Monthly Archives: December 2013

Hair Metal Chords

…aka “not even a fucking minor iv”.

From: Dan

To: Ian

By our usual metrics, can you think of any “hair metal” songs that are harmonically interesting? I loves me some hair metal, but it seems that things go right from the usual minor or mixolydian (mixolydian possibly being more common than major in hair rock?) (Ratt, Skid Row, Bon Jovi), to stuff you would call “non-chordal”, that borders on prog, like Extreme.

Footnote: once I picked up a pick from Pat Badger, the bassist for Extreme, after an Extreme show. That’s what was left after all the real fans crawled all over each other to get Nuno’s picks.

In any case, Google didn’t help much, but did turn up this article at, which I found pretty thoughtful. But it’s more about guitar interpretation than about underlying chord structure, and basically gives examples with a lot of I → bVII.

Continue reading to see what Ian comes up with… →

The NFL Rocks (a little less) on NBC

…and how the Sunday Night Football music failed to move the chains this year.

From: Dan

To: Ian

Ian, I’m sure you know this, because I know you totally give a crap about football… but for ~3 years the “Sunday Night Football” theme has been a cover of “I Hate Myself for Loving You”, with Faith Hill singing about football. Chords the same as the original, just up a half-step. I IV V in the verse (the same cool three-bar phrase as in the original), I IV V I in the chorus.

Hey jack it's a fact the show's back in town,
Cowboys and the Jets slugging pound for pound
The stadium's rocking, let's crank up the sound
[no fourth bar in the phrase, like the original, which is cool]

This year Faith Hill was replaced with Carrie Underwood, and for reasons I don’t understand, they changed the chords to always be a four-bar phrase by having her say “yeah” a little extra, then they changed the chords to I IV vi bVII. I’m writing the chords here in F for comparison, although this year it’s in F#.

Hey jack it's a fact the show's back in town, 
the Giants and and the Boys are about to throw down
The stadium's rocking, time to crank up the sound
[Eb]  [Bb]
Oooh, yea, totally unnecessary fourth bar, yeah-e-yeah
Continue reading to have your spirit crushed by chords in the new pre-chorus... →

“What Do They Have In Common?”, ep. 1

From: Ian

To: Dan

What do these songs have in common? If you go and listen you’ll figure it out right away.

Do you know any other songs that do this?

Continue reading to find out what Garbage, Soundgarden, and Rush all did... →

Kermit vs. Jason Mraz

…and other covers that make counterproductive changes.

From: Dan

To: Ian, Doantam

Ian will quickly identify his favorite chord in Kermit the Frog’s version of “The Rainbow Connection” as the secondary dominant (F#) in the chorus:

[Bm]          [E]          [C#m7]     [F#]
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection
    [Bm]        [E]         [A]
The lovers the dreamers and me

Here’s Kermit rocking the VI:

Jason Mraz, who re-popularized this song recently, changed the F# to a more predictable F#m, which should make Ian crazy:

Both versions are in A. Note that in the Jason Mraz video they clearly used random cuts of his hands strumming, so his hands don’t line up with the chords. But the chorus is clearly Bm E A F#m in the JM version, Bm E A F# in the Kermit version.

Continue reading to find out how Ian now feels about Jason Mraz... →

Alabama Song

…and the definitive “Doors chord transition”.

From: Dan

To: Ian, Doantam, Raja

Just listened to some Alabama Song. I can’t think of another song that does i → #vi (Am → F#m). I would think it would sound intolerable, but I actually think it works here, maybe because the instrumentation screams “weird on purpose”:

Show me the way to the next whiskey bar
[F#m]        [D]
Oh don't ask why

Ian, do you have another i → #vi?

I can think of lots of “not very happy” songs that do I → VI, but I’d usually call them both major.

Extra cool that it’s really Am Am F#m D (I like the IV in minor keys, though not especially unusual).

Also is it weird that my first instinct was to call this i → ♭♭vii instead of i → #vi? That’s how disoriented I am by this transition.

Continue reading for the only other i → vi we came up with... →