Friday, May 8, 2015

Song #529 of 9999 - Sealed With a Kiss by Brian Hyland

Song #529 of 9999

Title: Sealed With a Kiss

Artist: Brian Hyland
Year: 1962
Sealed With a Kiss

By 1962, the days of teen idol bubblegum pop stars like Brian Hyland were numbered. The tsunami that was the Beatles was brewing in the Atlantic Ocean and by 1964, this rather dark and dull age of pop would be washed away forever. 

But that doesn't mean there aren't a few gems to uncover amongst the wreckage. "Sealed With a Kiss" didn't reach the platinum status of Hyland's 1960 novelty hit "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini," but it hit #3 on the charts in both America and the UK while simultaneously featuring some sweet harmonica playing from the spectacularly named Blackie Shackner.

I enjoyed uncovering the harmony at the root of this minor key hit. Although it's a pretty straight-forward progression, there is a particularly clever use of the subdominant (iv), especially coming out of the bridge. Let's have a look.

(Though we gotta say good-)
Bbm(iv)            Fm(i)   
bye      for the | summer        |
Bbm(iv)    Eb(VII)      Ab(III)        F(V/iv)
Darling I promise you | this      I'll send you all my | 
Bbm(iv)    Eb(VII)      C(V)     Fm(i)
love            every | day in a letter |
Bbm(iv)    Eb(VII)         Fm(i)
           Sealed with a | kiss.

As you can see, each line of the verse begins on the subdominant (iv), although they take different paths, with the two inner lines straying further from the tonic f minor (i). This isn't really all that unusual—the iv-VII-i is perhaps a folkier substitute for ii-V-i so often seen in jazz and classical music. But what I really like is the moment that occurs following the bridge.

     Bb(IV)         Fm(i)
I'll see you in the sunlight
     Bb(IV)         Fm(i)
I'll hear your voice everywhere
     Bb(IV)         Fm(i)
I'll run to tenderly hold you
     G(V/V)              C(V)                             Bbm(iv)
But darling you won't be there. I don't want to say good | bye

First, notice the borrowed Bb Major chord (IV), which comes from the parallel F Major. A simple yet elegant contrast to the original iv-i progression of the verse. On the final line of the bridge, we hear a secondary dominant (the dominant of the dominant) G Major which proceeds to the dominant C. At this point, we would expect a cadence on the tonic f minor (i). But, because of the way the verse is structured, we return not on the tonic but on the subdominant (Bbm--highlighted) in what theorists describe as a "deceptive cadence."

Maybe this is no big deal but I found it to be a nice moment in a cleverly crafted piece of pop. Have a great weekend!

No comments:

Post a Comment