what songs don't repeat themselves? 'under pressure' for one

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(apart from the chorus)

question inspired by this section from the recent brian higgins/xenomania interview:

"Under Pressure", David Bowie and Queen, there's virtually no repetitive parts in that song. Now, I didn't listen to that as a young guy and think, "oh, that's the way to write songs". It's just the way I fell into it, wanting to do things that are original and different but still very very commercial. I found that I was becoming obsessive about knitting things together. A chorus is obviously constant, but I didn't understand why everything around the chorus had to be constant too.

love the idea of doing this, what other (pop) songs do this?

NI, Thursday, 3 September 2009 14:33 (ten years ago) link

"Paranoid Android"

anagram, Thursday, 3 September 2009 14:35 (ten years ago) link

Yeah we've done this (xp) ... but not about pop songs as opposed to a load of proggy shite

Aw naw, no' Annoni oan an' aw noo (Tom D.), Thursday, 3 September 2009 14:40 (ten years ago) link

Actually, Nick did specify he wanted shorter, poppier songs for that thread

But we ignored that and ploughed on regardless

Aw naw, no' Annoni oan an' aw noo (Tom D.), Thursday, 3 September 2009 14:41 (ten years ago) link

Plus ca change... ironically enough

Aw naw, no' Annoni oan an' aw noo (Tom D.), Thursday, 3 September 2009 14:42 (ten years ago) link

yeah no prog pls ta

NI, Thursday, 3 September 2009 14:45 (ten years ago) link

good luck with that

a fact-checker with The New Yorker magazine (HI DERE), Thursday, 3 September 2009 14:46 (ten years ago) link

you casting doubt on ilxors or the non-rep world pop?

NI, Thursday, 3 September 2009 14:47 (ten years ago) link

world OF pop

NI, Thursday, 3 September 2009 14:48 (ten years ago) link

One of my favourite songs of the entire decade is The The's ShrunkenMan, every verse of which is sung in a slightly different style, yet which remains at heart a massive pop song.

Defining things as 'prog' or 'non-prog' is extremely unhelpful imo

you casting doubt on ilxors or the non-rep world pop?

both

a fact-checker with The New Yorker magazine (HI DERE), Thursday, 3 September 2009 14:49 (ten years ago) link

Defining things as 'prog' or 'non-prog' is extremely unhelpful imo

Well everything gets described as "prog" these days I suppose

Aw naw, no' Annoni oan an' aw noo (Tom D.), Thursday, 3 September 2009 15:00 (ten years ago) link

a bunch of stuff off tori amos' boys for pele does this. (no 1 in the UK = it is pop!) most notably "blood roses" and "marianne". probably a ton more of her songs too, actually.

ciara's "promise" repeats its 1st and 2nd verses but its structure is pretty whoa anyway - two intros, two separate spoken word sections &c &c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vPyzCHgZ88

lex pretend, Thursday, 3 September 2009 15:04 (ten years ago) link

Tears For Fears 'Sowing The Seeds Of Love' - does repeat chorus and verse structure and probably came up on the other thread but does feature several different arrangements and progressions in sequence, maybe as much as 'Under Pressure' does?

Propaganda 'Dr Mabuse' may qualify also but again there's still enough repetition (the "sell him your soul" bit is the closest thing to a chorus)

unban dictionary (blueski), Thursday, 3 September 2009 15:09 (ten years ago) link

Wait, does Under Pressure really not repeat itself?

Tuncay Stryder (Matt DC), Thursday, 3 September 2009 15:13 (ten years ago) link

Surely that's bollocks?

Tuncay Stryder (Matt DC), Thursday, 3 September 2009 15:13 (ten years ago) link

Oh, apart from the chorus, sorry.

Tuncay Stryder (Matt DC), Thursday, 3 September 2009 15:14 (ten years ago) link

Autumn Almanac has loads of different sections... Think one or two bits repeat. Great song though. Right guys.

Wax Cat, Thursday, 3 September 2009 16:19 (ten years ago) link

Well, a lot of Xenomania songs...

one boob is free with one (daavid), Thursday, 3 September 2009 18:28 (ten years ago) link

in fact, in most Xenomania songs, at least the melody on the second verse is different from the first verse.

one boob is free with one (daavid), Thursday, 3 September 2009 18:30 (ten years ago) link

Latest example: Mini Viva's "I Left My Heart in Tokyo"

one boob is free with one (daavid), Thursday, 3 September 2009 18:31 (ten years ago) link

"White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane

Josefa, Friday, 4 September 2009 00:55 (ten years ago) link

The Marvelettes' "Beechwood 4-5789" is surprisingly non-repetitive for a 1962 Motown single. They hit the chorus more than once, but otherwise it seems to jump around between several verse melodies of no obvious connection.

Hideous Lump, Friday, 4 September 2009 01:25 (ten years ago) link

What about something like Joni Mitchell's "Blue"? There are melodic phrases that recur but it's hard to identify entire formal sections that do in the verse/chorus sense.

Bjork's "The Modern Things" might come close, I think. The second time through the "All the modern things..." bit seems to be varied enough.

Sundar, Friday, 4 September 2009 01:48 (ten years ago) link

are you not the same one true sundar who loved schizophrenia by sonic youth for its lack of repetition? or are we narrowing pop?

ogmor, Friday, 4 September 2009 02:06 (ten years ago) link

"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"

Tied Up In Geir (Geir Hongro), Friday, 4 September 2009 02:09 (ten years ago) link

Yeah, "Schizophrenia" is a better example. I just didn't think it was pop enough for this thread.

Sundar, Friday, 4 September 2009 03:22 (ten years ago) link

Tons of early Throwing Muses to thread (I may have said this in the other thread too?). Esp the "chains changed" EP.

our soldiers die like chickens day by day (Trayce), Friday, 4 September 2009 03:46 (ten years ago) link

The Turtles "You Know What I Mean"
Of Montreal "Voltaic Crusher/Undrum To Muted Da"

billstevejim, Friday, 4 September 2009 03:48 (ten years ago) link

"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"

Huh? "Hands across the water.. hands across the sky.." is in there at least 3 if not 4 times..

billstevejim, Friday, 4 September 2009 03:49 (ten years ago) link

I know Xenomania go without saying, but probably my favourite subtle example of this by them is Sugababes "Ace Reject", which repeats its chorus (only once though) but otherwise each section is new and designed to ramp up the emotional intensity.

Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" kinda fits here, if only for delaying the chorus for so long:

verse a / bridge / verse b with slightly different vocal melody / bridge / amazing guitar solo / chorus.

Tim F, Friday, 4 September 2009 04:12 (ten years ago) link

Aaliyah's "We Need A Resolution" switches up a lot too, it's not merely that the second verse has a totally different melody but that this brings out a completely different vibe in the backing music too.

Tim F, Friday, 4 September 2009 04:20 (ten years ago) link

definitely not Oneida's "Sheets of Easter" or Boredoms "Super Coming," that's for sure

Bastards of Young Dro, Friday, 4 September 2009 04:28 (ten years ago) link

The Turtles "You Know What I Mean"

― billstevejim, Friday, September 4, 2009 3:48 AM (3 hours ago)

It warms my hear to know someone else knows this song.

Joseph McCombs, Friday, 4 September 2009 07:03 (ten years ago) link

some great suggestions on here. most interested in the ace reject, ciara, tff, marvelettes and journey songs

NI, Friday, 4 September 2009 10:22 (ten years ago) link

Outkast's Ghettomusik comes to mind, except that one actually DOES sound like two different records awkwardly stapled together with a chorus in the middle.

I'm trying to think of any non-Xenomania big 00s pop songs that are structured like this. How many sections are there in 'All The Things She Said' by Tatu again?

Tuncay Stryder (Matt DC), Friday, 4 September 2009 10:26 (ten years ago) link

human being lawnmower by the MC5 (around 2:00(?) = not prog) goes thru lotsa parts that dont repeat i think but i better go listen again

unknown or illegal user (d00\r@g), Friday, 4 September 2009 10:39 (ten years ago) link

I'm trying to think of any non-Xenomania big 00s pop songs that are structured like this

would like to know this too. for all that im obsessed with pop music i probably wouldn't know if a song does this without sitting down with a pen and paper and tracking every movement. i love reading about the structure of a track but when it comes to listening i invariably let it wash over me without noticing anything

NI, Friday, 4 September 2009 12:13 (ten years ago) link

Actually, I guess "Blue" kind of begins with two iterations of the same melody (two verses, basically). But it doesn't return after that and there's no real chorus.

Sundar, Friday, 4 September 2009 13:43 (ten years ago) link

10cc: "Wall Street Shuffle".

Tied Up In Geir (Geir Hongro), Friday, 4 September 2009 16:08 (ten years ago) link

"You Never Give Me Your Money" by The Beatles

(although part of that song was later repeated as part of the link between "Golden Slumbers"/"Carry That Weight")

Tied Up In Geir (Geir Hongro), Friday, 4 September 2009 16:22 (ten years ago) link

"Lovesick Blues" by Hank Williams

m0stlyClean, Saturday, 5 September 2009 00:08 (ten years ago) link

Based on the definition I'm seeing from the answers provided "Good Vibrations" seems to be a choice that was possibly too obvious to be mentioned so far, although it shouldn't fit for this at all since there's several parts that repeat themselves.

billstevejim, Saturday, 5 September 2009 00:55 (ten years ago) link

That song has a verse and chorus that repeat themselves identically (except for the verse's lyrics) right off the bat. That's not the case with "Under Pressure": The chorus is constant but there is no repeated verse.

Sundar, Saturday, 5 September 2009 01:56 (ten years ago) link

"If I Fell" by The Beatles, only the last verse is repeated. But technically no chorus, even.

VegemiteGrrrl, Saturday, 5 September 2009 02:09 (ten years ago) link

wait..fuck...I forgot about the 'cos I couldn't stand the pain' being repeated. grr. But still. Similar to 'White Rabbit', in that there's no verse/chorus/verse thing going on. The verses are all just kind of linear.

VegemiteGrrrl, Saturday, 5 September 2009 02:11 (ten years ago) link

the DOORS - The Soft Parade
the CURE - Piggy In The Mirror

nicky lo-fi, Saturday, 5 September 2009 02:44 (ten years ago) link

three years pass...

Doing this here instead of on "songs that are 'rooms with many doors'" because in some ways this is a room with no doors -

The Knife - "Full of Fire"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoH6k6eIUS4

TracerHandVEVO (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:09 (six years ago) link

AC/DC - "Thunderstruck"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2AC41dglnM

TracerHandVEVO (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:10 (six years ago) link

am I reading this thread wrong or would "Up the Junction" count here

frogbs, Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:28 (six years ago) link

I guess another way to describe these songs is, instead of A-B-A-B or whatever, they go A-B-C-D-etc..
Last night I listened to Brian Eno's "The True Wheel" (off Taking Tiger Mountain) which does this, and is great.

o. nate, Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:30 (six years ago) link

We're basically asking for 'through-composed' 'non-strophic' rock/pop songs right?

hibernaculum (Jon Lewis), Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:50 (six years ago) link

"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" has an interesting structure.

wk, Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:54 (six years ago) link

bohemian rhapsody?

brio, Wednesday, 30 January 2013 17:42 (six years ago) link

I always thought Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek" did a good job of quickly switching off between structures.

InteractiveBread, Wednesday, 30 January 2013 17:54 (six years ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJCsmO7-12g

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 30 January 2013 17:58 (six years ago) link

The 'alternate version' of Heroes & Villains by The Beach Boys does this - the first 3 minutes of the video, can't find it as a standalone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPbSbFLYvIo

insert witticism here (hypehat), Wednesday, 30 January 2013 18:02 (six years ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKMCQI8IsCw

The music on this entire album seems like it's in constant flux.

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 30 January 2013 18:04 (six years ago) link

nine months pass...

This is a really interesting thread. I was familiar with many of the tracks mentioned, and a lot of the others I've now checked out. Suggestions vary in terms of what aspect of the music avoids repeating. Like, some are saying that a different vocal melody means a new section, even when sung over a previously repeated section of music. Taken to an extreme, this would mean a music section could just repeat without any variation as long as the singer, or something else constantly varied. This is what's happening in some other suggestions, especially the more electronica or dance-oriented pieces. The hook, be it a bassline, rythmic phrase, sample or simple chord rif is often very short and just repeats sometimes for the whole track. No matter what else is layered over, this is still extreme repetition. However if a song constantly changed harmonically (vocal melody, chord progression..) but had the same drumbeat throughout, would we still think of this as repetitive?

So what I'm left wondering is: What makes a 'section'? I thought for some time sections come down to harmonic progressions, a distinct set of chord changes. But there are loads of great songs where the chorus has the same chord changes as the verse. But so the melody changes? Yes, but not always! Sometimes the chorus's hook's in the lyric... I ended up feeling that a section is a set of chord changes, with a particular melody - vocal or otherwise. If that same melody is then set over different chords its a different section because the notes in it are relative to the root/key.

Here are my 2 of my favourite ABCDE songs:
'Fifty-Fifty Clown' - Cocteau Twins
'Smooth Operator' - Sade

Thanks for reading.

benntilby, Monday, 4 November 2013 21:19 (five years ago) link

'mother of pearl'

j., Monday, 4 November 2013 21:23 (five years ago) link

Pretty sure I brought up MOP in some other thread much like this one, as I love its devious construction. Each use of the title phrase is followed up by a different, but similar, line, except the first usage ("I wouldn't trade you for another girl") does come up again at the very end.

The sweet spot between bad and unpleasant (Dan Peterson), Monday, 4 November 2013 21:34 (five years ago) link

it's pretty amazing to work out the structure of 'mother of pearl' and realize it's doing that

j., Monday, 4 November 2013 21:40 (five years ago) link

five years pass...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhd-pMT4mSk

MaresNest, Friday, 6 September 2019 18:18 (one week ago) link


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