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Headbangers and Handclaps: Queens of the Stone Age Find a Groove on Their First Single in Years

What would happen if you put the reigning kings of hard rock and the guy behind “Uptown Funk” in a studio? Well, take a listen to “The Way You Used to Do.”

(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)
(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)

So, the guy who made “Uptown Funk” hooked up with the best American hard-rock band of the past 20 years, and here’s what you get: a Disco Demolition Night that gleefully lights itself on fire.

Queens of the Stone Age, the long-running Southern California crew of thinking-man’s headbangers, just announced their seventh album, Villains (out August 25), and released the first single, “The Way You Used to Do.” Don’t get any ideas: “The title Villains isn’t a political statement,” says Josh Homme, QOTSA’s suavely uncouth frontman and ringleader. “It has nothing to do with Trump or any of that shit. It’s simply, 1. a word that looks fantastic, and 2. a comment on the three versions of every scenario: yours, mine, and what actually happened.” Chew on that while you’re chewing on this:

Villains, the band’s first album since 2013’s fantastic …Like Clockwork, was produced by Amy Winehouse/Lady Gaga/Bruno Mars confidante Mark Ronson, heretofore not much of a headbanger. Consequently, “The Way You Used to Do” has a distinct and very pleasing mosh-pit-at-a-wedding feel, tastefully overloaded with handclaps and blaring guitars, Homme’s louche falsetto, and the band’s reliably sophisticated approach to pulverization. QOTSA have toyed with the idea of “groove” throughout their two-decade-plus career, but this is catchier and wittier and more fleet of foot — already a notable improvement on earlier experiments like, oh, say, “Make It Wit Chu.”

These guys are the “active rock” juggernauts everyone can agree on — macho but mischievous, adamantium-hard but disconcertingly flexible, with a handful of classic albums (2002’s titanic Songs for the Deaf especially) that suggest rock ’n’ roll dinosaurs still walk among us. Get excited for this, and remember to help your grandma up if she gets knocked over in the pit.