In these self similarity plots you can quickly pick out the chorus, the bridge and verses by knowing if the repeat later or not. Colin goes to show multiple examples that have some beauty in the way they subvert the standard verse-chorus-verse song plan.
I would highly recommend watching it!:
His talk ends saying repetitive music shouldn’t be a guilt pleasure and that repetitiveness it not a lack of creativity.
And I agree.
But I was then intrigued to see and share more story based songs I know to understand how they use repetition, if indeed they do at all!
The Gorillaz, Fire coming out the monkey’s head
A song about the encroachment of big business on the earth and on the less ‘developed’ which eventually leads to the end of the world — angering the mountain called Monkey.
The repetition here is used like a strong device, of a warning of the end of the world. As the world ends it is abrupt and there is no repetition — as you might expect!
Elbow, The Fix
A sweet and short song about rigging a horse race and stealing the winnings. It is a great story detailing what they would do if.
As you can tell from the size of the dots, there isn’t many words to this song, but it is accompanied by a great narrative and the repetitiveness of the chorus is much a joyful hope of what will happen.
Enter Shikari, All eyes on the saint
A song about St Albans — a Roman soldier who converted to Christianity and defended a priest, who was beheaded for it, and then was made a saint.
Quite a story, and has some clear repetition as the chorus and bridge repeat essentially showing the killing twice in the song.
Scroobius pip, Waiting for the beat to kick in
This I had never noticed before, the story starts with a chorus and then takes you on a journey, only to repeat it once more to make it even more impactful.
3 lessons a prescribed: Be pleasant, control your mood, and avoid revenge. 1 lesson is forced: we can all be evil, easily.
With there also a great number of references to the Silver Screen.
Little Dicky, Russell Westbrook
This is Little Dicky considering people who do not ever recognise their talent, and then tells his story — a rapper coming from a jewish middle class US family.
To illustrate the rise he considers if Russell Westbrook — a basketball Hall of Famer — came from equally unaligned roots.
Not all rap is a straight line by the way.
King blues, What if punk never happened
Another straight line that only uses repetition to emphasise its reason.
Here we are jumping timelines with Doc Brown seeing a hellish apathetic dystopia — all because Punk didn’t create a movement to push back and provide resistance to Margret Thatcher. Office Drone Lifestyle has been spoken about in their other songs. This hits harder.
Jay-Z, The story of OJ
A call to earn and provide, a call against racism, a call to stop disavowing culture and roots.
The repetition here is used as a refresh from each message. “This is what the worst think…now do this.”
Chris De Burgh, Spanish train
A great story of the Devil and God playing poker for the souls of a doomed train.
I would recommend this as a story to listen to.
The repetition here is highlighting the desperate screams — oh and ‘the train’ is repeated many many times.
Eminem feat. Dido, Stan
The last one in my list for tonight, its a real classic of storytelling songs that still leaves me floored.
If you have anymore more you want to try, here’s Colin’s website and please comment — I would love to see them.