Song Analysis of Britney Spears and Will.i.am’s Scream and Shout

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Image courtesy Michael Sheehan
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hightechdad/

Founder of HitSongsDeconstructed.com, David Penn gives the Music Producers Forum his expert insights to the collaborative hit Scream and Shout by mutli Grammy winning producer Will.i.am and Britney Spears.

Futuristic, egotistic, repetitive, dark, evocative, generic, clever, cliché, unique, familiar, ultra-infectious, fun and of course, “Britney bitch!” These are just some of the terms that describe Will.i.am’s collaboration with Britney Spears on the third single from his forthcoming album, #willpower.

Since its release back in November 2012, Scream & Shout has gone on to hit #1 in an astounding 21 countries on 23 charts. There were many factors that went into making the song a top-charting hit, and one of the most important was the nature of the vocal melody. Here we’re going to take an abbreviated look at one specific section – the first stanza of the second verse. It’s a good representation of what made the vocal melody so effective throughout the entire song.

Scream and Shout’s Secret in its Simplicty

verse-2-1-sas-revised

Key: Green Diamond (Eighth-Note), Yellow Diamond (Sixteenth-Note) – Red Diamond (Rest)

As you can see in the graphic above, Will.i.am’s vocal melody is built on one core premise – simplicity.  But simplicity doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of effectiveness.  On the contrary, it’s very effective.

First let’s take a look at the progression of this section. The entire section is sung with a monotone G delivery EXCEPT for the last lyric/syllable of each phrase, which drops down an octave to conclude.  It’s this subtle differentiating factor that keeps the section from becoming overly monotonous and wind up causing the listener to lose interest.

Next, notice the length of each phrase and how they end.  They’re all short and “segmented” from one another by an eighth-rest and drop down an octave to G to conclude.  What this does is enhance the memorabilty and engagement factor of the section, giving the listener that split second to have each phrase sink in.  Think about it as trying to remember a phone number.  It’s much easier to remember 212-555-1212 than 2125551212!

And third, considering the mostly monotone nature of the vocal delivery, it’s up to the rhythm to come to the rescue and make this section infectious.  Notice that each phrase of the stanza consists of a combination of eighth and sixteenth notes, except for the start and end of the section.  Each of those phrases is sung with an eighth – sixteenth – eighth – sixteenth - eighth – eighth – eighth – eighth rhythm, which brings us to why this melody gets totally engrained within the listeners head – uniformity and repetition:

  • All of the phrases utilize the exact same rhythm except for the quick “rock & roll” lead-in.
  • Each phrase consists of 8 syllables.
  • Each phrase is segmented by an eighth-rest.
  • Each phrase concludes by dropping down an octave on G.
  • Each phrase is sung with a monotone G delivery.

All in all, this vocal melody is acting as more of a rhythmic instrument to accentuate the dance vibe than to achieve anything “Adeleish” in nature (apples and oranges).  Bottom line – it serves the song perfectly. Will.i.am

For an in-depth, comprehensive look at the other characteristics that helped to make Scream & Shout a top-charting global hit including artist branding, originality / familiarity blending, memorability, the nature of the duet, lyrics, dynamics as well as learning what characteristics of the song should be avoided by up and coming songwriters at all costs,  read the full report at http://hitsongsdeconstructed.com/screamandshout

About Hit Songs Deconstructed

Hit Songs Deconstructed analyzes today’s hits for songwriting success in today’s music industry. Every report extracts the core elements that made each song a hit and delivers immediately actionable insights, while our quarterly reports keep you informed with the hit songwriting trends shaping today’s mainstream music scene.

Analysis includes melody, structure, lyrics, A&R “Hit Factors,” sub-genres, dynamics, instrumentation, mix and much, much more. To learn more or for a one-month trial subscription go to HitSongsDeconstructed.com

Cover Image: Producer Will.i.am. Image courtesy of Michael Sheehan.

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