Princess Stomper deconstructs the Art of the Pop Song
I don’t know much about music technically, so I can’t go into which songs use the 32-bar form or other such jargon, but I do know that – regardless of the genre – my ear expects certain things to happen at certain points and if those things don’t happen at that point, I become confused, frustrated, and very quickly lose interest. It’s not because I’m not clever enough to ‘get’ the music, but that the music is not clever enough to subvert those rules and remain entertaining.
It doesn’t have to be as obvious as ‘Toxic’, though. Recently, Everett True was praising another track by Britney, ‘Till The World Ends’, which on the surface seems a lot simpler. It’s just a brainless dancefloor filler designed for dancing rather than active listening. He claims not to care about the structure, but just how he can lose himself to the song’s energy. However, it’s the structure that provides that energy. Although melodically there isn’t much going on, the rhythms are hugely complex in how they build up and break down. It’s these wave-like swells and drops that dictate how your body is going to move on the dancefloor. For the brainless dancefloor filler, structure is everything.
Probably my favourite song in that direction is ‘Rockafeller Skank’ by Fatboy Slim, because it does so much with so little. A single spoken-word vocal sample and surf-rock guitar riff – but clipped and layered and built and broken until you have absolutely no choice whatsoever but to move your whole body in time to the rhythm. It’s an bsolute masterclass in how to write music with samples.