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.

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