As with all analysis, we'll break the song down into four parts - the song itself, the arrangement, the sound and performance.
The Song - Like most rap songs, the form is fairly simple, with the same verse repeating and an interlude (The "21st Century Schizoid Man" sample) thrown in. That is, until the outro, when the song changes and basically turns into a bridge. Highly unusual but very cool. So the form looks something like this:
Intro, 2 verses, interlude,
4 verse (the lyrics could make the last one a chorus although nothing else changes), interlude,
4 verses (the last one could be a chorus), interlude
verse, verse, verse, bridge, outro
The Arrangement - This is a perfect example where the arrangement can make a song, since there's always something different happening in every verse. Instruments (including the drums) drop in and out, creating song dynamics and keeping the interest high. If we look at the musical elements, this is what we have (look here for explanations of the elements of a song):
- The Foundation - This one's easy, since it's the pretty standard bass and drums.
- The Rhythm - The rhythm element is an instrument that pushes the track along, usually double time or a complimentary rhythm to the foundation. Unusually, this element does not exist in this song.
- The Pad - This is highly unusual in that it's a sampled background vocal track that's repeated from the intro through most of the song.
- Fills - There are a lot of musical fills or contrary lines in this song, and there's not much room for them to stand by themselves. That's OK, because the mix is skillful enough to make them work.
The Sound - I'd love to see the track sheet on this song because I'm sure the number of tracks is pretty high. "Power" is a great example of modern layered ambience and accomplished exclusively with reverbs with short (1 second or less) decay times or short delays. You hear big sounding drums (rap records seem to love John Bonham these days), a separate short room on the background vocals, and most other instruments are either dry and in your face (like the vocal), or have their own short ambience.
Speaking of the repeated background vocal sample. it's a little squashed, but most of the rest of track is not.
The Performance - Kanye's vocal delivers on this tune but for me, it's the harmony background vocals way at the end of the song on the outro that really got me.
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