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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rhianna "S&M" Song Analysis

Reader Clayton Felt asked for an analysis of Rhianna's "S&M," so here it is. This is a song from her fifth album Loud that charted top 10 in twelve countries. As with all song analysis, we'll look at the song itself, the arrangement, the sound and the production.

The Song
"S&M" is a bit different from most pop songs in that it has two choruses. The form looks like this:

Chorus, Verse, B Section, Chorus, Verse, B Section, Chorus, Chorus 2, Bridge, B Section, B Section, Chorus, Chorus 2

The Arrangement
The arrangement is a pretty good study in song dynamics. The choruses are loud, as are the B sections, but the verse and the bridge are somewhat mellow. For the most part, there's a big dance kick and claps instead of drums in the chorus and verses, but the song gets smaller with a drum kit during the B sections.

  * The Foundation - The huge kick and claps, synth bass line.

  * The Pad - Electric piano-like pad in the verses, and a synth pad in the bridge.

  * The Rhythm - A very subtle high hat sound

  * The Lead - The lead vocal

  * The Fills - The background vocal loops and answers

The Sound
The sound is really quite excellent. It's huge sounding, and compressed without sounding too much so. This where the depth is created with different timed delays, some of which have a touch of reverb added to the trail.

The Production
Excellent pop production, especially with the layered vocals and the song dynamics. There are not a lot of instruments (at least it doesn't sound that way), yet it sounds huge, with each section sounding distinctly different.

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TheEmLog said...

How about the performance ? :P

Felt Blog said...

Thanks Bobby,
I didn't hear the hi hat. Catchy song with a lot going on in it. I thought you might find it interesting.

Factory Yoyo said...

It is an interesting commentary on the music biz that this singer has had a ridiculous string of massive hits yet can't even sell out mid-sized venues.

Here's the good/bad of this tune:
the good: it is a terrific piece of contemporary pop
the bad: my 9 and 11 year old kids love it, and the subject matter isn't something I feel like explaining to them!

Chris said...

It's the Britney section that surprises sounds, to an amateur's ears, like she's singing -- and strongly so -- all by herself, which happens rather infrequently on her records. Has anything been done to her voice on the technical side to make it sound this good?

Always enjoy your analyses, Bobby!

Steve said...

Phil Tan!


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