I have chosen the Herb Sinus song "I Wanna Be Touched" for this month's critique. I think the song is a good platform for taking a look at phrasing and chord progressions and the subtle variations that can make all the difference in the success of a song.
This is a critique of "I Wanna Be Touched" by Herb Sinus. You'll find the original workshop here.
First, let's take a look at the song's form and how it might be improved.
- B section
- B section
- Instrumental Break
This type of form is workable when there is enough variation in chord progression and phrasing, but I did not find that to be the case. The issue would have been helped by shortening the B sections to two lines, and perhaps creating a bridge (being a new melody section), in lieu of the final verse. I will explore this more in the melody and lyric sections.
The rhyme in the chorus is very minimal with only the words 'world' and 'hurts' offering a near rhyme. I would have preferred to hear a more perfect rhyme in a chorus where rhyme is at such a premium, but overall the lack didn't do much harm to the angsty-feeling chorus.
The rhyming words in both the first verse and the B section not only share the same vowel sound, but are, in fact, the same words. Again, a departure would have fallen much more pleasantly on the ears.
I had more problem with the phrasing of the lyric than with the lyric itself. The song has a phrasing sameness all the way down that coupled with a similar chord progression gets a little monotonous. An even phrase followed by a pause is the line structure of the entire song.
Holding out some words, starting lines well past the downbeat, crowding some phrases with double-time words, all would have been techniques to break up the overall sameness. The B section more-or-less follows the pattern of the verse and the chorus follows them both in the same fashion.
Pay close to attention to most hits and you will find lots of contrast. There is so much to be learned just but listening as a student of writing. I used to analyze songs on my hikes through the woods!
In the first verse, the words 'handy' and 'dandy' sound a little dated. Also the phrase, "be only cool or get real strong" could be better, and more naturally said. I suspect there is a bit of a language barrier to blame.
The chorus lyric is strong and sails by seamlessly, driving the writer's point home. By the second verse and second B section, the listener pretty much has the idea of the song under his belt. Rather than giving another example of what and what not to do, the writer digs deeper into the mind games he is playing. He second guesses himself, and rethinks his motives.
The final verse got a little clinical sounding and too analytical for my taste. Words like 'meditation' or 'hypnotherapy' are just not song words, overall. In Nashville, we used to laugh over the fact that you might mention kids playing baseball in a lyric, but you would never employ a word like 'Nintendo!' Again, some words are just not lyrical.
As I said before, this section would have worked better as a bridge with perhaps a more general and philosophical statement rather than another parallel to the other verses.
I didn't dislike the melody. There was just too much repetition going on. The B sections offered a little bit of chord and melody change but the phrasing remained the same as the verses. Even the chorus, which opens with a punchier line, quickly reverts to the same phrasing, not to mention the same two chord vamp as the verse. The chorus does bring a nice bit of roughness to the table though, and that certainly helped to offer some variation.
The problems in this song are very common ones and are easily avoided just by becoming aware of our tendencies to fall into the less-than-inspired songwriting patterns that we all fall into at times.
Overall, the song has an air of professionalism to it, in spite of some drawbacks. I would classify it as rock, and words like 'handy' and 'dandy' sound a little too folksy and old-fashioned for a rock song.
The trick is to convey the same message, and it is a good one, in an edgier, more conversational tone. Anytime a song has a truly introspective, positive message, one of the challenges can be avoiding a tone of preachiness. Here is an opportunity to show the listener what you mean rather than telling them. Create more of a story line that conveys the gist of the song.
I enjoyed perusing this song and found myself singing it as I made my bed this morning! I found it especially nice to hear this sentiment from a male writer. So much music these days conveys just the opposite.