Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Compound Songs


I was in Philadelphia on Sunday, and on the drive back to NYC, I was listening to the radio when L.G. noted how completely ridiculous"compound songs"" were. I think he made up the term, but a compound song is a like one song that includes five other songs for absolutely no reason, like Bohemian Rhapsody, which is done for purposes of bragging by the artist. The idea behind that compound song is that it's supposed to be "epic," and by virtue of this it becomes exceedingly ludicrous. It's basically the singer having some grandiose sense of self that he thinks he can make a sweeping 8 minute rock song into a symphony with movements. The compound song is one level more ridiculous than just bringing in the gratuitous children's choir (Rolling Stones' You Can't Always Get What You Want), the gratuitous gospel choir (Madonna's Like a Prayer, R. Kelly's I Believe I Can Fly) or the gratuitous orchestra (every song off Guns 'N Roses' Use Your Illusion 1 & 2). Other examples of the compound song include November Rain, Mr. Roboto, and potentially the most absurd and self-aware corniest "sweeping" song ever made, Scenes from an Italian Restaurant. Seriously, these people need to get over themselves, chop the song into 3 songs and stop attempting to be Beethoven.

4 comments:

The only frog with his own blog said...

Oh Dear Marin and L.G. I fear your distaste for bohemian rhapsody may have been misguided. For it's own sub-components are the essence on which it stands. And it is the contrast of those parts, that makes them great. And it is great... come on you can't tell me you didn't sing that 'mama, oo ooo ooo' part with glee? Just like one would not be able to live in narnia without the juxtaposition of an non-nanria (i.e. the real world) ((no, not "real world" the show, because that is most definitively living in nanrnia))...
And while i won't speak for that redic billy joel song, the stones' take is much different. All's im trying to say is that there is a big difference between Mingus, and the Trans Siberian Orcestra, and you is walking a fine line.. so watch it, or ill cut you. ..ribbit

Mike said...

What category does "Layla" fall under? The rock part is incredible, and then you get to the part where you're at a cheesy high school prom... and it all goes to hell.

George Resch said...

I have totally noticed this phenomenon too. Check out Age of Aquarius by The Fifth Dimension. A few minutes into it you would expect the number of the track to change, but it doesn't. It's almost like the engineer forgot to split the track. Good call on November Rain. That was the first time where I was like "Oh I like this song. Oh I like this song too." Yeah its the same song. So is Layla and the song from Goodfellas when Ray Liotta finally loses it! haha

subdividedkid said...

Ummmm...

"American Idiot" by Green Day is labeled by the artists as "an opus"

"Rent" is a "rock opera"

Beyonce called her version of Carmen a "hip-hopera" (really, B? REALLY?)

but in Queen's defense-- they compose incredible basslines and definitely hold true to the definition of a rhapsody. But 80s band + grandeur = ridiculous, for sure.