T. Rex, “Mambo Sun”
Only an artist of the caliber of Marc Bolan, hippie-jongleur-turned-glam-rocker, could have pulled off “Mambo Sun.” Only he could have written this lubricious sex-chug, complete with sleazy reverbed handclaps, and then lifted it into delirium with his bonkers lyrics. “Upon a savage lake/Make no mistake/I love you!/I got a powder-keg leg/And my wig’s all pooped/For you!” That was Bolan all over: an electrified erotic pixie crossed with an Edwardian nonsense poet. “Mambo Sun,” the opener from 1971’s Electric Warrior, can have the wholly unexpected effect of making you feel sexy, like a lady. Dig that thin-voiced decadent choir! “Beneath the bebop moon/I wanna croon . . .” Magic.
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Avril Lavigne, “Hot”
The ’tude-burdened Avril Lavigne can pen and belt furious boy-bashing cuts, but here she asserts her burgeoning expertise at writing about the other side of love — the requited kind, for once! “Hot” is a hyper homage to Avril’s happy courtship with her spiky-haired Romeo (Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley). The poseur who took pleasure in ostracizing herself has finally found The One. The highs make her feel a little psycho, and the lows are still taunting her — terrifying her, even. But soon she starts living her own glitter-hook honeymoon. Deryck is “so good,” and the chemistry is exactly what it should be. “You make me so hot/Make me wanna drop/You’re so ridiculous/I can barely stop,” Avril croons, delighted with her circumstances. I don’t blame her. Getting some is never overrated.
Kate Nash, “Foundations”
Young Kate Nash — Lily Allen protégé and British piano chanteuse — has found a way to sum up the end of a relationship you’re completely over except not over, in a lovely, conflicted, expressive couplet: “My fingertips are holding on to the cracks in our foundation/And I know that I should let go, but I can’t.” Kate also dishes on the unpleasant specifics of what went down. He boozes too much, she bitches too much, and the end is near. Yet it seems impossible to walk away from this person with whom you’ve built a history. Leaving is a process, and part of that process is saying I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. Until, suddenly, you let go, the bitter fireworks of relief explode, and . . .
Kelly Clarkson, “Since U Been Gone”
The chorus of “Since U Been Gone” features a forever-relevant, universal break-up refrain. Kelly Clarkson unleashes her entire being in this ball-busting rock anthem that co-exists as an incredibly confiding, womanly pop song — you know, so you can indulge the eternal, hellacious cliché and mouth the words while you’re weeping into an old shirt that smells like him. “You had your chance, you blew it/Outta sight, outta mind/Shut your mouth, I just can’t take it!” There’s that. But the ins-and-outs of your ex’s douchiness isn’t the point of “Since U Been Gone.” I see it as a clear-cut ode to female independence. “Thanks to you, now I get what I want,” Kelly shouts. That’s triumphant, and it’s a comfort. Because when you’re alone, you can buy a very expensive pair of pants for yourself, instead of an anniversary present for him.