Britney Spears – Overprotected (The Dark Child Remix)

January 30, 2010 2 comments

So I reveal to you my most played song on iTunes with 98 plays: Britney Spears’ Overprotected. I’m not even ashamed to admit it – Britney Spears is amazing. I have her greatest hits and even saw her live at the O2 Arena in London.

An absolutely perfect pop song – simple, catchy, slick production, moderate tempo, minor key, basic lyrics, and having Britney Spears as the popstar singing it. A recipe for instant success.

But what I also love about pop songs are their rare moments of variation, or something completely different that happens in the piece that everyone remembers – essentially what this blog is all about. And so at 2:40 a major chord unrelated to the piece’s key is played out of nowhere. Never played before or after. I beg you to drop your inhibitions, your vanity, superficiality, your denial that you could quite possibly enjoy this song, and agree that it, especially this section that I love, is brilliant. One of my favourite songs ever.

Britney Spears – Overprotected (The Dark Child Remix) by masstsnk

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Danny Elfman – Etiquette Lesson (from Edward Scissorhands)

January 29, 2010 1 comment

Deciding that I was going to write about this track just made me tingle. This is one of those delicate masterpieces that is so simply crafted and transparent that it’s almost too precious to even listen to.

This track was made famous not only from featuring in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands but also because an adapted version featured for a Chanel no.5 advert back in 1998. He has written and said in many interviews that this is his favourite score out of all that he has written, describing it as “pure and sweet, with a trace of sadness”.

The piece starts with a long, sustained harmonic on the violin (when you lightly place your finger on the string at certain parts of the violin’s neck so that it plays a note much higher than when pressed). This is followed by all kinds of wonderful percussion – glockenspiel, harp (two of them?) and then a haunting chorus entering at 17 secs. *Note that at 33 secs my favourite chord is sung – the diminished 7th. Always exciting.*

But it’s from 1:07 when the bass enters that I really love this piece. At 1:16/1:17 we hear a striking major chord/mini key change not heard at any other point in the piece. It’s so clever; and it doesn’t detract from the beauty and overwhelming sadness of the piece.

Danny Elfman – Etiquette Lesson (From Edward Scissorhands) by masstsnk

k.d. lang – Surrender

January 27, 2010 2 comments

Written for the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies is my favourite Bond song (but not my favourite Bond man: Daniel Craig of course). This song was actually used in the end credits as Sheryl Crow’s ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ was chosen to open the film instead.

Candian lesbian, veggie, activist and pretentiously initialised in lower-case name k.d.lang,’s voice is amazing. So dignified and strong. And so is the intro – instant entry of full band and muted trumpets until the verse begins at 00:11 secs, and then my favourite chord change of the piece at 00:17 secs. And then it’s not long until my other favourite bit from 00:30 to 00:32 secs where we hear a great drum fill, bass slide and trumpet fanfare.

But overall, a passionate track with a great two-chord exchange chorus. and you can’t fault her sustained waaaaails from 2:53. Especially the third and final one from 3:04 until 3:19 – 15 seconds!! Unbelievable.

k.d. lang – Surrender by masstsnk

Billy Talent – Saint Veronika

January 26, 2010 3 comments

Billy Talent are the quintessential band to listen to when you’re pissed off, need some energy, or want to vent out rage over clearly been the victim of exploitation (which I cannot go into in this post but I refer back to this and explain at a later date – dickheads). They have consistently written incredibly catchy riffs and ultimately great songs:

First Album:
This is How It Goes*****
Living In The Shadows*****
Try Honesty*****
The Ex******
River Below
Cut The Curtains
Nothing To Lose
Voices of Violence*****

Second Album:
Devil In A Midnight Mess************
Red Flag 
This Suffering****** <— check out the epic live mix
Worker Bees******
Pins & Needles******
Fallen Leaves
In The Fall
Burn The Evidence***************

Latest and Third Album:
Devil On My Shoulder********************** <— one of the best riffs ever?
and Saint Veronika******

Find me a band with more than 18 energetic hits over three albums and I’ll eat my musical hat.

Saint Veronika starts with a syncopated guitar riff which you never realise is so until 00:06 secs when the guitar kicks in. It gets me every time. But it’s the chorus first heard at 00:42 secs with its descending chord progression and angry, harmonised vocals which is the real deal.

Actually, you know what, it’s the break down from 2:00 exactly which is where shit starts going down. At 2:19 the smoothest of distorted guitar sounds come in to rip it up until 3:14 where the song suddenly strips to a single clean electric guitar…and then BAM, at 3:30 those ridiculous drum hits bring the chorus back and smash you up once more.

Billy Talent – Saint Veronika by masstsnk

Majestic MC – Pirate Beef

January 24, 2010 Leave a comment

How about a track that has an intro with 17 expletives? I think I should scrap every track I’ve written about which has included the word ‘energy’ because they’re NOTHING on the energy in this tune. Every time I hear the incredible beat, dramatic orchestration and incomparable anger in the lyrics I get so fired up. If you live in London and listen to pirate radio, you know how annoying it is when local pirate radio decides to broadcast over your frequency.

I love every part of this track, but especially when it turns instrumental at 4:10. If you have a good sound system with loads of bass, crank it up from here because it’s F*£%ing great.

Pirate Beef is from an old, and now unavailable album, but for Majestic MC‘s latest stuff, his official page everything including his latest video, Safe Sex (and it’s BAAARE FUNNY). Listen to when the synth comes in at 1:56.  

DID YOU SEE HER! DID YOU SEE HER!

WHAT’S THIS! WHAT’S THIS!

Majestic MC – Pirate Beef by masstsnk

Metronomy – Black Eye Burnt Thumb

January 23, 2010 4 comments

 

I was introduced to this song two nights ago by a friend when I was in Wales and it instantly won me over. Why has it taken me so long to listen to Metronomy?!

The electric guitar which comes in at 36 secs is GREAT. Where is it going to go? You have no idea. Nowhere really – it repeats to allow out of tune brass and harmonium come in at 1:06. Then BAM, the drums, bass and synth enter at 1:36. Heavily vibrato synth, playing in synchronisation with the bass is a winning combination.

But it’s the diminished 7th chord heard every so often, for example at 1:58 (without the high synth), 2:29, 2:58 which is the championing part of this track. The fact that the track is so heavily in 4/4 but then these chords are played as triplets really make them stand out. From the brilliantly titled album ‘Pip Paine (Pay Back the £5000 You Owe Me)‘.

Metronomy – Black Eye Burnt Thumb by masstsnk

Atlum Schema – The Ballad of the Self-Blessed, Self-Less

January 22, 2010 1 comment

Atlum Schema is still one of my favourite artists. His live performances are always captivating, his songwriting unlike many others and his strive to promote himself and other musicians in unconventional ways such as a new musical night or his podcast is inspiring. The perfect three anecdotes for a successful musician and a satisfied fan.

‘The Ballad of the Self-Blessed, Self-Less’ starts with an instant wall of sound. The piano line is haunting and ambiguous, aided by the cello responses in the background. A great start in which you know you’re going to be in for something special. This brilliant introduction is then followed by some amazing chord changes such as at at 39 secs before singing “but only if you want” and at 56 secs before singing “diamond eyes“. But at 1:23 after hearing his voice sounding like he is whispering to the listener, trying to wake us up, his voice gradually builds with more anger, more surety and declaration…emphasised with subtle, yet striking harmonies at 1:35.

After these vocals have been sung, begins another ambiguous section which feels like it has been put there to give us time to ponder over the first (2:13). The phrase is repeated four times and each time ends on the most poignant harmony with the cello sustaining over the top (first heard at 2:19). It’s agitatingly lush.

But 2:57 begins the final and also my favourite part of the song. It suddenly goes into a major key and really feels as though we have been saved from that first, dark half of the piece where we were made to feel imbalanced and insecure. At 3:40 begins a series of harmonies. But then at 4:29 enters just what we thought we escaped from! The beginning of the piece returns and ends the track. Is it to reflect our depressed lives? Or is it to warn us that we’re being tempted into the wrong decision? It is either a brilliantly optimistic or brilliantly harsh, mirthless ending.

This track alongside the rest of the album can be downloaded for any price you choose, including nothing from here.  

Atlum Schema – The Ballad of the Self-Blessed, Self-Less by masstsnk