Thursday, August 21, 2008

You can't stop the Alphabeat

The hand of Blogger fell on the following post, which was taken away from the blog! Here it is again, minus the offending MP3 (I figure that's what happened…), as I quite like Pete Hammond's remarks about songwriting and didn't want them to get lost.

The remix of "Boyfriend" by Danish group Alphabeat is a time machine: board it and you're beamed back to Top of the Pops, some time between 1988 and 1993, when Stock Aitken and Waterman ruled the airwaves with their ultra-synthetic productions. SAW released their stuff on their own label, PWL, which counted as a most potent weapon (re)mixer Pete Hammond—responsible for the new Alphabeat remix.

In the first first two minutes, before the vocals come in, he throws in every retro trick he can think of: syndrums, keyboard bass, hand claps, crisp guitar riff, synth hook. Then there's the song, sort of intact, then there's another break about two thirds of the way in. Oh my god this is so awesome, I just want to cry!!! I can already tell that "Boyfriend" will stand as a highlight of 2008 along with Die Soldaten.

Clearly the extended mix is the best, but the video, using a more compact version, is fun too:

Below is one of my favorite classic SAW nuggets, "That's What Love Can Do" by an American girl group called Boy Krazy.

My favorite aspect of the song is that it starts with the chorus but then the verse is actually catchier, and catchier still is the second part of the verse, which segues into the chorus. Absolutely masterful songwriting there. In regard to the importance of the bridge in a pop song, Hammond once said "A lot of people don't understand what a bridge is, but for me it's the most important part of a song next to the chorus. If you go straight from verse to chorus it throws your timing out because then either the verse has to be too long and becomes boring, or the chorus comes in too early. To me the ideally paced song is one which has a chorus-type intro for about eight bars, which at 120bpm lasts for about 16 seconds, then an eight-bar verse and an eight-bar bridge, which means you're up to about a minute for your first chorus. If the chorus happens any later than that the radio stations will take if off because they're fed up, but if you've got a good bridge leading up to something, they feel drawn to it."

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