There is merit in everything.
The Last Airbender wasn’t a good movie, but it is a wonderful example of how to make an awful movie.
The Room is such a disaster that it’s downright enjoyable to watch and resulted in an Oscar-winning film being made about it.
Fifty Shades of Gray is written so poorly that every time I read an excerpt I honestly think it’s satire at first, but it sold 125 million copies and freed the sexual imaginations of repressed middle aged women around the globe, so what do I know?
Pop music can be much the same way.
Yes, it’s not going to win you any cool points at a hipster convention to say that Katy Perry is your favorite artist, but you know what? There’s a lot of good stuff to be found in there. You do you.
The pop song I want to highlight today, “Never be the Same,” by Camila Cabello, embodies this more than the other songs I’ve covered thus far because one of the things I really enjoy about it is how downright unctuous it is at times.
I’m usually not one to throw around big boy words like “unctuous,” but honestly, no other word works here. Just listen to the beginning. And by that, I mean, really, listen to the beginning. The rest of this article is going to be me describing how the song sounds, which is a pretty difficult point to make when you haven’t listened to the song.
Anyway, the beginning is this listless, lilting, monotone of a verse that just doesn’t do a lot. But this isn’t a writing flaw, or a lack of musical talent. Because a few seconds later, BAM, we’re at the pre-chorus, and now there’s too much going on. The vocals are so high that it’s kind of hard to tell what Camila is saying, and it contrasts sharply with the preceding verse. And it’s not entirely pleasant sounding. But it’s because it’s this distinctive that I’ve been walking around the last few days singing “nicotine, heroween, morphine” to myself.
Not everything needs to sound like it was genetically engineered to be a palatable as possible. Different can be great. Different sticks with you.
And then, Camila drives it home with one of the catchiest verses I’ve ever heard. It’s not doing anything amazing lyrically. It’s pretty average. But it’s just so easy to jam too, especially compared to how unctuous the first part of the song is. The texture of them together, rough and then smooth, is captivating and catchy. If this whole song sounded like the beginning verse, it would be abysmal. If the whole song sounded like the chorus, it would be boring and simple. But together, the constant change keeps the audience from ever getting too comfortable, and the song stays enjoyable throughout.
Not every part of every song needs to be amazing. Sometimes, the parts can work against one another to create something that is more enjoyable than the sum of its parts. And this song is a perfect example of that.
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