Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chart update - 10 Nov. "Bad Romance" (Lady Gaga) and "Tik Tok" (Ke$ha)

Yay! Two new songs at the top of the charts to examine this week.

Lady Gaga - Bad Romance

Here she comes with a new single not from her album "The Fame", but I'm not detecting any great leap forward. It's dance pop with big synths - sounds very 1990s housey to me. Rest assured the 90s revival is beginning, and it's not grunge that's going to be replayed, unless the GFC comes back to haunt us with hyperinflation. I'm struck by how many words are in this song - it's huge - 462 of them.

The form is ABABCB.

The long verses ('A' section) consist a few subsections. The first section is "Rah rah ah-ah-ah! Ro mah ro-mah-mah. Gaga Oo-la-la!". These work pretty well for me...meaningless but fun to say. The middle section is the content of the verse, and the last is a pre-chorus. The verse is typical of Lady Gaga's previous hits - this is where she tells us what she wants in detail - which is summed up as "your love". In the prechorus she tells us that she wants "you" rather than "your love", an important shift which then changes again in the chorus.

So we get to the nursery-rhyme melody chorus and find that she doesn't really want "your love" or even "you" but "your loving". The fact that there are no concrete images anywhere in the songs suggests that this desire is 100% selfish, ego-satisfying stuff. It's here where she tells us that she wants "your revenge" and that "all your love is revenge". I have no idea what she means by this. Is it a reference to S&M? Or is it an attempt to provide some literary context to the title "bad romance"? I can't be certain.

The bridge:
"Walk, walk, fashion baby,
work it move that bitch c-razy.
Walk, walk, passion baby,
I'm a freak bitch baby.".....followed by a variation on the chorus.

This of course says absolutely nothing, and has no obvious connection the what has been said elsewhere. Lady Gaga isn't really in the mood for conversation, which is a shame. Poker Face was a quite clever explanation of a girl's mating strategy using a gambling metaphor, Paparazzi was a mating strategy using a press-photographer metaphor. I think this one is trying to use the bad romance novel as the metaphor for the mating strategy, but it really doesn't come off because while there's specific action inherent in gambling and press photography there isn't in bad romance.

It's a fun enough dance tune that the meat in the market will enjoy for a short while, but it leaves me cold.

Ke$ha - Tik Tok

With lines like "I'm talking - pedicure on our toes, toes", you know right away this is a chick song. The chorus really kicks and it's got me wanting to move. The basic theme is girl going out on the town.

The form is ABABCB. Verse 1 is about getting ready to go, the chorus is all about how good it is to dance, verse 2 is what happens when out, bridge is feelings directed towards the music maker. As I pointed out a few weeks ago in my post on Evacuate the Dancefloor, this theme is a favourite with punters and it keeps coming up over and over. On to the nitty gritty.

The first verse introduces you to the character. She's a party girl, does crazy things like brushing her teeth with Jack Daniels' whiskey, and goes out on the town with the intention of not coming back....I wonder where she'll be spending the night? Not. Then there's all the girly stuff about choosing clothes and doing toenails, and the anticipating the evening ahead. No prechorus, but an interesting stopping the music effect like a finger slowing down a record.

The whole song works on three chords - C, Bb and Dm and Gm, which makes it C mixolydian, these are I, bVII, IIm and Vm respectively. but you only get the Gm in the chorus. Full cadence in mixolydian is the bVII to I, which we hear lots of throughout the song. In the verses, this happens in the middle of verse lines for the first half, but not in the second half. This prepares us for the chorus.

The chorus contrasts with the verse by using shorter phrases, internal rhymes make it punchier. Phrases end sharply on beats 2 and 4 every time, making it punchier still. It really jumps! The end of the chorus is the Gm, the only time we hear that chord, resolving to C, differentiating the chorus further.

Verse 2
Is about the boys...it's cute. This girl comes across as unpretentious and fun. The lines about the police are a bit gratuitous, but totally forgivable.

Not that remarkable in itself, but holds the interest by contrasting to the other sections by being much slower, more introspective, and it gets us looking forward to the chorus. There a line at the end (No, the party dont stop until I walk in) which is 2 measure phrase which follows four 4-measure phrases. The fourth of the four 4-measure phrases is different from the previous three, and she could have gone straight in to the chorus from there, but adding that 2 bar phrase builds the tension even further, making that final chorus all the more exciting.

Ke$ha is fun, unpretentious and groovy. Lady Gaga is full of overt sex and little else, she grooves but has a heavy feel. I'm not surprised that Ke$ha is number one, and Gaga is number 3. I saw a comment on the internet about Gaga not taking a break from work after her tour and album...maybe she should. My vote goes to Kesha.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Vanessa Amarossi and Robbie Williams

No comment last week since there was no change in the top 3, however, this week Vanessa Amarossi is at number 1.

First of all I want to comment on Robbie Williams because I've long been fascinated with his character and I've enjoyed his songs in the past. Robbie Williams reached number 4 last week with 'bodies', but this week he's dropped to number 10, so clearly, this song doesn't have the staying power of David Guetta's 'Sexy Bitch' or The Black Eyed Peas. The song has a solid groove, and I've always liked the way Robbie William makes his lyrics groove and his melodies. However, this time I think his words let him down. This song simply doesn't make sense. His main thesis is this:
"All we've ever wanted
Is to look good naked
Hope that someone can take it
God save me rejection
From my reflection,
I want perfection"
Everything else is a confused mish mash of images and phrases. He has obviously lost the plot. I feel sorry for him. Hope he gets it together soon though. Maybe it's time for a career change.

Onto Vanessa Amarossi's ' This is who I am'. Musically it's fine - grooves along, well produced, etc. etc. Nothing extraordinary - save to note the ongoing popularity of synth based night club inflections, despite this being essentially a pop-rock song. The music is full of cliches though - big guitars in the chorus, yada yada yada. Her singing is mighty though she seems to keep it fairly low, except at the end where she shows us her range. This song is a winner, because of its styling, is passable, the singing is good, and because of its content. It's positive and feels genuine, a song about learning to accept oneself, and it follows all the verse-chorus song rules. The bridge really stands out as do the joining sections (a-a-a-a). One can't help but wonder what she has been through....dropping out from the public eye from 2003-2008 (more or less). Anyway, she's on good form, but it's not art, and it won't be remembered 10 years from now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chart update - 13 October

I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the top 3 has had some movement for the second week running. The bad news is that the Black Eyed Peas are back in the top 3, so my hope for variety is forlorn. The song they're in with is called "meet me halfway". The other good news is that this is a good song. I don't think it's a classic though.

The structure is ABABCB ... but it's cleverly tweaked. The first verse stands out because of the repeated words at the end of each line, this effect is duplicated in the second verse, but not exactly, in verse 2, the repeated words occur in the middle of the line rather than at the end. Verse 2 is somewhat weakened by the opening line about 'seven seas' - a cliche if ever there was. The chorus works well enough, but it's not as striking as the verse. The second time we hear it, the last two lines are repeated which leads us nicely into the bridge, which starts with the line 'let's walk the bridge' - and you can bet that they used the word 'bridge' because it was in the bridge. I really like their use of the vocoder, sparing and effective. The usual black eyed peas arrangement of male verse vocal and female chorus works well, but isn't sonically striking because it's been done by so many rap and hip hop artists.

Lyrical content:
This song is about a girl who really likes a guy but who needs him to 'meet her half way'(choruses). The guy meanwhile also really likes the girl - he talks about missing her, being prepared to meet her anywhere she'd like (verses and bridge). You'd think from the verses that he was willing to do anything necessary, but the chorus keeps on insisting that she can't go any further. You can imagine all kinds of possibilities for this little drama, and I guess having that unresolved element helps keep the song interesting, and also tinged with melancholy.

The chords aren't particularly remarkable - but they're solid and follow the rules. The verse and chorus melodies contrast nicely, but not startlingly so - fast, low words in the verse with longer, slower, higher words in the chorus. I suspect that the chorus melody floats over a wider range than the verse melody, but I'm not 100% sure - I'd have to see it written down. The production and arrangement is, of course, very effective. Nice quiet sweeping synth, basic drums, filtered and pitch shifted vocals in parts of verse 1, harmonies in parts of verse 2 and vocoded vocals in the bridge, but nothing over done. Comments I saw on youtube reckoned it had an 80s feel. I'd agree.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

FINALLY! A new song in the top 3

EVACUATE THE DANCEFLOOR  by  Cascada is now at number 3. Finally I have something new to write about. This song has been floating around the charts for a while, so it's good that it's finally made it up there. I'm sure there are songs that never reach the top 3 that chart longer so end up selling more. I wish ARIA would release the actual sales figures.This song has already been a UK number one (says wikipedia).

Anyway, it looks like night club music is definitely back in fashion - 'Sexy Bitch' is still number one, and 'boom boom pow' is still there at number 20. This is strongly reminiscent of Lady Gaga, featuring big synths, very solid drum grooves and punchy lyrics. I can't help being reminded of 2-unlimited circa 1992. Then again, these guys are German, although the singer is an English girl raisedin Germany. In the video, she looks gorgeous, but move the dancing is left to the professionals.

The form is ABCABCDC, where A is the verse, B is the prechorus, C chorus and D bridge. The prechorus is the stand out in my view, reminiscent of the bridge from 'just dance'. It consists of a descending line repeated 3 times and it contrasts nicely with the verse melody which is more up and down. It also links to the chorus which is another repeated descending line, but slower. 

The lyrics are nothing amazing, but they do the job of carrying the melody. Your typical dance song all about how the singer wants and needs the music (verse), and how great it is when she's finally dancing (chorus),  with the bridge serving as the voice of the DJ to the crowd. At least it's not a song about how good some girl looks while she's dancing and all that goes with that persepective (listen to 'sexy bitch' if that's your cup tea). This is a good solid dance track, and you'll certainly enjoy moving to it, but my favourite 'just gotta dance' song remains Natasha Bedingfields 'I'm a bomb' (2005) followed closely by Dee-lite's 'Groove is in the heart' (1990). I have a sneaking suspicion that this type of song will keep getting rewritten for some time yet. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

No change AGAIN!

For another week it's Guy Sebastian, David Guetta and Kate Miller-Heidke in the top 3. Maybe the entire music buying public has shrunk to musicians who just buy the top 3 to see what's selling. Geez.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Top 3 Aria Singles 15/9/09

Well, the charts were updated yesterday...allegedly. No change since last week. Boooorrrring.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

No new songs to review this week

Well, no change in the top 3 this week....well, no new songs anyway. Guy Sebastian made number 1, Kate Miller-Heidke is back in the top 3, and the Black Eyed Peas dropped to number 4. Sexy Bitch is number 2. I don't quite get how the sentiments of Guy Sebastian and Sexy Bitch fit together in the same mind...I wonder how many people have bought both songs.