Tell 'Em

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"Tell 'Em"
Tell 'Em Sleigh Bells.jpeg
Single by Sleigh Bells
from the album Treats
Released April 28, 2010
Format 7" vinyl, CD single, digital download
Length 2:56
Writer(s) Derek E. Miller
Producer(s) Derek E. Miller
Sleigh Bells singles chronology
"Tell 'Em"
"Infinity Guitars"

"Tell 'Em" is a song by American music duo Sleigh Bells from their debut album Treats. Written by Miller and sung by Alexis Krauss, the song is the album's opening track, and was released as its lead single.

Prior to the album's release, the track was available as a free download on April 28, 2010 via the Mom + Pop website. It was well received by critics, and frequently noted as a highlight of the album. The song was released to U.S. radio stations on April 28, 2010, but it failed to enter any charts.[1]

Writing and recording[edit]

In an interview with Drowned in Sound, Krauss referred to the song among others as "more collaborative in terms of me doing more work on melodies, harmonies and we plan on further explorations of this in the future."[2] Miller, when asked about the duo's loud sound, referenced the song, stating, "It has this intense melody on it. I was afraid to do it for so long because I had abandoned heavy drone for a few years. But it was just there, always in the background and I was just craving it."[3]

Miller described the song as being "preach-y without being righteous. It's like we're disappointed but optimistic."[4] The song's lyrics detail a disappointment in today's youths and an encouragement for teens to strive to be better,[5] and it was one of the last to be recorded for the album.[6]


"Tell 'Em" is a song composed of an intro, which has been described as a mixture of "piledriving beats" and a "towering riff trigger",[7] "bazooka beats and syncopated snaps" incorporated with "heavy metal guitar riffs",[8] and a chorus featuring Krauss' vocals over "machine-gun drums".[9] The song also incorporates various snaps and claps.[5]


Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[10]
M.I.A. performing at Outside Lands 2009
The song's style has been compared to that of singer M.I.A.

Since its release, the song has been hailed by music critics for its intense sound, with one noting its similarity to the songs of electronic singer M.I.A.[11] Lisa Wright, a writer from NME, lauded the song, declaring "not since Miss Arulpragasam herself has there been a track that makes violence sound so goddamn danceable."[11] Zach Baron of Village Voice praised the song's production, comparing it to "winning a video game shootout inside of a disco that's on neon fire."[12] Michael Saba of Paste also wrote highly of the song, calling it "a beast of a track—three minutes of the crunchy, glitched-out riffs and titanic hooks".[13] PopMatters' editor Arnold Pan, like other critics, commented on the song's intensity, writing, "You’ll probably be too shellshocked by the anxiety-inducing and heart-palpitating thrills of the leadoff track 'Tell ‘Em' to do anything else but take it all in, even if your eardrums tell you to turn off the racket."[7]

Ryan Dombal of Pitchfork Media commented positively on the song, stating that "nobody has made a guitar sound so hawkish since Jack White. Because it's got both the bone crunch of third and long and the pom-pom chants built in."[5] Rolling Stone's Eric Magnuson, impressed with the song's sound, referred to it as "a body-shaker that sounds like a choir girl showing up to a street fight with a howitzer and a holster full of lasers. Danceable lasers."[10] Matthew Cole of Slant Magazine described the song as "a call to the dance floor, mosh pit, or wherever it is that folks from your scene get down, it's undeniable."[8] In Sputnikmusic's review of the album, the song was described as "the perfect litmus test: buzzsaw guitars, frenetic bass, and Alexis Krauss’ melodic, choir-girl vocal hooks make for something as initially uncomfortable as it is incredibly catchy."[14] Erik Adams of The A.V. Club stated "tracks like 'Tell ’Em' and 'Treats' trade on some of the last three decades of pop music’s most noxious textures—harmonized, Joe Satriani-esque guitar heroics; dark stabs of synthesizers lifted from crunk and snap—but those sounds are transformed into undeniable hooks when filtered through Miller’s songwriting smarts and laid under the deceptively sweet vocals of Alexis Krauss.[15]


Daily news site indieWIRE placed the song at number forty on its list of The 50 Best Songs of 2010.[16] Matthew Cole of Slant Magazine deemed the song the best album opener of 2010.[8]

Pop culture[edit]

A part of the song is used as the theme of TRTÉ's show "The Rumour Room". It was also featured in a commercial for The X Games. Used as a theme song for Professional Wrestler Rob Van Dam

Track listing[edit]

  • CD single
  1. "Tell 'Em" - 2:56
  2. "Holly" - 2:56



  1. ^ "Tell 'Em - Sleigh Bells: Song Information: Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  2. ^ Barrett, Brad (September 1, 2010). "DiS Meets Sleigh Bells". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved November 18, 2010. 
  3. ^ Alexander, Shauna (July 2, 2010). "Sleigh Bells Interview: By Shauna". Brightest Young Things. Retrieved November 18, 2010. 
  4. ^ Dombal, Ryan (July 12, 2010). "Interviews: Sleigh Bells". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved November 27, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c Dombal, Ryan (April 29, 2010). "Sleigh Bells: "Tell 'Em"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  6. ^ Rytlewski, Evan (October 21, 2010). "Interview: Sleigh Bells' Alexis Krauss". Express Milwaukee. Retrieved November 18, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b Pan, Arnold (May 24, 2010). "Sleigh Bells: Treats". PopMatters. Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c Cole, Matthew (May 27, 2010). "Sleigh Bells: Treats". Slant Magazine. Retrieved October 16, 2010. 
  9. ^ Murphy, John (August 9, 2010). "Sleigh Bells - Treats". musicOMH. (United Kingdom). Retrieved October 16, 2010. 
  10. ^ a b Magnuson, Eric (May 11, 2010). "Sleigh Bells: "Tell 'Em"". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Wright, Lisa (July 11, 2010). "Album review: Sleigh Bells - 'Treats' (Mom + Pop Music/NEET)". NME. Retrieved November 24, 2010. 
  12. ^ Baron, Zach (April 28, 2010). "Oh Wow New Sleigh Bells: "Tell 'Em"". The Village Voice. Retrieved October 16, 2010. 
  13. ^ Saba, Michael (April 29, 2010). "Listen to Sleigh Bells' First Single "Tell 'Em"". Paste. Retrieved October 16, 2010. 
  14. ^ S., Karen (May 11, 2010). "Sleigh Bells Treats: Go loud or go home.". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  15. ^ Adams, Erik (June 1, 2010). "Music: Treats". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 11, 2011. 
  16. ^ "The 50 Best Songs of 2010, Part 2: The best songs of 2010 countdown continues". indieWIRE. December 7, 2010. Retrieved December 25, 2010.