Friday, December 24, 2010

PMCPP Presents: Wonderful Christmastime

Special Christmas Edition!
WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS TIME
PMCPP Analysis #24
KEY: Bb Major (in kind of a fake-ass attempt at mixolydian mode)
RHYTHM USED: Chunk

I figured I'd get in the holiday spirit and make it so I at least updated this shit ONCE since what, June? Either way, this is pretty much just Paul's amazingly lame attempt to ride on John's coattails once again.

THE PIANO: This is an amazing case of somehow making an already incredibly easy sounding piano part sound more complicated than it actually is. The synth part is set to repeat notes that are hit on it several times so every time he hits a chord he can basically just sit there for the rest of the measure after hitting it once and just waits as it repeats over and over on its own. The most variation he has other than hitting it at the start of the measure is the occasional batch of eighth notes and a tiny little repeated line in the treble that might actually be a guitar part, it's almost impossible to tell since every instrument in this song sounds the same.

The pedal point in the bass turns the synth part from sickeningly easy to unbelievably easy, if it weren't unbelievable enough already.

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: Your garden variety Bb major chords here, I, ii, iii, IV, V and vi... almost all over a pedal point of Bb. Come on Paul, seriously? It sounds like the song is trying and straining to be in the mixolydian mode considering the flatVII chord that we see in the chorus, but unfortunately Paul even manages to fuck that up by inserting the V chord for a split second during the bridge. Way to go!

Part of the reason that I think this song is lame is that it really sounds... well, incomplete. It's got the verses and the choruses and the bridge but it all just ... well, it all sounds exactly the same. It's like a really bouncy version of your average strophic song except trying its hardest to not be strophic. When the lyrics are your average idiotic Christmas fare, you really can't get away with subpar music like we have here. It makes the entire thing just seem like Paul wrote it while bored in 3 minutes. Seriously, "Ding dong ding dong ding dong ding dong" is not a lyric. Even the singing sounds bored.

The ending is forced as hell as well, just a fade out in a place where we would expect the song to continue ad nauseum. Just goes to show how boring and repetitive this song is.

HOW PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: Considering this is so often on lists of "Worst Christmas songs of all time" I'd say that he didn't. Just goes to show that when Paul tries to copy John his attempts always seem to fail, be it on Christmas or any other time.

Happy Holidays, all!

Friday, July 16, 2010

PMCPP PRESENTS: The Night Before

THE NIGHT BEFORE
PMCPP Analysis #23
KEY: D Major
RHYTHM USED: Chunk

Fun story, Paul doesn't even play the Piano on this one, John handled the electric keyboard on this song. Paul still wrote it though and the part has his boring little fingerprints all over it so that's plenty enough for me to include it in our analysis group!

THE PIANO: The part for piano here sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is while listening to the recording, sounding more like a rhythm guitar part than a keyboard part. I've heard the part described as "rollicking", which sounds like one of those words I always make up here. I prefer to call the part "easy as sin" personally.

First of all, remember that there is no bass in this part at all. Everything is in the treble, which I assume is how Paul came up with the concept of the "rollicking" part so easily, he didn't have to play his usual 4-on-the-floor style or a ba-dum style either when he didn't have a bass note going at any point to fuck his rhythm up. This is of course assuming that he actually has rhythm and wasn't just coming up with the keyboard pattern by randomly hitting the keyboard like Micheal J. Fox. (Too soon?)

There's no real exciting leaps in the part, I think the only part where there is actually any difficult jump in the part is in the second measure as it goes from D to F and John takes the part down a 5th to an A instead of up a 3rd to an F. Of course after that he very slowly moves it back up to the D instead of making any big leaps by keeping the A7 chord in the 1st inversion so the C# is in the 'bass' instead of the A and doing the exact same thing with the G chord and a B in the bass. How much you wanna bet that Paul came up with that idea?

In total the part is mostly 3 fingered chords, a 4th note is added occasionally when another note is called for, like the Gm6 chord or that A7 chord. However, some chords like the D7 at the end just do the old Paul gambit of dropping a note and keeping it at 3 notes played. Also in true Paul style, there's so few chords that actually need more than 3 notes in them that it hardly matters.

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: The key is a bluesy version of D Major, another example of Paul using any excuse he can to stick a C chord into every song he writes. Every third or fourth chord seems to be a C, the bluesy bVII in this case. He also sticks an F chord for no reason whatsoever into the intro, it doesn't appear anywhere else in the song... until the third to LAST measure in the song. Two appearances by a chord that has nothing to do with the key at the very start and end of the song, what the hell Paul?

The chord structure is your cliche I-something-IV-V, with the something in this case being that C chord instead of a usual vi. That is broken by a small part where Paul decides to stick the vi chord of Bb in along with the vi of D (2 sharps = 2 flats in Pauls mind?) twice and then go right back to the I-bVII-IV-V. The bridge goes from one cliche to another as it goes with a I-IV-vi-VofV-V gambit. There is a minor v chord there at the start as well, which fortunately makes it have a tinge of interest while fitting right into Paul's "remove sharps at all cost" method of songwriting.

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: The song was sandwiched between Help! and You've Got To Hide Your Love Away on the Help album, so people could easily skip it to get to some GOOD songs!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

UMFOTOB PRESENTS: Don't Pass Me By!

DON'T PASS ME BY
PMCPP Analysis #22
KEY: C Major (Or fake C# Major)
RHYTHM USED: Chunk
BEATLE BEING MADE FUN OF: Ringo

It's Ringo's birthday! Yay! And what better way to celebrate than with an analysis of the only song Ringo ever actually wrote on his own for the Beatles? (Sorry Octopus' Garden, we all know about your dirty collaboration with George.) Anyway, this song is about as good as you'd expect Mr. Ringo "Can't play the Guitar in a key other than E or A or Piano in anything other than C" Starr to create.

THE PIANO: Upon first listen this song sounded like it was just an ostinato of two notes, E and D. Seriously, with all the layering going on with other instruments it almost sounds like it's just playing an eighth note rest followed by E-D-E over and over. I was surprised then when I listened closer and realized that there were not only chords going on, but a bass line containing more than one note as well! The bass is jumping around the root and fifth of every chord, but at least it's something. Suddenly this song goes from "how the hell did he write this and think it was good enough to record" tier to "sounds like something Paul would have written" tier. Except that bassline might be a bit too complicated for Pauly-O. Heh.

After the little E-D-E ostinato whenever the song is on the I chord, it gets real boring real fast. Over the F chord it just becomes the same bassline with F-C rather than C-G bouncing around. The treble bores itself up as well, turning into just straight quarter notes after an eighth rest. In Ringo's defense, at least the eighth rest for the treble makes it a somewhat interesting chunking pattern being followed. Not nearly interesting enough to make me think DEAR GOD I MUST LEARN THIS KICK ASS PIANO PART but still better than just Paul's oft-used "four on the floor" style.

By the way, it does the exact same thing over the G chord, if you hadn't guessed. And if you hadn't guessed, it probably means you've never read this blog before. Seriously, it's always that damn way. There are no other tweaks to be found all song long, it's basically the same 3 measures repeated depending on the chord they're representing. Fortunately we have the utter horrific chaos provided by the fiddle to lighten the mood - or drive you insane - but more on that later.

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: Well, it's in the key of C, which should surprise almost nobody. After all, when he wrote a song based around the guitar with Octopus' Garden, it was in the guitar-friendly key of E, so expecting his more Piano based song to be in C is akin to expecting the sun to rise in the morning or expecting Justin Beiber fans to show complete outrage on twitter every time #RIPJustinBeiber starts trending. Which is to say, you should reeeeally expect it. As a fun bonus for seemingly no reason whatsoever, the mono version of the song is mixed in... C# Major instead. It's so blatantly obvious that it was recorded in C and mixed up though, it's really not funny. Ringo sounds like he's on helium for Christ's sake.

The chord selection by Ringo is about as varied as the selection of songs on most of Paul's new albums. (Ballad, ballad, power ballad, ballad, acoustic ballad, ballad in a minor key...) Nothing but I, IV and V to be seen all song.

The instrument selection is strange as well. The drums are in a basic rock beat style, except for a floor tom that seemed to be recorded later hitting random 16th notes randomly throughout the song. There's a fiddle player, but the only instructions that said fiddle player received seem to be "take this Speed, then play whatever you want". There is no rhyme or reason to the fiddle's playing, and goes sporadically in every direction you can think of. The anti-piano part, if you will.

HOW RINGO GOT AWAY WITH IT: You honestly think anybody expected the next I Am The Walrus out of the guy?

Happy birthday, Ringo!

Friday, June 4, 2010

A few updates

Recently I decided to read through these and fix up a few things. As such, the analysis of Old Brown Shoe, Golden Slumbers and Maybe I'm Amazed have all been updated.

I may be uploading one of these later today as well.

Friday, May 14, 2010

PMCPP PRESENTS: DANCE TONIGHT

DANCE TONIGHT
PMCPP Analysis #21

Key: F Major
Rhythm: N/A

Getting the other song from Paulies newest "Memory Almost Full" album out of the way here, this one based on a left handed mandolin Paul randomly picked up and wrote a song on gleefully... all without learning how to play the blasted thing!

THE MANDOLIN: The chords played in this song aren't real mandolin chords in the sense that you'd find them on most chord charts for mandolin. No, these are basically the Mando equivalent of D, G and A on a guitar, chords that work but are so open that only the most uncoordinated of chimpanzees could not play them.

Yeah. Picking up a mandolin I was able to figure out those three chords without even LOOKING at a chord chart. And it took about 10 minutes. Nice research into the intricacies of the instrument, Paul! Plus, because he couldn't figure out the difficulties of singing it a key higher, so he tuned the instrument down a step instead of just learning the damn chords in F.

There's one other chord in there that Paul himself was quoted as saying "doesn't know what it is". Well done again, I'd say. It's another easy as hell chord that this time he just made up so he wouldn't have to pretend like he only knew three of them. Basically it's the same fingering as those first two chords in the chart up there... but with his fingers moved up to the top string. derp. Well, if you want to look it up, the notes there are G-D#-G-D. Yeah. So basically it's not even really a chord at all, kind of a ii chord with a 5th and a #5th in it. No third, naturally.

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: As with any good lazy song, it's our old three friends I-IV-V making up about 90% of the song, in the order of I-V-I-V-IV-V-I the entire song, which gives the song the added bonus of having 90% of that 90% be just I and V chords repeated over and over again. That weird ass ii chord is also in play at the start of the bridges, but only for a measure or two each time.

The drum part, if you want to really call it a part, is incredibly minimal, mostly just hitting the bass drum the entire song in quarter notes. And when I say the entire song, I mean it. The song opens with the bass drum and closes with those loud bashes on it still going. Once in a blue moon he makes the part turn a few eighth notes loose. It does stop for half a verse until it goes into the patented Rock and Roll beat that Paul's played previously in... everything else he's ever drummed in.

The Bass part is hitting root notes the entire time and the guitar is... doing whatever it wants to, it seems. It's got a little solo, but other than that it doesn't seem to be doing anything else in particular.

And don't get me started on the lyrics. "everybody gonna dance tonight/everybody gonna feel all right/everybody gonna dance around tonight" sounds like something from a Joe Scruggs tape, not from the guy who wrote "Hey Jude". And if you don't know who Joe Scruggs is, kill yourself. That was my childhood ;_;

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: He's Paul McCartney and it was 2008, he can do whatever he damn well pleases and people will still buy it! That and maybe the thrill of hearing Paul screw up a mandolin for the first time appealed to some people?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

PMCPP PRESENTS: Fool on the Hill

FOOL ON THE HILL
PMCPP Analysis #20
Key: D Major... and Minor
Rhythm: Chunk

I've never really been a fan of this song in ANY sense, in fact Magical Mystery Tour is probably my least favorite Beatles album. Being my least favorite Beatles album isn't exactly what I'd call a tough break since I love all the Beatles output so much, but the point stands! Frankly I'm just amazed I hadn't done this one yet!

THE PIANO: This is a bread-and-butter example of your usual McCartney piano song with one particular difference; he's using that sustain pedal this time! True to form, he doesn't know when to let up with it and has it held down for just about 100% of the song. Strangely though, the piano seems to randomly have jutted ends between chords even though the chords themselves are flowing quite nicely. Almost sounds like he recorded one chord, stopped, took a break and a cup of tea (or a joint, considering the point of Beatledom this was written in) and then recorded another chord. At the end, copy paste!

This song is engineered almost to be easy to play on piano chord-wise. True, it's in the key of D, with 2 frightening sharps to contend with. But almost half of the verse takes place on an Em chord, not only a lazy 1 step away from the root D, but also consisting of no sharps at all! Just about the only bit of interest in this song is the inflections he's stuck onto the chords, with the D chord getting an added 6th and the Em chord getting it's usual minor 7th attached to it. Naturally, he plays every chord in an inversion that makes all the notes just that much closer together, with the Em chord anchored on the D in the right hand right after playing the D6 chord on the D as well. And did I mention this entire thing is on a pedal of D in the bass? A couple of more interesting chords (A7 and Bm7 to be precise) appear, but only for 1 measure a piece.

The chorus uses the classic old time strategy of switching the key to the parallel minor to add interest or in Paul's case, shift from 2 accidentals to 1! Similar to the chorus, this is nothing but 4-on-the-floor smashing of a D minor chord, occasionally adding an augmented 5th to the mix, but not for more than 1.5 measures of the whole thing. And to avoid playing anything difficult in the vein of that +5, he skips straight to a C chord the only spot in that chorus he doesn't have it on the D. And once again, almost all of this takes place over a repeating D in the bass. The difference? He was using tied whole notes in the verse, he just lets loose in the chorus... with half notes. THE MAN IS CRAZY I TELL YA!

LAZINESS IN SONGWRITING: The major/minor switch is something the Beatles did quite often in their songs, but it was mostly a gambit used early on when they were still experimenting around with their style, like in And I Love Her. Even then, it was mostly used for flavor, to give songs an ambiguous 'what's the key here?' feeling to them. But they stopped using it by the time they had reached this point in their careers... except Paulie-o of course! It's quite a cheap gambit to add flavor to what would probably have been an incredibly repetitive song otherwise. Look at the form! It's basically the old folk cliche of Verse-Chorus ad nausem with a solo stuck in there.

And a gang of flutes + a piano isn't exactly what I'd call a rockin' song, poor Ringo was almost left out of this one minus some incredibly light cymbal work. I imagine this was yet another of Paulie's "I'm going to record everything on this track I possibly can, like it or not" tracks.

WHY PAUL GOT AWAY WITH IT: Everyone was pretty high on acid at the time this was released.

NOTE:

This series and blog is totally tongue in cheek. I really do love Paul McCartney.