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Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Hooters "All You Zombies" Song Analysis

My homie Tim Donmoyer requested a song analysis of "All You Zombies" by The Hooters, a song that was unusually on both the band's first and second albums. The version below is from their second album Nervous Night, which was produced by Rick Chertoff and recorded at the Record Plant in New York City. As with all song analysis, we'll look at the song form, the arrangement, the sound and the production.

The Song
"All You Zombies" has a highly unusual song form in that except for the solo section, all other sections are the same and use the same chord progression. The only difference between the verse and chorus is the lyrics and a slight arrangement change. The form looks like this:

  Intro, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Intro, Solo, Verse, Chorus, Chorus, Outro

The Arrangement
This is a rather long song and it takes a bit of skill to keep interesting since it's virtually the same chord pattern repeating over and over.

  The Foundation: Kick, hi-hat, bass

  The Pad: Synth/organ

  The Rhythm: Reggae-style guitar

  The Lead: High and low unison/harmony vocals

  The Fills: Lead guitar

The arrangement changes from the verse to the chorus by adding a strummed guitar, doubling the vocals, and adding an additional synth pad. The second intro also features a synth solo, which makes it different from the first intro.

The Sound
The song is swimming in effects, which is totally appropriate and very much a product of the 80's. Everything (especially the vocals) has a lot of delay, which doesn't seem to be timed to the track so it sticks out. The drums have a lot of short room reverb when they enter in the guitar solo, which makes the part stand out from the rest of the song. The song isn't all that loud by today's standards, but remember that it was recorded during a time gentle compression during recording and mastering, rather than take-no-prisoners crushing that we hear today.

The Production
The only way this type of a song doesn't get boring is with great production. Producer Rick Chertoff got great performances from the players, and they have to be special in a song like this. I especially like the tom fills at the end of the sections, which are both played well and sound great. Having the low unison vocal change to a harmony at the end of the lines is an inspired idea, and having the arrangement change enough to separate the song sections is a must, and it's done well.

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