Very few people experience heartbreak as publicly as Ariana Grande.
A ubiquitous pop culture figure since her teenage years, Grande hit a new zenith with 2018’s “thank u, next,” a spectacular pop song doubling as a candid document of personal tumult. Written in the wake of a concert bombing, the accidental death-by-overdose of ex-boyfriend (and celebrated rapper) Mac Miller, and a volatile separation from former fiancé Pete Davidson of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, “thank u, next” — Grande’s first number one single in America — contextualizes her struggles so that they aren’t struggles at all, merely steps in her personal growth. Whether a product of her healing or a part of its process, the song approaches heartbreak with a tenderness that runs counter to its moment in history, when society’s gradual relocation to the internet normalized fast judgments and anonymous hostility. While breakup songs tend to be justifications for unfettered vitriol, even if that vitriol needs no justification, “thank u, next” is a rarity: a championing of self-empowerment without a hint of scorn.
“Date with the Night,” the lead single from Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ 2003 debut LP Fever to Tell, heralded the mainstream arrival of a band fervently boosted by critics and industry leaders since the dawn of the millennium. While another song from the same album — the world-conquering “Maps” — turned Yeah Yeah Yeahs into icons, “Date with the Night” is notable for its evocation of New York as a grimy Petri dish of raw creative expression: Nick Zinner’s incinerating guitar and Karen O’s id-borne yelps capture the city in all its storied dirt and danger.
It doesn’t matter who sings a song first — only who sings it best. “For Once in My Life” passed through more hands than a church collection plate before it finally landed with Stevie Wonder, who reluctantly but winningly made the song his own, creating an instant pop standard that remains one of Motown Records’ signature hits of the late 1960s.
If you were conceived anytime after the summer of 1973, there’s a good chance you owe your existence to “Let’s Get It On.” Marvin Gaye’s smoldering celebration of libido and liberation possesses an aphrodisiacal power unmatched in the annals of popular music: no song is more universally synonymous with unbridled lust and longing, and no song has soundtracked a greater number of carnal experiences, whether in the real world or in popular culture. But below its surface sensuality, “Let’s Get It On” is as endlessly complicated as sex itself, heralding the culmination of Gaye’s lifelong struggle to reconcile the sacred and the profane — the opposing forces that defined and ultimately destroyed him.
“It’s a Sunshine Day” was originally released on 1972’s The Kids from the Brady Bunch, the third album featuring TV’s favorite children-of-remarried-parents. However, the song was most famously featured on Episode 16, Season 4 of The Brady Bunch, an unforgettable episode appropriately titled “Amateur Nite.”
This classic piece of television magic, originally aired in primetime on Jan. 26, 1973, found the Brady kids in desperate need of quick cash, which they of course earned on a local TV talent show, performing to hilarious effect (some might say unintentionally hilarious) as The Silver Platters.
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“He yearns after normalcy with an intensity that crackles and burns through his movies,” the critic Jonathan Rosenbaum once wrote of the filmmaker Nicholas Ray, and the same could be said of the songs of Art Alexakis, Everclear’s singer and guitarist. Alexakis has been through some shit, and his gnawing hunger for stability — the normalcy that always eluded him — runs like a live wire through “Santa Monica,” the nervy, tightrope-taut chronicle of struggle and survival that in 1995 vaulted Everclear to alt-rock radio immortality.
“I Will Survive” is so ingrained in American culture that just the utterance of its title summons its elements from memory — its strutting beat, orchestral hits and the resilient shout of Gloria Gaynor are all immediately recognizable. Arguably no other song means quite so much to so many: “I Will Survive” has been repurposed and recontextualized across the decades to function as a certified dancefloor mainstay, a classic female empowerment anthem, a crux of the gay rights movement in the era of AIDS, the soundtrack to a French World Cup win, and one of the internet’s earliest memes. Even after decades of cultural ubiquity, a curious power still reverberates in the song’s grooves, iconizing it as one of disco’s most enduring moments.
The Undisputed Truth’s psychedelic soul opus “Smiling Faces Sometimes” vividly captures the paranoia coursing through the American bloodstream at the dawn of the 1970s as the utopian ideals of the Aquarian Age crashed and burned.
No hit single is more symbiotically tied to its hit music video than “No Rain.” Blind Melon’s lone Top 40 entry and its fantastical Samuel Bayer-directed clip linger in the collective consciousness as conjoined twins: inseparable, indivisible, different but the same. Premiering on cable network MTV in mid-1993, close to a year after the release of Blind Melon’s eponymous debut album, “No Rain” made a pop culture sensation of the video’s outsider heroine, the bespectacled, tap-dancing Bee Girl — a character whose meteoric rise ultimately eclipsed the music of the star-crossed five-piece responsible for bringing her to life.
KORD is the first streaming music service curated for humans, by humans. It was created for discerning listeners of all ages and backgrounds — everyone for whom music is life.
KORD is the only subscription-based service to offer access to stems, the building blocks of original recordings from the original artists. All songs in the KORD Catalog are handpicked by the KORD team, and augmented by exclusive content — liner notes, stem breakdowns, artist biographies and full-length essays.
KORD is a completely new way for listeners to discover new music and rediscover past favorites. We’re different because:
- We believe in deeper music listening — that your experience should be immersive, and fully interactive.
- We believe in curation, not algorithms.
- We believe there’s much more to each record than the name above the title.
- We believe in storytelling.
- We believe music enthusiasts deserve music journalism that’s as informed and passionate as they are.
- Last but not least, we believe you’re going to like KORD — a lot.