Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Invigorating Effect Of A Relentless Beat

New Sensation (INXS)
Songs with a repetitive guitar riff or a relentless beat always have me feeling especially invigorated and inspired –– and simultaneously at peace. This feeling often draws me to songs produced in the 80's in terms of tempo and style. There's a reason songs from that era have been sampled so much, as they tend to have unique and signature beats.  
Take Me Home (Phil Collins)
My enjoyment of a repetitive beat or riff could also be due to personal energy. We all have varying types of energy. What moves us can be determined by our chemical makeup. Other people are affected similarly by certain rap or hip-hop songs, or music with epic, dramatic tones (bands like Arcade Fire and The Killers.) These are examples of music with sounds that leave me cold & bored by what I feel is an inauthentic attempt at seeming powerful, or important. That's not intended to offend anyone who disagrees –– just my personal perception.
Boys Of Summer (Don Henley, looking like Bryan Cranston)
Whether repetition is found in a hard rock song, or in a mellow tune, a driving pulse-like rhythm –– so often found in 80's productions (examples below) –– bring me to life in a profound way. Famed neurologist Oliver Sack describes various musical phenomenon related to rhythms, beats –– even how people can suffer because of them –– in his wonderful book Musicophilia. There are some fascinating neurological elements at play in the very personalized ways we hear and respond to music. Songs with repetitive beats and rhythms can also harder for me to ignore. So if one of them starts to play somewhere, I have a tougher time tuning it out, my heart starts pumping and I'm invigorated by that driving sound. 
Boys Of Summer (Don Henley)
I also find this type of song more meaningful and symbolic of life –– because there can be a certain day-to-day drudgery, routine and repetitiveness to life you have to just give in to and surrender to in order to overcome or transcend it... Maybe surrendering to the beat of a certain song has a similar affect. The following are several songs that capture that for me (there's plenty more, but these were the first ones that came to mind) either with their beats, meanings or both. Also interesting to note that two of the songs that came to mind here are solo efforts by artists who are drummers at their core (Phil Collins and Don Henley) –– as this is essentially beat-driven music.

'New Sensation' by INXS
'Save It For Later' by English Beat
'Boys of Summer' by Don Henley (looking like Bryan Cranston)
Don Henley - Boys Of Summer by jpdc11
'Temptation' (Live) by New Order
'Take Me Home' by Phil Collins
'Panama' by Van Halen
'Everybody Wants to Rule the World' by Tears for Fears
'I'm Your Man' by Wham!
'Brilliant Disguise' by Bruce Springsteen
'More Than This' by Roxy Music
Do you relate –– and do you have other examples of songs with that similar driving beat and persistence?

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