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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lady Antebellum "Just A Kiss" Song Analysis

Today we look at a song that's #3 on the Ultimate Chart this week called "Just A Kiss" from Lady Antebellum. It's the first release from their upcoming 3rd album by this award winning country trio, although this song doesn't sound much like country music. As with all song analysis, we'll look at the song itself, the arrangement, the sound and the production.

The Song
"Just A Kiss" uses a very simple, yet effective pop form that looks like this:

Intro, Verse, Chorus, Interlude, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Interlude, Chorus, Ending

The intros and interludes are very short, and the song has a real ending, a most unusual thing these days.

The Arrangement
When you have a simple song form, you need a great arrangement to keep the listener from losing interest. "Just A Kiss" uses an excellently crafted arrangement that's about as good as it gets in any genre, which is one of the reasons why it's a hit.

The song develops nicely, opening up with piano, drums and percussion, then adding the bass when the vocal enters. Snare and guitar plus a light Hammond organ are added with the 2nd half of the verse, then the chorus gets even bigger with 3 part harmony and an additional guitar. The 1st interlude shows the arrangement skill with the heavy accents at the end, again keeping your interest. The 2nd chorus then adds a synth string pad to develop it even more.

The 2nd verse develops using two distorted guitar parts and harmony lead vocals, which ends with the bands signature 3 part harmony.

  The Foundation: piano, drums, bass

  The Pad: It's subtle, but the organ from the second verse onward, whole note strums from the electric guitar during the chorus, and synth string pad during the 2nd and last chorus and bridge.

  The Rhythm: A soft shaker adds motion throughout the entire song, entering right at the intro.

  The Lead: Lead vocals

  The Fills: None really, although the string lines in the chorus can almost be thought of as fills.

The Sound
The sound of "Just A Kiss" is really big and present. During the bridge the bass might be a little too big as the notes start to blur as the line gets more complicated, but it sounds great other than that. The vocals have a bit of delayed reverb, but for the most part, all the elements are pretty much in your face with only slight ambiance to develop the layers. The song isn't too compressed, and you certainly never hear it where it's used.

The Production
This is pretty much state-of-the-art Nashville production by Paul Worley. Not only is the song layered especially well, but I love little things that mostly go unnoticed in songs like this. In this one it's the harmony vocals on the last interlude, and the small but effective change in the melody in the last chorus. And of course, it's so nice to have a real ending to a song.

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VIOZ said...

Maybe it's because I don't know music as much as you do, but I think this song is horrible; if they said they wrote it while driving to the studio to record it I wouldn't be surprised.

Factory Yoyo said...

I disagree; while not really my cuppa tea, this is fairly decent contemporary pop. It actually sounds like they used some real instruments on this!

Bobby Owsinski said...

Whether you like the song or not, it's really well crafted and produced.

It's really really hard to have a hit, and I appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into every one of them.


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