Yea, earworms… They get stuck in your head an you need a doctor to remove them… Corporate pop music designs music this way, nowadays.. and it has for years, actually. But it’s not all the big billion-dollar businesses, it also happens on a folk-music level as well…
(NOTE: when I say ‘folk music,’ I refer to any music that organically came up on it’s own… from rap to footwork to acid house to chopped ‘n’ screwed…)
So, it’s not as if I’m recommending that you avoid music repetition… (why would you do that anyway?) Afterall, music comes from the heart…NO – literally... the beat is a reflection of the pulsating rhythm of our actual, physical heart, which gives us life. We’re attracted to it on a very primal level… We’re attracted to it as animals…
SO! Juke and footwork… What’s the deal here?? Well, footwork is not just an ignorable style of music, nay! It’s the evolutionary and logical result of years of earworm pop songs attacking the part of your brain responsible for retaining sounds. I think a lot of loopy electronic music is. Big Beat (a sub-style of house ((that’s due for a comeback soon, I’m predicting NOW)) really hit it with it’s overly-repetitive housey flair. Juke and footwork though? Faster, the melodies are often (but not always) simpler (IMO) and the style is faster so there are more loops. It’s scientifically modified to get stuck in your head. You think it’s just art? You think it’s just for fun? Well… Both of those statements are true – but there’s also a real science to it.. check this out:
Or something a bit slower but with the same idea (overly-looped….. and when I say “overly,” I don’t mean that as a bad thing, I’m just explaining it)
And it goes back over a decade… So, I guess I might as well mention a Fatboy Sim track. it’s pure loops:
And….. GOING BACK EVEN FURTHER:
There was an older track (and not the only one like it, but a great example.. It’s fast, similiar to footwork/juke levels… Surfin Bird….
So… There’s a good example from the 1960s by the Trashmen… And, it’s worth noting: these are all songs with VOCAL loops. When disco and then house and then techno and then jungle came out (spanning the 70s to the 90s right there in that sentence) there was extreme emphasis on repetition, and not necessarily vocal repetition. Sometimes there would be looped vocals, sure. Wy not? Vocals add a lot to a song. But with instrumental (or mostly-instrumental) tracks, you might not get that VOCAL repetition, but you get the loops regardless…
And, with the same sounds being used in multiple songs (as in, the 808 or 909 being used in 10 million songs (not to mention the Amen loop, which spans EVERY genre worth it’s salt) people get very accustomed or acclimated to these sounds. They sound familiar, and therefore comforting… And, although you don’t want to play the same exact song everyday, non-stop, forever; with a variety of different variations, you hear some of those same sounds, but you don’t always realize what’s happening (as far as the earworm principle)…. It’s my theory behind why rap music had a hard time coming up in popularity…. But before we dive into that, here’s a good example of the rave repetition I was talking about:
LTJ BUKEM !!!!!!!
So, on to hip hop….
Now, despite facing more obstacles than any other musical style in history, rap music DID and DOES (usually) have a repetitive beat, but it’s harder for some folks when there’s no easy refrain, no chorus, no easy-hook – the vocals are constantly changing (and that’s certainly not true for every rap track) but it’s something that threw some people off. Eventually, for a number of reasons, people got used to it. But you look at a track like the one below, and the “refrain,” is so loose in the definition of a refrain, it’s just one sentence before the verse carries on. Luckily, the track had a lot going for it – it was groundbreaking, it DID have a prominent instrumental loop (extremely prominent) so here’s that track:
So there’s barely any vocal repetition, just similar themes throughout the song… And in between verses there ARE sounds that get repeated… buuuuut… it’s a pretty long ways from the average pop song of the day. Nowadays, rap and r&b have seemed to come together more and more (its a trend that happens about as often as the US has a recession… about once a decade, more or less)….. But my point is, rap and modern US corporate-radio-BS-r&b have refrains and instrumental repetition – and rap latched onto that. We really need another Wu-Tang Clan to bring it back, in my opinion.
But fear not. Trends come and go, and everything in this crazy universe is cyclical; there will be a raw straight-up hip hop movement… And I know there are folks who will point out examples, but I’m talking mainstream radio-play… Anyway, I suppose that’s all I have to say for now..
Again, repetition is a reflection of what it means to be alive and have a ticking heart beat. No need not to embrace it. My hope is that you just find the GOOD songs with repetition ;)
Peace! Happy mixin’