Have you fallen in love with ‘The Weekend”s latest hit? Well many folks have. In it’s first week it garnered 38 million airplay audiences, and as of October 2015, it has sold 1,852,000 copies in the US.
This song is pumping through so many stereos and headphones. And there’s good reason for it.
In this video we see Chilly Gonzales attempt to decode the secret sauce behind the song’s success. The main theme is it’s overall musical urgency, and delay of musical information. A good song is made up of all the notes you don’t play.
There are a few things that makes this song special. Especially when compared to the vast majority of pop music currently on the radio.
1. Not starting on “1”
To understand this, you first need to understand the basic rhythmic structure of most pop songs.
They typically have 4 beats in a bar. 1, 2, 3 4. The “downbeat” or beginning of the musical phrase almost always starts on “1”. Count 1, 2, 3, 4, while you’re listening to ‘Eye of the Tiger’. The first note of the main riff starts on the “1”. Or the first beat of the bar.
‘I can’t feel my face’ does not start on the first beat. It actually starts half way between the first, and second beat. This is unusual in pop music, and is quick to catch your ear’s attention. It builds urgency seeing as we are all expecting the first beat to happen on “1”.
2. The first chord is not the key of the song.
The first chord of most songs tells the listener what key the song is in. This is not the case for ‘I Can’t Feel My Face’. The song is in A minor, but the first chord played is actually starts on the 7th chord in A minor. It then decends to the 6th chord. Then finally reaches A minor 3 bars into the song giving a sense of resolution. This also builds urgency. Not starting the Tonic or first note in the key of the song is unlike most pop songs we listen to these days. Starting on the 7th makes us yearn for harmonic resolution… which it does eventually provide!
From the main riff, to the vocal melody, this song is full of syncopation.
This is another addition of nervous energy. In this case syncopation can be boiled down to a rhythm going against the rhythm of the drums. This creates heaps of rhythmic texture and excitement. The emphasis of off beats in this song give it a very forward driving motion that keeps you engaged and seeking resolution.
Why do some people get chills when they listen to their favourite music?
Even if you havent, youll know what I mean in a second. Triggered by your favourite songs, or types of music. Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill decided to tackle this question. Why do some people get chills when they listen to their favourite music?
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