This is a short 'essay' I wrote yesterday about the 21 British #1 hits of the year in terms of musicality. Hope you like it:
- Lonely This Christmas (Mud): C Major, no modulation, all the song over the same chord progression (I > vi > IV > V), loads of chordal harmonies (parallel, and a bass-voice going down to a low G). Love the 6/8 beat, and the song is marvellous. This was the last #1 in 1974 as well.
- Down Down (Status Quo): Can't help but thinking about Beatles' I'm Down, with a similar theme. B Major, three main chords (I, IV and V) and some passing ones by Rick's rhythm guitar (chromatic fragment from C to E after 'laughin' at me', similar to that in One Vision). Nice two-part vocals.
- Ms Grace (The Tymes): First non-Brit #1 of the year. Loads of chordal soul harmonies, with one of the ladies hitting a soprano B in the intro (so, Roger's 'for me' wasn't the highest note of the year). D Major, no modulations.
- January (Pilot): Quite Bee Gees-esque in terms of three-part harmonies. F Major, no modulations, ballad form with 'chorus' being very similar to verse. I love the verse progression btw: I > vi > iii > v > V/ii > IV > iv > iii > ii > V.
- Make Me Smile (Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel): I never liked this bloke's voice, but I do like the solo here. Simple 4/4 rock with a marvellous acoustic lead guitar (makes me think about KISS' Forever, many years later). C major, four chords, chorus is over ii > IV > I > V. Very Dylan-esque melody and lyrics. Starts on IV.
- If (Telly Savalas): Driven by a chromatic descending inner-line from A to E. Key: A Major. Metre: 4/4. Great vocal harmonies (all female), and although I've never been a fan of Telly's, his narrative fits the mood perfectly. No modulations. Second American #1 of the year.
- Bye, Bye, Baby (Bay City Rollers): Reminds me of Do You Want to Know a Secret. Loads of vocal harmonies. One of my favourites. Compared to the original verison, it's a step down: G and E, rather than A and F#. I love the opening progression with that exquisite descending bass: Am > Am/G# > Am7/G > F > F/E > Dm > G, then the lift one, ascending: C > C+ > C6 > C#dim. At the end there's a key-shift, the first in this list. Starts on the 'ii' function.
- Oh Boy (Mud): One of the last glam triumphs. Loads of vocal harmonies, and the intro is almost a capella (outro is indeed). Compared to the original version, the key is different (D in this case). Three-chords, 12-bar and 8-bar things.
- Stand By Your Man (Tammy Wynette): Third American #1, and yet another cover. A Major key, lovely voice. I > V > ii > V > I, IV > I > V/V > V, I > V/vi > IV > I > V/V/V > V/V > V progressions. I love it.
- Whispering Grass (Windsor Davies & Don Estelle): My favourite song from this year. C Major, shuffle beat, one-bridge model, three-octave range (low C to tenor C).
- I'm Not in Love (10cc): Longer, and with more voices than Bo Rhap. I love the progressions: IV > iv > iii > III > vi. All in all there are fifteen chords, including alterations and stuff.
- Tears on My Pillow (Johnny Nash): Fourth Yank #1. D Major. I like the organ part.
- Give a Little Love (Bay City Rollers): C Major. Loads of semi-chordal harmonies.
- Barbados (Typically Tropical): A really silly one hit wonder. C Major. Nice synths.
- I Can't Give You Anything (Stylistics): Fifth American #1. Marvellous arrangement, simple harmony in F.
- Sailing (Rod Stewart): I absolutely love it - what a voice! B Major, main progressions are I > vi > IV > I and ii > vi > ii > I. Marvellous May-esque guitar choir in the solo too. In the concert for Princes Di he lowered it a whole step.
- Hold Me Close (David Essex): B Major. Very simple harmony, and sub-par vocals IMO. Nice arrangement though, catchy melody.
- I Only Have Eyes for You (Art Garfunkel): Sixth
John hated Hot Space. Fred's favourite singer was not Paul Rodgers. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Wales is not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.