Tuesday, 14 August 2012

What do you put on your fries?

I've made a point of comparing basic pop music to french fries, but not everyone enjoys their fries the same way. You may add salt, dip them in gravy, or with a bit of ketchup. I like mine with plenty of malt vinegar and a bit of salt. The point is that even french fries can be dressed up in various ways.

Pop songs can be dressed up too. I have a daughter who likes the group One Direction, so I've heard a few of their songs in the car and around the house. In their biggest hit "That's What Makes You Beautiful" there's an interesting drum fill just before the chorus that uses triplets. It's not a big thing, but it's the dash of salt that makes the song a little tastier.

An even better example (gravy anyone?) is the song "Take It Easy" by The Eagles. On the surface it's a pretty basic rock/pop song with a little country flavour, but there are two things which add a lot to the song. First and most obvious is their great layered harmonies. The other thing happens during the introduction. Go ahead a give it a quick listen. Did you feel like the drums were out of sync when they came in? That's because when you hear that very first guitar chord, most people assume it's on the downbeat, or beat 1 of the song. In fact, that first guitar chord happens half a beat earlier on the "and" of beat four. The easiest way to re-program your ears to hear this is to cue the song up and pause it, then count the beat to yourself and hit play around beat four. The first guitar strum plays on the and of four, and the next one is on beat two. Once you start the song by counting this way, the drum fill fits in perfectly. It's a little thing, but combined with the harmonies, it's enough to transform this plate of pop song french fries into poutine.

Bon appetit!

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