Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Cutting the chord

I’ve been looking at this clip for years now, and it never fails to slay me. These guys demonstrate how there’s nothing new under the pop sun, yet musicians manage to make us feel like they’re reinventing magnificent wheels again and again.

It’s the four-chord progression, and it’s ubiquitous. You’ve heard it a million times, the familiar I-V-vi-IV, in everything from “Let It Be” to Adele’s “Someone Like You.”

Of course anybody who loves the blues knows that most blues songs have their own formula, I-IV-V, and blues artists have been making magic with those three chords since before Robert Johnson. And embellishing them in ways that make every blues player sound sui generis. Seems like pop music puts most of its mojo into the personas of the artists these days, though, so maybe it’s just easier to grab the four-chord progression and stick some goofy lyrics on top. Familiarity is a feature not a bug. Engage Autotune.

It’s gotten so bad that the so-called Millennial Whoop is everywhere now. Don’t know the Millennial Whoop? Read this: Believe me, you’ve heard the Millennial Whoop.

I’m always amazed that good songwriters can do so much with so little, but when you hear all those four-chord songs stacked up together in the video, you have to wonder how often the band is phoning it in. It’s not easy coming up with something totally original every time out.

The same can probably be said about novels, but I digress …

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This entry was posted on April 22, 2017 by in Music and tagged .
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