Slow songs with fast spurts (and vice versa)
April 27, 2005 1:31 PM   Subscribe

What (preferably good) songs shift back and forth between fast and slow? I'm trying to put together an iPod playlist for a workout that goes back and forth between slow, steady jogging and spurts of sprinting. (Yeah, I know--I could just alternate slow songs and fast songs--but then the tempo would only shift every 3 minutes or so.) All genres are welcome, although I have a slight bias towards either jazz/swing or indie rock for this particular mix.
posted by yankeefog to Media & Arts (49 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Radiohead's Paranoid Android.
posted by knave at 1:34 PM on April 27, 2005

Maybe not ideal, but it truly is a funny song that pokes fun at songs that shift tempo: The Grunge Song by Radio Free Vestibule. Worth a download if you can find it... (or, of course, a purchase)
posted by Robot Johnny at 1:45 PM on April 27, 2005

This is in neither of your genre choices, but Deee-Lite's Bring Me Your Love is very groovy.
posted by samh23 at 1:46 PM on April 27, 2005

It's not jazz or indie rock, but Underworld's "Born Slippy" comes to mind.
posted by arco at 1:46 PM on April 27, 2005

"Teeth Like God's Shoeshine" by Modest Mouse
posted by tristeza at 1:46 PM on April 27, 2005

"Fly" by Groove Collective.
posted by ldenneau at 1:48 PM on April 27, 2005

"Your Cover's Blown" by Belle and Sebastian. It's always on my mp3 player for gym use.
posted by iconomy at 1:53 PM on April 27, 2005

"Angel of Death" by Slayer.

"Unchallenged Hate" by Napalm Death.

Sure, they are nowhere near your preferred genres, and you'll probably laugh so hard from the captain caveman vocals that you can't run at all. But you really can't beat grindcore for abrupt changes from slow to fast. (Really, really fast in the case of Napalm Death).
posted by googly at 1:55 PM on April 27, 2005

Outside of a mix... Explosions in the Sky - The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place is 45 minutes of instrumental music that describes exactly what you're looking for. I've worked out to it a few times with varied results.

I find that I get too aggressive when I work out to anything that's not Hip-Hop/Funky/Electronic. Guitars make me work out the demons.
posted by togdon at 1:57 PM on April 27, 2005

Songs from grade 7 dances included "Come Sail Away" by Styx and "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zep and perhaps "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" by Meat Loaf. Did you slow dance or did you fast dance?

This awkward challenge (weren't they all?) of pre-pubescent clutching was given a nice tribute, by the way, in the first episode of Freaks and Geeks.
posted by stevil at 1:58 PM on April 27, 2005

Anything by the now defunct Sweep The Leg Johnny - lots of odd tempos. A good mix of jazz and indie rock. (also see ZZZZ.)
posted by nitsuj at 2:01 PM on April 27, 2005

Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody

Also Paradise By The Dashboard Light by Meatloaf. It doesn't have a rapid switch but rather a slow rise then rapid drop off.

Both are wicked long tough so if your looking for variety they may not fit the bill.
posted by Mitheral at 2:01 PM on April 27, 2005

I like to jog to Elvis Costello and The Pixies. Quite a few of those songs meet your criteria.
posted by lalalana at 2:09 PM on April 27, 2005

Afro-Celt Soundsystem's 'Rise Above It.' Starts out trancey, ends with an energetic mess of violins and African chanting.

I can't imagine anyone working out to 'Bohemian Rhapsody.' Halfway through they'd stop whatever they were doing to sing along. Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the fandango!
posted by cmyk at 2:15 PM on April 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

"Bubblehouse," by Medeski Martin and Wood.
posted by rkent at 2:17 PM on April 27, 2005

Arcade Fire's Wake Up kinda has that goin' on, though I dunno if it'd be a good workout song... prob not enough of the high energy side. I feel like there's an Arab Strap song that fits that bill too but apparently I didn't make a note of it in my iTunes (I have a folder for uppers and downers, but not one for speedballs :) - but I remember rejecting songs that otherwise woulda been in the fast or slow lists if not for the part where they switch gears...)
posted by mdn at 2:20 PM on April 27, 2005

Pretty much anything by Mogwai should satisfy what you're looking for.
posted by pwb503 at 2:22 PM on April 27, 2005

It's Oh So Quiet (alternate title: Blow A Fuse) originally by Betty Hutton in the '40s and covered by Björk. Might fit with the jazzy/swing feel.
posted by Monk at 2:28 PM on April 27, 2005

Billy Joel's "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant"
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:31 PM on April 27, 2005

Wow, can't believe no one mentioned The Velvet Underground's 'Heroin' yet, the absolute king of the slow/fast/slow
posted by Cosine at 2:52 PM on April 27, 2005

Could using your iPod as a stopwatch like this work for what you want? Assuming you want to switch between fast and slow at timed intervals that are less than the length of an average song.... I haven't tried it yet, so I don't know - but it's an interesting idea.
posted by bibbit at 2:53 PM on April 27, 2005

Along the lines of Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky, there's always Godspeed You Black Emperor. But let's not start the "post-rock" flamewar again....
posted by matildaben at 3:04 PM on April 27, 2005

"Trouble" by Pink. I know this because my spinning instructor uses it for that very purpose all the time.
posted by Dr. Wu at 3:38 PM on April 27, 2005

Pretty obscure: "Things She Said" by Toy Matinee.
posted by kindall at 3:45 PM on April 27, 2005

Perfection: "I'm Not In Love" by Talking Heads, from More Songs About Buildings and Food. 30 seconds fast, 30 seconds slow, 30 fast, 30 slow, 30 fast, 30 slow, ending with 90 seconds of full-on Talking Heads jittery aggro genius.

You'll be panting by the end.
posted by mediareport at 3:49 PM on April 27, 2005

Tori Amos' "The Waitress" comes to mind.
posted by waxpancake at 3:52 PM on April 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

Pretty much anything by PJ Harvey after the first album. It's hardcore angry girl music with giant swings in intensity within songs, and her third album, "To Bring You My Love," is regularly cited as one of the best rock albums ever recorded.
posted by NortonDC at 4:05 PM on April 27, 2005

Saucerful of Secrets - Pink Floyd (actually, a lot of Floyd suites would work; Echoes, Atom Heart Mother, Dogs, etc.)

More "jazzy":
The Ghost of Stephen Foster - Squirrel Nut Zippers
posted by Steve Simpson at 4:10 PM on April 27, 2005

Not jazz or indie but recommend the medley on side two of Abbey Road by the Beatles.
posted by gfrobe at 4:17 PM on April 27, 2005

"Mr. Pharmacist" by The Other Half (on one of Rhino's Nuggets collections), later covered by the Fall. "Crazy for you but not that crazy" by the Magnetic Fields on 69 Love Songs.
posted by dmo at 4:22 PM on April 27, 2005

Nine Inch Nails - although that's more soft/loud.

There are some Jethro Tull songs that change tempos. Really, most prog rock bands fall in this category.
posted by Dallasfilm at 4:40 PM on April 27, 2005

Nirvana - Milk It.
posted by mullingitover at 5:00 PM on April 27, 2005

"Vienna" by Ultravox -- starts out all slow and atmospheric and coldly electronic, then the string section kicks in and it speeds up, then it goes back to the starting tempo, with a great crashing ultra-dramatic ending. Great fucking song.
posted by scody at 5:42 PM on April 27, 2005

"Fast as You Can" by Fiona Apple
posted by aaronh at 5:55 PM on April 27, 2005

It's not jazz or indie rock, but Underworld's "Born Slippy" comes to mind.

I don't think the tempo significantly varies in that song, but it just gets a lot softer, although the tempo is the same.

"Fast As You Can" by Fiona Apple is a great suggestion, as it's quite jazzy in nature (as jazzy as alternative gets anyway).

I'd also suggest most of the Man With A Movie Camera album by the Cinematic Orchestra. It's modern jazz and there's a three-four track section with quite severe tempo changes (Odessa through Yoyo Waltz). "Work It" is an eight minute track with several tempo changes, mostly fast-slow, slow-fast.

Look towards modern jazz that has a drum'n'bass tip, they tend to have a lot of tempo changes in there. Or, well, drum'n'bass in general (the lighter side).
posted by wackybrit at 6:42 PM on April 27, 2005

Spanish Key by Miles Davis. The tempo is rather ambiguous, and can be taken either way through most of the song. I feel it has obvious walking vs running sections, although the track is only short.

Blackjack by Tortoise. Jazz rock. Has a two-tone alternating bass line that makes it good for exercise, and a couple of shifts between regular and 16/8 time.

Or all indie rock... Inertiatic ESP by The Mars Volta. Roulette Dares by The Mars Volta. Eriatarka by The Mars Volta. Heck, just the whole De-loused in the Comatorium album! Those boys sure love changing tempo.
posted by wackybrit at 6:47 PM on April 27, 2005

The Pogues' "Fiesta"
posted by kirkaracha at 8:05 PM on April 27, 2005

You rock my world, knave. We'd be remiss if we left out the inspiration for Paranoid Android, Happiness is a Warm Gun by the Beatles.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 10:24 PM on April 27, 2005

A quick look through the ol' basket-o-mp3s gets:
Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
or for more fun:
Smash-Up Derby - Smells Like Billie Jean

Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
or again:
Smash-Up Derby - Talking Franz

Notice a trend here? Really, look for any mash-up that uses one or more slow songs and one or more fast songs (SUD happens to play them live)

But just plain songs:
Liam Lynch / Sifl & Oly - My United States of Whatever (guitarguitarguitar, talk talk, repeat, repeat, chorus)
Darud - Sand Storm (This might be called trip-hop? Several sections of varying BPMs, interspersed with breathers)
System of a Down - Chop Suey (0 to 80 to 0 to 10 to 120....good luck)
Ray Charles - What'd I Say
The Fiery Furnaces - Crystal Clear (my new favorite song)
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Around the World

Definitely Bjork's "Oh So Quiet" - not huge tempo changes, but it's like the big jumpy around song truck and the sleepy-time train had a collision...

There's a lot like that - they don't necessarily change tempo so much but they go from low energy to RAWK!! and back:
Puddle of Mudd - She Hates Me
Wheatus - Teenage Dirtbag
Linkin Park - Crawling
Disturbed - Down With the Sickness
RHCP - the whole Californication album, set to random play (but especially Get On Top, Parallel Universe, Easily, Emitremmus)
Dave Matthews - Ants Marching (and others)
Also maybe try some Sublime.
How about a selection of some short ska-type songs - some of the slower reggae style, some towards the punk end.
I'll second the Medeski, Martin, and Wood - and others similar.
posted by attercoppe at 10:58 PM on April 27, 2005

Sleeping in the Flowers by They Might Be Giants (from the John Henry album)
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:35 PM on April 27, 2005

for a tempo distribution of slow-->fast-->over in under a short matter of time, try and find "Speedball" by Naked City...
posted by hototogisu at 12:16 AM on April 28, 2005

I can't believe no one's mentioned Weezer. The blue album is almost all fast/slow/fast/slow; but then again wasn't this a ridiculously common thing during those mid-nineties 'alternative rock' years? Anything that gets parodied (The Grunge Song) has got to be pretty common?
posted by Kololo at 12:49 AM on April 28, 2005

Have a listen to old indie favourites Throwing Muses, their style was always to mix up tempos in a given song.
posted by grahamspankee at 4:20 AM on April 28, 2005

Darud - Sand Storm (This might be called trip-hop? Several sections of varying BPMs, interspersed with breathers)

I believe it's trance music.

Seconding Bjork's "Oh So Quiet" too.
posted by wackybrit at 9:55 AM on April 28, 2005

Second Franz Ferdinand - the self-titled CD has a couple songs like this in it, and its a kick-ass disc to boot.
posted by vito90 at 10:17 AM on April 28, 2005

most Nirvana, and, by extension grunge, takes this approach. I've always liked to run to Husker Du...
posted by AJaffe at 10:21 AM on April 28, 2005

Art Star -- YeahYeahYeahs

Though this is more bouncy pop -- Hardcore -- bouncy pop -- Hardcore...

Definitely Godspeed you black emperor, but they're more crescendo-ey than fast-slow.

Teenage Riot -- Sonic Youth
posted by schyler523 at 11:32 AM on April 28, 2005

Michael Franti/Spearhead: "Feelin' Free" goes to a very contrasting double-time for the chorus.
posted by icetaco at 4:07 PM on April 28, 2005

Thanks, all!
posted by yankeefog at 4:46 AM on May 5, 2005

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