“Tell Him What He Just Don’t Know…”

04.12.09 9 years ago 36 Comments

Words By Jesse H.

I try my hardest not to be one of those folks who endlessly cries foul about the state of pop music. But sometimes on old jam comes on and you find yourself wondering where all the effort went in modern pop records.

Case and point — one of the catchiest pop songs of the year, Kanye’s “Paranoid” seems to have all of the essential elements of a good pop tune; instantly catchy, extremely danceable and sing-alongability to the stars. I’ll take a wild guess and say “Paranoid” probably took Kanye a few hours, maximum, to create. It’s a simple melody with a minimal loop of repeating synth chords and some whipping drums. Add Auto-Tune and that’s about it.

Now compare the thin weave of “Paranoid” to the density of a song like Michael Jackon’s “Girlfriend.” Listen to the way the King Of Pop throws in little extras to keep the melody unpredictable and the listener intrigued; the playful “woo-hoo” thrown in periodically, the free-roaming ad-libs, the charisma with which he whoops and even laughs whilst cooing and that’s just the vocals.

Then listen to Quincy’s perfect musical backdrop; there’s the jubilant bassline, the saxophone solo, the easygoing flutes, the skipping bells, the constantly-evolving synthesizers, and probably a half-dozen other musical touches my ears aren’t trained to hear. All of that packed into a mere 3:05 (a full minute and change shorter than “Paranoid”) and it’s easy to conclude that they just don’t manufacture pop the same way anymore.

Find a contemporary example of a song as effortlessly breezy yet unforgivingly dense as “Girlfriend” off a record that moved as many units as Off The Wall. It’s just not happening.


Kanye West Feat. Mr. Hudson – “Paranoid”


Michael Jackson – “Girlfriend”

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