A Perfect Song – BIGSOUND 2014

Hosted by Triple J’s Zan Rowe, “A Perfect Song” was for musicians, music nerds and PR consultants to show their version of a perfect song and enter into discussion. Coming away from it, I can see how formulated the pop music genre is and how driving the pop sensibility in music can really be.

The presentation of Taylor Swift’s new song Shake it Off (first time hearing it, by the way) allowed us to hear just how important hooks are for pop songs. For radio, listeners will take 15 seconds to judge a song on whether they want to continue listening or switch station. The song was then contrasted against Pharrell Williams’ #1 hit Happy and Hey Mickey by Toni Basil. The songs’ core tempo, rhythm, beat and feel were all extremely similar and provided an uncanny mash up of all these songs. Tim Byron explained how the singers would use different vocal pitches on alternate keys in order to provide a hook. It’s said that in order to keep commercial radio listeners interested in the song, they need a hook every 8 seconds. It’s fair to say that Shake It Off provided one every 3 seconds.

Sam Cromack, from Brisbane group Ball Park Music, finish up the conference with, arguably, the most beloved pop song ever, God Only Knows by The Beach Boys. Sam told of his personal experiences with the song and described it as a, “genius piece of music.” No doubt. Yet again, it was the process of laying different vocal keys over varying tones to create hooks and what we now refer to as pop sensibilities.

The conference was able to give those songwriters in the audience an extra incentive to break out of their assumed writers block and go write the greatest pop song ever.

Jake Wilton

This panel was hosted by Zan Rowe, one of the most recognized Triple J employees today. She was joined by Sam Cromack, the lead singer of Ball Park Music, Tim Byron from The Vine and a whole assortment of other record label owners and artists. Zan Rowe’s perfect song was Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, the globally recognized funk track that gets everybody moving. Liam McGorry’s (Saskwatch) choice was Why Write A Letter You’ll Never Send from alt outfit The Drones. The track is highly emotive and delicate, and the vocals are slightly reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s unique delivery. Liam felt this track was a perfect song to him because the track is a sprawling soundscape with emotional lyrics and the song to him is like a journey. The general agreement between the panelists was that a perfect song is a track the listener can get lost in. Another song considered to be perfect by the panellists was Augie March’s Triple J Hottest 100 winner One Crowded Hour. Raw emotion is expressed in every instrument, and this track sways every listener to be absorbed in the melodies and rhythmic sections.

The Seminars were incredible. With the first day down at Bigsound, I can only wait impatiently for the next round of inspiring seminars from the world’s leading music professionals.

Kyle Butcher

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