared the tracklisting of his seventh album (then titled SWISH), this was listed as the opening song under its original name of "Nina Chop."
Comedian Aziz Ansari and Master Of None co-star Eric Wareheim teamed up to film a spoof video for the song. Shot in Rome, it sees the pair miming along to the lyrics while engaging in various shenanigans. The Internet quickly embraced the wacky visual, as did Kanye West, who agreed to have it as the official music video.
The NSFW video features likenesses of a number notable celebrities all sleeping naked in bed together. The famous synthetic bodies are West and his wife Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, presidential candidate Donald Trump, former President George W. Bush (who West notably criticized in 2005 for not caring about black people after Hurricane Katrina), Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Caitlyn Jenner, Bill Cosby, Kardashian ex Ray J, Chris Brown and West's former girlfriend Amber Rose. The clip was inspired by American realist painter Vincent Desiderio's "Sleep."
Speaking to Vanity Fair, West explained the visual saying, "It's a comment on fame. It's not in support or anti any of [the people in the video]."
West also spoke about the inclusion in the video of George W. Bush, saying, "Maybe in some alternative universe me and George Bush could have been friends. I could have been his O.J. Simpson black friend on the golf course."
Speaking to Vanity Fair, West explained the visual saying, "It's a comment on fame. It's not in support or anti any of [the people in the video]."
West also spoke about the inclusion in the video of George W. Bush, saying, "Maybe in some alternative universe me and George Bush could have been friends. I could have been his O.J. Simpson black friend on the golf course."
The Taylor/Kanye saga added another chapter on July 17, 2016 when Kim Kardashian posted footage (captured by cameras rolling for her show Keeping Up With the Kardashians) of the "famous" phone conversation between the two on her Snapchat. In the edited call, we hear West recite the line "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex," and Swift give her tacit approval, then stating she appreciated him letting her know. "All I give a f--k about is just you, as a person and as a friend. I want things that make you feel good," West says.
West never mentioned the line "I made that bitch famous" during the call, and hours later, Swift posted this message on Instagram with the caption, "That moment when Kanye West secretly records your phone call, then Kim posts it on the Internet":
"Where is the video of Kanye telling me he was going to call me 'that bitch' in his song? It doesn't exist because it never happened. You don't get to control someone's emotional response to being called 'that bitch' in front of the entire world. Of course I wanted to like the song. I wanted to believe Kanye when he told me that I would love the song. I wanted us to have a friendly relationship. He promised to play the song for me, but he never did. While I wanted to be supportive of Kanye on the phone call, you cannot 'approve' a song you haven't heard. Being falsely painted as a liar when I was never given the full story or played any part of the song is character assassination. I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I have never asked to be a part of, since 2009."
This swooping serenade about a party girl's life was the first solo single by Sia in four years, following the release of her 2010 studio album We Are Born. (She did contribute "Elastic Heart" to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack in 2013 with Diplo and The Weeknd). Between the two releases, the Australian singer-songwriter "retired" and began co-writing hit songs for the likes of Rihanna ("Diamonds"), David Guetta ("Titanium") and Flo Rida "Wild Ones"). Speaking with Billboard magazine, Sia discussed her decision to remain out of the spotlight. "I don't care about commercial success," she said. "I get to do what I love and communicate whatever I want."
The song stemmed from an impromptu jam session between Sia and pop producer Jesse Shatkin. "I usually think, 'Oh this would work for Rihanna, or this would be a good one for B or Katy,'" Sia said to Ryan Seacrest. "But this time I was like, 'Uh oh I think I just wrote a full-blown pop song for myself by accident!'"
Shatkin and Sia came up with the song whilst working with hit producer Greg Kurstin (Pink, Kesha, Kelly Clarkson). "At some point, Greg had to run out, and me and Sia were in his live room with his piano and drum set and just kind of jammed for a second," Shatkin recalled to MuuMuse. "Greg has a marimba, so I was playing marimba - some weird notes - and Sia was playing the piano."
"She records everything on her phone, so we just kind of figured out a chord progression together," Shatkin continued. "She sent it to me on a voice note, and I turned it into a track. She already had the melody instinctively while she was writing the chords. We were real excited that she wanted to do this for her record, and then Greg added his production. I was really proud of it."
Kurstin explained his contribution to Rock Genius: "'Chandelier' was written by Sia and Jesse Shatkin," he said. "Sia brought it in for me to work on and tie into the other songs on the record. I added some acoustic piano, Mellotron and live drums over the track. I left most of Jesse's production; which was awesome."
The song's music video features a dance performance from a Sia-wigged Maddie Ziegler. The 11-year-old star of Lifetime's Dance Moms was personally asked to be in the clip by the singer. Sia co-directed the visual with Daniel Askill, who previously helmed the visual for her hit single "Breathe Me."
Speaking with Dazed, Sia explained the blonde bob worn by her in the 1000 Forms of Fear artwork and by Maddie Ziegler in the music video is a layer of protection from the outside world. "I already have a much larger concept for this album and for how I'm going to present it and that was: I don't want to be famous," she said. "If Amy Winehouse was a beehive then I guess I'm a blonde bob. I thought 'well if that's my brand, how can I avoid having to use my face to sell something', so my intention was to create a blonde bob brand."
The song is a rejoinder to all those pop tunes that celebrate the non-stop party. It is rooted in the now-sober Sia's past struggles with alcoholism. "That's why 'Chandelier' was interesting to me. I wrote the song because there's so many party-girl anthems in pop," she told NPR. "And I thought it'd be interesting to do a different take on that."
Sia and Greg Kurstin wrote this very quickly. "'Chandelier' took like four minutes to write the chords, then like 12-15 minutes to write the lyrics," she told NPR. "Probably 10 or 15 minutes to cut the vocals."
1000 Forms Of Fear topped the US albums chart. Sia's previous best was 2008's Some People Have Real Problems, which peaked at #26. In addition to reaching #1 on the Billboard list, the LP reached the summit on the iTunes albums chart in 47 countries.
The song was a wordwide hit, topping the singles charts in France, Israel and Poland.
This song featured in a 2014 Saturday Night Live skit where Jim Carrey and Kate McKinnon each show up to a Halloween office gathering dressed as "the child dancer from Sia's 'Chandelier' music video." The sketch resolves with the pair dancing to the song throughout the entire studio.
Billboard magazine chose this as their Best Song of 2014. They said: "The towering YOLO anthem 'Chandelier' took months to reach the Top 10 of the Hot 100 chart, but pop purveyors embraced its sentiment and Sia's performance almost immediately, turning the camera-shy Australian into an American star."
Sia concealed her face during performances of this song. When she was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live, she sang it with her face obscured by her wig while a mine acted out the song next to her. On The Graham Norton Show, she faced a wall while the dancer Denna Thomsen performed. Sia's faceless appearances were her reaction to the soul-sucking nature of fame and predatory, vapid celebrity journalism.
This was nominated for Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Music Video and Best Pop Solo Performance, but didn't win any as Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" took the first two and Pharrell Williams' "Happy" the later two.
Sia did perform the song, however, singing it while facing a wall in a set that resembled the music video, while Kristen Wiig and Maddie Ziegler did the interpretive dance.
The video was choreographed by Ryan Heffington, who also did Sia's "Elastic Heart" clip. Speaking with Bullett magazine, he explained: "The song is about addiction, yet the video concept is more abstract than just this. What I find important is that this piece of art has so many interpretations. I don't think I could (or in fact want to) create such definition of the plot, it lives much more vibrant if I do not."
He added: "Early on I requested the architectural detailing of the character's living space and what furniture would inhabit it. Like any of our dwellings we spend an absorbent amount of time in, all material components becomes part of the physical dialogue between us and these objects - walls, furniture, hallways. Although muddled in color and sparse in content, it was a choice to have the environment be rich in means of activity for the character. How often do children find a pile of dirt and a hose the most enthralling playmates? Yes, she may be isolated from other humans or environments, but seemingly rich in imagination with the ability to utilize fantasy to entertain herself via exploring new physical conversations with what simply existed before her eyes."
“Wedding Bell Blues” (The 5th Dimension)
Laura Nyro wrote this song when she was just 18, and released it on her first album in 1967. The song finds the singer letting her boyfriend (Bill) know that although she loves him, she's becoming frustrated waiting for him to propose to her (Beyonce updated this theme with her hit "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It))."
So, was there really a "Bill"? Alan Merrill would know - the son of Jazz singer Helen Merrill, he grew up with Laura, and they thought of each other as cousins, since her uncle married Alan's aunt. Alan, who became a rock star in England with his band The Arrows, explains:
Around 1958 or so my mom was dating a married man named Bill Carter, a b-film actor. He was married to Trink Wiman, heiress to the John Deere fortune. My mom and Bill co-owned a jazz club named The Night Owl (not the Greenwich Village rock venue) and were having a very passionate and public relationship. The club was quite possibly funded by Ms. Wiman's money. The affair was so serious in fact that Trink had private detectives invade our apartment at 800 Grand Concourse (Bronx) in 1958, I was there and remember it. The ensuing newspaper scandal was the reason we left to reside in Europe for many years.
This was big family gossip of course, and Laura listened to it as a child and later wrote about it. My mother could never marry Bill, and didn't. Her timing was bad. Seeing a married man was a big deal in the '50s, but that the wife was such a wealthy heiress upped the ante. My mother seethes at the mention of his name now and refuses to discuss him, although she did confirm the story of the affair (and Laura admitting to her that it was the inspiration for the song) when interviewed in Michele Kort's book about Laura's life - Soul Picnic.
My mom was not amused at Laura's incisive lyric, but in fact Laura was an investigative journalist as an artist and got the story spot-on in the song. A zinger from my mom's perspective, but a big winner in terms of sale for Laura!
Laura Nyro, who died from cancer in 1997, was a popular singer, but other artists had far more success with her songs. This song, along with "And When I Die" by Blood, Sweat & Tears and "Eli's Coming" by 3 Dog Night, were all Laura Nyro compositions in the US Top 10 at the same time for a few weeks in the fall of 1969. Alan Merrill told us: "I watched Laura write all of her first songs. I'd go, 'You can't speed up like that, you'll never have a hit. You can't slow down, speed up, slow down, speed up.' And she just smiled at me, like, 'I know what I'm doing.' I said, 'Listen to the Byrds and the Beatles, they don't slow down and speed up.' A year or two later I was looking at the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 songs on the Billboard charts and Laura had written them all!" (Merrill was a member of The Arrows and co-wrote the song "I Love Rock And Roll." For more of his stories about Laura, see our interview with Alan Merrill.)
The 5th Dimension had hits in 1968 with Nyro's songs "Stoned Soul Picnic" and "Sweet Blindness." The group's producer Bones Howe was good friends with Nyro and loved her songs, so he encouraged them to record another one for their Age Of Aquarius album. The song was exceptionally fitting for the group, as members Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. were engaged at the time, but had not set a wedding date. This played well on television appearances, as Marilyn would sing to "Bill" and Davis would put on that look guys get when they're being hassled about getting married. McCoo and Davis did get married later in 1969, and remained together.
"Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" was the first single released from the album and the first #1 hit for The 5th Dimension. "Wedding Bell Blues" was released next, and also topped the charts.
"Wedding Bell Blues" became a common phrase in pop culture after this song became a hit. The title has been used for several books, a 1996 movie, and episodes of television shows.
“Break Away” (Beach Boys)
This is a positive, life-affirming song about changing one's life for the better. It was written by Brian Wilson and "Reggie Dunbar" - a pseudonym for Brian, Dennis and Carl's father, Murry Wilson. It is the only Beach Boys single that Brian Wilson ever created with his Dad. However the contributions Murry Wilson made to the record are not known.
In the summer of 1969, Brian Wilson was coaxed out of semi-retirement to write the Beach Boys a hit song. It was to be their last record for Capitol before they switched record companies and signed with Warner Brother's Reprise label. However, in the US it failed as a single due to Capitol's lack of promotion.
This song features Carl Wilson with the help of Mike Love singing the verses and Al Jardine singing the chorus.
This Kanye West-produced number is a track from Jay-Z's 2003 long player, The Black Album. The Brooklyn MC explained in his 2010 book Decoded that the song is about the desire for revenge against the Notorious B.I.G.'s killers. Biggie was killed by an unknown assailant in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997.
Jay-Z told MTV News about why he felt songs like this needed to be explained years later: "I wanted people to have the proper context of rap, the generation, what we went through, these emotions behind these songs," he explained. "A song like 'Lucifer,' it's really about the struggle and really about dealing with death and having that feeling. The evil is inside of you, not this mythical character with pitchforks and things like that. Dealing with a feeling of wanting revenge."
The song samples "I Chase The Devil" by Jamaican reggae artist Max Romeo. British dance act The Prodigy previously sampled the track for their 1992 UK Top Ten hit "Out Of Space."
“Without Me” (Eminem)
This was Eminem's first single since his Marshall Mathers LP. He explains in the song that everything was boring and empty with him away, but he was now here to give people something to talk about. He takes shots at The FCC, Limp Bizkit, Moby and Chris Kirkpatrick.
The video shows Eminem and Dr. Dre as Batman and Robin-type heroes sent to save the world. This would earn director Joseph Kahn his first Grammy Award for Best Music Video. He would also direct clips for Eminem's "We Made You," "Love the Way You Lie" and "Space Bound."
Eminem's friend and fellow rapper Obie Trice intros the song with, "Obie Trice, real name no gimmicks." Eminem produced Trice's first album in 2003 and gave him a role in the movie 8 Mile. In early 2006, Trice was shot in the head while driving his SUV, but was treated and released.
The opening lines, "Two trailer park girls go round the outside" came from a traditional Appalachian square dance song called "Buffalo Gals." Malcolm McLaren, who is best known for managing The Sex Pistols and Bow Wow Wow, released a rap version of "Buffalo Gals" in 1983 that brought a lot of attention to the song.
As part of Eminem's critique of Moby in this song, he exclaims, "Nobody listens to Techno." This line became a popular sample in the Techno community and was made into a song produced by Deep Dish and Danny Howells under the alias Size DDD (Deep Dish Danny)
Ms. Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, is mentioned in the lyrics. She once referred to Eminem's music as "Despicable. It is horrible. This is dreadful. This is shameful. This is awful." Apparently, Eminem found her remarks offensive.
Eminem compares himself to Elvis Presley in this song, noting that both excelled in music styles dominated by black musicians. Eminem points out that many of those who criticize him were fans of Elvis, who did the same thing.
Speaking during a Reddit AMA, Moby said that he likes this song despite being dissed on it, as, "he gave me some amazing free publicity."
Moby added that he does not hate Eminem for abasing him in song. "I think apart from his misogyny and homophobia he's an amazingly talented rapper," he wrote. "And it's amazing to me that he's had such a long and successful career. So kudos to him."
“Keep on truckin’” (Eddie Kendricks)
The phrase "keep on truckin'" is a phrase of encouragement meaning to continue stay focused regardless of circumstances or setbacks. The term originates from a song first recorded by Blind Boy Fuller in the 1930s, "Truckin' My Blues Away."
Truckin' on down the line
Hey hey hey
I say keep on truckin'
Truckin' my blues away
The phrase was popularised by the US underground cartoonist Robert Crumb in a one-page comic published in the first issue of Zap Comix in 1968.
This song was Eddie Kendricks' first major hit as a solo artist, coming two years after his departure from The Temptations. He believed it was the title that ensured it was a success. "The old people used to truck when they were dancing. And I knew the trucking industry would embrace the record," Kendricks told Fred Bronson.
The song's grooves were clearly aimed at the dance floor and it was arguably the first-recorded and released disco hit record. Other possible candidates for the first disco hit include "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia), " George McRae's "Rock Your Baby," The Hues Corporation's "Rock The Boat" and Barry White's "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe."
“Expressway (to your heart)” (The Soul Survivors)
This was the first hit record written and produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who helped create the Philadelphia Soul sound with songs like "If You Don't Know Me By Now" and "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)," which were released on their Philadelphia International label. Gamble and Huff are from Camden, New Jersey, which is just east of Philadelphia, and often took the Schuylkill Expressway, which is the "Expressway To Your Heart." Gamble wrote the lyrics, and he explained to National Public Radio: "I was on my way over to see a young lady, and the expressway was backed up. This is when they just started the expressway in 1967 - I was sitting there for what seemed like hours, so I started beating on the dashboard and singing, 'Expressway to your heart, trying to get to you.' Songs come from your imagination. You have to be quick to capture the moment."
This song starts with the sound of car horns, which came from records containing sound effects. The horns were inspired by the Lovin' Spoonful song "Summer In The City," which also used the effect.
Gamble and Huff reused the lyrics "Shower you with love and affection, now you won't look in my direction" on the song I'm Gonna Make You Love Me, which contains the line, "I'm gonna shower you with love and affection, look out, it's comin' in your direction."
The Soul Survivors were a white group from New York City. They had one more Top 40 hit: "Explosion (In My Soul)."
“The House of the rising sun” (The Animals)
Historians have not been able to definitively identify The House Of The Rising Sun, but here are the two most popular theories:
1) The song is about a brothel in New Orleans. "The House Of The Rising Sun" was named after Madame Marianne LeSoleil Levant (which means "Rising Sun" in French) and was open for business from 1862 (occupation by Union troops) until 1874, when it was closed due to complaints by neighbors. It was located at 826-830 St. Louis St.
2) It's about a women's prison in New Orleans called the Orleans Parish women's prison, which had an entrance gate adorned with rising sun artwork. This would explain the "ball and chain" lyrics in the song.
The melody is a traditional English ballad, but the song became popular as an African-American folk song. It was recorded by Texas Alexander in the 1920s, then by a number of other artists including Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Josh White and later Nina Simone. It was her version The Animals first heard. No one can claim rights to the song, meaning it can be recorded and sold royalty-free. Many bands covered the song after it became a hit for The Animals.
The folk music historian Alan Lomax recorded a version in 1937 by a 16-year-old girl named Georgia Turner. In this context, it is sung in the first person, present tense with the singer lamenting how the House of the Rising Sun has ruined her life. In this traditional folk version, the main character is either a prostitute or a prisoner. The Animals changed it to a gambler to make their version more radio-friendly.
The Animals performed this song while touring England with Chuck Berry. It went over so well that they recorded it between stops on the tour. In our 2010 interview with Animals lead singer Eric Burdon, he explained: "'House of the Rising Sun' is a song that I was just fated to. It was made for me and I was made for it. It was a great song for the Chuck Berry tour because it was a way of reaching the audience without copying Chuck Berry. It was a great trick and it worked. It actually wasn't only a great trick, it was a great recording. The best aspect of it, I've been told, is that Bob Dylan, who was angry at first, turned into a rocker. Dylan went electric in the shadow of The Animals classic 'House of the Rising Sun.'"
Bob Dylan recorded this on his first album. The Animals version was one of the first songs to put a rock rhythm to a rolk song, something Dylan did a lot soon after.
This was the first song since 1962 by a British band to hit #1 in America that was not written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
This was the first international hit Mickie Most produced. An Englishman, Most went to South Africa in 1959 and formed a band called Mickie Most and his Playboys. Since rock music had not come to the country, Most recorded popular songs like "Johnny B. Goode" and "Shake, Rattle And Roll," running up a string of hits. Upon returning to England in 1962, he turned to production work, since he had honed his songcraft skills in South Africa.
After seeing The Animals perform at Club A-Go-Go in Newcastle, he began producing the band; their first recording was "Baby Let Me Take You Home," which was released as the group's first single and made UK #21. Next was "The House of the Rising Sun."
Most quickly became the top producer in England, adding Herman's Hermits, Donovan, Lulu and Jeff Beck to his roster.
The Animals recorded this in one take, as they had perfected the song from years of performing it on the road. The Animals' drummer John Steel recalls in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, "We Played Liverpool on May 17 1964 and then drove to London where Mickie (Most) had booked a studio for ITV's Ready Steady Go! Because of the reaction we were getting to 'Rising Sun,' we asked to record it and he said, 'Okay we'll do it at the same session.' We set up for balance, played a few bars for the engineer - it was mono with no overdubs - and we only did one take. We listened to it and Mickie said, 'That's it, it's a single.' The engineer said it was too long, but instead of chopping out a bit, Mickie had the courage to say, 'We're in a microgroove world now, we will release it.' A few weeks later it was #1 all over the world. When we knocked The Beatles off the top in America, they sent us a telegram which read, 'Congratulations from The Beatles (a group)'." The producer Mickie Most recalls, "Everything was in the right place, the planets were in the right place, the stars were in the right place and the wind was blowing in the right direction. It only took 15 minutes to make so I can't take much credit for the production. It was just a case of capturing the atmosphere in the studio."
The Animals had 13 more Top 40 hits in the US, becoming one of the most successful British Invasion bands in the United States. They split up in 1968 over various music and business issues. Burdon told us: "I don't think that The Animals got a chance to evolve. We were the first to admit that we took Blues songs from American artists, but if the Animals had stuck together and worked together instead of worrying about who was getting all the money, we could have evolved more and come out with more music to be proud of."
Alan Price was the only band member given credit for arranging the track, meaning he is paid almost all the royalties. Their record company told the other members that there was not enough room to list them as arrangers.
The organ solo was inspired by jazzman Jimmy Smith's hit "Walk on the Wild Side." Alan Price performed the solo on a Vox Continental.
“Love never felt so good” (Michael Jackson)
Michael Jackson originally wrote this song in 1983 in a session with Canadian singer-songwriter Paul Anka around the time they recorded "This Is It."
Jackson's demo was leaked in 2006 and a higher quality version leaked four years later. Timbaland and his team of beatsmiths gave the song a face lift and the new version was included on Jackson's 2014 posthumous album, Xscape.
Timbaland paid tribute to Jackson's Off the Wall track "Workin' Day And Night" by sampling percussion and breaths from the song.
The single edit was also reworked as a duet with American singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake. This remix was released as a digital download on May 2, 2014, a day after Jackson's solo version was debuted on the iHeart Radio Music Awards.
Johnny Mathis recorded a version with new lyrics by Paul Anka and American songwriter Kathy Wakefield, which was released on his 1984 album, A Special Part of Me.
It was Michael Jackson who initially encouraged Justin Timberlake to go solo during his 'N Sync days. "I think it's the first idea that I ever got about doing something on my own because it was the first time I ever really felt the confidence to do it," Justin explained in an episode of Oprah's Master Class.
The song was Jackson's 33rd Top 20 Hot 100 hit and his first since "Butterflies" reached #14 in January 2002.
So how did Justin Timberlake end up on the song's single mix? "L.A. [Reid] was torn; I wasn't as torn," Timbaland told MTV News about the singer's inclusion. "I'm like, The kids gonna flock to this one. People don't know Off The Wall like they know 'SexyBack.' So, this got more feel like if it was 'SexyBack,' but respect to Michael Jackson, this is how we gonna do it."
It was Timberlake who chose to feature on this tune rather than any other Xscape track. "He picked the song, and that song stuck out to him," Timbaland explained. "The other songs, he was like, That's Michael, man; you can't get on nothing with Michael. It's Michael."
Timberlake directed the song's music video with Rich Lee, who's also worked with Eminem on several of his classic clips. It splices footage of some of Jackson's influential visuals with JT and a crowd of young dancers attempting some of the King of Pop's classic choreography.
“Can’t feel my face” (The Weeknd)
This song finds Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye describing a passionate affair with a woman that he knows is no good for him, but is enjoying too much to stop. His lyrics describing the numbing sensation of being in love are crooned over pop synths courtesy of Swedish pop songwriter Max Martin, who has previously worked with the likes of Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.
"I can't feel my face" is a line from the 2001 movie Blow; Bobcat Goldthwait's character says it after taking a bump of cocaine.
This led to rumors that the song is about cocaine, and there is ample evidence to back up the theory, as The Weeknd is clearly out of sorts over something that he knows isn't good for him, but he can't resist. Musically, the song is rather unpredictable, simulating the erratic feeling the drug induces.
The Weeknd goes through a range of emotions as this song progresses to the chorus. In the verses, he seems to have made peace with this relationship ("And she'll always get the best of me the worst is yet to come"). In the pre-chorus, however, he is drawn back in, as she tells him not to worry, that she's in this with him. Finally, he reaches the agony and the ecstasy of the chorus, where he can't feel his face.
Abel Tesfaye debuted the song at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote speech in San Francisco on June 8, 2015. The R&B singer took to the stage after it had been announced that Apple would be launching a new streaming service, called Apple Music, later that month.
Directed by Grant Singer, who also helmed the clip for his track "The Hills," the video sees The Weeknd perform the single in front of a packed, smoky club. However, he struggles to win over the audience and when one man lights a cigarette then throws the lighter at the singer, he is engulfed in flames. The audience, seeing the heat turned up, get on their feet and party.
This was The Weeknd's first US Hot 100 #1 song, following three previous Top 10 hits: "Love Me Harder" with Ariana Grande, "Earned It" and "The Hills."
This was the 21st Hot 100 #1 with Max Martin on the credits, but the first one recorded by a solo male artist. The previous 20 of the Swedish producer's chart-toppers had been recorded by either solo female artists or groups.
Entertainment Tonight asked The Weeknd's model girlfriend, Bella Hadid, if this song is about her. "There's a lot that goes on his mind, so I don't know if it's about me," she replied. "It's crazy what some people think of."
This was voted the Best Song of 2015 by the Billboard magazine critics. They said: "There are enough hooks in this one single for a dozen chart-toppers, but Abel Tesfaye packed them all into three-and-a-half minutes of sheer ecstasy."
The Rolling Stone writers agreed also ranking this as their Song of the Year. They said: "Tesfaye's showstopping vocal performance is what makesit an instant classic. He spends the song remaking himself as a pop giant – cleverly disguising his obsession with drugs beneath a metaphor about a dangerously hot fling, and playing down his angst-y tendencies until there's just a hint of existential pain in his lighter-than-air falsetto. By the time the song is over, you'll do anything for another hit."
The Weeknd performed this at the Grammy Awards in 2016, where it was up for Best Pop Solo Performance and Record Of The Year. It didn't win either award, but Beauty Behind The Madness picked up Best Urban Contemporary Album and "Earned It" won for Best R&B Performance.
In a 2016 interview with Zane Lowe for Beats 1, The Weeknd revealed this tune was born out of a sudden burst of creative energy. "It was the fastest song I had written on Beauty Behind the Madness," he said. "It was one of the last records. It almost didn't make the record. We wrote that in about maybe 40 minutes, recorded it, and it ended up being one of my biggest records ever."
He also spoke about the apprehension he felt releasing an abnormally upbeat single for himself. "'Can't Feel My Face' definitely made me nervous because it was so separate from what I'm used to putting out," he said. "It was a risk. But doing songs like 'Earned It' and 'Love Me Harder' definitely - I think 'Love Me Harder' was even more nervous for me, so doing that I was kind of sending a message and kind of easing into 'Can't Feel My Face.'"