Title: This Love
Artist: Maroon 5
Album: Songs About Jane
I have a short list of "guilty pleasure" songs. Songs that would absolutely decimate my indie cred if I had any. I can't tell you all of them or you may never return this blog. But I thought if I exposed one at a time, maybe you could forgive me.
This is the part where I try to justify why I think "This Love" is a great song. First, it has a killer hook that relies almost entirely on the rhythm for its catchiness. If you think about it, the melody is basically just two notes. "This love has ta-ken its toll on me/She said good-bye so ma-ny times be-fore." (Red is G and Blue is Eb.) So almost all of the interest comes from the short-loooong syncopation in the lyric (on me---, she said---, good-bye---). I especially like the way that this contrasts with the rigid quarter and eighth notes of the first seven syllables. What makes it even more clever is the prosody: the syncopation puts the natural stress of the lyric right where it would be if you were speaking the words (listen to "she said good-bye" for example, with its stress on "she" and "bye"). There's also some nice white-boy funk in the accompaniment but that's not really what's making it work.
I've never been as fond of the verse, but it has some interesting harmonic attributes. The song is in C Minor, but the winding chromatic riff opens the tune a half-step below on a B. (In the demo and live recordings, the tune actually starts on a diminished chord—that's quite unusual!) Singer Adam Levine sings a rather sinister melody that spans the unusual interval of a diminished 3rd (B-Eb). This melody would likely overstay its welcome fast if the band didn't wisely move us to the chorus in what seems like a rush. (Don't all pop songs do this nowadays?)
So there you have it. If you already thought this was a great song, there no longer a need to be ashamed. Just tell everyone it's about the rhythmic syncopation and the prosody. :P