I heard the song "Jane Says" in the coffee shop this morning, and I remembered thinking about it a few years ago. The songs seems to be nothing but IV and V chords, and you never hear a tonic. I thought I would write a post about it. But someone already did a better job than I could have:
Very nice, and great examples. Though I would go further. I would suggest that yes, the song is absolutely in D major, and that the vocals are the tonic I chord. A sort of linear manifestation of the tonic that hangs over the G-A vamp. The song is in D. Trust your ears. Just because the guitar never plays I doesn't make it less "in D." I'd even venture to say that there are plenty of authentic cadences in the vocal line alone. Trust your ears. The guitars aren't even harmonic, really. They're a chugging ostinato. Listening this way, the chord progression isn't IV-V over and over. It's a I drone.
All of these interesting conversations aside, I still think the song is pretty awful. The author of the above states "It is refreshing and interesting to our ears, I think, to have a song that constantly plays with our sense of resolution by constantly teasing us with the possibility of an authentic cadence but never actually giving it to us. It is what makes us want to listen to it over and over again."
I'll set the rhetorical weakness of "I think" aside for now.
Possibility of an authentic cadence? There's a whole bunch of them in the vocal line (cadences don't need chords). And it's the childish, sing-songy A-F# minor third that Perry Farrell sings over and over again that ensures that I will NOT listen over and over again. Rather, I find it hard to listen to the entire song. Oh, and those steel drums are profoundly stupid.