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How to Break 4 Rules of Pop Music and Still Make a Hit

Post Malone and The Kid Laroi broke three rules of pop music and still made a hit

Post Malone
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A Maj
Louis Bell

Key Takeaways

"This is like a private plane upon my ring / This is like the first time I bought a chain..." 

"Wasting Angels" is one of my favorite songs from Twelve Carat Toothache, released on June 3, 2022. The other one is "I Like You." 

I love this song because it breaks three rules that exist in my mind, but it works nonetheless.

  1. No drums. None. How does it still hit so hard? 
  2. Over four minutes long. I thought pop songs were supposed to be 2:30 now!
  3. The chord progression never changes. But I never get bored.
  4. They end the song on a 34-note bridge. Not the most orthodox song structure, but it just works.

This is a great example of "knowing the rules so you can break them." Let's dig into some key takeaways of what makes this song work.

Key Takeaways

  • Emotion and performance: I think it'd be wrong to attribute the success of this song to the synth or the composition. Both of those things are incredible, but when I listen to this I'm just hyper-focused on Post Malone and The Kid Laroi's incredibly emotional performances. Their voices are raw and authentic, and the deep reverb and swirling sounds in the background are a powerful production tool that draws out the emotion that was already there in your voice.
  • Sound Design: The soundscape of this song is incredible. The song is made up of 70% pads and sub-bass. It's a beautifully simple production and it doesn't shy away from layering thepad on top of other pads to create a rich textured background.
  • Structure: The strangest rule they break is ending the song on a sort of long, drawn-out 32-measure bridge. It goes up and down, then brings in a choir of gang vocals in the background.
  • Structure (Continued): The pre-chorus is different after each verse. The format stays consistent but the melody and lyrics change. Normally the pre-chorus stays the same. Know the rules so you can break them.
  • Mastering note: The song clips a little bit (in your right ear) around 3:20 into the song. This could just be some artificial crackle they added to the track as well. It's the little subtle sounds like that which get me inspired. I suppose it may not be intentional but I know it has to be.
  • Reversed Notes: They reverse some synth notes a couple times throughout the song. It adds some nice movement and energy to the beat.
  • Subtract to add: Sometimes it's not what you add, but what you distract. Challenge yourself to make a song without drums and try to make it hit hard. The anticipation that drums will come in is what keeps me listening, but the fact that it never happens just leaves me wanting more. It's a brilliant format.
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