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Monday, January 30, 2012

The Six Best Key Changes In Pop Music

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 8:59 AM

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3. Dionne Warwick - Do You Know The Way To San Jose? (1:41) If this were a list of the greatest recordings of all time, Dionne Warwick's version of "Do You Know The Way To San Jose?" would certainly make the cut. Her take on Burt Bacharach's best song is flawless, but the arrangement is even better. When those horns take over, the song propels so far forward that the half step slide-up almost goes unnoticed. Dionne dives in, totally owning the high note on "L.A. was a great big freeway" and tune stays up until the final fade-out of "bah bah bah bahs." With the exception of Jim O'Rourke, who might have the lyrics do "Say A Little Prayer" tattooed on his lower back, Burt Bacharach has an understated influence among modern artists. But imagine there's no Bacharach: no Costello, no Sufjan, no Yo La Tengo. It's easy if you try, but why would you want to?

2. All 4 One - I Swear (3:22) 1. Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You (3:14)

The commonalities between All 4 One's "I Swear" and Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" are many. R&B artists from the 90s covering pop country ballads (John Michael Montgomery originated the former, Dolly Parton the latter) and outselling the originals. Oh, and both climax with highly dramatic key changes. All 4 One's cut leads into the key change with a sax solo - young bands take note, this combination is successful at least 85 percent of the time. Whitney Houston trumps all with her final push in "I Will Always Love You." We get a snare drum hit, a half second of silence, then her "and IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII" comes off like it's the most important thing that has ever happened in your life. All-4-One dropped off the planet shortly after "I Swear" left the charts, unless you count follow up single "She's Got Skillz," which you don't. Whitney might wish she had disappeared. If time is friendly, her drug charges and nightmare reality show will be forgotten. Her key change - and that scene in The Bodyguard where Kevin Costner uses scissors to cut her dress - shall live forever.

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