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Monday, April 30, 2012

Spiderman Meets Slipknot: Breaking Benjamin, Corey Taylor of Slipknot, Autograph

"BOTHER"    COREY TAYLOR of Slipknot
You hear Slipknot and visualize the scary masks, hardcore metal, and chaotic moshpits.   Lead vocalist, Corey Taylor, is a brilliant vocalist and shows his softer side on his side project, Stone Sour.    On the Spiderman soundtrack came this solo track which later was credited to Stone Sour.   It's heartwrenching, desperate, yet somehow beautiful at the same time.   

The lead single from the CD "Phobia" was "The Diary Of Jane", a departure for Breaking Benjamin.   The song was part ballad/part hardcore Nu Metal, it became the most recognized song from the band.   The CD was excellent and even more impressive than the hits were their lesser known but still amazing songs including "You", "Had Enough", and "Until The End".   The fast/slow tempo changes on each of these tracks work so well to build intensity to a crescendo.   Check out the Call Of Duty themed music video:

#93 on the list of the greatest hard rock songs of all-time by VH-1, Autograph was a one-hit wonder who struck gold here.   The song appeared on a Miami Vice episode and features one of most memorable guitar solos of the 80's.   The infectious chorus is 100% ear candy but everyone needs to satisfy their sweet tooth every now and then.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Marvin Gaye Slow Jam: Michael Buble, Usher, Marvin Gaye

Growing up in an Italian family, family get-togethers included the soundtrack of my heritage:   Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, and Vic Damone. In the mid-80's, Italian-Canadian Michael Buble introduced his new Rat Pack style with his neo-smooth vocals.    He is carrying on their classic legacy and I think he'd be a fun concert to attend.

Raymond Usher is the closest we've got to a modern day Michael Jackson.   Killer dance moves that pay homage to the King.   Quiet storm ballads that set the mood and R&B jams that get your body moving.   "Nice & Slow" live is a sensual experience.   The crowd is mesmerized (check out the woman singing along with every word), Usher's working the women to frenzy.  Add in a tasteful rocking guitar solo, some slow motion dance moves, Usher undressing, and "Nice & Slow" becomes unforgettable.

Marvin Gaye had that inate ability to sing with power, masculine, forceful, yet managed to be so soft and gentle at the same time.   His songs affected my life and he remains one of the biggest influences on my music background.   "I Want You" is a Hall of Fame record, you can hear strings, congas, disco beats, and even doo-wop harmony all in the SAME song!! Marvin's pouring out his heart pleading to his girl that he wants her to want him as much as he loves her.     

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Eminem + 2Pac + Elton John?? : Evanescence, Tupac with Elton John, and Alabama,

Amy Lee, Ben Moody, and Evanescence exploded on the scene with their Nu Metal classic "Bring Me To Life" featuring Paul McCoy of 12 Stones.   The CD "Fallen" sold 17 million copies and a highlight was this song inspired by the pain of leaving someone you love.   The sound is so powerful on this song, you imagine it's backed with a full orchestra.  Mystical lyrics, expressive vocals, masterpiece of modern rock.   I'm seeing them tonight in Tampa with the 98 Rockfest (Shinedown, Halestorm, P.O.D.) so pumped!!

Genre busting in full effect, the King of West Coast rap mixed with the timeless melody of Sir Elton John.   "Ghetto Gospel" combines Elton's song "Indian Sunset" with freestyle verses from 2Pac about social injustice, belief in God, and a message similar to "Changes".  The song was released posthumously and produced by Eminem.

Alabama was the first country music act that really grabbed my attention.   My dad listened to the classics (Johnny Cash, Waylon, Willie, Merle...) and I grew up loving Southern rock bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd for their rebelous attitude.   Then came Alabama that crossed over.   The Academy of Country Music named them Entertainer of the Year 5 years in a row ('81-'85).   "Feels So Right" is SO beautiful, relaxing, reassuring, and intimate.   The song was the perfect follow up single to the party record, "Mountain Music".


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Friday, April 27, 2012

Comedy Classics: Sam Kinison, Lady Gaga with Lonely Island, Deion Sanders, Cheech and Chong, Steel Panther

The unforgettable Sam Kinison, Pentecostal preacher turned outrageous stand up comedian.   His signature scream and fearless attitude was perfectly captured in his music video of the Troggs classic.   So many cameos including Jessica Hahn, Slash, Jon Bovi, and Steven Tyler.

First comment, wow, Lady Gaga looks better in this video than I've ever seen here before.   Everyone knows "D*ck In A Box" then the follow-up "Mother Lover", this was Andy Samberg's third collaboration with Justin Timberlake.

Jumping on the Bruce Springsteen bandwagon, 70's stoners, Cheech & Chong, create a classic parody song that accompanied their film of the same name.    This song played during the end credits.

Change the comedy lyrics of any of Steel Panther's songs and you have a 80's pop metal classic worthy of Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, or L.A. Guns.    Steel Panther (previously known as Metal Skool) is very explicit in most of their songs but you can't overlook their musicianship.   "Fat Girl" takes it to the edge but it's safer than most of their videos :)


It's between Bo Jackson and Neon Deion Sanders who was the greatest two-sport athlete of the last 50 years.   I'd choose Bo but Deion put 1/2 of the field on lockdown in his prime.  Besides his Hall Of Fame career with the Dallas Cowboys and a solid Atlanta Braves baseball stint, Deion tried to be a triple threat and join the rap game.  It's unforgettable!

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Grammy Winning Garage Rock: Foo Fighters with Bob Mould, David Bowie, and P!nk

"Wasting Light" won the Grammy this year for Best Rock LP.   Dave Grohl wanted a "pure" sound, no studio tricks, just straight forward rock 'n roll.   Their innovative plan, go back to the basics and literally record their CD in Dave Grohl's Encino garage.   Dave not only embodies the rock n' roll spirit but he's also a major rock music FAN.   He grow up loving the alternative punk bands that influenced Nirvana.  Chief among of his biggest inspirations was Minneapolis' Husker Du led by Bob Mould.    The HIGHLY RECOMMENDED documentary film, "Back & Forth" describes the formation of the Foo Fighters and ends with behind the scenes production of "Wasting Light".   Seeing Dave Grohl's excitement getting Bob Mould to appear on their record is priceless!!  I included a scene from the movie and the full song.

Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton did a suspense filled film in 1985 called "The Falcon & The Snowman" about two altar boys who grew up together and as they became adults, their lives took a dangerous curve.  Drug smuggling, espionage, FBI intrigue, and suspicion of selling secrets to the Russians created a thrill ride motion picture.    David Bowie along with jazz guitar virtuoso, Pat Methany, created this soundtrack masterpiece.  The only video I could find was David Bowie's live performance but it's classic Bowie.

From 2003, Pink's "Try This" CD comes this kiss-off track!    If someone's done you wrong, this song must be played at maximum volume.  Upon first hearing "Last To Know", it caught me by surprise, Pink began her career as an R&B princess.  Now she's aggressive and swearing, but it totally fits the mood of the song.  Imagine Britney or Christina recording this :) Pink is original, dynamic, and does things her way, you've got to love her individuality.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sting Backs Up Craig David: RUN-DMC, Craig David With Sting, Alabama Shakes,


This is THE rap song that crossed over to rock fans and exploded rap onto MTV's heavy rotation.    Give some credit to Eddie Martinez, the lead guitarist for his memorable guitar licks.    Who doesn't get pumped up hearing those opening words:  "I'm the king of rock, there is none higher, sucker MC's should call me sire, to burn my kingdom, you must use fire, and I won't stop rockin' till I retire!"   No one has ever matched RUN D.M.C.'s influence on the rap/rock connection, true legends!

After Craig David's massive success with "7 Days" and "Walking Away", he put out a CD called "Slicker Than Your Average" that didn't grab the audience like his previous release.   But there is a hidden gem on the disc, "Rise & Fall" features Sting and a prominent "Shape Of My Heart" reinterpretation.    The Sugababes tried to capitalize on the song's success but nothing beats this collaboration.

I don't like to overplay any artists on my blog but I can't stop playing the Alabama Shakes.   Brittney (the lead singer) and Zac Cottrell shared their love of music in a high school psychology class and found they were musical soulmates.   This new band fuses multiple genres with true heart.   Faithful to their music influences, "I Found You" is breathtaking.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New Linkin Park - Burn It Down: R. Kelly, Alabama Shakes

Linkin Park is coming this summer to an arena near you!   Co-headlining with Incubus, Linkin Park will be playing their concert staples along with new songs from the Living Things CD due out June 26th.   Mike Shinoda describes the new material as "our most personal".   The much anticipated disc will be heavily influenced by their original Hybrid Theory sound of anger, melody, cathartic screaming, and some Shinoda raps.    Can't wait!!  Here's the Official Video:

Old school R&B is alive and well, Robert Kelly's about to release a new CD this spring!!   Warning: listening to "Share My Love" will result in uncontrollable smiling, increased heart rate, and the urge to get up and dance.   This is vintage Marvin Gaye 70's soul with a hint of a disco beat, R. Kelly should retake his throne as the King of R&B if his new CD can live up to this remarkable first single.

Hearing Brittany Henry, the lead singer of the buzzworthy hot new band, Alabama Shakes, conjures up images of Janis Joplin, Aretha, and Otis Redding.    Soulful, powerful, PASSIONATE, they're the next big thing in blues-based rock!    Alabama Shakes debut CD is a multi-genre tour de force experience.   This is REAL MUSIC played without gimmicks, studio help, or the mass production feel that so many of today's big hits utilize.   This was recorded at the famous Muscle Shoals Studio in Alabama where so many of the 60's Stax Label masterpieces were laid to vinyl.  Alabama Shakes tore up the SXSW Festival this year and are ready for a major breakthrough!

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Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23rd, 1994: A Day I'll Never Forget: Kenny Rogers, Tesla, R. Kelly

The power of a 3 minute song is undeniable.    Hearing the opening few notes here takes me back twenty years to a moment that changed my life forever.   No regrets, youthful innocence, true love, and eternal dreams.  This will ALWAYS be my favorite Kenny Rogers song and a memory that will forever bring a smile to my face.
AUDIO LINK for Kenny Rogers: There-Lies-The-Difference 

A classical guitar introduction paves the way to one of the grandest power ballads of the Hair Band Era.   Jeff Keith nailed the vocals on this song and the buildup to the chorus is dramatic, lighters filled arenas during this one!   "Love is all around you, Love is knocking outside your door, waiting for you, this love made just for two, Keep An Open Heart and You'll Find Love Again, I KNOW!"  

"BUMP & GRIND (Remix)"   R. KELLY
New Jack Swing, soulful R&B, retro laidback soul, club bangers, it doesn't get better than R. Kelly's 1994 masterpiece, "12 Play".    This cassette was wore out by me on a roadtrip to Key West, FL.    This was R. Kelly's breakthrough and it's an incredible introduction to his musical creativity and genius.    "12 Play" is sexually charged, intense slow jams that will "rock your world" and classic 90's hip hop that might sound a little dated today but for those who remember those days, this was the JAM!  1994, what a great memory!!

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rihanna Discography: Favorite Song From Each CD

2011:   Talk That Talk  -   "ROC ME OUT"
Love Rihanna, she somehow manages to maintain a sweet girl image while releasing some of the most provocative and raciest lyrics.  "Roc Me Out" perfectly fits that description.  The song combines the sexually enticing
style of Rude Boy and the rock vibe from her Loud CD.  The CD, "Talk That Talk" overall feels a little rushed and some of the songs sound too familiar but it's still a fun listen and better than most of the R&B on the radio. 

2010:   Loud      "California King Bed"       
Close call for my favorite song:  "Skin" is amazing as Rihanna borrows from Janet Jackson's concert move of choosing a male fan and giving him a simulated lap dance for performances of "Skin".   But I'll go with "California King Bed".  It's essentially a rock power ballad and clearly one of Rihanna's best vocal performances ever.   Spin Magazine described the lyrics about distance, unsaid emotions, and heartbreak as "the waking death of a relationship, the stage of limbo before the final crash." 

2009:   Rated R    "RUDE BOY"
Barbados and Jamaican vibe in full effect on Rihanna's 6th #1 hit.  The video photography and the zebra suit is unforgettable.  "Russian Roulette" is my all-time favorite Rihanna song but I put it on an earlier blog.  In 2009,  I saw Rihanna perform this live at the MTV Super Bowl Preview concert in Tampa.    Lifehouse opened and did a great job but Rihanna was incredible live!

2007:  Good Girl Gone Bad - "DISTURBIA"
The CD was re-released with bonus tracks "If I Never See Your Face" and "Disturbia", two of the Rihanna's best songs.  "Disturbia" has a thumping club beat, addictive tempo changes, and a frantic message of anxiety.   The use of a vocoder adds to the tension.   This song won the Grammy for Best Dance Song.    I remember hearing it at Busch Gardens Hollow-Scream!
2006:  A Girl Like Me - "UNFAITHFUL"
Co-written by Ne-Yo and inspired by Evanescence's piano ballads, this was Rihanna's first big slow jam.  "Unfaithful" has painful lyrics about remorse over cheating and the string section adds to the tension of the dramatic lyrics.   The song was originally titled "Murderer".
2005  Music Of The Sun - "PON DE REPLAY"
It all started with this smash!  This song was on Rihanna's demo CD given to Jay-Z.    Simple song about getting the DJ to turn the volume up but the fusion of reggae and hip hop beats was fresh and exciting coming from this unknown Island girl.   Rihanna has musically grown so much since this initial release.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Trio Of Sexy Hidden Treasure Songs: Toby Keith, Foreigner,

One of the sexiest country songs ever!  This comes from Toby's 2011 CD, I love the rock guitar solo prior to the last chorus.  Great visual lyrics: 

Come on baby lay back down
You don’t have to leave right now
Anything you got downtown can wait

I love those high heeled shoes

Everything looks good on you
You make it look brand new everyday


I got it, in a bad way
I wanna kiss your sweet face
And lay like this forever
I need you to need me
Complete my world
I got it for you, girl

Baby, I can hear your breath

Whisper softly on my chest
I can feel your sweat all over me
Sheets stuck to your skin
Give me that 'want to' grin
Baby, I 'want to' again

From the landmark LP, Foreigner 4, comes this often overlooked gem.   Look past the big hits: "Urgent", "Juke Box Hero", "Waiting For A Girl Like You".....there's track 4:  "Girl On The Moon".  You'll find yourself in a trance as takes your mind drifting to the past, visions of ecstacy, the start of new love, and memories that will never die.

The King Of Freestyle and the Miami dance scene in the late 80's/early 90's, Stevie B was known for his uptempo party anthems.  He changed his image with "In My Eyes" one of his first blends of slow jam R&B lyrics with a soft bouncy beat.    This was released in 1988 and filled club dance floors with partygoers looking for something more intimate.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Amazing Amy Winehouse Cover: Peter Gabriel, Sonic Death Monkeys, and Arctic Monkeys

When I've been asked which was my all-time favorite concert, I have to consider in my list, Peter Gabriel at Summerfest in Milwaukee.   Youssou N'Door accompanied Peter for magical performances of Biko, In Your Eyes, and Shaking The Tree.  Hearing live versions with a stage full of African drummers dressed in bright native garb playing in perfect unison created a magical music memory.   Peter even surfed the crowd during Lay Your Hands On Me and during Red Rain, the sky miraculously had the most amazing crimson sunset.    "Solsbury Hill" already has a spiritual message but you can FEEL the joy and love in this live performance.

From the John Cusack film, High Fidelty, comes this fictional band doing a raucous cover of Marvin Gaye.   The movie describes a music store owner who is obsessed with music trivia and making the greatest mixtapes.   Hmmm, wonder why I like this film?   Jack Black, Lisa Bonet, Catherine Zeta Jones, Joan Cusack, Springsteen, Tim Robbins are just a few of the actors appearing in this classic 90's film.  
Amy Winehouse died in July 2011 and as crazy as her personal life was played out for the media, she had an eclectic voice that was able to cross genres.    Pop, soul, Motown, jazz, all of the above, were sometimes heard in the same song and Adele's success was helped by the breakthrough CD's of Amy.  The Arctic Monkeys who found success around the same time as Ms Winehouse did a great cover of "You Know I'm No Good" on the  BBC Radio One Network.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Music Therapy With John Lennon : Mayday Parade, and Divide The Day

One of the first albums I owned was the John Lennon and Plastic Ono Band debut LP.   It's one of the most intense, personal, brutal,  revealing set of songs ever captured on vinyl.  From "God", "Mother", "I Found Out", "Love", and "Isolation", it's a John Lennon therapy session we're privy to listen to first-hand.    This particular epic song describes the struggle to fit in this crazy world, challenge your fears, and ultimately hope to overcome them.  When an artist of John Lennon's stature opens with "People say we've got it made, don't they know we're so afraid, isolation,"  it's very eye-opening and relatable especially as his first solo CD after the Beatles monumental success.   

A California-based band that combines Southern rock charm with hard rock riffs.    Their style reminds me of Ratt mixed with Black Stone Cherry and a little Shinedown added.    "One Night Stand" is a great mix of sex, big guitars, and swagger.   Their song "Let It Roll" was used for WWE Smackdown, NASCAR, and introduced the band to a much wider audience.

Part pop punk, part emo, Mayday Parade, based out of Tallahassee, FL have become "road warriors". named them the #1 touring act of 2010 based on miles covered in one year.   This relentless schedule, appearances on the Warped Tour, along with their emotive yet catchy lyrics have built up a huge fan base and increased their popularity exponentially each year.  This song comes from 2009's Anywhere But Here CD.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

That's Justin Bieber? Really??: Justin Bieber ,Lupe Fiasco (with Mike Shinoda),Kool & The Gang

Really?   This is Justin Bieber?  Ok, I'll never admit to having Bieber fever but I found myself  tricked into liking his new song!   It sounds like a lost Usher track mixed with an Outkast bassline.  The guitar used on the chorus mixed with the club ready beat is HOT!    Justin's voice sure has matured since "Baby".

"NEVER LIES"  LUPE FIASCO Ft. Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park)
Linkin Park's greatest skill is the ability to combine Chester's hard rock screams with the hip hop mentality of Mike Shinoda.   Critically acclaimed rapper, Lupe Fiasco, teams up with Mike for a lyrical treasure that would sound perfect on Mike's Fort Minor side project.    The video highlights Cristiano Ronaldo, which makes no sense, but there is some great soccer to watch while you're bopping your head.

Van Halen just came through Tampa for their big tour featuring David Lee Roth.   Who would they have open for them?  A classic 80's band?   New rockers that idolized Eddie?   Nope, Kool & The Gang is the opening act.   "Jungle Fever", "Ladies Night", "Celebration"..... crazy pairing!  "Bad Woman" is an exceptional slow jam from the mid-80's, this is James Taylor at his most soulful.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

First A Microsoft Commercial, Now A Radio Hit: Shinedown , James Durbin, and Alex Clare

Over the past seven years, Shinedown has been gaining popularity with each CD.    They peaked with "The Sound Of Madness" and their big singles, "Second Chance" and "If You Only Knew".   Hopes are high that Amaryllis (their new CD) would push them to new levels.  With much disappoint, I found the CD to be their weakest, cliched, too radio friendly, and where is the rock!   Rolling Stone Magazine gave it a 2 out of 5 and added this memorable quote:  "These Florida rockers muster up anthems that would embarrass a Hallmark Card hack".   "Through The Ghost" sounds like "Second Chance Part II" and will undoubtedly be a radio staple.    I do love the added sound of the bells (almost Christmas inspired?) and it's one of the three best songs on the CD.

From 2011's American Idol, James Durbin was the resident rocker and finished 4th like Chris Daughtry.   James' debut CD is surprisingly much better than expected.  A power ballad "May" will get the cellphones lighting up the arenas, along with rockers like "Stand Up" that the NFL Network have used, and "Screaming", an anthem for the underappreciated.   Simple chorus, pure cheese, but addictive at high volume:  "I'm screaming for the losers, screaming at the abusers, show them that we're fed up, throw your hands up."  

Alex has probably been most famous for dating Amy Winehouse just prior to her death but he's an English singer who's just landed his biggest hit.   His voice sounds like Adam Levine and "Too Close" is currently being featured in a popular commercial for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9.  The song's chorus is memorable:  "I'm feeling just too close to love you, so I'll be on my way".

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Dimebag Darrell's Lost CD: Hole, Damageplan, and Poison

"Here's a song about beauty" - In 1994, Courtney Love and Hole released their critically acclaimed 2nd CD, "Live Through This".   But two years earlier, their debut disc was even more unpolished, raw, disjointed, even Courtney 20 years later said the album was "unlistenable".   Even with this great review, give this one a listen, Courtney's punk attitude at its best!  Check out her look at :11

After Pantera broke up and before the murder of Dimebag Darrell came a one-time CD from Damageplan.  The group featured Darrell, his brother Vinnie Paul, and included guests including Corey Taylor from Slipknot, Zak Wylde, and on this track, Jerry Cantrell from Alice In Chains.   "Ashes To Ashes" didn't make the U.S. version but was included on the Japanese CD and the Punisher soundtrack.

Hard rock concerts were predominantly male and then came bands like Poison.    Bret Michaels appealed to the ladies with rock songs featuring more of a groove than loud guitars.  Their neon colored clothes, makeup, and power ballads like "I Won't Forget You" added to their legacy.   While not as popular as "Every Rose" or "Something To Believe In", "I Won't Forget You" is still a MTV favorite of the 80's.  Fun Fact:   Slash was one of the 3 finalists for lead guitar before they chose C.C. Deville, think about how that might have changed music in the 80's!

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

I Hate Myself For Loving You: Joan Jett, Marc Anthony, and Gaslight Anthem

From her days with the Runaways to her solo career, Joan Jett can be described as 100% AUTHENTIC.   Joan hasn't changed her style, her music, or attitude in 35 years.   Straight ahead rock 'n roll swagger faithful to the spirit of Chuck Berry, The Stones, and The Ramones.   Joan turns 54 this year yet continues to outwork and inspire so many new female rockers.

Marco Antonio Munoz has been the top selling Tropical Salsa performer of all-time.    His self-titled 1999 CD was his first in English and gave him exposure that he's taken to new levels.  The U.S. market saw Marc's mesmerizing stage presence.   Here's Marc at his best, "My Baby You", was dedicated to his daughter Arianna (obviously not his daughter with Jennifer Lopez), and will melt the heart of the coldest soul.  Funny, my first exposure to Marc was as a killer teenager in the film, The Substitute.

Gaslight Anthem are a Jersey band that sounds like 50% Springsteen and 50% Social Distortion.   This recipe works out perfectly since both Bruce and SD are big fans!   Bruce has sang with the band many times and Gaslight Anthem has opened for Mike Ness and the boys.   "Bring It On" is from the CD American Slang and features the great lyric:  "Stop clicking your red heels and wishing for home, I'm hearing he tells you he can read your palms, Is he better than my love?  Bring It On" 

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