Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Song #287 of 9999 - This Love by Maroon 5

Song #287 of 9999 

Title: This Love
Artist: Maroon 5
Year: 2004
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


  1. I think the white-boy funk is the problem with this song.

    1. Yeah, it doesn't help. But it's still catchy as hell.

  2. This song always reminded me of funky rap style. Love Maroon 5 & Adam Levine (I want to do things with Adam Levine that are still illegal in 37 states..) I digress...also, really like One More Night by Maroon 5. Anyway, you may be onto something with changing the font colors to correlate with the music a new teaching method; "Reading Music For Dummies". You should patent it.