What happens when you take one of the world's most famous stories and turn the plot inside out, then sing it in a gorgeous lilting voice over an intricate piano melody? You get Regina Spektor's "Samson," the only recent pop song likely to get stuck hopelessly in your head while also making you reconsider everything you thought you knew about the impossibly strong ancient Israelite hero Samson and his "downfall" of a lover, Delilah.
The song, which showcases both Spektor's quirky songwriting and her classically-trained pop sensibility on the piano, is a huge favorite among her fans. Hit play and find out why.
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The Book of Judges includes the story of ancient Hebrew hero Samson, who was strong enough to smite whole armies of Philistines until he was undone by his duplicitous lover Delilah, who stripped him of his power by cutting off his long locks of hair. But in Regina Spektor's telling, the story is a little bit… different. Delilah is a tender lover, not a conniving traitor. Samson likes to eat… Wonder Bread. And we even get a stray reference or two to Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, all wrapped up in a heartbreaking love song. "Sweetest downfall," indeed...
On the Charts
"Samson" was originally written for Regina Spektor's first album, Songs, but she was very dissatisfied with the arrangement and so reworked it for her fourth album, Begin to Hope.
Begin to Hope was released in June 2006. Initially, the album debuted at #70 on the Billboard chart, but because "Fidelity" was such a popular single, it climbed to #20. Rolling Stone later named it the 21st-best album of 2006.
The album was certified Gold by the RIAA in the United States because it sold over 500,000 units. It has also been certified Gold in New Zealand and Australia.
"Samson" is usually reserved for the encore of Spektor's concert performances. As she has become aware of the powerful effect this song has on its listeners, she often keeps her fans on their toes for the entire performance, and then plays it last.