Friday, March 8, 2013

Phil Collins abides

I love "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins. I really do. And that's in spite of a few things I truly can't stand, none of which are related to unfashionable (by today's standards) production techniques.

Let's start with the introduction. While perfunctory, it's an excusable, ii-V upbeat to the verse. But next is the verse. Have mercy. The first two measures are, to me, some of of the most dashed off, junky ideas ever:

Allow me to explain. Root motion by step is dangerous territory. This climb from vi to ii is ugly stuff, especially that ii chord. It sounds...wrong, doesn't it? Not sure what it "should" be, but that ii chord is an incredible non-moment. Even just an E flat sus sounds better. As skeptical as I am of the stepwise root motion, there is some sort of momentum built by that climb...that is subsequently ruined by that ii chord.

To top it off, the melody is almost completely parallel with the bass/ octaves. Ugh. Not in a chorale-style theory class way, just in an extra friggin' ugly to my ears sort of a way. And this continues through the verse: melodic emphasis of the roots, though it is somewhat masked by some simple scale work and arpeggios. I do like the Ab/Gb sound, and it resolves to F-7, which is smooth and fine.

But. All is saved by the chorus. Oh have mercy, the chorus. The other kind of "have mercy." The first two chords comprise one of my favorite moments in music:

No perfect authentic cadences here! It's a I chord with the fifth in the bass which moves to what?! Yes! V7/V over the A flat pedal! Phil has been redeemed! Not for all of his patchy creative output, no, but for the iffy beginning to that verse, at least! And the tune is better! And he screams a B flat! Hooray for Phil!

So there are two root position tonic triads in this song: one is part of that iffy ascending bass thing,and there's a quick one in the ending. The ending is just as perfunctory as the beginning, with the unfortunate, faux-thoughtful "last chord on V." Oh well.

But that chorus kicks ass!

You know what else I love? Gated reverb on the drums. I don't care what anyone says. You know what else is great? This video.

The Dude vs James Woods, who is, of course, the bad guy, because he has facial scarring

Jeff Bridges as the lovable rogue! James Woods being bad, apparently. Anyway. I love this song. Mostly because of one chord. And a snare drum that sounds like a Casio keyboard drum pad. But I love it.

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