Monday, December 2, 2013

The "worst cover ever" of "The Final Countdown" and the resulting harmonic implications

You should watch and enjoy this gem first:


Now that you've watched it once, watch it again and listen to the first few chords. Oh man, so wrong, right? Funny funny ha ha. I felt the same, at first. But for me, something felt and sounded really good about those first few chords. But why? After a little thought I figured it out.

What is going on in this video? It's pretty simple, I think. The kid playing the synth lead is playing in F minor. The song is actually in F SHARP minor, which suggests that he is either playing it in the wrong key or, perhaps more likely, his guitar is tuned down a half step. The other guitar, in addition to being rather out of tune with itself, is tuned to standard tuning. She is also simplifying all of the chords to root-plus-fifth power chords. After two or three listenings I realized I was quite drawn to the sound of this. Here's a quick breakdown of this wonderful fiasco:

If you take the F minor line and turn the "horizontal" into the "vertical," you get some good sounds:

Interesting that some of the minor chords from the original become major, and the major chords become chromatic disaster chords (chords with three adjacent pitch classes, like C, Db, and D, that are hard to name with the standard symbols). All of this contains a lot of possibilities (if you're me). Here's a Bach chorale-style treatment:

Another possibility is a goofy bossa nova number, like this:

Love that F minor pentatonic shit over Gb major! Oh YEAH!

So anyway. My point is that sometimes you find "inspiration" (whatever that means) in the strangest places.

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of my arrangement of "Misty." I heard a local pianist playing with Donna Byrne, and Marshall Wood told him to play D/Eb instead of EbMaj7 for the I chord. This pianist played the entire form of the song in the key of D, while Marshall played in Eb. It took lots of shouting from the rhythm section before the pianist corrected it. While enjoying this moment of schadenfreude, I thought, "Hey, that actually works," and the rendition of Misty on my CD "Join the Club" was born from that clash.