As with all song analysis, we'll look at the song itself, the arrangement, the sound and the performance.
Here's another song that has a pretty standard form that's very cleverly crafted into something a lot more interesting. The form looks like this:
Intro, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Interlude, Chorus, Outro
The melody of the verse is very catchy and memorable, although the chorus isn't, unlike most hit songs. But as in most hit songs there is a great hook, and it's the piano part on the intro and choruses.
If you were to look at the form of "Clocks" on paper you'd think there was nothing special, but as in all popular songs, the arrangement cleverly takes it to a new place. The song develops nicely, with the piano hook re-entering on the first chorus along with an additional synth pad, and harmony vocals on the second verses and chorus. Right after the 2nd chorus, the piano figure moves up a third so it sounds different and the song develops even more. The peak of the song is the bridge, which then breaks back down into an empty piano intro.
Here's a look at the arrangement elements:
* The Foundation - Unlike most songs, only the bass and the kick carry the foundation (which is the pulse of the song) as the rest of the drums play the piano figure.
* The Pad - There are two synth pads that are very obvious. The first one enters with the piano in the intro and plays throughout the song. The second enters only on the choruses.
* The Rhythm - Once again, unlike most songs, the drums play the rhythm element in "Clocks" because they mainly add movement and push the song along.
* The Lead - In the intro and chorus, it's the piano. In the verses, it's the vocal, which is almost secondary in the chorus.
* The Fills - On the bridge and the outchorus you hear some subtle guitar lines that fill in the holes.
Once again, the song seems simple on a quick listen, but there's a lot going on beneath the surface.
Although the sound is big, the bass doesn't translate well on small speakers and the kick drum is fairly buried in the mix (and the rest of the drums are a little on the low side). The reverbs have some nice long decays that wash over the pads well and the vocal reverb has a short pre-delay that's timed to the track. I'm not sure if the guitar is buried in the mix or it's muted but you don't really hear it until the bridge and then again on the outro.
The vocal sounds really nice. It's very natural and present without being too compressed.
Chris Martin sells the vocal very well, but for me, Gerry Berryman's bass is what's cool in the song. He takes a possibly boring 8th note pedal part, plays it dynamically, and takes it to some unexpected places to keep things interesting.
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