The ‘perfect’ pop song

Yes of course there’s a place for fine music such as Mozart’s, someone who can impart tone to simple notes like few others but there’s also a fine pop song and perhaps I have a different definition to many of what constitutes a fine pop song.

1. Thought has gone into its crafting, the arrangement of all the elements has great variation, highs and lows, slow builds and explosions, silences.

2. It opens with either quiet menace or else they’re straight into it, meaning business, engaged with the song, not just strumming along – you get the impression these guys can really play and there’s a definite ‘edge’ to it, lifting it above ‘par for the course’, above the mundane.

3. That ‘edge’ in the song below comes from the scruffy, garage nature of it, the way they all shout along while the audience engages too.  The singer must not be a professional ‘crooner’.  David Byrne of Talking Heads once had something to say about that.  Challenged about his poor singing voice, he made the point – the more perfect the voice, the slicker – the less the music connects with the audience.

4.  The song must ‘be going somewhere’, not just be a ‘symmetrical’ couple of minutes – it has to be asymmetric, it builds, it’s a construction where all elements have their time and each player has his moment – appreciated by other band members and also by the audience – there has to be engagement here.

5.  It does finally come down to the riffs and trills and in this song, the piano owns it – on some songs, it might be fiddle, guitar, whatever.  Here, the piano is the thing throughout, we realise it about thirty seconds in [with headphones on].

There’s another secret reason [start and 13:22] I love this song too. Plus it’s connected to Athens, Georgia, where one of our key readers is [fundamental interconnectedness of all things, chaps and chapesses].

There are three other songs as well where it was clearly crafted with thought and needed work to carry off. Just enough variation in an otherwise symmetrical song here:

I’m a comin home

This one below, most people know – another well constructed number with great variation and a certain ‘stick’ to it:

Another planet

In this below, the interaction is very much part of the whole:

The fox

One reason I don’t like swing era jazz is it’s blended, like too many whiskies are – I prefer single malts and in a similar way, songs where the individuals have time to stand out in small solos whilst they all support each other along the way. To me, that’s how music should be.

Especially in 2020.

4 comments for “The ‘perfect’ pop song

  1. Most interesting, boys, just listened to them. Surprised how “straight” and “mainstream” Lord Somber’s were – hadn’t heard that TB and BH one before.

    Brandy – goodness, how long ago was that? Remember it.

    Very interesting question, taste. It’s mood and body speed, no? Level of aggression in our personalities perhaps? My mate’s a metal fanatic, says he looks for beat, I’d say he needs a sort of screaming into the mic thing and heavily satanic playing, somehow “manly”, not wimpy melodic.

    Quite surprised a ladyfriend I know likes Devo – really surprised by that. Wonder how people would like the Wire song sometimes played here:

    Commenter mentioned “guitar tone” and I concur with Mark about the 70s.

    Very interesting thing, taste – all the elements seem to be there but it just doesn’t “grab” or else it seems tosh but just has a riff or tone about it.

    Didn’t like all the Yardbirds did but there was something about the package which satisfied. Tommy James and the Shondells – did you like them? What of Neil Diamond? Lack of cred in Hot August Night or one of the all time great albums?

    Lynyrd Skynyrd? Yes from me. ELO? Not really from me. ZZ Top? Fleetwood Mac too pop history for me. Stevie Nicks – jury’s out.

    By the way, Somber old son, how did the Dawgs do last night? Haven’t checked yet, too busy writing to you guys.

    24-41 … goodness me!!! What happened? Thought the Dawgs were the Big Thing this year? Must look for the reaction vids. My friend said she thought the Dawgs might do it.

    Just on the Cats downunder again – another reason the Cats might do it is they have a good record in Brisbane and Richmond aren’t at home, they travel up there. In-ter-es-ting.

    Lots of interesting things just now.


    Tone, style. Yep. The Donald’s tone – needed right now in a way Boris’s smarmy, blancmange is not. This is the time of divisiveness and decisiveness right now.

    The Woke Left disagrees and hates his style. Hmmmmmm.


    Georgia led 24-17 in the second quarter after scoring on four consecutive first-half possessions. But Alabama stole some momentum by driving into scoring range with 23 seconds left until halftime before Will Reichard hit a 52-yard field goal as time expired in the first half. The Crimson Tide never looked back. After punting on its first series of the third quarter, Alabama launched an aerial assault that even the vaunted Georgia defense could not slow. The Tide closed the game on a 24-0 run, shutting out the Bulldogs in the second half.

    Hmmmmmm, they wanted the adawgs badly. Respect.

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