So I’ve been meaning to post this for some time, but cut me some slack, I’ve been busy.
So I’m not sure who produced Use Somebody for the Kings of Leon, but whoever they are did two awesome things that help “extend the line” as Nadia Boulanger said.
the tune, like most of KoL’s is a 4 bar riff that repeats. Most kol songs have 1 4 bar riff that repeats for 3 minutes; almost like a white stripes song.
however, somebody sat down and altered the repetitions so it’s A- A’-B-B’. How’d they alter it? Sub 6 for 1. The chords are 1, 1/3, 4, in eighth notes.
Keeps the southern rock 1 to 4 relationship working well, and the 1/3 is just unstable enough to give a bit of tension and release. The B riff is 6-, 1, 4.
Minor 6, (or 6 minor as some say) is diatonic to the key, and includes all the useful notes of a 1 chord, but lacks the “resting” qualities of a tonic chord. It’s often used to obscure the mode of a piece (is this minor? or are we just sitting on 6 a lot?)
By subbing six for one, and then un-inverting the following I chord, we have a drastically different bass sound supporting an identical guitar part.
The second thing that happens is the bridge; still the 1, 1/3, 4 progression of the opening riff, we are now in a new key/tonal center. For the record I think its’ 5. (or the dominant for you music school types). The tune is in C major, so the bridge is in G. I think it’s only there for like 8 meaures, maybe 16, but enough to make the beginning of the guitar solo feel like a RETURN. If it feels like a return, that means somewhere along the line we LEFT.
This mini-bridge makes the whole song GIANT-A, GIANT B, GIANT A rather than a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a which is pretty much what I think they entered the studio with.
to recap :
a-a-a-a; a a a a ; a a a a ; a a a a ; a a a a becomes: a-a’ b-b’; a- a’, a- a’; a-a’ b-b’ a-a’ a-a’; CCCC; a-a-a-a; a-a’, b-b’, etc… a much more complex and satisfying musical journey.