Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ark Music Factory: 3 songs

The recent blogsplosion caused by Rebecca Black's jaw-dropping "Friday" has shone a light onto Ark Music Factory, the... uh... music factory behind the song and video. I'm not going to talk about "Friday" here, not only because it's been covered in depth by plenty of others but because it's completely irrelevant to this blog; unless my brain is protecting me by keeping clumps of information about the song from penetrating my consciousness (certainly a possibility), there isn't a SFCP to be found anywhere. But further investigation into Ark Music Factory's output has revealed that it certainly could have been a possibility.

There's one question always at the back of my mind when confronting the SFCP (and possibly at the front of yours whenever I update the song list or make a new post), which is whether the use of this particular chord progression indicates a lack of creativity on the part of the songwriters. And in general, the answer is no, not any more than the use of a 12-bar blues progression argues that that entire genre of music is driven by uninspired copycats and has been for almost a century.

But it's instances like this that make the strongest case for anybody who wants to argue that it's a chord progression used by talent-light hacks too lazy to put any more effort into their writing than is necessary to spit out something at the end that can reasonably be called a song. Ark Music Factory is, among other things, a songwriting/production house specifically tasked with churning out assembly-line product on demand that will make its customers feel like they're pop stars who could compete in the current music climate. It's AMF's job to come up with songs that sound -- as much its turnaround time, talent and level of apathy about the finished result will allow -- like everything else on the radio.

So we end up with Danika's "Let You Go," way up at the top, which rides on an unwavering SFCP in the key of Bm from start to finish. And Abby Victor's "Crush On You," also in Bm but restricted to the start of the chorus:

Then there's Alana Lee's "Butterflies," another song with a SFCP chorus (in Dm):

There could be others, but I've listened to 13 songs by this outfit already, and frankly, that's as much half-assed vanity-press pop music as I can deliberately seek out and inflict upon myself for the foreseeable future. (If you discover any other SFCP songs from AMF's "roster" of "talent," feel free to let me know in the comments, and I'll add them.) It's enough to notice that the folks behind these songs pretty much incorporate the SFCP in the same way they incorporate Auto-Tune: bluntly and with as much subtlety as a wrecking ball. If there's a SFCP in there, it's because AMF is convinced (or is looking to convince you) that that's just how pop music sounds today.

Look, I can't cast too many aspersions on these kids and their families for shelling out cash to this crew. If we start down that road, we'd have to start waving pitchforks at anybody who ever participated in a rock and roll fantasy camp, or a baseball fantasy camp or, heck, a music and arts camp of any kind. People have spent ridiculous amounts of money on any number of ways of being a king or queen for a day. And they usually culminate in some sort of performance. In broad strokes, the only difference is that these girls go up on YouTube and iTunes when it's done instead of battling it out against Camp Star in the Final Jam.

No, my aspersions are reserved for Ark Music Factory itself. As evidenced by the excessive use of the SFCP, the fascination with lens-flaring the crap out of the videos and the insistence that a song just isn't a song without a rap verse somewhere after the second chorus (which brings up the other issue of why the producers are so intent on inserting themselves into someone else's dream-come-true video), AMF doesn't seem to have too many ideas of any kind, and what few it has keeps running out long before the cash stops rolling in. It's not that it's in the business of making mindless teen-pop for a fee that bugs me. It's that it's so lousy at it.

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year In SFCP 2010

One of my resolutions is more frequent posts in 2011. Until then, here is a celebration of the SFCP in 2010 and some of its appearances on Billboard's Year-End Hot 100, which catalogs the 100 most popular songs of the year:

#7: Eminem featuring Rihanna, "Love The Way You Lie"

#10: Taio Cruz featuring Ludacris, "Break Your Heart"

#14: Jason Derulo, "In My Head"

#24: Eminem, "Not Afraid"

#25: Iyaz, "Replay"

#95: Sara Bareilles, "King Of Anything"

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jewel, "Foolish Games"

Song: "Foolish Games"
Artist: Jewel
Album: Pieces Of You
Written by: Jewel Kilcher
Year: 1995
Key: Dm (E♭m in single version)
Classification: SF2
Lyrical content: the drama you've been craving (is losing its luster); inability to use an umbrella = sexy
Where used: verse

I remember a time in 1995 when Jewel was scheduled to play a very small club in Houston, and the word on the street was that you didn't want to miss this girl if you could help it. If you pointed out that she was only 21 years old with just a guitar and no history of any kind, you were met with the observation that you'd just described Bob Dylan at the time of his first album. Faced with the threat of missing out on the latest Next Dylan, I took the easy way out: I found a conflict and I avoided that whole mess entirely.

Even so, I was quite happy to admit that I thought that Jewel made the radio a better place in 1995-1996. Not, like, a whole lot better, but I certainly smiled a small but measurable amount and stopped flipping around the dial every time I stumbled across one of her songs. When I finally succumbed to the inevitable and purchased Pieces Of You a few years later, I discovered the frustrating truth, which is that the singles that were getting airplay were getting airplay precisely because they were just about the only listenable songs on the album. Everything else was incredibly precious, quasi-poetic and self-consciously "deep."

It had the unfortunate result of casting a pall retroactively on songs that I had previously liked, one of which was "Foolish Games." Previously, I'd been able to dismiss the overwrought drama as an anomaly that was easily counterbalanced with a heart-tugging vocal and melody. I'd eventually realize that they were all intertwined. (I would also learn that the single version was a completely different recording in a completely different key -- bumped up from Dm to E♭m -- which was enough to change the entire thrust of her vocal.) Considering the lyrics -- blagging on about art, rife with self-loathing in the company of a guy who sounds for all the world like a pretentious, narcissistic d-bag -- she almost had no choice but to use the SFCP. Is "Foolish Games" sensitive? Oh, my, yes; not only does the word pop up in the song itself, this is the singer, after all, who included on her debut a song actually called "I'm Sensitive." Everything that the SFCP is can be found right here, right down to the bleeding heart and borderline-tearful delivery. It's the kind of story, and the kind of guy, that can move a 22-year-old to romantic agony and ten years later make the same person hang her head in abashed disbelief that she was ever naive enough to fall for his line. And although she has a very long way to go, if you listen closely enough to the chorus, you can hear Jewel in the process of starting to grow from the former woman in to the latter.

Full song: Jewel, "Foolish Games"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Postal Service, "Grow Old With Me"

Song: "Grow Old With Me"
Artist: The Postal Service
Album: Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign To Save Darfur
Written by: John Lennon
Year: 2007
Key: Em
Classification: SF2
Lyrical content: let's love each other for as long (or as little) as we have left; vow, interrupted
Where used: verse

Since I started maintaining a year-by-year list of the songs I've been able to identify as using the SFCP in some capacity, a few folks have noticed what seems to be an increase in its popularity in the last few years. I certainly hope so, as that was somewhat at the core of the article that started this mess at the end of 2008. If you're looking for a song emblematic of the sense that the SFCP has been on the rise, you could do a whole lot worse than the Postal Service's "Grow Old With Me."

The reason for that is simple: the song's a cover, and there was no SFCP in John Lennon's version. There didn't need to be. It was already almost unbearably heartbreaking in its original incarnation, which came out in 1984. It wasn't even that Lennon's murder three years earlier altered our perception of the song; outside of his inner circle, there wasn't one single person who wasn't painfully aware from the very first time they ever heard it that the sweet invitation and implicit promise that he was offering to his beloved could never be realized. When it was recorded, the song was a celebration; by the time it reached the public, it was a sad fantasy.

All of that happened without the SFCP. But that was during the early 1980s. By the time the Postal Service took their turn at it in 2007, it was in the thick of a veritable SFCP boom. Whether Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello had that in mind or not, the fact remains that their recording altered the verses to revolve around a SFCP absent in the original, and they did it at a time when the progression was beginning to pick up substantial steam. (If inserting a ubiquitous chord progression into a song written without it isn't reflective of prevailing musical trends, then we are working off of different definitions of "trend.") The resultant version was moody and ominous where Lennon's was warm and open. It's not clear that Lennon himself would have agreed with the darkness that the Postal Service gave to his song, but then, it had already been irrevocably, fundamentally altered before it ever saw the light of day.

Full song: The Postal Service, "Grow Old With Me"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Kelly Clarkson, "Behind These Hazel Eyes"

Song: "Behind These Hazel Eyes"
Artist: Kelly Clarkson
Album: Breakaway
Written by: Kelly Clarkson/Martin Sandberg/Lukasz Gottwald
Year: 2004
Key: F#m
Classification: SF1
Lyrical content: it's none of your business what a wreck I currently am because of you; since u been gone, I've been struggling, actually
Where used: verse, chorus

I like Kelly Clarkson. It took me a good long while to come to grips with this fact. The only time I watched American Idol during the first season was the final performance episode out of sheer curiosity, and just about the only thing I took from it was how much I loathed "A Moment Like This" and "Before Your Love." (Little did I know that those would be the high water marks of Idol coronation songs.) So I more or less missed the entire first wave of Clarksonmania, which meant that by the time I'd finally succumbed to the numbing opiate of Idol and came across her performance of "Since U Been Gone" on the Kelly, Ruben & Fantasia: Home for Christmas special (which was, if not the debut of the song, at least very, very close to it), I wasn't quite prepared for the shock of realizing that I... I liked this song. A song by an American Idol winner. It was so unthinkable that I actually had a conversation months later with a friend where I laid out my internal struggle – my genuine struggle – over the fact that I really wanted to buy Breakaway despite the fact that I could never, ever allow myself to do so. She rightly told me to get over myself, and I broke down and purchased the thing, at which point I cursed the snobbery that had kept me at arm's length from a terrific pop album by someone who has proven herself to be a terrific pop singer.

I don't think there's any disputing that point these days. When even a die-hard indie DIYer like Ted Leo unapologetically (and unironically) covers Clarkson in concert, you know that the old knee-jerk rules stating that Idol and all it touches is anathema to art (or at least quality pop) no longer apply. "Behind These Hazel Eyes" covers the same theme as "Since U Been Gone" – she was in love, she was wronged, her independence is her vindication – but there's a rawness just underneath her defiance. Unlike in "Since U Been Gone," she's been shattered by the experience and is trying to put herself back together again, though she'll be damned if she lets him see that.

The difference is evident in the music, too. While "Since U Been Gone" pings, chugs and ultimately explodes in triumph, "Behind These Hazel Eyes" slams and grinds. When Clarkson howls, it's not out of liberation (she may have let the guy go, but she's far from free) but out of frustration: she's insisting on controlling the narrative of the breakup even as her own roiling emotions threaten to undermine what she's desperately trying to present to her ex and the world. (Both lyrically and musically, the song is the clearest anticipation of the emotional exorcism of My December, Clarkson's fatally flawed but still unfairly maligned followup.) Her anguish is supported not only by the SFCP but by the way it's used. The verse is ambiguous, hinting at the SFCP but never quite offering enough information to be sure until the bass comes in and locks it down, and the bulk of the chorus is a cathartic rush of power chords, a tough but measured glare that seems to lay Clarkson's cards on the table. Then comes the hook at end of the chorus, where the SFCP remains but the rhythm fractures, pouring out at an unfettered skip as she reveals the one thing that she's been trying so hard to keep hidden.

Full song: Kelly Clarkson, "Behind These Hazel Eyes"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Superdrag, "The Staggering Genius"

Song: "The Staggering Genius"
Artist: Superdrag
Album: Last Call For Vitriol
Written by: Don Coffey, Jr./John Davis/Sam Powers
Year: 2002
Key: Bm
Classification: SF1
Lyrical content: maybe your brilliance can keep you warm; there but for the grace of indie labels go I
Where used: verse

Superdrag was like a secret passed around among fans of power pop in the 1990s. Granted, pretty much every power pop act was like a secret passed around fans of power pop in the 1990s, but Superdrag was one of those bands that everyone at that particular lunch table seemed to know about. Thanks to its stance against corporate radio, folks had an opinion on "Sucked Out" whether they'd heard it or not. Unsurprisingly, that got Superdrag a burst of attention followed by a big old cold shoulder from the industry, which only seemed to fuel the band's contrariness on that particular front, and they ultimately fell victim to a fatal case of bitterness after raging against the machine a little too long. (It wasn't their sole lyrical concern by a long shot, but it was a continuing one, and it stopped looking good on them after a while.) The fact that Superdrag's fourth proper album was titled Last Call For Vitriol wasn't much of a surprise. Nor was its decision (later overturned) to call it quits not long after.

It's a nice little cautionary tale about getting so blinkered by the "industry" component of the music industry that it seeps into the songs themselves, with a spoonful of glorious tuneage helping the medicine go down a little easier. "The Staggering Genius" is a perfect example: its sarcastic bile would be a harsh pill to swallow if it weren't for the way the band is tight and economical, with the guitars slamming hard against the agitated drums as John Davis spits out poison at someone for whom he has not an ounce of respect. The song is all fierce conviction. Superdrag means business here.

What's great about "The Staggering Genius" is the way the band constantly toys with the SFCP. The opening/chorus riff isn't quite it, shifting from the I to the II instead of the V. The verse seems to hit the SFCP square, but it gets skewed in a couple directions at once: the rhythm is a bit trickier than usual, holding off on that final V for an extra breath and then throwing in a ♭VI in passing on the way back to the beginning. Unlike many, many SFCPs, the chords don't just coast from one to the other in a simple, uniform rhythm; instead, each stumbles with its own specific weight, transforming the whole into something compellingly lopsided. And the above ignores the fact that the B minor at the top of the progression is in fact no such thing, abandoned in favor of a streamlined B5 power chord that only heavily implies a minor tonality. In other words, there's a lot going on in a warhorse chord progression that's been used a hundred times without the slightest hint of creativity, and if only for that, Superdrag earns its self-righteousness for once.

Full song: Superdrag, "The Staggering Genius"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Beyoncé, "If I Were A Boy"

Song: "If I Were A Boy"
Artist: Beyoncé
Album: I Am... Sasha Fierce
Written by: Toby Gad/B.C. Jean
Year: 2008
Key: Em
Classification: SF1
Lyrical content: anything you can do, I could do better; Beyoncé solves the battle of the sexes but sends 50% of the planet's population into fits of frustrated agony
Where used: verse

For as much as she fits an almost Platonic conception of sensual feminine beauty, Beyoncé has never seemed especially touchable. There's something too guarded, too plastic about her, to the extent that there are times when she barely registers as an actual human being. She may have put the half-robotic Sasha Fierce character out there as a conscious statement about strength through artificiality and the roles we play, but it's actually one of the most honest assessments of her public persona that she could have possibly made. It's telling that amidst the rote meticulousness of the "Single Ladies" video, the only note that rings false is when she softens into a smile at the very end. Instead of breaking character, that's the precise moment she slips into one.

That's not to say that the Yonce is incapable of wringing emotion out of her performances in an effective manner. On the contrary, she can be almost maddeningly efficient at it. Her voice doesn't have the forceful purity of tone you find with, say, Mariah Carey or Christina Aguilera. In a way, she has more in common vocally with Rosanne Cash, with flaws (including a nasality that's sometimes held just barely in check) that she's smart enough to turn into strengths by using them to convey vulnerability. That's what's happening on "If I Were A Boy," where Beyoncé constructs a fantasy in which she gets to undo all of the bad she sees being done in the battle of the sexes – the fact that she implicitly absolves herself of the equally real mistakes women make is irrelevant, a testament to how much she gets us to invest in her – and reveals a deep well of unabashed disappointment and hurt.

None of that would have remotely the same impact without the SFCP. It's crucial here, acting as a sort of bonding agent for the ideas of the song. The music, the lyric and Beyoncé's vocal are all speaking the exact same language, making sure that the message gets delivered without getting lost somewhere along the way. She eventually breaks the pattern in the bridge, as she becomes less and less measured in her frustration and shifts to the reality of the situation that sent her into her hypothetical daydreaming in the first place, only to slip back into the SFCP when she hits a wall and realizes that all of her protests aren't going to change a thing. Boys will be boys, girls will be girls and the cycle will continue ad infinitum, as the SFCP rolls on.

(As a special grammar-nerd postscript, allow me to tip my hat to writers Gad and Jean for correctly using the subjunctive "were" in their title, rather than "was," and to Beyoncé for leaving it alone.)

Full song: Beyoncé, "If I Were A Boy"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

"Here And Now" interview, redux

I've just been informed that "Here And Now" will be replaying the interview that I did earlier this year with host Robin Young tomorrow (New Year's Day) at 12:50 p.m. EST, barring any unforeseen news or events that might bump me. It's the same piece from before; they're just running it again. That's all.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Attack Attack!, "Stick Stickly"

Song: "Stick Stickly"
Artist: Attack Attack!
Album: Someday Came Suddenly
Written by: Austin Carlile/John Carlo/Johnny Frank/Caleb Shomo/Andrew Wetzel/Andrew Whiting
Year: 2008
Key: C#m
Classification: SF2
Lyrical content: peace and patience through God, without stinting on the volume or speed; John 3:16 (by way of Revelation 13:11)
Where used: outro

They tell me that this type of music is referred to as "crabcore." Spend mere seconds with the video above and you'll figure out why. I wasn't aware that such a thing existed until just recently. Now I share it with you because I must.

I can't tell you how delighted I am that this song uses the SFCP. Just really, really happy.

Full song: Attack Attack!, "Stick Stickly"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Offspring, "The Kids Aren't Alright"

Song: "The Kids Aren't Alright"
Artist: The Offspring
Album: Americana
Written by: Dexter Holland
Year: 1998
Key: B♭m
Classification: SF2
Lyrical content: the streets claim another victim; pretty heavy (for a joke band)
Where used: verse, chorus

I was rolling my eyes at the Offspring by the time "The Kids Aren't Alright" came around. The first two singles from Americana had squandered just about any goodwill I'd developed towards the band in the five years since they had become a big deal. "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)" wallowed in all of the dumbest clichés of casual racism while convincing itself that it was mocking them, and the appeal of "Why Don't You Get A Job?" seemed to rest entirely on the fact that the first line was "My friend's got a girlfriend and he hates that bitch." So feel free to toss some casual sexism onto that pile, too. Both songs relied on the audience's stupidity. As punishment, they ended up being the Offspring's first entries into the Billboard Hot 100.

"The Kids Aren't Alright" was the followup single, and its impact lay partly in the fact that you're waiting for a punchline that never comes. These aren't happy-go-lucky fuckups that Dexter Holland's singing about. They had the same optimistic hopes for the future as most, only things didn't quite turn out that way. At least two of the characters turn to drugs, but instead of offering blissful withdrawal from the frustrations of the world, they put both Brandon and Mark in holes from which they won't escape. (The fact that Mark's is metaphorical doesn't make it less of a waste.) Meanwhile, the person with the best prospects fails to avoid the same fate as everybody else -- "Jenny had a chance, well, she really did/Instead she dropped out and had a couple of kids" -- and is just as stuck.

To be honest, it's all kind of a bummer, like if you front-loaded every discussion of your high school graduating class with the four biggest burnouts while conveniently ignoring everybody who achieved satisfactory mediocrity and better. And it's not as if Holland points to any root cause for these kids' dead-end lives or offers any sort of solution; he might as well be frantic and wide-eyed, shouting "This street's evil, I tells ya! Eeeeeeeeevil!" But even if lines like "The cruelest dream [is] reality" are maybe a little more overwrought than they need to be, there's something bracing about its fierce earnestness coming so close on the heels of the puerility of the Offspring's two previous singles.

Too bad it turned out nobody cared. Despite the band's track record and the song's reliance on the otherwise-charmed SFCP, "The Kids Aren't Alright" didn't make it to the Hot 100. Maybe it was just too relentlessly breakneck for the SFCP to settle in and turn the song into a proper hit. (To be fair, it did just as well on the Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock charts as "Gotta Get Away," one of the Offspring's two previous SFCP singles.) Maybe it was too serious to hook the folks who listen to pop radio. Whatever the reason, the Offspring learned their lesson and returned to sophomoric jokes and the glamorization of the clueless with their next single, "Original Prankster." It hit #70 on the Hot 100.

Full song: The Offspring, "The Kids Aren't Alright"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Boston, "Peace Of Mind"

Song: "Peace Of Mind"
Artist: Boston
Album: Boston
Written by: Tom Scholz
Year: 1976
Key: C#m
Classification: SF1
Lyrical content: work sorta sucks; the '60s aren't dead, they just got plugged into a Rockman
Where used: chorus

Boston is a strange case, as far as classic rock albums go. It's an arena-rock record that's largely the product of one man alone in a studio, a peculiar contradiction except to those who would argue that both sides of that particular coin tend towards equally clinical coldness. I'm one of those who doesn't see that as a problem. Yes, Tom Scholz spent more time and energy on surface sheen than anybody in music history not named Corgan, and Boston's typically held up as the zenith of corporate rock, something akin to the final straw before punk had to come in to make things right. Maybe that's true. After all, one of the songs was a rose-tinted remembrance of the nonexistent woodshedding days of the band, which was itself still nonexistent at the time the song was recorded.

But it was indeed the zenith, a delirious triumph of style over substance so complete that substance became irrelevant, which is precisely why people still decry it to this day. With the exception of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, I can't think of a single other album that has managed to put every single one of its songs into at least moderate rotation on classic rock radio. (Even the otherwise dominant Led Zeppelin IV has "Four Sticks" to screw things up in that regard, since it takes an uncharacteristically bold program director -- and I'm not saying it hasn't happened on occasion -- to decide, "I think it's time for a relentlessly circular art-blues dirge in 5/8 time, followed by 'The Long Run.'" Which is ironic, since it was one of the few Zeppelin tunes to actually make it onto either side of a single.)

For "Peace Of Mind," Scholz seems to rewrite the lyrics to Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care Of Business" in a slightly less ham-handed fashion and glue them to a gloss on the Doobie Brothers' "China Grove." (Maybe less a gloss than a blinding, super-industrial gleam.) He also managed to grab hold of the SFCP in one of its earliest appearances, thus becoming one of the few to be able to legitimately claim that he wasn't simply pulling it out of a toolbox of standard chord progressions to serve as a pre-established shorthand for the mood he wanted to create. Scholz clearly recognized that there was something special about the SFCP, though: he not only based his chorus around it, he put the thing right up front (acoustically, even, which would be notable if that weren't simply a part of the trusty formula he'd return to time and again) to ensure that it grabbed the listener right away. Scholz not only knew that the SFCP was its own hook, he knew it before just about everybody else.

Full song: Boston, "Peace Of Mind"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

Friday, September 25, 2009

Neutral Milk Hotel, "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea"

Song: "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea"
Artist: Neutral Milk Hotel
Album: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
Written by: Jeff Mangum
Year: 1998
Key: Em
Classification: SF2
Lyrical content: the ghost beckons; the heart yearns for that which it does not know
Where used: bridge

I've spent much of the past few weeks immersed in Our Noise: The Story Of Merge Records, commemorating the 20th anniversary year of the label, so the time seems exactly right to talk about Neutral Milk Hotel. And yet. There's been so much said about In The Aeroplane Over The Sea over the years that I almost don't know what else I can add. I can, however, point you to Glenn McDonald's heart-stoppingly great review (one of my two favorite record reviews of all time) and Taylor Clark's excellent Slate piece tracking the whereabouts of the man who pulled a perfect album out of his head and decided, well, maybe that's enough of that. So let me just say this: it seems more obvious as the years go by that this fever dream of a record is one of the greatest albums ever recorded. Less obviously, it should also be mentioned that it is a fantastic album to run to.

That said, I've always had a hard time excerpting from it. So many songs bleed into one another that trying to put something from it on a mixtape, for instance, requires that you either cut the music flat dead at the end of the track or include more than one song. And the problem with that is that you end up with a run of three or four songs in a row, in which case, why aren't you just burning the whole album? It's not just the lack of clean gaps between tracks, though. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is an album that practically demands to be listened to in a single sitting. The second time I put it on, I had intended (as is my habit) to listen to two, maybe three songs, just to get a sense of them individually outside the flow of the album; the next thing I knew, Jeff Mangum was putting down his guitar and exiting the studio. I once saw someone posit that the album emitted, and I quote, "hypno-rays" while it played. It's not the least plausible theory I've heard.

One of the only songs that's even remotely self-contained is the title track, where we first meet the ghost that haunts Mangum over the course of the album. It's a testament to how subtly and cannily he uses the SFCP that despite the fact that I got In The Aeroplane Over The Sea not long after I first identified the SFCP and listened to it Lord knows how many times in the ten years since, it still took one of the commenters to this blog for me to actually notice that it was sitting right there in the bridge. (Thanks, Benjamin.) I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, since Mangum's accomplishment with In The Aeroplane Over The Sea has nothing to do with inventing radically new chord progressions and everything to do with what he did with them. (It's worth noting right here that the verse progression is also a mainstay: the archetypal doo-wop I-vi-IV-V, albeit used quite differently.) In a way, that's one of the album's strengths: the way Mangum takes a fistful of basic chords and transforms them in a kind of alchemy into a musical narrative that I still haven't fully gotten to the bottom of more than a decade on.

Full song: Neutral Milk Hotel, "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Liz Phair, "Why Can't I?"

Song: "Why Can't I?"
Artist: Liz Phair
Album: Liz Phair
Written by: Lauren Christy/Graham Edwards/Liz Phair/Scott Spock
Year: 2003
Key: G#m
Classification: SF1
Lyrical content: anticipation as foreplay; foreplay as paralysis
Where used: chorus

There are certain bits of conventional wisdom that, once rock critics and fans grab hold of them, will simply never be shaken no matter how little they reflect actual reality. The Kings Of Leon play Southern Rock. The list of all-time great bands includes Bon Jovi. Liz Phair is a bad album, to the point of being an abomination on her once-promising career.

All of it, bunk. (You heard me: bunk.) So what if Phair embraced then-current pop production and songwriting? Leaning on that unimaginative crutch of a complaint means disregarding "Love/Hate," "My Bionic Eyes," "It's Sweet" and "Friend Of Mine," as well as (apparently) all of followup Somebody's Miracle out of sheer vindictiveness. It also means ignoring "Why Can't I?," one of Phair's two determined efforts to crash through to Top 40 radio. Which is a shame, because underneath the formulaic sheen applied by the Matrix (which was working from the same limited toolbox as always), Phair takes a teen-pop topic so rock-solid that it's persisted since at least the dawn of rock and roll -- the confusing whirligig of hormone-addled emotions roiled up by the possibility of sex implicit in dating -- and filters it subtly through the point of view of someone who has just come out of a marriage and might have forgotten how these things go.

Phair's not the only singer to deal with this. Amy Rigby, for one, kicked off her solo career in part by singing of similar thrills and frustrations (along with others that were arguably tangentially connected). But Rigby didn't take hers to number 32 on the Hot 100. That Phair did is a little bit surprising, considering the f-bomb she drops right before the second chorus. Sure, plenty of hits edit that word out for the radio. The difference here is that Phair uses it as an active verb that means the very thing that caused it to become a dirty word in the first place. Bleep it out of the song, and the resulting redaction still contains the act that was so objectionable that it had to be removed.

Then again, of course, there's the SFCP of the chorus (one of the Matrix's specialties) to ease the transition to the popular consciousness. Prior to its appearance, Phair's describing the situation of meeting someone who rings your bell (while, whoops!, the two of you are still technically spoken for), but that all changes during the chorus. The song dips sharply in an echo of one's heart falling into one's stomach, the SFCP begins and Phair asks the key question, "Why can't I breathe whenever I think about you?" Interestingly, the verse is built around the SFCP's popular cousin I-V-vi-IV (as heard in Rob Paravonian's Pachelbel Rant), indicating that Phair and the Matrix structured the song around not one but two well-used chord-progression warhorses.

So yes, Phair sold out to an extent, in the interest of having her music heard by more than just the core audience that was barely enough to keep her career financially sustainable. But consider this: it's likely that "Why Can't I?" is a far more accurate representation Phair's actual experiences (to say nothing of those of her listeners) than, say, "Flower." That doesn't make it a better song, exactly, but it does make it a more honest one, in its way.

Full song: Liz Phair, "Why Can't I?"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Toto, "Africa"

Song: "Africa"
Artist: Toto
Album: Toto IV
Written by: David Paich/Jeff Porcaro
Year: 1982
Key: F#m
Classification: SF1
Lyrical content: tonight she comes; I've been to paradise, but I've never been to Tanzania
Where used: chorus

"Africa" is an excellent example of a song that's so catchy, so fundamentally right musically, that nobody ever stops to consider how little sense it makes. By the band's admission, the lyrics are essentially the result of creating a metaphor for nervous romantic anticipation out of half-remembered guesses about a place they knew little about. The video is hilarious, not because of the fact that musicians with faces for studio work somehow became marquee names in their own right (hey, it was early 1983, approximately one month before Duran Duran showed up to end the careers of guys who insisted on looking like this) but because they're working overtime to accost you with such quote-unquote exotic trappings as tribal drums, masks and one geographically confused gong, hoping that it'll distract you from the fact that the song is so middle-of-the-road that you can practically see the double yellow line underneath it.

Then again, ubiquity can be a powerful thing: after hearing this enough times, with the word "Africa" being thrown at you at key moments, that marimba part (or keyboard approximation of same) starts sounding like the Serengeti and the flute/kalimba solo (this was the early 1980s, so again: keyboard) invokes the technicolor safari utopia of The Lion King a dozen years before the movie existed. These things aren't the products of the band successfully finding a sound to suit its nominal topic or coopting the music of the continent in question for their own purposes, though Lord knows they thought that that's what they were doing; they're the result of Toto pushing through their own agenda -- this is what Africa sounds like, as a concept -- through sheer persistence. With the help of the army of DJs who nudged it to the top of the charts, of course.

The SFCP component of "Africa" is so close to the archetypal usage (used in the chorus for bittersweet anthemic uplift, and it's even in F#m, which for no particular reason I tend to treat as the default SFCP key) that it's a wonder that it took me as long as I did to realize that it incorporated the progression. There it is, though, elevating the song at precisely the right moment, providing both surprise (the verse is in the key of B, so that shift is a neat little jolt right there) and comfort all at once. Part of the power of the four specific chords that make up the SFCP can be heard in the first part of the chorus, where (if the video's an accurate portrayal of everybody's contributions to the song) Bobby Kimball sings only two notes: a high A that's repeated as the chords move through F#m, D and A, followed by a single G# as the band moves to the E chord. That's a total range of a half-step, and it's probably the simplest, most efficient melody that anyone could possibly sing over the SFCP.

Full song: Toto, "Africa"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Eagle Eye Cherry, "Save Tonight"

Song: "Save Tonight"
Artist: Eagle Eye Cherry
Album: Desireless
Written by: Eagle Eye Cherry
Year: 1998
Key: Am
Classification: SF1
Lyrical content: "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (opposite perspective); chart prediction as romantic metaphor
Where used: verse, chorus

One of the problems with designating something the "Sensitive Female Chord Progression" (one of many, many problems) lies in what to do when you inevitably identify your first example of someone with a Y chromosome using it. That honor went to Eagle Eye Cherry, who in 1998 managed to perfectly copy his sister Neneh's career by having one giant hit and then dropping off the face of the earth (or the charts, which might as well be the same thing in this business). So what'd I do in the face of a palpably male performer using a chord progression that I'd previously identified only with women? I shrugged and moved on.

Maybe if I'd picked up on an SFCP song by another male artist first — the Offspring, for instance — I'd've responded differently. But "Save Tonight" makes the transition to recognizing that dudes use the progression as well a reasonably smooth one. Cherry's playing the sensitive-boyfriend card here, begging for a romantic evening before he vanishes the next day (which makes the lyric an eerily accurate analogue to how the song would fare in the real world). There's none of the insistent urging that would suggest that the woman in question is being persuaded to succumb to Cherry's charms despite her better judgement. Whatever's going to happen after the wine has been poured has happened before, and it'll probably happen again once he returns, and he will return.

Truth be told, the whole thing's a bit boring. Cherry picks up on the SFCP right out of the gate and never once drops it. Even "One Of Us" and "Building A Mystery" throw in brief but crucial respites from the relentlessness of cycling through the same four chords ad infinitum. Cherry doesn't bother, and once the full band comes in, you've pretty much heard everything the song has to offer musically. Sure, the chorus features a slightly different melody and adds a vaguely perceptible electric guitar, and a slide guitar plays just enough notes to qualify as a solo, but "Save Tonight" essentially just goes on and on without changing in any substantial way. There's no tension anywhere in the song as a result, and it's not a particularly good sign when you keep looking at your watch as your guy's telling you to make every moment count.

Full song: Eagle Eye Cherry, "Save Tonight"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

Monday, April 27, 2009

Heart, "Alone"

Song: "Alone"
Artist: Heart
Album: Bad Animals
Written by: Billy Steinberg/Tom Kelly
Year: 1987
Key: E♭m
Classification: SF1
Lyrical content: unspoken yearning; "Goodnight My Someone" with hairspray
Where used: chorus

Way back when, if you recall, there was an episode of Friends that featured the guys, having just watched Behind The Music for its snark potential, sitting on the Central Perk couch, sober, thoughtful and in full agreement as Joey says, "You forget how many great songs Heart had." It's a moment that's apropos of nothing in particular except, I suspect, the fact that one of the writers had the exact same realization, and with the exact same amount of surprise, not long before. Heart's catalogue might not be especially deep, but the many choice bits have stood up a lot better than most, and their stock has clearly risen over the past few years. Part of that might have something to do with American Idol. As has been noted by several of my associates, Heart is the sleeping giant on the show every year, the regular go-to for female contestants who wish to hang on to their "edge" (so punctuated because the songs most often performed come from the band's mid-1980s reinvention into a clean, heavily-produced, image-conscious pop group) while still showing off their vocal pyrotechnics.

None of this is meant to denigrate the songs themselves or the folks behind them. Most bands never manage to succeed at even one career; Heart managed to pull off two entirely separate careers a decade apart, which deserves a salute. "Alone" was the apex of second-wave Heart and, arguably, all 1980s power ballads. It was big, it was bombastic and it was yearning and melodramatic, making it perfectly suited to both Top 40 radio and prom. In keeping with Heart's roots as Zeppelin-loving rock chicks, "Alone" is essentially their "All My Love." As for the video, well, if you're looking for the ideal visual metaphor for a power ballad, then you won't find one better than an exploding piano.

SFCP-wise, this is kind of a weird one, in that the key of the song seems to shift dramatically between the verse (which is in B♭m but ultimately resolves on a D♭ major chord) and the chorus (E♭m). But in a way, that only helps to set up the SFCP for maximum impact: after a wandering, shifting verse that leaves listeners pleasantly discombobulated and trying to gather their bearings, the simplicity and straightforwardness of the chorus provided an easy-to-follow map out of the wilderness. As for the lyrics, it's interesting to note that Ann Wilson is singing to someone who can't hear her: her calls go unanswered, her secret remains unshared. And the agony of this is tearing her apart. It seems that Heart and the guys who responsible for "Like A Virgin" helped invent emo.

Full song: Heart, "Alone"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nina Gordon, "Tonight And The Rest Of My Life"

Song: "Tonight And The Rest Of My Life"
Artist: Nina Gordon
Album: Tonight And The Rest Of My Life
Written by: Nina Gordon
Year: 2000
Key: Dm
Classification: SF1 and SF2
Lyrical content: schmoop: 10; gravity: 3
Where used: verse (SF2), chorus (SF1)

So, this song. As previously discussed, I'd certainly recognized the SFCP before, but Nina Gordon is the one responsible for it becoming A Thing. Seriously, what's going on here? Gordon used to lead Veruca Salt, who weren't exactly known for getting gooshy over gentleman callers. And while they weren't always roaring quite as ferociously as "All Hail Me" or, especially, "Volcano Girls," slower numbers like "Earthcrosser" and "New York Mining Disaster 1996" weren't exactly romantic ballads. Even "Loneliness Is Worse" had a bite to it (whether by itself or in the context of Eight Arms To Hold You) that staved off sappiness.

But even if you deem "Loneliness Is Worse" a straight-up love song (as opposed to, say, a spider luring its prey to be devoured), it still can't account for the cognitive dissonance generated by "Tonight And The Rest Of My Life." There's nothing about it that's recognizable as Gordon as she'd existed prior to the song's release: not the Sarah McLachlanish vocals, not the sweeping pop production, not the pantingly purple lyrics. (Whatever your impression of Gordon's songwriting skills prior to this, she never sang of the sky catching fire, shoreless seas and the universe resting in her arms and actually meant it... in a non-metal way, at least.) The video, above, clinches it, with Gordon glammed up to the hilt and frolicking in slow motion along a generic body of water that's clearly just a tank and some sand in a studio somewhere. The first time I encountered the video (which happened to be the first time I encountered the song), it's safe to say that I stood slack-jawed in disbelief for the next five minutes.

All of which makes "Tonight And The Rest Of My Life" something akin to the apotheosis of SFCP songs. It's about as blatant an exploitation of the chord progression as you'll find, grabbing onto the hits of McLachlan, Joan Osborne, Jewel, et al. with both hands in an effort to shed off her previous career and remold herself in their image. For her troubles, Gordon got an Adult Top 40 hit (#7!) and a high-profile placement in The Notebook, and the SFCP officially got its name.

Full song: Nina Gordon, "Tonight And The Rest Of My Life"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

Friday, March 20, 2009

Natasha Bedingfield, "Angel"

Song: "Angel"
Artist: Natasha Bedingfield
Album: Pocketful Of Sunshine
Written by: Rodney Jerkins/Rico Love/Lashawn Daniels/Crystal "Crystyle" Johnson
Year: 2008
Key: Bm
Classification: SF1 variant
Lyrical content: a good man is good to find; pretty much just a sideways "Umbrella," really
Where used: verse, chorus

Natasha Bedingfield is a puzzle to me. She has, to my ears, a genuinely interesting voice, with slight cracks running all the way through it that afford her a tremendous vulnerability and openness, and everything about Pocketful Of Sunshine seems designed to obscure exactly that fact. About halfway through listening to the album the first time, I found myself thinking, "I am only halfway through." The songs are mostly factory readymades, and she's ProToolsed to within an inch of her life. It's as though someone said "So, Natasha, you know your whole selling point, the thing that makes you special in a pop arena populated by the Mariahs and Beyoncés and Christinas and Leonas of the world? Yeah, let's fix that." Making her sound robotic sort of misses her appeal entirely.

Then again, what do I know? "Pocketful Of Sunshine" was a huge hit despite suffering the same affliction as Oasis's "Champagne Supernova" and Fastball's "Out Of My Head," where the songwriters essentially said, "One verse! Done!" (Though it should be noted that "Pocketful Of Sunshine" goes one step further, in that it doesn't really have a verse, either.) "Angel" was less ubiquitous, possibly due to being less catchy than a song that's pretty much all chorus. It's not actually a true SFCP, going the same route as Iggy Pop's "The Passenger" in that it switches between a modal approach (ending on A major) and a tonal approach (ending on F#7) on alternate passes. It's a little unsettling, since both chords lead back to the Bm but in very different ways, so there's a constant shift required to make sense of it. But heck, anything that injects some character back into the otherwise gleaming production surrounding Bedingfield is fine by me.

Full song: Natasha Bedingfield, "Angel"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Madonna, "The Power Of Good-Bye"

Song: "The Power Of Good-Bye"
Artist: Madonna
Album: Ray Of Light
Written by: Madonna/Rick Nowles
Year: 1998
Key: Fm
Classification: SF1
Lyrical content: open your heart, already; dumping as nuclear option
Where used: Verse, chorus

In retrospect, it doesn't look as though Madonna needed a hit quite so badly. Erotica had stiffed a bit (pun unintended but recognized and unedited), but Bedtime Stories kept the train rolling with "Take A Bow" and "Secret," and Evita gave her the cachet of being Oscar-adjacent, even if nobody saw the movie. At the time, though, the general feeling was that Madonna's momentum was dissipating, and fast. Ray Of Light put a decisive end to such talk, once again repositioning Ms. Ciccone at the dead center of mainstream pop and setting her up to stay relevant for the next decade.

While hardly the highlight of Ray Of Light -- that comes down to a battle between "Drowned World (Substitute For Love)" and the title track, gilded cage versus delirious freedom -- "The Power Of Good-Bye" was a fine single from a fine comeback album. A lot of the credit goes to William Orbit, whose command of electronica prevented the song from being little more than an Ace Of Base knockoff. (There are, it should be pointed out, worse things to be.) More than a lot of SFCP songs, "The Power Of Good-Bye" simply sounds interesting, with a constantly shifting landscape that's constantly in motion and squiggly bits that flit past Madonna, who's standing resolutely still. Considering that the song is a last-ditch for attention from someone incapable of slowing down to give her what she needs, her placidity becomes the song's crucial virtue.

Interestingly, there's a demo version of the song out there that's not nearly as SFCP-tastic as the one that eventually made the album. For one thing, it only shows up in the chorus. The verses are completely different, with a chord progression that rises and falls in a minor key but doesn't have the same sort of circular resolution found with the SFCP. Since Ray Of Light was released in March of 1998, a full eight months after Sarah McLachlan's Surfacing (which featured "Building A Mystery" as its leadoff single), I suddenly find myself with the question of why "The Power Of Good-Bye" morphed into the now-familiar version. I'm not sure I'm ready to say that it was a conscious effort on Madonna's part to duplicate McLachlan's (and Joan Osborne's) success. But it does make a guy wonder.

Full song and SFCP clip disabled

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

WBUR "Here And Now" interview

The SFCP was featured on today's episode of "Here And Now" on WBUR and many NPR affiliate stations. You can listen to the show in its entirety here; the interview takes up the last ten minutes or so. That includes the various attempts by host Robin Young and me to sing "One Of Us" over various SCFP songs. Note the use of the word "attempts."

Thanks to Young and producer Emiko Tamagawa for all their help.

Listen to the interview: WBUR "Here And Now" for March 4, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Vanessa Carlton, "Hands On Me"

Song: "Hands On Me"
Artist: Vanessa Carlton
Album: Heroes & Thieves
Written by: Vanessa Carlton/Stephan Jenkins
Year: 2007
Key: E♭m
Classification: SF2 (with a brief lapse into SF1)
Lyrical content: true love is eternal; the Dalai Lama would want us to have sex
Where used: Verse, chorus

I honestly would have thought that we, as a nation and a culture, would be over "A Thousand Miles" by now. But by gum, there it is, in approximately a third of all the commercials and previews for romantic comedies (the other two-thirds being taken up by "Unwritten" and "Suddenly I See") still, to this day. Haven't those tinkly piano cascades been played out and squeezed dry? It would seem the world believes that they haven't. Heroes & Thieves doesn't offer anything quite so egregious, though Carlton does manage to find room for the line "I'm a sycophantic courtier with an elegant repost." (That's the way "riposte" is spelled in the liner notes, so: [sic].)

To the extent that there ever was anything Sensitive and Female about the SFCP, it was probably inevitable that Carlton would eventually grab hold of it. She leans pretty heavily on it throughout but gets points for making the verse and chorus entirely different from one another despite having the exact same progression underneath both. It's still afflicted by Carlton's tendency to write lyrics like a pretentiously artsy high schooler, but it's bright and catchy. That's practically a triumph right there.

Full song: Vanessa Carlton, "Hands On Me"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

Monday, February 16, 2009

CBC Radio 2 Morning interview, featuring "Alone" by Heart (Friday, February 13, 2009)

The SFCP was featured on Friday's Radio 2 Morning radio program on the CBC, which is Canada's public radio. Tom Allen interviewed me for eight minutes or so, and we talked about which SFCP songs might be the best for Valentine's Day and whether the SFCP might be the Fresh Prince of all chord progressions. (Quick answer: it's not.)

Thanks go out to Allen and CBC producer Alison Howard for their parts in this interview, as well as to the anonymous CBC staffer who first heard about the SFCP when it was being discussed on Seattle radio. That explains how it crossed the border, though it raises other questions as to how a Boston newspaper article was picked up on the other side of the country. In any event, it's an international story now. In case you missed it, here's the interview and the top-of-the-hour teaser that preceded it.

Listen to the full interview: CBC Radio 2 Morning for February 13, 2009
Listen to the teaser: CBC Radio 2 Morning 9:00 a.m. teaser

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sarah McLachlan, "Building A Mystery"

Song: "Building A Mystery"
Artist: Sarah McLachlan
Album: Surfacing
Written by: Sarah McLachlan/Pierre Marchand
Year: 1997
Key: Bm
Classification: SF1
Lyrical content: Goth come-on; hipster-idol glorification
Where used: Verse, chorus

At first blush, McLachlan's song seems like a "One Of Us" clone. There's the Lilith Fair-branded singer (in fact, the first tour took place during the summer that Surfacing was released) and the use of the SFCP in both the verse and chorus. And then there's the production, about which songwriter Eric Bazilian told me, "They obviously really studied the sonics of the 'One Of Us' drums. They nailed it on that."

But the structure of the song itself isn't so simple, with McLachlan making a few subtle choices to generate a slight sense of disorientation. For starters, she teases the chorus at the end of the first verse but holds off on actually delivering it until she's finished with not just the second verse but also a prechorus that offers one of the only three moments that shake up the otherwise uninterrupted SFCP. We're pretty much ready for some sort of break -- a solo, a bridge, something -- by the end of that chorus, but the song's gathered too much momentum by then, so that when McLachlan hits the third verse with the line "You woke up screaming aloud," it's both jarring and inevitable at the same time. That's a testament to the hypnotic heft provided by the constant cycling of the chords and echoed in the lyrics.

Full song: Sarah McLachlan, "Building A Mystery"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Joan Osborne, "One Of Us"

Song: "One Of Us"
Artist: Joan Osborne
Album: Relish
Written by: Eric Bazilian
Year: 1995
Key: F#m
Classification: SF1
Lyrical content: Hypothetical religiosity in the form of rhetorical questioning; Kevin Smith's Dogma five years early
Where used: Verse, chorus

I'm starting with this one because its relationship to the SFCP is a little complex. It certainly wasn't the first song to use the SFCP, not by a long shot. It's not even the song that made me realize that this chord progression was a common one; that honor goes to Sarah McLachlan's "Building A Mystery." (And even that's trumped by the dim realization when I was a teenager that Roxette, Starship and Heart -- twice! -- were all singing the same song.) But it's always seemed to me to be the nexus around which all SFCPs rotate, in kind of the same way that Greil Marcus viewed the Sex Pistols as the intersection of 20th Century postmodernism and dada/Situationalist philosophy. Everything that came before seems to have been leading up to it, and everything that came after has to contend with it.

What helps bolster the centrality of "One Of Us" is that the entire song is based around the SFCP. There's a prechorus (which is revisited at the start of the solo) that splits off from it, but otherwise, the song is the SFCP and nothing but. The vocal melody in the verse shows off part of the strength of the SCFP: Osborne only needs three notes -- a central tone, a whole step up and a half step down -- to cover the four chords as they shift underneath her. It's dead simple, and that up-and-down melody provides a bit of a glimpse as to the way the chords move smoothly from one to the other. Other songs might use it in more elaborate ways, but it's hard to spot a better example of why the SFCP is so versatile than this song right here.

Full song: Joan Osborne, "One Of Us"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

FAQ: What does "classification" mean?

Q: What does "classification" mean?

A: Allow me to hand this one over to "One Of Us" songwriter Eric Bazilian:

A bit of nomenclature, by the way, for clarity's sake...

SF1 would be the two beats per chord change variant, e.g. One Of Us, Peace Of Mind, Scott McKenzie, Two Story Town

SF2 is what I'm calling the one bar per chord., e.g. Zombie, It's My Life

FAQ: Why do you care about this, exactly?

Q: Why do you care about this, exactly?

A: I wish I could tell you. All I know is that at some point, I heard the SFCP enough times that I just started picking up on it without even trying. It's kind of like the Wilhelm Scream in the movies: you might never notice it, but once you become attuned to it, you'll spot it everywhere.

FAQ: Are you saying that anybody who uses the SFCP is a hack?

Q: Are you saying that anybody who uses the SFCP is a hack?

A: Not at all. It's a tool like any other. Chord progressions get reused all the time. There's the 12-bar blues, the I-vi-IV-V favored by 1950s rock and roll (and -- seriously -- half of the score of the stage version of Grease) and the I-V-vi-IV covered by Rob Paravonian in his famous Pachelbel Rant, among others. I could fill volumes with I-V-VII-IV, seriously.

FAQ: What's so sensitive and female about this chord progression? Don't angry men use it too?

Q: What's so sensitive and female about this chord progression? Don't angry men use it too?

A: Sure do. Here's the thing: "Sensitive Female Chord Progression" was the name I came up with when I first noticed this phenomenon. The first songs that I tied to a common set of chord changes were Joan Osborne's "One Of Us," Sara McLachlan's "Building A Mystery," Melissa Etheridge's "Angels Would Fall" and Jewel's "Hands," which are all songs by Lilith Fair artists. Hence the name. Since the next song I identified was Nina Gordon's "Tonight And The Rest Of My Life," which was a super-goopy pop plea from someone who was rather fierce when she led Veruca Salt, the name seemed to fit all the more.

Since then, though, I've discovered that the SFCP is a heck of a lot more versatile than that. I'd say that half the songs I've found are by men (go figure), and it can be used quite aggressively. But for better or worse, it's stuck in my head as the Sensitive Female Chord Progression, which is how I first presented it to the world in the Boston Globe.

In sum: it's a dumb name. I wish I'd named it something else. But this is what I'm stuck with.

FAQ: Shouldn't it be i-VI-III-♭VII?

Q: You say the progression is vi-IV-I-V. Shouldn't it be i-VI-III-♭VII?

A: Technically, yes. If you're claiming that the progression is in a minor key, then it would indeed be correct to start it on the 1. However. It's also not exactly wrong to say that it starts on the 6, either, although that implies a major key for the progression overall.

What's really important about designating it vi-IV-I-V is that not only is that simpler and cleaner, it hammers home the crucial point that the progression is built from the four most basic chords in modern pop music. You take the I, the IV, the V and the vi, and you could generate a huge chunk of pop and rock from the last 50 years. They're versatile enough that you could just switch them around in whatever order; the SFCP is simply one combination. That becomes far less clear if you "correctly" designate it as i-VI-III-♭VII.

FAQ: What is the Sensitive Female Chord Progression?

Q: What is the Sensitive Female Chord Progression?

A: It's any chord progression that starts with the minor six (vi) and then moves to the major four (IV), the major one (I) and the major five (V). Ideally, it would then repeat. As an example, a SFCP in A minor would be Am-F-C-G.

FAQ: What's this blog all about?

Q: I don't get it. What's this blog all about?

A: The short version is that I figured that as long as I was keeping a list of songs with the same chord progression, I might as well do something with it. (The long version can be found in my Boston Globe article that prompted this blog.) So every week I'm going to post another song that uses the Sensitive Female Chord Progression to demonstrate the ubiquity of it.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Questions? Comments? Song suggestions?

Have any questions about what's going on here? Any comments you'd like to make? Any suggestions for songs I may have missed? Feel free to contact me at spacecitymarc [at] gmail [dot] com. I'm happy to hear about how I can make this project better.

You can also look directly to the right of this post to check out the FAQ list and the complete list of identified SFCP songs. Perhaps I've already answered your question. If not, feel free to email me or leave a comment on the appropriate post. Thanks.

Song list

This is the list of every song I've been able to find (and confirm) that uses the SFCP. Found one that's not here? Leave it in the comments, or email me.

(Songs with "*" use the chords in the SFCP but aren't quite canonical, in the sense that they don't repeat in the same way as the others in the brief time that they pop up.)

*The Doors - "Crystal Ship"
Scott McKenzie - "San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)"


*UFO - "Doctor Doctor"

*Joan Baez - "Diamonds & Rust"

Boston - "Peace of Mind"

*Iggy Pop - "The Passenger"
Sea Level - "Storm Warning"

Graham Parker and the Rumour - "Protection"

*Squeeze - "Another Nail For My Heart"
Warren Zevon - "Play It All Night Long"

*Human Switchboard - "Who's Landing In My Hangar?"
The Rings - "Who's She Dancin' With"

The Go-Go's - "Worlds Away"
Toto - "Africa"

The Scorpions - "Still Loving You"
Vixen - "Give It A Chance"

Heart - "What About Love"

Hüsker Dü - "No Promise Have I Made"

Johnny Clegg & Savuka - "Great Heart"
Heart - "Alone"
Loverboy - "Love Will Rise Again"
The Smiths - "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby"

Midnight Oil - "Beds Are Burning"
The Posies - "I May Hate You Sometimes"
Roxette - "Listen To Your Heart"
Voice Of The Beehive - "Don't Call Me Baby"

Alice Cooper - "Poison"
The Cult - "Sweet Soul Sister"
Ani DiFranco - "Fire Door"
Tom Petty - "Yer So Bad"
Starship - "It's Not Enough"

Bad Religion - "21st Century (Digital Boy)"
INXS - "Hear That Sound"
Jeff Lynne - "What Would It Take"
Straitjacket Fits - "Hand In Mine"
Yanni - "Almost A Whisper"

White Lion - "Broken Heart"

Bad Religion - "Generator"
The Bottle Rockets - "Wave That Flag"
Gin Blossoms - "Until I Fall Away"

The Smashing Pumpkins - "Disarm"
Therapy? - "Screamager"
Urge Overkill - "Sister Havana"
*U2 (featuring Johnny Cash) - "The Wanderer"

Tori Amos - "Cloud On My Tongue"
The Cranberries - "Zombie"
Loreena McKennitt - "The Bonnie Swans"
The Offspring - "Gotta Get Away"
The Offspring - "Self Esteem"
Roxette - "Crash! Boom! Bang!"

Ani DiFranco - "Shy"
Guster - "Window"
Jewel - "Foolish Games"
Joan Osborne - "One Of Us"

Reel Big Fish - "Beer"
Social Distortion - "Don't Drag Me Down"
Paul Van Dyk - "Home"
The Waifs - "Brain Damage"

Cotton Mather - "Password"
Sarah McLachlan - "Building A Mystery"
Shania Twain - "That Don't Impress Me Much"

Eagle Eye Cherry - "Save Tonight"
Jewel - "Hands"
Madonna - "The Power of Good-Bye"
Neutral Milk Hotel - "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea"

Melissa Etheridge - "Angels Would Fall"
The Offspring - "The Kids Aren't Alright"
The Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Otherside"
Britney Spears - "Born To Make You Happy"
Antonello Venditti - "In Questo Mondo Che Non Puoi Capire"

Joseph Arthur - "In The Sun"
Bangs - "Undo Everything"
Bon Jovi - "It's My Life"
Bon Jovi - "Two Story Town"
Tracy Chapman - "Telling Stories"
Eagle Eye Cherry - "Burning Up"
The Cure - "Maybe Someday"
Nina Gordon - "Tonight and the Rest of My Life"
Reggie And The Full Effect - "From Me 2 U"
Sick Of It All - "America"
Cat Stevens - "I've Got A Thing About Seeing My Grandson Grow Old"
U2 - "In A Little While"
Lee Ann Womack - "I Hope You Dance"

Michelle Branch - "All You Wanted"
Butterfly Jones - "Anywhere But Now"
Ani DiFranco - "Marrow"
Ben Folds - "Not The Same"
Damien Rice - "Cannonball"
Shakira - "Whenever, Wherever"
The Shins - "Girl On The Wing"
Yiruma - "River Flows In You"

Bad Religion - "Shattered Faith"
Celine Dion - "A New Day Has Come"
Celine Dion - "I Surrender"
Iron & Wine - "Upward Over The Mountain"
Avril Lavigne - "Complicated"
Poyushchie vmeste (Поющие вместе) - "A Man Like Putin (Такого как Путин)"
Sum 41 - "The Hell Song"
Sum 41 - "Still Waiting"
Sum 41 - "Thanks For Nothing"
Superdrag - "The Staggering Genius"
Keith Urban - "You'll Think Of Me"

Gavin DeGraw - "Chariot"
Girlyman - "Maori"
Ben Harper - "Amen Omen"
Lillix - "It's About Time"
Longwave - "Tidal Wave"
Liz Phair - "Why Can't I?"
Staind - "So Far Away"
Yellowcard - "Believe"

Arcade Fire - "Rebellion (Lies)"
Ryan Cabrera – "On the Way Down"
Kelly Clarkson - "Behind These Hazel Eyes"
Green Day - "Holiday"
Jay-Z/Linkin Park - "Numb/Encore"
Avril Lavigne - "Don't Tell Me"
Avril Lavigne - "My Happy Ending"
Social Distortion - "Reach For The Sky"
Regina Spektor - "Us"
Sum 41 - "Pieces"
Keith Urban - "Tonight I Wanna Cry"

Acceptance - "So Contagious"
James Blunt - "Out Of My Mind"
Bon Jovi - "Have A Nice Day"
Tracy Bonham - "Something Beautiful"
*Alice Cooper - "Dirty Diamonds"
*Garbage - "Why Do You Love Me"
Girlyman - "Speechless"
*Missy Higgins - "The Sound Of White"
Missy Higgins - "They Weren't There"
Missy Higgins - "Unbroken"
The Hold Steady - "Don't Let Me Explode"
Hope Partlow - "Who We Are"
Jovanotti - "Mi Fido Di Te"
Adrienne Pierce - "Lost And Found"
Stars - "One More Night"
Katie Todd Band - "Figure It Out"
The Veronicas - "Everything I'm Not"

Assembly Of Dust - "40 Reasons"
Boys Like Girls - "The Great Escape"
Kasey Chambers - "Colour Of A Carnival"
Kasey Chambers - "Dangerous"
Kasey Chambers - "Living On The Railroad"
Cobra Starship - "The Church Of Hot Addiction"
Teddy Geiger - "Night Air"
Micah P. Hinson - "The Leading Guy"
The Hold Steady - "First Night"
Into Eternity - "Severe Emotional Distress"
Mat Kearney - "Undeniable"
Mat Kearney - "Wait"
The Killers - "For Reasons Unknown"
Kristy Lee (Cook) - "Devoted"
*Loreena McKennitt - "Beneath A Phrygian Sky"
Pet Shop Boys - "Integral"
Pink - "I'm Not Dead"
Pink - "U + Ur Hand"
Rascal Flatts - "Stand"
Rascal Flatts - "What Hurts The Most"
The Rasmus - "No Fear"
Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Snow"
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus - "Face Down"
Damien Rice - "9 Crimes"
State Radio - "Camilo"
The Veronicas - "4Ever"
Yogi - "Let You Go"

Natasha Bedingfield - "Angel"
Colbie Caillat - "One Fine Wire"
Vanessa Carlton - "Hands On Me"
The Juliet Dagger - "Flinch"
Ben Lee - "Is This How Love's Supposed To Feel?"
Maroon 5 - "Back At Your Door"
Tim Minchin - "Canvas Bags"
Hannah Montana - "Nobody's Perfect"
Bret Mosley - "Climbing The Floor"
John Murphy and Underworld - "Sunshine (Adagio In D Minor)"
OneRepublic -"All We Are"
The Postal Service - "Grow Old With Me"
LeAnn Rimes and Bon Jovi - "Till We Ain't Strangers Anymore"
LeAnn Rimes and Reba McEntire - "When You Love Someone Like That"
*Bruce Springsteen - "Radio Nowhere"
Stars - "The Night Starts Here"
Taylor Swift - "Christmas Must Be Something More"
Timbaland, featuring OneRepublic - "Apologize"
Carrie Underwood - "So Small"
Carrie Underwood - "Twisted"
Carrie Underwood - "Wheel Of The World"
Dan Wilson - "Breathless"
Whitley - "More Than Life"
Wire Daisies - "Mary Jane"
Elliott Yamin - "One Word"

Addison Road - "All That Matters"
Akon - "Beautiful"
*Katie Armiger - "Unseen"
Attack Attack! - "Stick Stickly"
David Archuleta - "A Little Too Not Over You"
David Archuleta - "Waiting For Yesterday"
David Archuleta - "You Can"
Basshunter - "All I Ever Wanted"
Beyoncé - "Broken-Hearted Girl"
Beyoncé - "If I Were A Boy"
Beyoncé - "Radio"
The cast of Camp Rock - "We Rock"
Carolina Liar – "I'm Not Over"
Caithlin De Marrais - "Outer Space Is Still Sexy"
*Marié Digby - "Stupid For You"
Alejandro Escovedo - "Sister Lost Soul"
Giant Sand - "Fire In The Belly"
Guns 'n' Roses - "Shackler's Revenge"
Ha*Ash - "Already Home"
Neil Halstead - "Spinning For Spoonie"
Randy Houser - "Wild Wild West"
Leslie Hunt - "Down Day"
A Kiss Could Be Deadly - "Broken Music"
Jet Lag Gemini - "Bittersweet"
Greg Laswell - "It Comes And Goes (In Waves)"
*Lenka - "Don't Bring Me Down"
Looker - "Spit For Your Shine"
Demi Lovato - "This Is Me"
Aimee Mann - "Borrowing Time"
Meaghan Jette Martin - "Too Cool"
Idina Menzel - "I Stand"
Lady GaGa - "Poker Face"
MGMT - "Kids"
Milk, Inc. - "Forever"
Moby - "Every Day It's 1989"
Noah And The Whale - "Give A Little Love"
The Offspring - "You're Gonna Go Far, Kid"
Katy Perry - "Fingerprints"
Xavier Rudd - "Shiver"
Serena Ryder - "All For Love"
Serena Ryder - "Brand New Love"
Serena Ryder - "Sweeping The Ashes"
Secondhand Serenade - "Fall For You"
The Small Sounds - "Mothers & Daughters"
The Submarines - "You, Me And The Bourgeoisie"
The Subways - "Shake! Shake!"
Sugarland - "Take Me As I Am"
Taylor Swift - "You're Not Sorry"
3Oh!3 - "Don't Trust Me"
T.I. – "Whatever You Like"
The Weepies - "All Good Things"
The Weepies - "Antarctica"

The Alibi District - "Movie Night"
Kris Allen - "No Boundaries"
*Kris Allen - "The Truth"
Lily Allen - "Back To The Start"
Justin Bieber - "Love Me"
Diane Birch - "Rewind"
Black Gold - "Shine"
Bon Jovi - "Work For The Working Man"
Boys Like Girls - "Love Drunk"
Breaking Benjamin - "Without You"
V. V. Brown - "Shark In The Water"
Colbie Caillat - "I Never Told You"
The Clean - "All Those Notes"
Taio Cruz - "Break Your Heart"
Daughtry - "Life After You"
Daughtry - "Supernatural"
Deer Tick - "Smith Hill"
Jason Derülo - "In My Head"
Marié Digby - "Shoulda Been Simple"
Marié Digby - "Machine"
Cara Dillon - "The Parting Glass"
The Dimes - "Lovely Mary Dyer"
*Benjy Ferree - "Whirlpool Of Love"
The Fray - "You Found Me"
Selena Gomez & The Scene - "More"
Selena Gomez & The Scene - "Naturally"
Great Northern - "Driveway"
Green Day - "21 Guns"
Honor Society - "My Own Way"
Honor Society - "Over You"
Hoobastank - "The Letter"
Ian Hunter - "Man Overboard"
Chris Isaak - "We Let Her Down"
Iyaz - "Replay"
Kiss - "Say Yeah"
KSM - "Distracted"
KSM - "Read Between The Lines"
LANDy - "Just A Thought"
Oren Lavie - "Her Morning Elegance"
Lifehouse - "Halfway Gone"
Demi Lovato - "Gift Of A Friend"
Demi Lovato - "World Of Chances"
LoveSick Radio - "Over You"
Maino ft. T-Pain - "All of the Above"
Melissa McClelland - "Brake"
Oceana - "Cry Cry"
Paramore - "Where The Lines Overlap"
Ramona Falls - "Melectric"
Rascal Flatts - "Unstoppable"
The Rural Alberta Advantage - "Don't Haunt This Place"
The Rural Alberta Advantage - "Drain The Blood"
*Russian Circles - "Hexed All"
Sarazino - "Cochabamba"
Sarazino - "Desbaratado"
The Sounds - "Crossing The Rubicon"
The Sounds - "The Only Ones"
Regina Spektor - "Blue Lips"
Ryan Star - "Breathe"
The Swell Season - "I Have Loved You Wrong"
Tegan And Sara - "Northshore"
Tinted Windows - "Back With You"
Tiny Animals - "Answer Me"
Tiny Animals - "Norway"
Carrie Underwood - "Change"
Carrie Underwood - "Songs Like This"
Weezer - "Can't Stop Partying"
Weezer - "Put Me Back Together"
Elliot Yamin - "Doorway"

Against Me! - "Bamboo Bones"
Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson - "Don't You Wanna Stay"
Allstar Weekend - "Amy"
Allstar Weekend - "Journey To The End Of My Life"
Almost Recess - "The Remedy"
AM Taxi - "The Mistake"
*AM Taxi - "Thanner Boyle Vs. The 7th Grade"
Dave Barnes - "God Gave Me You"
Sara Bareilles - "King Of Anything"
Sara Bareilles - "Let The Rain"
Justin Bieber with Sean Kingston - "Eenie Meenie"
Big Time Rush - "Til I Forget About You"
Brutha - "One Day On This Earth"
Margaret Cho - "Calling In Stoned"
Margaret Cho - "Hey Big Dog"
Miley Cyrus - "Stay"
Kara DioGuardi and Jason Reeves - "New York In Wintertime"
Eminem featuring Rihanna - "Love The Way You Lie"
Eminem - "Not Afraid"
*Evelyn Evelyn - "You Only Want Me 'Cause You Want My Sister"
Sky Ferreira - "Obsession"
Gogol Bordello - "Immigraniada (We Comin' Rougher)"
The Green Children - "Life Saviour"
The Green Children - "We're The Future"
John Hiatt - "The Open Road"
HoneyChild - "Driving Song"
Jewel - "No More Heartaches"
*Jewel - "Ten"
*Joey + Rory - "That's Important To Me"
*Dan Kaplan - "Can't Get Her (Out Of My Mind)"
Sean Kingston - "Eenie Meenie"
Lady Antebellum - "Hello World"
Greg Laswell - "Let It Ride"
The Lonely Island, featuring Akon - "I Just Had Sex"
Shelby Lynne - "Like A Fool"
The Maine - "Color"
The Maine - "Inside Of You"
The Maine - "Saving Grace"
Maroon 5 - "Never Gonna Leave This Bed"
Bruno Mars - "Grenade"
Matisse - "Better Than Her"
Nellie McKaye - "Bruise On The Sky"
*Sarah McLachlan - "Illusion Of Bliss"
Mobile Wash Unit - "Open Book"
Monte Negro - "Perderte (Sonambulos Sin Sueño)"
Murdocks - "Die Together"
*My Chemical Romance - "Planetary (Go!)"
Kate Nash - "Early Christmas Present"
Nelly - "Just A Dream"
Carrie Newcomer, featuring Mary Chapin Carpenter - "Before And After"
*Joanna Newsom - "'81"
Oceana - "Cry Cry"
The Open Feel - "Detach"
Plain White T's - "Broken Record"
Lindsey Ray - "Goodbye From California"
*The Red Elephant - "Brooklyn Sleigh Ride"
Robyn - "Cry When You Get Older"
Yvette Rovira - "Fearless"
Justin Rutledge - "Turn Around"
Sons Of Sylvia - "Love Left To Lose"
Starry Saints - "Unseeing Eyes"
Stars - "The Last Song Ever Written"
Taylor Swift - "Back To December"
*Tristen, "Battle Of The Gods"
Trumpeter Swan - "Eternal Pessimist"
Keith Urban - "Long Hot Summer"
The Weepies - "Hope Tomorrow"

Atlas Genius - "Trojans"
*Augustana - "On The Other Side"
Ian Axel - "Say Something"
Bear Lake - "Scissors"
Natasha Bedingfield - "Neon Lights"
Natasha Bedingfield - "Run-Run-Run"
Natasha Bedingfield - "Touch"
Natasha Bedingfield - "Try"
James Blunt - "Superstar"
Breaking Benjamin - "Better Days"
Colbie Caillat - "Brighter Than The Sun"
Kimberly Caldwell - "Heart Like Mine"
Kimberly Caldwell - "Taking Back My Life"
Kelly Clarkson - "Hello"
Kelly Clarkson - "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)"
Coldplay - "Paradise"
Javier Colon - "A Drop In The Ocean"
Dennis Crommett - "Dark Gray Horses"
Daughtry - "Crazy"
Daughtry - "Break The Spell"
Daughtry - "Gone Too Soon"
*Daughtry - "Losing My Mind"
Evanescence - "Lost In Paradise"
Evanescence - "My Heart Is Broken"
Foo Fighters - "Arlandria"
Fountains Of Wayne - "Acela"
Cast of Glee - "Get It Right"
Gloriana - "(Kissed You) Good Night"
Kina Grannis - "Gone"
Kina Grannis - "Strong Enough"
Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit - "Stopping By"
Jessie J - "Nobody's Perfect"
Jessie J - "Who You Are"
Jordan Knight - "Believe"
Jordan Knight - "Unfinished"
Lady Antebellum - "Just A Kiss"
Lady Antebellum - "Wanted You More"
The Lonely Island featuring Michael Bolton - "Jack Sparrow"
Demi Lovato - "Skyscraper"
Demi Lovato - "Unbroken"
Anaïs Mitchell - "Wait For Me"
The Morning Birds - "Higher Thoughts"
Over The Rhine - "The Laugh Of Recognition"
Sean Paul - "She Doesn't Mind"
Pitbull featuring Chris Brown - "International Love"
Pitbull featuring Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer - "Give Me Everything"
Ron Pope - "A Drop In The Ocean"
Ron Pope - "Tightrope"
Ron Pope - "Wherever You Go"
Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris - "We Found Love"
Ringside - "Stay"
Ringside - "This Time"
Roxette - "She's Got Nothing On (But The Radio)"
Runner Runner - "Falling"
Runner Runner - "Life After You"
Runner Runner - "Running Away"
Matthew Ryan - "All Hail The Kings Of Trash"
Matthew Ryan - "All Of That Means Nothing Now"
Cody Simpson - "All Day"
Sloan - "Unkind"
The Smoking Popes - "College"
The Strokes - "Under Cover Of Darkness"
*Sunny Sweeney - "Staying's Worse Than Leaving"
Taylor Swift - "Sparks Fly"
Tinie Tempah - "Love Suicide"
Tinie Tempah - "Written In The Stars"
Keith Urban - "Long Hot Summer"
Kate Voegele - "Say You're Mine"
You Me At Six - "The Dilemma"
You Me At Six - "This Is The First Thing"
Eli Young Band - "Crazy Girl"

Gary Allan - "Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain)"
ASAP Rocky featuring Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar - "Fuckin' Problems"
Big Dipper - "Forget The Chef"
Cherri Bomb - "Raw. Real."
Kenny Chesney - "Come Over"
Dispatch - "Circles Around The Sun"
Jeremy Fisher - "Built To Last"
Flo Rida - "Whistle"
The Gaslight Anthem - "45"
Girlyman - "Caroline"
*Girlyman - "Empire Of Our State"
*Girlyman - "Nothing Left"
Ellie Goulding - "Burn"
Horse Feathers - "Bird On A Leash"
Casey James - "The Good Life"
Carly Rae Jepsen - "Curiosity"
Aimee Mann - "Charmer"
Aimee Mann - "Disappeared"
Mumford & Sons - "Below My Feet"
*One Direction - "Live While We're Young"
Hayden Panetierre - "Love Like Mine"
Charlie Peacock - "Till My Body Comes Undone"
Gretchen Peters - "Five Minutes"
Pink - "Here Comes The Weekend"
*Joel Rafael - "Dance Around My Atom Fire"
Rascal Flatts - "Let It Hurt"
Roxette - "It's Possible"
The Script - "Hall Of Fame"
*State Radio - "Black Welsh Mountain"
Taylor Swift - "Stay Stay Stay"
Train - "Drive By"
Walk Off The Earth - "Summer Vibe"
Walk The Moon - "Anna Sun"

Casey Abrams - "Get Out"
*Avicii - "Wake Me Up"
Josh Berwanger - "Baby Loses Her Mind"
Luke Bryan - "Crash My Party"
City And Colour - "The Lonely Life"
Daft Punk - "Contact"
Lee DeWyze - "Stay Away"
Echosmith - "Cool Kids"
Fall Out Boy - "Alone Together"
Fall Out Boy - "Just One Yesterday"
Fall Out Boy - "Miss Missing You"
Fall Out Boy - "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)"
Selena Gomez - "Love Will Remember"
Selena Gomez - "Slow Down"
Kree Harrison - "All Cried Out"
Kalli - "Nothing At All"
John Legend - "All Of Me"
Demi Lovato - "Heart Attack"
Demi Lovato - "Neon Lights"
Demi Lovato - "Never Been Hurt"
Demi Lovato - "Warrior"
New Politics - "Fall Into These Arms"
Hayden Panetierre - "I've Been Used"
Patty (Patricia Dłutkiewicz) - "Krzyk" ("Scream")
Cassadee Pope - “Wasting All These Tears”
Thomas Rhett - "It Goes Like This"
Amy Speace - "Bring Me Back My Heart"
Amy Speace - "In Salida"
*Amy Speace - "Perfume"
Tiesto - "Red Lights"
*Twenty One Pilots - "Trees"

Jason Aldean - "Burnin' It Down"
Jason Aldean - "Gonna Know We Were Here"
Jason Aldean - "I Took It With Me"
Jason Aldean - "Tryin' To Love Me"
James Bay - "Craving"
Big & Rich - "Look At You"
The Both - "Milwaukee"
Clare Bowen - "Black Roses"
Luke Bryan - "I See You"
Colbie Caillat - "Try"
Common and John Legend - "Glory"
Ht Bristol, Charlie Bannister, Vincent Steele & Nine One One (Extreme Music) - "Bring Me Back To Life"
*Marianne Faithfull - "Love More Or Less"
Fall Out Boy - "Immortals"
5 Seconds Of Summer - "End Up Here"
Florida Georgia Line - "Sippin' On Fire"
Guided By Voices - "Some Things Are Big (And Some Things Are Small)"
Chrissie Hynde - "Like In The Movies"
Justice Crew - "Que Sera"
Christina Perri - "Human"
Maya Rudolph, Kristen Bell and Sean Hayes - "Frozen Again"
Chadwick Stokes - "Our Lives Our Time"
Carrie Underwood - "Little Toy Guns"

Adele - "Hello"
Jason Aldean - "Gonna Know We Were Here"
Rachel Bloom - "I Give Good Parent"
Luke Bryan - "Games"
Luke Bryan featuring Karen Fairchild - "Home Alone Tonight"
Brandi Carlile - "I Belong To You"
Brandi Carlile - "The Things I Regret"
Michelle Chamuel - "Lottery"
Eric Church - "Kill A Word"
Kelly Clarkson - "Good Goes The Bye"
Kelly Clarkson - "War Paint"
Luke Combs - "Hurricane"
Mikky Ekko - "Loner"
Karmin - "Everything"
Ryan Link - "Under The Rug"
Metric - "Celebrate"
Kip Moore - "Wild Ones"
The Scorpions - "We Built This House"
*Skellums - "Growing Old"
Alan Walker - "Faded"
X Ambassadors - "Unsteady"

Kelsea Ballerini - "Peter Pan"
Dierks Bentley - "Different For Girls"
Dierks Bentley - "What The Hell Did I Say"
Basia Bulat - "Let Me In"
Mary Chapin Carpenter - "Hand On My Back"
Brian Fallon - "A Wonderful Life"
Ellie Goulding - "Still Falling For You"
Lady Gaga - "Million Reasons"
Miranda Lambert - "Getaway Driver"
Miranda Lambert - "Keeper Of The Flame"
Miranda Lambert - "Pushin' Time"
Lighthouse X - "Soldiers Of Love"
Lori McKenna- "All These Things"
Blake Shelton - "A Guy With A Girl"
Sia - "Cheap Thrills"
Gwen Stefani - "Rare"
Volbeat - "Goodbye Forever"
Danny Wood - "Broken"
Danny Wood - "Dance For Me"
Danny Wood - "Here Comes The Silence"
Danny Wood - "Hold On"
Danny Wood - "If Only"
Danny Wood - "My Sunshine"
Danny Wood - "Shine"
Danny Wood - "Waiting On I Love You"

Charli XCX - "Boys"
Kasey Chambers - "Summer Pillow"
Alice Cooper - "Genuine American Girl"
Erasure - "Take Me Out Of Myself"
Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee (with Justin Bieber) - "Despacito"
Grant Gustin - "Runnin' Home To You"
Dustin Lynch - "Small Town Boy"
*Aimee Mann - "Good For Me"
Old Dominion - "No Such Thing As A Broken Heart"

Chvrches - "Miracle"
The Interrupters - "She's Kerosene"
Maddie & Tae - "Friends Don't"
Jason Mraz - "Have It All"
Carrie Underwood - "Backsliding"
Carrie Underwood - "Low"
Pale Waves - "Came In Close"
Kim Wilde - "Pop Don't Stop"

Abacus Rings - "Back At School"
Sara Bareilles - "Saint Honesty"
Dalton And The Sheriffs - "You Ain't Her (And She Ain't You)"
Lana Del Rey - "California"
The Highwomen - "My Only Child"
Miranda Lambert - "Fire Escape"
Marina - "To Be Human"
Travels With Brindle - "Rudolph's Ranch"

Gabby Barrett - "Write It On My Heart"
Lina Cooper - "This Time"
Dua Lipa - "Physical"

Kaylee Federmann - "Her Song"
Kaiti Jones - "Gettin Around To It"
Carly Pearce - "What He Didn't Do"
Morgan Wallen - "Wasted On You"

Avril Lavigne feat. Blackbear - "Love It When You Hate Me"
Tegan And Sara - "Sometimes I See Stars"