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How the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ ‘Maps’ Became One of Rock’s Most Iconic Love Songs

The newest episode of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs podcast dives into the legacy of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O, and the band’s most enduring hit

Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O

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In 2003, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were not only emerging as one of the most stellar bands in a particularly thrilling New York rock scene — they were also as one of the most exciting bands in the world. Their breakout hit “Maps” would become a major pop crossover moment, joining the lexicon of great and timeless rock and roll love songs.

At the band’s helm was Karen O, the firecracker of a lead vocalist whose songwriting, style, and stage presence has influenced an ever-growing list of rock and pop stars in her wake. She met drummer Brian Chase while attending Oberlin and later connected with guitarist Nick Zinner at NYU. When the three combined forces in 2000, it would lead to the arty-punk tour de force that was their debut album Fever to Tell and some of the most talked about gigs around NYC during the Meet Me in the Bathroom era.

On this week’s episode of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs, hosts Rob Sheffield and Brittany Spanos discuss “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They’re joined by their brilliant colleague Julyssa Lopez to meditate on what makes the song (and its legendary video) so iconic, while also breaking down Karen O’s legacy as one of the great vocalists and frontpeople in rock history.

In 2004, Rolling Stone launched its 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. Tabulated from a massive vote that had artists, industry figures, and critics weighing in, the list has been a source of conversation, inspiration, and controversy for two decades. It’s one of the most popular, influential, and argued-over features the magazine has ever done.

So we set out to make it even bigger, better, and fresher. In 2021, we completely overhauled our 500 Songs list, with a whole new batch of voters from all over the music map. Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs takes a closer look at the entries on our list. Made in partnership with iHeart, Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs finds Brittany and Rob discussing a new song each week, delving into its history and impact with the help of a special guest — including fellow RS colleagues, producers, and the artists themselves. It’s our celebration of the greatest songs ever made — and a breakdown of what makes them so great.

Check out the latest episode above, on iHeart, or wherever you get your podcasts, and look for new episodes every Wednesday.

From Rolling Stone US