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Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Grenade" - Bruno Mars Song Analysis

Today we're going to analyze the #5 song from this week's Ultimate Chart - Bruno Mars' "Grenade." It's the second single from his hit album "Do-Wops & Hooligans."

Let's get down to it. As with all analysis, we'll break the song down into four parts - the song itself, the arrangement, the sound and performance.

The Song - If you were going to write a straight down the middle pop song, this is the way to do it. The song is unusual in that it begins right with the verse with no intro, but other than it it's formula all the way, not that there's anything wrong with that if it works (it does here). Basically the song looks like this:

      Verse, Chorus, 2 bar interlude, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, 2 bar interlude, verse as the outro.

The good thing about "Grenade" is that it has a great melody, something that's sorely lacking in much of today's popular music.

The Arrangement - Just as the form of the song follows a formula, so does the arrangement. It develops from the sparse first verse to the big chorus, developing in a less sparse second verse, and finally peaking at the bridge. The tension is released by the stripped-down last outro verse, which is very unusual since most outros retain the tension to the end.

The 5 elements of the mix (check out this post for an explanation) look like this:
  • The Foundation - As is the norm, the Foundation element is this song is held down by the bass and drums.
  • The Pad - There's an organ that plays just underneath everything that acts as the Pad and glues the track together. Once again, pretty standard. You can never go wrong with an organ for this element.
  • The Rhythm - This is interesting in that the arppegiated electric piano line in the verse act as the Rhythm element, but during the chorus it switches to the double time feel of the drums.
  • The Lead - As almost always, it's the lead vocal.
  • The Fills - The Fills are handled by the background vocals and the occasional percussion sound effect.
The Sound - This is a very well made record in that it's not too compressed and the ambience is layered in a pleasing, ear-candy kind of way. The vocal has a medium-long reverb decay on it in the beginning, but then a timed and repeated quarter note delay is added during the second verse. The other instruments have their own short ambiences that make them seem more in-your-face, except for the percussion effect that has a long reverb with a very long, timed pre-delay.

The Performance - Make no mistake about it, Bruno Mars is a star. He's got the chops and his vocal shows considerable passion that effectively sells the song. The background vocals are also well-executed and add to both the motion and the tension of the song as well.

Unfortunately, Elektra Records is restricting the video to YouTube only, so you'll have to go over there for a listen.

Feel free to send me your suggestions for songs to analyze, but make sure there's a YouTube video available.

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Factory Yoyo said...

Everybody on American Idol was performing this song, which I thought was a mistake as it is an easy song to screw up, cuz if not done with the right attitude, comes across as whiny and desperate.

Unknown said...

Thank you Bobby your analysis are gold!
Gian Nicola


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