Eric’s Angry Corner

It could be that I’m too old and I just don’t appreciate the zeitgeist of youth, but I find myself frustrated and even angry with much popular music has to offer. What better way to express my anger than through a nicely worded blog post. You have entered Eric’s Angry Corner!

I absolutely love breaking down songs and their interrelated components. There are two ways to do this, one can look at the song from a purely songwriting perspective and one can look at the song from a production perspective. In modern music the two roles have completely different effects on the outcome of the song and in an ideal world the songwriter would hire a producer to help finish and polish the song. Unfortunately the DIY musician (everyone listening to the “Talking About Noise” Podcast) needs to become both, as most of us don’t have the money to hire professional producers. In that regard I find it very enjoyable break songs apart and look at as if I’m a songwriter aspiring to become a producer.

Whilst perusing the Intertubes, I came across a music video from a band called “5 Seconds of Summer.” Admittedly, the name of the band threw me off and I was expecting something more along the lines of “30 Seconds to Mars,” but nonetheless I continued in listening to the video. Much to my dismay I found the band to be a One-Direction-type act, begging for the attention of teenage girls. Even though the song is painful, there is still a lot that can be learned by studying it.

To start out this song is actually kinda catchy. (Follow Along with me, would you kindly?)

Intro to First Chorus (0:46): We actually have a standard guitar riff, with a catchy melody on top. Notice the two guitars, one playing the Rhythm and the other playing the lick on top; it actually sounds good with the vocal “Heys.” This allows for a nice crescendo leading to the drums, and when the Drums finally come in it actually starts sounding like a tight song.

First Verse: starts with the Rhythm guitar as the driving force in the song, and the lead lick has been removed to allow for the vocals to sit on top of the mix, a very nice touch is pulling the drums out of the last half of the verse and a reverse/white noise buildup leading to the chorus.

Then things fall apart for me…I was willing to grant the cheesy lyrics in the first verse as long as the song took me somewhere, but instead we get the standard tropes designed to appeal to teenage girls. The chorus lyrics are as follows: “You look so perfect standing there, in my American Apparel underwear.” If ever there was a phrase designed to invoke an immediate gag reflex, this would be it. I hate this type of nonsense for a few reasons; first, why do you have to name the underwear by the brand name, are you getting kickbacks from American Apparel? Second, why is he/she wearing your underwear…that’s a pretty gross. Third, this line just makes me hate teenager girls, and I don’t want to hate them.

Let’s break Down the Chorus: Rhythm Guitar and Bass playing roughly the same notes/chords with the solo guitar playing a light lick on the top. The Vocal is using a doubling/chorus effect to make it feel a little bit bigger. (Standard modern production quality on this song so far, which goes to show what a great producer can do to a song.) After the Chorus we jump right into a Pre-verse Solo, which is the same structure as the Intro but the lick on top by the lead guitar is slightly different, more like an actual guitar solo then guitar filler. This serves as a quick break to separate the energy of the chorus and helps wind down back into the verse. 

Second verse: start with just the Rhythm guitar playing the same palm-muted crunchy chords as found in the first verse and then repeat the same melody. Notice an important distinction in this song as this verse starts without the drum parts and adds the drums in the latter part of the verse. (as a producer this is a great technique for pulling the overall energy of the song back down, thereby allowing another crescendo). The 1:33 mark is when the singer begins to sing a slightly different melody for the last half of verse 2. This is also a standard production technique to keep the verse interesting and is a very good technique to steal as most popular music does this now. 

The last part of the second verse has some simple but effective harmonies. Just Place some harmonies on certain phrases here and there, not on the entire verse. In order to end the verse with some punch the producer puts in another reverse-sound/white noise effect that brings us to the second chorus.

Second Chorus: I think I am actually going to vomit…no wait… I vomited.

Bridge: another great technique to steal but is steadily being overused is the “Paired-Down Chorus.” You have the Vocal Melody taken from the Chorus and merely pair that with the Rhythm Guitar part from the Chorus. It’s the same melody we've already heard, just without all the other instruments. It adds a nice effect if you don’t want to build a separate Bridge for your song.

Ending: You’ll notice they play the “intro/Pre-verse” right after the Bridge and immediately launch into the Chorus again. A standard Pop songwriting technique is to sing the Chorus twice at the end of the song (just in case the radio listeners didn’t hear it the first time.) So you’ll hear them repeat the chorus to follow standard pop guidelines.

To end the song: we play the intro with the guitar solo once again. The song ends where the song began, in effect. Overall I give this song a 2 out of 10, It’s horrible and cheesy, but whoever produced it knew what they were doing, and the production quality is actually good.

Songwriting Format:
1. Intro
2. Verse 1
3. Intro with Guitar Solo
4. Verse 2
   -change melody on second half of verse
5. Bridge
   -Paired Down Chorus
6. Chorus
7. Chorus
8. Outtro
   -Same as the intro with guitar solo

Production techniques/Ideas:
Sudden stops and reverse sounds.
Overly compressed and harmonized vocals
Use “Heys” as extra bling
Add and subtract different instruments at different points for emphasis


Iamtheswoop said...

San Dimas High School Football Rules!

Iamtheswoop said...

So, it's not that I don't love Madonna, I just don't think she's human anymore.

Iamtheswoop said...

I'll admit it, I like big butts and I cannot lie

Iamtheswoop said...

If you want to destroy my sweater...pull this thread as I walk away. Really thats all the world needs right now