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Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Police "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" Song Analysis

Reader Chris Benedetto requested a song from The Police's 1981 breakout album Ghost In The Machine called "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic." Although recorded in 1981, Sting wrote the song in 1976, and an early demo of it can be heard on the Strontium 90: Police Academy soundtrack. The keyboard parts were added by session keyboardist Jean Roussel, whom Sting invited to play on the track against the wishes of his bandmates Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland. As with all song analysis, we'll look at the song form, the arrangement, the sound and the production.

The Song
"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" is almost the tale of two songs. There's the straight-ahead pop song in the beginning and then there's the long outro and fade on the end. The form looks like this:

Intro, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus, Chorus, Outro verse (5 times), Fade

The pop beginning of the song is a very standard verse, chorus, bridge pop song, but the outro is different in that it occasional changes shape in the turnarounds. The Fade is almost like another song that's loosely built around the pop beginning, but changes a bit just at the end of the fade. Very interesting, but most Police songs seem to have a twist to them.

The Arrangement
Although The Police is basically a guitar trio, this song is far from it, being based mostly around acoustic piano and synthesizer. What's interesting is the multiple layers of piano and synth. I count at least 4 different piano parts, which don't all necessarily play at the same time (a couple do in the verse, and one is even doubled), but tend to overlap one another. You don't hear much guitar except for the beginning of the verse and bridge, as it's seamlessly blended into the rhythm section. The synth parts go from a brass-like pad in the verse to a calliope sound to almost a steel drum sound in the chorus.

  * The Foundation: Fretless bass, drums, and rhythm guitar.

  * The Rhythm: Synth in the chorus, delayed guitar in the verse.

  * The Pad: Synth in the verse and piano and synth in the bridge

  * The Lead: Vocals

  * The Fills: Chorused guitar in the bridge, piano in the verse.

The Sound
"Every Little Thing" has a very interesting sound to it. The doubled vocals are way in the back of the mix and the drums are way in the front. At times there's almost too much going on but the balance of everything makes it all work. There's a very short and dark room on a number of instruments that you can only hear during the stops as the decay hangs over. I especially like the timed delay on the piano in the outro (I like that sound in general) as it pushes it back in the mix and gives it another layer.

The Production
Although the first couple of Police albums were done on a budget and were pretty sparse as a result, Ghost In The Machine was done first-class with Hugh Padgham at the helm, and it sounds it. This would have been a completely different song had it been left in the guitar trio format, so credit is due to making the decision to go with the keyboards. That said, the only way this song could have worked was to layer the effects of each part, and in the great tradition of English mixers, Padgham did an excellent job. The fretless bass and doubled vocals were also a nice touch.

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Juan said...

Sometimes when i try to mix a song i often recall this style to get drums in front, and when i realize why i like to do that, it is because i liked so much songs like this and several other from Genesis, and the common ingredient was Hugh Padgham as mixing/producer engineer.

I just go crazy by the way those songs are trying to recall somehow a live sound. Of course, in both cases (Police & Genesis) he had two excellent drummers like Copeland and Collins so it makes sense why Hugh wanted to bring those drums sounds so loud...

Nice Blog!

Anonymous said...

Well, even though I like some of these band songs, and I appreciate the talent behind them, from a mixing standpoint I really don't like how congested this song sounds in the chorus. The vocals in the back, and too much going on, it doesn't work for me.


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