If you’re my age, and incurably white, when you heard this song …
The chorus made you think of this song:
It’s not just the melody. It’s that progression from the tonic chord to the minor chord on the mediant. When I was at the School of Music, we were always taught that, say, Em was a viable substitute for Cmaj. But they’re not substitutes in the world of popular songwriting – oh no, they’re two very different chords, with only one note different (the tonic shifts down to the leading note), and you can use them to make your listeners cry like little girls.
With only one note changing between the two chords, you might expect a songwriter to use that leading note in the melody. Lady Antebellum’s song does, first popping up to the dominant and down to the sweet money spot (“need you now“). So does the Alan Parsons Project song, coming down from the mediant (“I can re-ad your mi-ind”).
I used this chord progression myself, in a heartbreaking song devoted to my testicles, and played with the way the tonic and leading note change functions against the two chords (from chord tone with auxiliary note below, to chord tone with auxiliary note above). But I wasn’t thinking about auxiliary notes, or the Alan Parsons Project. I was thinking of this song:
Laurie Anderson takes the prize. Only two chords, count ’em: tonic and mediant. Eight and a half minutes.
- Harmonic Analysis (tritoneandcpt.wordpress.com)
- Lesson #2: Theory and function (chefigo.wordpress.com)
- Paparazzi Chorus Section Harmonic Analysis(Updated version) (drummerzfrmhell.wordpress.com)