Where is the confounded bridge?
I’ve begun separating the wheat from the chaff in popular music by listening for the bridge. One of the reasons I think hip-hop is so unmemorable these days is that they’ve abandoned the good things about pop song structure (verse chorus bridge chorus) and kept only the bad (repetition). The result is that the songs don’t go anywhere — they start in one place and end in the same damn place.
I’ve been noticing that only songs written by professional song-writers seem to observe the convention of taking the song somewhere by modulating or even writing a bridge.
“Naughty Girl” by Beyonce is a perfect example of a song that goes nowhere. You turn on the radio and that song’s playing and you have no idea if it’s the beginning, middle or end. Same beat, same music the whole time. Sure she sings a b-section and a chorus, but nothing changes behind her. When Destiny’s Child was making it big, I heard that the way Beyonce wrote songs was for “producers” to send her instrumental tracks and she’d make up vocals over them. That’s fine if you’ve got a producer who’s a half-decent song-writer, but otherwise you end up with “Naughty Girl” — nice hook, good music, but no motion.
“Move Ya Body” by Nina Sky is one of my favorites right now even though it doesn’t seem to go anywhere. I have the same experience — I turn on the radio and that song’s on and I don’t know how much I’ve missed. Still, the beat is a bit more hypnotic than Beyonce’s so I enjoy its repetition.
On the contrary, Avril Lavigne, Ashlee Simpson and especially Jojo have songs out right now that all have tremendous hooks and bridges. I’m fairly obsessed with Jojo’s “Get Out.” The song is so minimal — with only an acoustic guitar melody and kick-snare drum machine behind the verses. the bridge tears it up too. It changes the pace of the song without actually altering the tempo (the drum beat never changes). It pretty much kicks-ass all around.