Sunday, April 3, 2011

"Rope" - Foo Fighters Song Analysis

"Rope" by the Foo Fighters is one of the best rock songs I've heard in a long time. The first single from their Wasting Light album, the song is currently #1 on Billboard's Rock Chart. As with all song analysis, this one covers the song itself, the arrangement, the sound and the performance.

The Song
"Rope" has a somewhat typical song form but makes it different thanks to an altered feel and some unusual anticipations in the verses, and a very interesting bridge/solo section. The form looks like this:

Intro, Verse, Chorus, Interlude, Verse, Chorus, Bridge/Solo, Chorus, Half-intro, Outro

The song is really quite sophisticated in its creation even though it seems simple on the surface, which is a sign of a mature writer(s).

The Arrangement
This arrangement of the song is very much like a garage band playing, but in a good way. There's a lot of thrashing and energy and a certain amount of freedom in the parts, just like a garage band, but at the same time it's all a very controlled chaos. Of course, this album really was recorded in singer/guitarist Dave Grohl's garage, so maybe they took it to heart.

The song is interesting in that it has a couple of rhythm guitars playing tremolo parts (the intro), then both guitar players banging away on rhythm guitar during the verse and choruses, instead of formulated parts like you hear on most songs. An overdubbed guitar that enters only at the syncopated verse turnarounds is about all the layering you'll find in the song other than the solo.

The bass is free floating and creates a nice tension against the chords in spots that's very cool, as is the drum solo in the bridge (when's the last time you heard one of those?). Interestingly, some of the cool lines that Nate Mandel plays are in the first verse rather then the second, where you'd typically change things up to sound different or develop the song.

Another interesting thing is that the second verse doesn't change much from the first so the song doesn't develop much, but I never notice this when listening to the song.

The Sound
Taylor Hawkin's drums have sort of a high-class garage feel to them in that they sound great, but they also sound like they were recorded with a single stereo mic and maybe a kick drum mic. Notice that one drum, especially the snare, never feels separated from the other drums. That's something else you rarely hear these days.

The vocal seems pretty buried in the mix, but that only emphasizes the band more.

The song is pretty compressed but done well since you never notice it. It's also pretty much in your face ambience-wise with no long reverb tails. I'd venture to say that what you're hearing is natural ambience of the room most of the time.

The Performance
The performance of all the players is what makes the song. Just as you'd expect from a band that's been together 10+ years, they smoke. You can feel the energy and enthusiasm that I wish more tracks had. Want an example of a great rock band? It's the Foos. And great production job Butch Vig.


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3 comments:

Gian Nicola said...

Hi Bobby!
Great analysis!
What do you think about this song?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYEDA3JcQqw

Adele - Rolling In The Deep

Thank You very much
Gian Nicola

Bobby Owsinski said...

Did it a couple of weeks ago.

João Marcos Soares said...

I know it's an old post now but I'm glad I've read.
This is also one of my favorite rock songs ever.

What's interesting about the second verse (and what makes us not get bored during it) is that it's just half time of the first one.

Thanks for that, Bobby!

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