Oh So Jubiloso
April 1, 2019 8:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for examples of a particular type of musical moment in popular music (any style other than classical). Short description would be songs with sudden shifts to exultant passages or crescendos. More details and a few examples inside.

So I'm not necessarily looking for songs that are exhultant overall (although that's not disqualifying, either). I'm looking for songs with musical passages that change or amplify the overall tone of the song. These passages are not usually the chorus, and may not be the main bridge, either. In most of the examples I can think of off the top of my head, these passages are not repeated, which makes them stand out even more. They are frequently the loudest moment of the song, with extra instruments and backing vocals (although vocals are not a requirement), and are both beautiful and joyful, or at least especially poignant.

Radiohead use this technique very effectively. They use it at the end of All I Need, for example. The War on Drugs use it in In Chains (at about the 2:40 mark).

I'm trying figure out what makes these passages work best, so need a good batch of examples to work from. Definitely would be interested in opinions or theory on that, as well. Thanks!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins, the drum break near the end.

Is that what you have in mind?
posted by Fukiyama at 8:14 PM on April 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

'Supper's Ready' by Genesis has lots of sudden crescendos.
(With Peter Gabriel wiggling some hilarious dancing when he sings: "Hey! Babe!")
posted by ovvl at 8:34 PM on April 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

I’m maybe not understanding the question but that sounds like System of a Down’s whole schtick.
posted by sacrifix at 8:49 PM on April 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: See if any of these are what you're thinking of:

Hide - Rainbow Kitten Surprise (2:10)
Song That I Heard - The Barr Brothers (3:08)
Good Luck - Admiral Fallow (3:18)
Eyeoneye - Andrew Bird (3:15)
L.A. Woman - The Doors (2:38)
Suite: Judy Blue Eyes - Crosby, Stills and Nash (6:32)
posted by Redstart at 9:33 PM on April 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Layla by Derek and The Dominos. The piano bridge, coming in right at 3:10, it's so beautiful, and it turns that song on its side, followed by Eric Clapton and Duane Allman going back and forth through to the end of the song, two distinctly different styles, both of them masters, it's like they're talking to one another, bantering back and forth. Something else.

It's a love song, Eric Clapton pouring his heart out to his friend George Harrisons wife, Pattie Boyd. I've read somewhere or other that she didn't like it at all, that she was married and trying to stay married and here's this mope writing and giving to the world his declaration of love and need -- "You've got me on my knees / I'm beggin' darlin' please" -- that had to suck.

The record it's on -- Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs -- was produced by Tom Dowd. In a documentary on Tom Dowd which I saw a number of years ago, as I recall it Dowd was given credit for hearing the piano bridge that Jim Gordon was playing and knowing exactly where it would be great.

I always thought that Gordon, the drummer in the band -- I always thought that Gorden wrote the song, and so did pretty much everyone else, but Wikipedia tells me tonight that Gordon stole it from ex-girlfriend Rita Coolidge.

Anyways, maybe this is something that fits for you, hope so.
posted by dancestoblue at 9:35 PM on April 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not really my style, but I think this song is kind of iconic in this shift. A Dolly Parton song, but Whitney Houston makes this totally happen:

I Will Always Love You
posted by MountainDaisy at 9:42 PM on April 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Eight minute long video excerpted from that Tom Dowd documentary, which is entitled "Tom Dowd and the Language of Music." The entire of this 8 minute piece is about the song Layla -- the musicians, the mixing of it, a lot of Clapton talking about what Dowd gave him, a lot of Dowd talking about Clapton and Allman, their chemistry.

Tom Dowd Wikipedia page.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:32 PM on April 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the examples. There are some close ones there, and some new songs I'm enjoying. Here are some links to examples of what I'm talking about (I was on my phone when I posted, so not the best way to ad links):

All I Need - Radiohead. Starting at 2:45
In Chains - The War on Drugs. Starting at 2:40 (This one is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. It's clearly the musical and emotional highpoint of the song, but it's less than a minute long right smack in the middle of a seven plus minute song.)
I Know How To Speak - Manchester Orchestra. Starting at 4:40 (This one is a repeat of the chorus, but takes it to a whole 'nother level, then drops right back again.)
Lianne La Havas - Weird Fishes (Live at Glastonbury) - Starting about 3:33 (This live cover of the Radiohead version is killer, and does a great job of highlighting the shift.)
Gimme All Your Love - Alabama Shakes. Starting at 2:20
Perth - Bon Iver. Starting about 2:30
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:11 AM on April 2, 2019

Best answer: Based on your War of Drugs example, here are a couple of shoegazey ones from a few decades ago. Curve's Fait Accompli suddenly shifts gear after the second chorus, around 2m22s when there's an instrumental drop-out and the bass is amped up. In Chapterhouse's Pearl, the 'crescendo' comes at 2m30s when Rachel Goswell's backing vocals come in. And in Slowdive's Catch the Breeze, the epic swell happens after the second (already pretty epic) chorus, at 2m48s.
posted by srednivashtar at 1:27 AM on April 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Solar Fields - Until We Meet the Sky - builds to 45 seconds of this from about 2:30; seems like it's going to go the same way again towards the end, but doesn't.

If that goes down well, do listen to all the album of the same name; this track pretty much functions in the way you outline for the piece as a whole.
posted by protorp at 3:04 AM on April 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

The unexpected shift to a short exultant passage transforms 'Stay' by Jackson Browne. For maximum impact it's best experienced in the emotional context of the preceeding song on the album. Radio stations routinely played .
the 2 songs back to back

Stay by itself
posted by Homer42 at 3:22 AM on April 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Rufus Wainwright — Go or Go Ahead (around 2:20)
The New Pornographers — The Bleeding Heart Show (two shifts that might qualify, around 1:15 & 2:30)
posted by Johnny Assay at 4:35 AM on April 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

Roxy Music's If There Is Something does this, starting out as a country-esque little pop song, then becoming something epic about a minute and a half in. It's a really shocking emotional transition. (May not be exactly what you're looking for, as it essentially becomes a different song, but the contrast between them is what makes it work.)
posted by Bron at 8:34 AM on April 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Russalka, the classical song, sung by Anna Netrebko. The end is amazing.
posted by Oyéah at 9:48 AM on April 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Throphy Scars - Everything is Disappearing, the moment happens around 2:55

Hop Along - Not Abel 2:40-2:59 ish
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:58 AM on April 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

You might enjoy reading about the Truck Driver's Gear Change and the many examples listed there.
posted by ejbenjamin at 10:16 AM on April 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Pearl Jam's "Elderly Woman Behind a Counter" has a moment like this, with the line "my god, it's been so long! never dreamed you'd return." I love that moment.

And it's funny you mention Radiohead, because as I was reading this I'm like "the beginning of Electioneering," which I think fits even though it's not even a shift in the middle, it's right there at the start. Exultant.
posted by hought20 at 12:47 PM on April 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow, people. Finally had a chance to listen to all of these, and I have some new favorites to follow down rabbit holes. Probably all of these qualify, but I'm limiting the best answers to the ones that gave me shivers, introduced me to someone new I now have to dig into, or seemed to best exemplify what I was looking for. But sincere thanks to everyone who answered. I appreciate this so much!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:44 PM on April 2, 2019

Best answer: Came back to listen to some more of the great music others have linked, and the mention by hought20 of Pearl Jam immediately reminded me of Given to Fly.

Here the technique is done twice, so maybe not 100% adhering to what you outline, but I find the first crescendo at about 1 minute so hair raising, as above with the lyrics amplifying this:

"A wave came crashing like a fist to the jaw
Delivered him wings, "Hey, look at me now"

that I had to throw it out there.
posted by protorp at 10:37 AM on April 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A mixed bag of suggestions here, and I’m not sure which (or any) are going to hit the mark, but here goes:

Kristin Hersh, William’s Cut (exultant passage starts at 2:36).
SubRosa, Fat of the Ram (The Moment kicks in at 9:35, but everything from 7:14 has been building up to it).
Out Lines, There Is a Saved Place (The Moment happens at 3:30).
Kathryn Joseph, From When I Wake the Want Is (Moment kicks in at 3:02 in the video).
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:27 PM on April 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The first two that leap to mind are "It's Oh So Quiet," as covered famously by Bjork, which does this several times.

The other one is "Dance Yrself Clean" by LCD Soundsystem. The "drop" is around the 3 minute mark.
posted by zeusianfog at 1:38 PM on April 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

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