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 HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.