meta-script7 Musical Sibling Rivalries: CCR, Oasis, The Kinks & More |
Oasis lead singer Liam Gallagher and brother Noel Gallagher in 1995
Oasis lead singer Liam Gallagher and brother Noal Gallagher in 1995

Photo: Dave Hogan/Getty Images


7 Musical Sibling Rivalries: CCR, Oasis, The Kinks & More

Sometimes arguments between siblings are brief and forgiving. Other times, the damage is irreparable. Read on for seven historic sibling rivalries, break-ups and reunions in rock and pop history.

GRAMMYs/Nov 27, 2023 - 04:04 pm

It stands to reason that, in music, the family that plays together stays together, although that’s not always the case.

For every Kings of Leon, Haim, Jonas BrothersJackson 5, Osmonds, Isley Brothers, Bee Gees or Hanson that stand the test of time, there are other family-based groups where the grueling and interdependent nature of rock stardom has led to dissension in the ranks.

 Sometimes those arguments between siblings are brief and forgiving. On other occasions, wedges are forged and sides are taken, resulting in either a permanent breakup of an act; a launch into new creative horizons; or hopefully a reconciliation.

 Here are seven well-known acts whose internal bickering between has led to either unexpected ends or surprising detours

The Everly Brothers: Don & Phil Everly

The Everlys' close-knit country pop and rock 'n' roll harmonies — which netted immortal chart-toppers "Bye Bye Love," "Wake Up, Little Susie" and "All I Have To Do Is Dream" — inspired everyone from the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel to Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. As such, it's difficult to fathom that the Don and Phil Everly were so at odds for the better part of a decade that they'd spend entire evenings together on stage without exchanging a word.

A 2014 Los Angeles Times article reported that "vastly different views on politics and life," drove a wedge between  Don and Phil.  The brothers broke up at least twice; their first estrangement followed a 1973 show at the California theme park Knott's Berry Farm, when Phil smashed his guitar and walked offstage.

That split resulted in separate careers up until a 1983 reunion at London's Royal Albert Hall and the recording of several albums, including EB'84 with producer Dave Edmunds.

Phil Everly died of pneumonia in 2014 at the age of 74, while Don succumbed to undisclosed causes at the age of 84 in 2021.

 It is unknown if the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award recipients ever reconciled.

 The Louvin Brothers: Ira & Charlie Louvin

Grand Ole Opry legends and brothers Charlie and Ira Louvin are known for such songs as "I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby" and "Hope That You're Hoping."

Born in Henagar, Alabama, the Louvin's country, bluegrass and gospel sound developed from their strict Baptist upbringing.  Yet the brothers preached one philosophy in song, Ira, who complemented Charlie's guitar on mandolin,  lived another: His inability to resist vices — drinking and womanizing — prompted Charlie to go solo in 1963.

Ira continued to lead a colorful life: his third wife shot him four times in the chest and twice in the hand after he allegedly tried to kill her with a telephone cord- but Louvin survived.

However, it was a 1965 car crash that eventually claimed Ira and his fourth wife, Anne: they were killed by a drunk driver. 

The tragedy cut short any chance of  a duo reunion, although Charlie enjoyed several Top 40 country hits through 1971. 

The Louvin Brothers were  enshrined in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. 

The Kinks: Ray & Dave Davies

English rock rebels the Kinks have sold more than 50 million albums since forming in the '60s, although most of their  hits — "Lola," " You Really Got Me," "Apeman," "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman" and "Come Dancing" among others — stemmed from the pen of Ray Davies.

Contrary to popular belief, brother Dave says he is good with that equation — but admits that the relationship between them is naturally tumultuous.

Dave Davies explained the dynamics of his relationship with Ray to The Daily Mail in 2017, describing it as "a married couple who have just reached the end of the road."

"You know when one partner gives and gives and the other takes, and finally you realise (sic) you can’t do it any more?’

"You can’t divorce your brother, though. ‘No, you can’t. So we are stuck with each other, but I think I’ve accepted that this is just the way our relationship is.

In a separate interview with  The Daily Express in 2011, Ray agreed. "When we were together it was aggressive, violent, powerful but we triggered off each other."

Still, the dust-ups between them were legendary, leading to a two-decade rift.

As recently as 2018, there's been talk that Ray and Dave Davies had buried the hatchet and were intent on reuniting the Kinks... but here we are in 2023 and that possibility seems no closer to reality.

Creedence Clearwater Revival: John & Tom Fogerty

After American rockers Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) formed in El Cerrito, California in 1959 (they began as the Blue Velvets and rechristened themselves several times before settling on CCR in 1968), it was clear that lead singer, guitarist and songwriter John Fogerty was calling the shots — including acting as the band's manager.

CCR included Fogerty's brother Tom, who played rhythm guitar;  bass player Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford.  Following  a particularly lucrative period between 1969 and 1970,  John  decided that Tom would no longer sing lead on or co-write any song while he was in the band, despite previously handling lead vocals and collaborating on some pre-CCR material.

"He cut Tom Fogerty out from singing," Clifford told AZ Central in 2015.  'Without Tom...there wouldn't have been a Creedence Clearwater Revival. When Tom graciously gave up the vocals to his younger brother, he had no idea that he would never be singing another song again. So Stu and I and Tom were always at odds with John about that."

Tom Fogerty left after 1970's Pendulum, and apart from a 1980 reunion during his wedding reception, CCR never performed again.  He died in 1990 after contracting AIDS from HIV-infected blood during a transfusion during back surgery, and was posthumously inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

Heart: Ann & Nancy Wilson

One of the top female-led rock bands in modern music history thanks to hits like "Magic Man" and "What About Love," Heart has been the role model for thousands of musicians.

But the first public signs of friction between sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson occurred in August 2016, when Ann's husband Dean Wetter was arrested for assaulting Nancy's 16-year-old twin sons after he boys reportedly left open the door to his RV.

Rolling Stone reported that the siblings hadn't spoken  to each other since the 2016 tour ended, but relations have eventually warmed up. The sisters reunited for Heart's  53-date Love Alive tour in 2019 - and more recently, Nancy joined Ann Wilson and her band Tripsitter on stage October 10 in Santa Rosa California to perform "Barracuda."  They received the Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2023.

Ann Wilson has continued to release solo albums and front her band Tripsitter, while guitarist Nancy has formed Nancy Wilson's Heart.

In a 2022 Guitar World interview, Ann said she and Nancy are "okay," but have different ideas for the future of Heart. "We haven't figured out a compromise yet," she admitted.

The Black Crowes: Chris & Rich Robinson

Sometimes, money and control carry more weight than people insinuate.

Guitarist Rich Robinson left the Black Crowes in January 2015 due to an alleged ownership agreement with brother and vocalist Chris. Both men divided and  conquered with solo careers but remained largely incommunicado for almost five years.

But in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, both Rich and Chris credited their children with healing the rift between them. 

"My daughter, Cheyenne (now 11), was like: ‘What’s the deal with you and Uncle Rich, and why don’t I know my cousins?’"Chris told the paper. "Those are the kind of questions that will make you think and reflect."

"Definitely. Kids are honest and curious, and they don’t have issues like Chris and I did," Rich said  in a joint interview with his brother. "So, as Chris said, that opened a door (to reconciliation)."

Together again since 2021, the Black Crowes will be shaking their moneymakers opening the final Aerosmith tour, once Steven Tyler's larynx heals. 

Oasis: Liam & Noel Gallagher

While backstage in 2009 in Paris, the tumultuous in-fighting between Oasis' Liam and Noel Gallagher reached new heights; a violent fistfight that drove a nail into the coffin of the band.

Noel's statement: "It's with some sadness and great relief to tell you that I quit Oasis tonight. 'People will write and say what they like, but I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer."

This was the last in a number of physical altercations that had taken place over the years during tours. Since the split, Noel has been recording and touring with his band the High Flying Birds while Liam first took to the road and studio with Beady Eye, which split in 2014; he's now performing solo.

However, Liam has reportedly expressed interest in reuniting  with Noel and strike up Oasis, though whether there have been any private conversations towards this end remains to be seen.

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Oasis in 1996
Oasis in 1996.

Photo: Fryderyk Gabowicz/picture alliance via Getty Images


10 Songs To Get Into Britpop: Listen To Classics By Oasis, Elastica, Blur & More

Thirty years after the Britpop explosion began with Blur's 'Parklife,' discover (or revisit) 10 essential tracks from the movement that defined British music culture in the '90s — and still influences artists today.

GRAMMYs/May 7, 2024 - 02:16 pm

The Britpop movement first gathered pace in 1993 — its pure optimism, laddish mentality, and colorful Union Jack aesthetic an attractive proposition for those who couldn't relate to the alienation and angst that defined grunge. Drawing from the classic guitar music of the 1960s, it was also steeped in nostalgia, and, perhaps more notably, a fervent belief that anything the Americans could do, the Brits could do better.

Unsurprisingly, the deeply patriotic scene didn't travel too well: only a handful of acts, most notably Oasis and Blur, made any notable impact across the Atlantic during its four-year golden period. On home turf, however, Britpop defined the zeitgeist, turning the London town of Camden into the nation's cultural hub, sweeping up everyone from future Prime Minister Tony Blair to sheep-preserving artist Damien Hirst, and sparking a chart battle so intense it made the BBC's Six O'Clock News.

And it continues to resonate. Oasis' Liam Gallagher and Stone Roses' John Squire recently topped the UK album chart with their collaborative self-titled LP. The middle episodes of Netflix's must-watch romantic drama One Day is heavily soundtracked by the scene's finest. And Dua Lipa recently cited its two biggest bands — as well as Britpop-adjacent acts Radiohead, Massive Attack, and Primal Scream — as a key influence on her new album Radical Optimism.

With the catalyst for Britpop's domination, Blur's Parklife, recently celebrating its 30th anniversary, what better time to look back at its finest contributions. Ignoring any acts that sat on the outskirts (like Manic Street Preachers or Saint Etienne), or who broke through post-1997 (see Catatonia, Embrace), and sticking to just one track per artist, here's a look at 10 songs that embodied the term Cool Britannia.

Oasis — "Live Forever"

How do you choose from the era's two biggest blockbusters, 1994's record-breaking Definitely Maybe and 1995's (What's The Story) Morning Glory? "Wonderwall" is by far Oasis most recognizable hit, "Cigarettes and Alcohol" summed up the Mancunians' hard-partying ethos in five glorious rock and roll minutes, and "Don't Look Back in Anger" remains the scene's greatest Beatles pastiche. And then there's game-changing single "Supersonic," orchestral sing-along "Whatever," and the truly epic "Champagne Supernova."

But it's the aptly titled "Live Forever," the third single from the Gallagher brothers' near-flawless debut, which has weathered the best. Showcasing the elongated delivery that would become his forte, Liam delivers both an all-time great vocal and a positive meditation that essentially serves as a Britpop manifesto. And unlike on the more bloated Oasis albums to come, Noel's wall of guitar sounds here is anthemic, evocative and downright thrilling.

Blur — "Girls and Boys"

The audience at this year's Coachella might not be particularly familiar with Blur's "Girls and Boys," much to frontman Damon Albarn's annoyance (it did only peak at No.59 on the Hot 100 30 years previously, to be fair). But anyone old enough to remember the spring of 1994 across the pond will know every word.

Ironically, one of the defining Britpop anthems has Mediterranean roots. It was inspired by the Brits-abroad debauchery that the scene's ultimate power couple, Albarn and Elastica frontwoman Justine Frischmann, witnessed during a vacation in Spain. And with its self-described "disco drums, nasty guitars, and Duran Duran bass," Parklife's gender-fluid, multilingual ("You get nasty blisters/ Du bist sehr schön"), and insanely infectious lead single was tailor-made to soundtrack such dance floor hedonism.

Pulp — "Common People"

Pulp had been plugging away on the fringes of the UK's indie scene since the late 1970s, but had to wait until the Britpop explosion to progress beyond cult concern. After making their long-awaited breakthrough with 1994's His N Hers, the Sheffield outfit then joined the big league with Mercury Prize-winning 1995 follow-up Different Class and an instant classic lead single that established eccentric frontman Jarvis Cocker as the scene's ultimate satirist.

As referenced by Rosamund Pike's prime suspect in Saltburn, "Common People" was inspired by a real-life barroom encounter with a privileged art student with ambitions of roughing it with the lower class simply for fun. Cocker initially indulges the unnamed woman in the hope of some bedroom action. But he eventually admonishes her lust for social voyeurism over an exhilarating flurry of guitars, violins and erm stylophones. A true one-off.

Supergrass — "Alright"

Although the impressive sideburns suggested otherwise, Supergrass — aka frontman Gaz Coombes, bassist Mick Quinn, and drummer Danny Goffey — were only on the cusp of adulthood when they released their debut album, 1995's I Should Coco. And saving the best until the last, its fifth single brilliantly encapsulated their youthful exuberance.

Just ask Steven Spielberg. After seeing the video for "Alright," where the trio get up to various japes while traveling across North Wales on a king size bed, the director propositioned the band with a The Monkees-esque TV show, an offer politely declined. The song itself, which did enjoy a taste of Hollywood as part of the Clueless soundtrack, is similarly mischievous, combining jaunty piano riffs and summery surf guitars with joyous tales of teenage kicks ("Got some cash, bought some wheels/ Took it out 'cross the fields/ Lost control, hit a wall/ But we're alright").

Suede — "Trash"

The lure of the Britpop world was so impossible to resist that even Suede, a band renowned for their sexual ambiguity, animalistic art rock, and odes to the seedier side of life, eventually jumped on board. Indeed, while their self-titled debut and equally nihilistic follow-up Dog Man Star had seemed designed for wallowing in student bedsits, third album Coming Up was a far more celebratory affair primed for the indie disco.

The unlikely blockbuster, recorded in the wake of guitarist Bernard Butler's departure in 1994, spawned five consecutive UK Top 10 hits, the most immediate of which was lead single "Trash." An outsider anthem written about the band itself ("Oh maybe, maybe it's the clothes we wear/ The tasteless bracelets and the dye in our hair/ Maybe it's our kookiness"), the David Bowie-esque glam rocker instantly made you want to become an honorary member of Brett Anderson's gang.

The Bluetones — "Slight Return"

As with Suede and Pulp, London-four piece The Bluetones didn't automatically fit into the Britpop landscape. Mark Morriss was at the more unassuming end of the frontman spectrum, his tender, softly-sung voice a far cry from the more boorish delivery of Gallagher, Albarn, et al. And their sound owed just as much to the jangly guitar pop of Teenage Fanclub and melodic songcraft of Squeeze as the Fab Four.

But their debut album, 1996's Expecting to Fly — which knocked (What's The Story) Morning Glory? off the UK top spot — proved that the Cool Britannia era wasn't entirely averse to something a little more sensitive. Flagship single "Slight Return" (very nearly a British chart-topper, too), was undeniably its piece-de-resistance, its intimate verses and propulsive, life-affirming chorus neatly encapsulating their everyman charm.

Babybird — "You're Gorgeous"

Perhaps Britpop's most misunderstood classic, Babybird's "You're Gorgeous" isn't a declaration of undying love tailor made for a first dance. As countless newlyweds may be horrified to learn, it's the tale of a creepy photographer sweet-talking his models into suggestive poses ("You took an instamatic camera/ And pulled my sleeves around my heart") with the false promise of worldwide fame.

Also featured in Saltburn (on this occasion, musically), the feminist statement briefly turned Stephen Jones' one-man-band into a major chart force — "Don't Look Back in Anger" was the only Britpop song to sell more in 1996. Although it proved to be something of a one-hit wonder, its subversive themes and bittersweet melodies — reminiscent of Echo and Bunnymen at their commercial peak — have aged far more gracefully than most of Britpop's more straightforward serenades.

Elastica — "Connection"

There was a brief moment in 1995 when Justine Frischmann looked as though she would equal, or even eclipse, the success of her then-boyfriend Damon Albarn. Elastica's self-titled debut album reached No. 1 in the UK, becoming the second fastest-selling ever in the process. And it reached a creditable No.66 on the Billboard 200, a chart which had completely eluded Blur.

Even so, thanks to a combination of crippling drug addiction, constant lineup changes, and lost momentum, Elastica's reign proved to be short-lived. Still, they'll always have one of the scene's greatest singles runs, encompassing "Stutter," "Line-Up," "No More Heroes," and their biggest US hit, "Connection." The latter also boasts the scene's greatest intro, a ferocious ball of energy which includes squalling synths, guttural grunts, and a primitive guitar riff brazenly borrowed from Wire's "Three Girl Rhumba." Britpop never sounded more explosive.

Ocean Colour Scene — "The Day We Caught the Train"

Occupying the same unapologetically retro space as Cast, The Boo Radleys, and the Godfather of Britpop Paul Weller, Ocean Colour Scene were never one of the scene's most fashionable bands. But breakthrough album Moseley Shoals' mix of '60s rock, mod, and Northern Soul spawned two undeniable classics.

Firstly, there was "The Riverboat Song," a triumphant pastiche of Led Zeppelin's "Four Sticks" that became the walk-on music for Chris Evans' zeitgeist-defining TV show TFI Friday. And then the Birmingham four-piece delivered the even more majestic "The Day We Caught the Train," a nostalgic ode to escapism ("You and I should ride the coast/ And wind up in our favorite coats just miles away") complete with a carefree sun-soaked video that foreshadowed the good vibes of Summer '96. Who cares about being cool anyway?

The Verve — "Bitter Sweet Symphony"

The general consensus is that Britpop died the day Oasis released their self-indulgent third album Be Here Now in August 1997. Released just two months beforehand, The Verve's crowning glory, therefore, was something of a last hurrah, a lush orchestral affair that briefly transformed a bunch of unsung psychedelic rockers into Britain's biggest band.

"Bitter Sweet Symphony" was famously built on a sample of Andrew Loog Oldham's version of The Rolling Stones' "The Last Time"; the band were forced to relinquish all royalties as a result. But there's more to the urban hymn than those sweeping strings — its emphatic beats, for one thing, Richard Ashcroft's vocal swagger for another. Let's not forget the iconic Hoxton Street video where Ashcroft displayed a staggering unawareness of personal space. The second highest-charting Britpop track Stateside (No. 12 on the Hot 100) and only the second to receive a GRAMMY nod, too, "Bittersweet Symphony" was  a majestic Britpop send-off.

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The Black Crowes
The Black Crowes

Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images


The Black Crowes' Long Flight To New Album 'Happiness Bastards': Side Projects, Cooled Nerves & A Brotherly Rapprochement

The Black Crowes have had a lengthy, lumpy history: this reunion is their third in total. Here's how the Southern rock favorites returned for a back-to-basics new album, 'Happiness Bastards' — their first in 15 years.

GRAMMYs/Mar 14, 2024 - 07:30 pm

Imagine starting a world-conquering rock band with your brother, not speaking for eight years, then running into each other at the airport hotel. That's exactly what happened to Chris and Rich Robinson — the famously quarrelsome brothers at the heart of the Black Crowes.

Those crossed paths eventually led the singer and guitarist to reconstitute the Crowes for the 30th anniversary of their hotcakes-selling 1990 debut, Shake Your Money Maker. (They're the only two original members of the band; bassist Sven Pipien's been with them on and off since 1998's By Your Side.)

Fans ate up those Shake Your Money Maker gigs — and now, the GRAMMY nominees are a truly creative entity once again. Their new album, Happiness Bastards — out March 15 via their own Silver Arrow Records — is their first in 15 years, and an inspired reset, drawing from the same stew of blues and boogie they lapped up hungrily than three decades ago.

As you absorb tunes like "Bedside Manners," "Wanting and Waiting" and "Kindred Friend," read on for a quick breakdown of what the Black Crowes have been up to during all the time off.

The Chris Robinson Brotherhood Forged Ahead — For A Time

Whenever the Crowes' wings were clipped, Chris Robinson tended to reembrace what he calls his "farm-to-table psychedelic band," which featured Crowes keyboardist Adam MacDougall, guitarist Neal Casal, and other close compadres. (Robinson's also brought Crowes songs to the stage solo.)

Robinson clearly thought the word of Casal, a close collaborator with Ryan Adams; when Casal tragically died by suicide in 2019 at only 50, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood closed up shop for good. But before that…

Old Songs, New Wings

Around this time, Chris Robinson also started a satellite band, As The Crow Flies, which performed his old band's tunes — full stop. Former Crowes Audley Freed and Adam MacDougall joined the singer, as did guitarist Marcus King and drummer Tony Leone.

By all accounts, his intentions were pure. "I'm not out to redo the Black Crowes or outdo the Black Crowes or anything like that," he said at the time. "I just want to sing the music." 

Rich Robinson Soldiered On Solo…

Amid his older brother's musical adventures, Rich Robinson pressed on as a solo artist; he'd released his first solo album, Paper, in 2004.

During their most recent hiatus, Rich released 2016's Flux, which he described as a "very eclectic record and that it draws from all of my influences. It takes you on a journey and that's what records should do.

…And With Another Band

That year, Rich Robinson formed the Magpie Salute, which also contained Crowes alumni in Pipien guitarist Marc Ford. Their first album, High Water I, was released in 2018; it got a II in 2019.

Lots more happened outside of the Robinsons. Their drummer, Steve Gorman, released a tell-all memoir in 2019: Hard to Handle: The Life and Death of the Black Crowes, co-written with music writer Steven Hyden.

Tragically, Eddie Harsch, their keyboardist from 1991 to 2006, passed away in 2016 of unreported causes; word was that he overdosed.

Despite these lumps, the Black Crowes are back in business, with Happiness Bastards and an attendant tour on the immediate horizon. They'll be joined by keyboardist Erik Deutsch, guitarist Nico Bereciartua, drummer Cully Symington, and backing vocalists Mackenszie Adams and Lesley Grant.

The Crowes may look different these days, decades after "Twice as Hard" and other tunes put them on the map. But on Happiness Bastards, they've still got southern harmony in spades — and they're still your musical companions.

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Rihanna attends Marvel Studios' "Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever" Premiere on October 26, 2022 in Hollywood, California.

Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / FilmMagic / Getty Images


10 Love Songs That Have Nothing to Do With Love: From "Every Breath You Take" To "Baby It's Cold Outside"

Don't let the song titles fool you. From misogynist attitudes to tales of coercion and even a secret pregnancy, many popular love songs aren't about love at all.

GRAMMYs/Feb 14, 2024 - 03:46 pm

Many studies on love have proven that it seems to be a trait present throughout species. Although it's undeniable that the capacity for love is universal, evidence suggests love manifests differently across individuals. That is why, for many people, love is undefinable, with the word meaning something for one and something else for another. 

This point has never been proven more true than in love songs. Numerous musicians and bands have sung about love, but their definition or meaning of the word and yours might be wholly different. You would be surprised to learn how many love songs have absolutely nothing to do with emotional or physical love.

When you delve beneath the surface, "love" songs are sometimes twisted, uncomfortable, sadistic, and unsavory. So, let's look at 10 love songs with nothing to do with love and everything to do with what they shouldn’t. 

"Every Breath You Take" - the Police 

When the Police released "Every Breath You Take" in 1983, it immediately became a huge hit, reaching No.1 on U.S., UK, Canadian, Irish, and South African charts. On the surface, this song seems romantic, which is why it made its way into numerous movie scenes and weddings, but the lyrics are uncomfortable and prove the song is not actually about love. 

Frontman Sting sings, "I'll be watching you," and, "Oh, can't you see, you belong to me?" about the song's object of affection. Rather than lyrics about a lover, it's believed that the song is about a stalker. At the time Sting was suffering a mental breakdown, making the verses infinitely more evil.

In fact, Sting himself said: "I think it's a nasty little song, really rather evil. It's about jealousy and surveillance and ownership."

"Rollercoaster of Love" - Ohio Players 

On the surface, the lyrics "It's a rollercoaster ride/we're on top for the moment/ and then we'll take that dive" seem to describe a relationship's exhilarating ups and downs. However, there has been much debate over the years about the true meaning behind the Ohio Players' staple. 

The most popular theory is that the song is about life's ups and downs, not love, but we'll never know. According to late frontman Leroy Bronner who wrote the tune, "To this day, I don't know what I wrote." He continued, "The words didn't make sense to me. But it was a hit."

The song also has a much darker recording humor, which further alienates it from the genre of love songs. According to the rumor to which the band responded "No comment," the scream on the track was the sound of a woman being murdered in the recording studio. 

The woman's death is an urban legend, but the band decided to leave it in as a joke and as a way to create buzz for the song, with the actual scream belonging to keyboard player Billy Beck. 

"Can't Feel My Face" - the Weeknd  

The Weeknd is well known for penning lyrics that have multiple meanings, so it's not surprising that his hit track "Can't Feel My Face" isn't really about love. 

With the lyrics: "I can't feel my face when I'm with you/But I love it" and "And I know she'll be the death of me, at least we'll both be numb/And she'll always get the best of me; the worst is yet to come." It sounds like a dark love song about a man who is so in love that he loses all control, which is plausible, but it's more likely the song is about cocaine. 

According to Billboard, the song is about drug dependency, and the Weeknd is crooning about cocaine and likening it to a bad relationship. The Weeknd had hinted at the song being about drugs when he commented: "I just won a new award for a kids' show, Talking 'bout a face numbing off a bag of blow." Unfortunately, it's not very romantic. 

"Umbrella" - Rihanna

Most believe that one of Rihanna's most famous songs is about a woman comforting her partner and explaining that she will be there for him through the good and bad times. "Baby 'cause in the dark you can't see shiny cars/And that's when you need me there. With you, I'll always share," she sings.

However, a few people believe "Umbrella" is about the corruption of a person's soul – Rhianna's in this case. Some believe that the 2007 hit is about Rhianna welcoming the devil into her heart, body, and soul. While this is more of a conspiracy theory than anything else,  a pastor recently posted on TikTok that he came back from hell, and "Umbrella" was one of the songs being used to torture individuals. 

"All I Wanna Do is Make Love To You" -  Heart

If you listen carefully to the lyrics in "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You," it's clear that the 1990 song actually about deceit. 

Nancy and Ann Wilson are singing about being in love with another man who cannot provide her with children because he is impotent — so she finds a willing one-night stand. She sings, "I didn't ask him his name, this lonely boy in the rain." When morning comes, the protagonist says "All I left him was a note/ I told him I am the flower; you are the seed. We walked in the garden; we planted a tree."

After some time has passed, she's unnerved to come across his path, presumably pregnant: "You can imagine his surprise when he saw his own eyes/I said please, please understand/I'm in love with another man/And what he couldn't give me was the one little thing that you can."

"Bad Romance" - Lady Gaga

"Bad Romance" was developed as an experimental pop record featuring elements of German techno and house. With more than 184 million YouTube streams, the 2008 track quickly became one of Lady Gaga's best songs. 

On the surface, "Bad Romance" centers on the pull of a love that's bad for you: "I want your ugly, I want your disease/I want your everything as long as it's free/I want your love." However, it's not so straightforward. 

Gaga said she drew inspiration from the paranoia she experienced while on tour. She also stated the song is about her attraction to unhealthy romantic romances that are not always about love. 

"Young Girl" - Gary Puckett and the Union Gap

Not all love is appropriate, as the song "Young Girl" by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap proves. This 1968 single is wholly inappropriate and creepy (and illegal), but it still managed to become one of the band's best-known songs. In fact, despite the lyrics being more about unsavory infatuation than love, it still reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 (just behind "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay"). 

Initially, this song doesn't appear inappropriate with lyrics  "Young girl, get out of my mind" possibly referencing the romance of a slight age gap. But the group doubles down: "My love for you is way out of line/ Better run, girl/You're much too young, girl."

If these words aren't enough to prove the song is about being infatuated with an underage girl, you might be convinced by lead singer Gary Puckett singing, "Beneath your perfume and make-up you're just a baby in disguise" and "Get out of here before I have the time to change my mind." 

"Under My Thumb" - by the Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones have had their share of controversy over the years, and it's not hard to see why when you consider the meaning behind many of their big hits. "Under My Thumb" might have been marketed as a love song, but it's about a relationship rooted in hate and control. 

With lyrics such as "Under my thumb/It's a squirmin' dog who's just had her day/Under my thumb/

A girl who has just changed her ways," it's apparent that Mick Jagger is singing less about heartbreak and more about power. The misogyny is so clear in this song that it made it into the book Under My Thumb: Songs That Hate Women and the Women That Love Them.

"Baby It's Cold Outside" - Dean Martin 

One of the most popular holiday season love songs, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" was written by Frank Loessser and performed by Dean Martin and Ella Fitzgerald. It's difficult to say if these musicians knew the song's sinister and controversial underbelly. 

"Baby It's Cold Outside" is about a man who pressures a woman to stay at his home by any means necessary. The woman in the song tries to give reasons why she cannot stay with lyrics like "My mother will start to worry" and "My father will be pacing the floor." Yet, her concerns are shot down at every turn, with the man using the bad weather outside to keep her captive. Fortunately, the song has been remade with consensual lyrics, thanks to Kelly Clarkson and John Legend

"You're Gorgeous" - Babybird

This song may have a happy rhythm, but if you pay attention to the lyrics, there is much more to this song than meets the eye. Although the song appears to be about a man who would do anything for his lady love, it is about exploitation. 

This song — the British group's biggest hit, from 1996 — is about a sleazy photographer who takes advantage of a young and naive model and photographs her for men's magazines. The lyrics "You got me to hitch my knees up/And pulled my legs apart" details the true nature of this song.

"People should never be told how to interpret a song," Babybird told the blog Essentially Pop. "So, if they thought it was romantic, then fine." He continued, "Sadly, very few people got the true meaning, which is about male predatory behavior, but in popular music, most critics are a little blind to correct interpretation."

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Kate Bush performing in 1985
Kate Bush performing in 1985

Photo: ZIK Images/United Archives via Getty Images


15 Reissues And Archival Releases For Your Holiday Shopping List

2023 was a banner year for reissues and boxed sets; everyone from the Beatles to Bob Dylan to the Rolling Stones got inspired expansions and repackagings. Here are 15 more to scoop up before 2023 gives way to 2024.

GRAMMYs/Nov 28, 2023 - 03:19 pm

Across 2023, we've been treated to a shower of fantastic reissues, remixes and/or expansions. From the Beatles' Red and Blue albums, to Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, to the Who's Who's Next, the list is far too massive to fit into a single article.

And, happily, it's not over yet: from now until Christmas, there are plenty more reissues to savor — whether they be mere vinyl represses, or lavish plumbings of the source material replete with outtakes.

As you prepare your holiday shopping list, don't sleep on these 15 reissues for the fellow music fanatic in your life — or pick up a bundle for yourself!

X-Ray Spex - Conscious Consumer (Vinyl Reissue)

Whether you view them through the lens of Black woman power or simply their unforgettable, snarling anthems, English punks X-Ray Spex made an indelible mark with their debut 1978 album, Germfree Adolescents.

Seventeen years later, they made a less-discussed reunion album, 1995's Conscious Consumer — which has been unavailable over the next 27 years. After you (re)visit Germfree Adolescents, pick up this special vinyl reissue, remastered from the original tape.

That's out Dec. 15; pre-order it here.

Fall Out Boy - Take This to Your Grave (20th Anniversary Edition)

Released the year before their breakthrough 2005 album From Under the Cork Tree — the one with "Dance, Dance" and "Sugar, We're Goin Down" on it — Fall Out Boy's Take This to Your Grave remains notable and earwormy. The 2004 album aged rather well, and contains fan favorites like "Dead on Arrival."

Revisit the two-time GRAMMY nominees' Myspace-era gem with its 20th anniversary edition, which features a 36-page coffee table book and two unreleased demos: "Colorado Song" and "Jakus Song." It's available Dec. 15.

Coheed and Cambria - Live at the Starland Ballroom

Coheed and Cambria is more than a long-running rock band; they're a sci-fi multimedia universe, as well as a preternaturally tight live band.

Proof positive of the latter is Live at the Starland Ballroom, a document of a performance at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey, in 2004 — that hasn't been on vinyl until now. Grab it here; it dropped Nov. 24, for Record Store Day Black Friday.

Joni Mitchell - Court and Spark Demos

Post-aneurysm recovery, Joni Mitchell's on a well-deserved victory lap. But it's far more rewarding to analyze her as a musical genius than simply shower her with icon-status accolades.

Joni Mitchell Archives – Vol. 3: The Asylum Years (1972–1975), from last October, is a terrific way to do just that; its unvarnished alternate versions strip away the '70s gloss to spellbinding effect.

Which is no exception regarding the Court and Spark demos, which got a standalone release for RSD Black Friday.

P!NK - TRUSTFALL (Deluxe Edition)

The dependable Pink returned in 2023 with the well-regarded TRUSTFALL, and it's already getting an expanded presentation.

Its Deluxe Edition is filled with six previously unheard live recordings from her 2023 Summer Carnival Stadium Tour. Therein, you can find two new singles, including "Dreaming," a collaboration with Marshmello and Sting. Pre-order it today.

Snoop Dogg - Doggystyle (30th Anniversary Edition)

After his star-making turn on Dr. Dre's The Chronic, 16-time GRAMMY nominee Snoop Dogg stepped out with his revolutionary, Dre-assisted debut album, Doggystyle.

Permeated with hedonistic, debaucherous fun, the 1993 classic only furthered G-funk's momentum as a force within hip-hop.

Revisit — or discover — the album via this 30-year anniversary reissue, available now on streaming and vinyl.

As per the latter, the record is available special color variants, including a gold foil cover and clear/cloudy blue vinyl via Walmart, a clear and black smoke vinyl via Amazon and a green and black smoke vinyl via indie retailers.

Alicia Keys - The Diary of Alicia Keys 20

Alicia Keys has scored an incredible 15 GRAMMYs and 31 nominations — and if that run didn't exactly begin with 2003's The Diary of Alicia Keys, that album certainly cemented her royalty.

Her heralded second album, which features classics like "Karma," "If I Was Your Woman"/"Walk On By" and "Diary," is being reissued on Dec. 1 — expanded to 24 tracks, and featuring an unreleased song, "Golden Child."

The Sound of Music (Super Deluxe Edition Boxed Set)

Fifty-seven years has done nothing to dim the appeal of 1965's The Sound of Music — both the flick and its indelible soundtrack.

Re-immerse yourself in classics like "My Favorite Things" via The Sound of Music (Super Deluxe Edition Boxed Set), which arrives Dec. 1.

The box contains more than 40 previously unreleased tracks, collecting every musical element from the film for the first time, along with instrumentals for every song, demos and rare outtakes from the cast.

Furthermore, an audio Blu-ray features the full score in hi-res plus a new Dolby Atmos mix of the original soundtrack. And the whole shebang is housed in a 64-page hardbound book with liner notes from film preservationist Mike Matessino.

ABBA - The Visitors (Deluxe Edition)

With their eighth album, 1981's The Visitors, the Swedish masterminds — and five-time GRAMMY nominees — stepped away from lighter fare and examined themselves more deeply than ever.

The result was heralded as their most mature album to date — and has been repackaged before, with a Deluxe Edition in 2012.

This (quite belated) 40th anniversary edition continues its evolution in the marketplace. And better late than never: The Visitors was their final album until their 2021 farewell, Voyage, and on those terms alone, deserves reexamination.

Aretha Franklin - A Portrait of the Queen 1970-1974

Rolling Stone didn't recently declare Aretha Franklin the greatest singer of all time for no reason: in 2023, there's nary a pretender to the Queen of Soul's throne.

A Portrait of the Queen 1970-1974 compiles her first five albums of the 1970s: This Girl's In Love With You, Spirit in the Dark, Young Gifted and Black, Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky), and Let Me In Your Life.

Each has been remastered from the analog master tapes. The vinyl version has a bonus disc of session alternates, outtakes & demos. Both CD and vinyl versions are packaged with booklets featuring sleeve notes by Gail Mitchell and David Nathan. Grab it on Dec. 1.

Fela Kuti - Box Set #6

From the great beyond, Fela Kuti has done music journalists a solid in simply numbering his boxes. But this isn't just any Kuti box: it's curated by the one and only Idris Elba, who turned in a monumental performance as Stringer Bell on "The Wire."

The fifth go-round contains the Afrobeat giant's albums Open & Close, Music of Many Colors, Stalemate, I Go Shout Plenty!!!, Live In Amsterdam (2xLP), and Opposite People. It includes a 24 page booklet featuring lyrics, commentaries by Afrobeat historian Chris May, and never-before-seen photos.

The box is only available in a limited edition of 5,000 worldwide, so act fast: it's also available on Dec. 1.

Kate Bush - Hounds of Love (The Baskerville Edition) / Hounds of Love (The Boxes of Lost Sea)

Kate Bush rocketed back into the public consciousness in 2022, via "Stranger Things." The lovefest continues unabated with these two editions of Hounds of Love, which features that signature song: "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God.)

There is no new audio on either edition; they feature distinctive packaging, and the latter splits the album into two boxes. Read on here, and pre-order them via Bush's site; they arrive Dec. 1.

The Rolling Stones - December's Children (And Everybody's), Got Live If You Want It! And The Rolling Stones No. 2 (Vinyl Reissues)

These three '60s Stones albums have slipped between the cracks over the years — but if you love the world-renowned rock legends in its infancy, they're essential listens.

No. 2 is their second album from 1965; the same year's December's Children is the last of their early songs to lean heavily on covers; Got Live If You Want It! is an early live document capturing the early hysteria swarming around the band.

On Dec. 1, they're reissued on 180g vinyl; for more information and to order, visit here.

Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother (Special Edition)

No, it's not half as famous as The Dark Side of the Moon or The Wall — but 1970's lumpy Atom Heart Mother certainly has its partisans.

Rediscover a hidden corner of the Floyd catalog — the one between Ummagumma and Meddle — via this special edition, which features newly discovered live footage from more than half a century ago.

The Black Crowes - The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion

After endless fraternal infighting, the Black Crowes are back — can they keep it together?

In the meantime, their second album, 1992's The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, remains a stellar slice of roots rock — as a sprawling, three-disc Super Deluxe Edition bears out. If you're a bird of this feather, don't miss it when it arrives on Dec. 15. 

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