Educating Peter # 42

April 7, 2013

This week Michael has eschewed tradition* and sent me a very well-known song from the 1980s.

In his previous attempts to persuade me of the greateness of music from the ’80s, Michael usually sends me stuff I’ve never heard of before, with the unspoken implication of “You didn’t like the music of the ’80s because you didn’t get to hear this piece of magnificence that no-one played on the radio.”

But this time Michael has hit me with a real live actual hit from the 1980s. It’s so well-known that I not only know it, I know it well.

(Note to self: Knowing something well makes it well-known, you idiot. Stop typing redundant sentences.)

Comment About The Album Art

Before we get to the song, I’d like to point something out about the band image at the top of this post:

I didn’t deliberately choose the worst Scandal album cover I could find. That was the actual cover for the MP3 I had. Apparently there’s a whole series of We Are The ’80s albums, all with uniformly ghastly covers:

I think they’re all horrid.

But I think the Scandal cover is the worst one of all. And the more I look at it the worse it gets.

Enough of dodgy album cover art. To the music!

The Music

Scandal – “The Warrior (1984)

0:00-0:03 – This introduction is the epitome of mid-’80s rock. It’s right up there with Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” and Starship’s “We Built This City”. But I have no trouble listening to it at all. It tickles the ears. And it is what it is. It’s mid-’80s rock, sounding like it’s designed to stir the hearts of ’80s rock lovers everywhere. (See also: “Jessie’s Girl” and “We Built This City”.)

0:03 – I like that little guitar riff. (I inadvertently used it in a song I wrote, but in my defence I’ll say that it’s a very common three-note motif, and it’s been used in plenty of other songs as well.)

0:04-0:13 – That’s a tremendous elongated “Oh-woah-oh” provided by Patty Smyth here, with Patty drawing breath only once (at 0:10). Very impressive.

0:16-0:45 – The introduction has finished, and now we’re in the verse. As is fairly typical of verses in highly polished mid-’80s rock songs, this one (like all the others) has a guitar going chk-chk-chk-chk. The technical term is “palm muting”, where you slightly deaden the guitar strings you’re picking to give a staccato effect, but I prefer to call it “chk-chk-chk-chk”. I guess I could also call it chugging (i.e., “chug-chug-chug-chug”), but that might not be helpful for anyone reading this in America, where the word “chugging” tends to conjure up images of something not entirely related to music (i.e., something involving alcohol).

Although I’m enjoying the verse, I think that it’s probably the worst part of the song. No, I’ll rephrase that. I think it’s the least distinguished part of the song.

I’d categorise “The Warrior”‘s verse like this: it’s what you listen to while you wait for the chorus.

As I’m listening to the verse, I must admit that nothing’s really standing out for me. (Well, nothing worth a few paragraphs of analysis.)

However, I will say that I do not like the line “Feeding on your hungry eyes” (0:24-0:27). When I heard that I took it literally, and it made me a little nauseous.

Where’s that chorus?

0:45-0:53 – This is the little bit before the chorus, and it’s mercifully brief. I can feel the chorus coming. Bring on the chorus!

0:53-1:16 – Oh yeah. That’s it. It’s exactly as I remembered it.

I like this chorus. I’ve always liked this chorus – ever since 1984 when I first heard it, and I was 23 years old, not enjoying the music of the ’80s. I think “The Warrior”‘s chorus is chock full o’ good tunes.

“Shooting at the walls of heartache” (0:53-0:55)? Good tune.

“I am the warrior” (0:57-1:00)? Good tune.

And I think the “Bang! Bang!” in between those two lines (at 0:56) is cute too.

Although the singing descends into “Hey everyone, let’s all shout the melodies!”, I like this chorus a fair bit.

But for me, the very best part of this chorus – and my favourite part of the entire song – is the bit at the end of the chorus when everyone sings “And heart to heart you’ll win” (1:04-1:07). Magnificent. (And I really like the two guitar chords straight after it. If you’re interested, they are D major with an F sharp bass note, followed immediately by G major. I love that chord progression.

Oh, there’s that little three-note guitar motif again (1:10-1:11).

1:16-1:46 – The chorus has finished, and we’re back to the chk-chk-chk-chk verse.

I think I might skip it.

Nope. I’ll listen to the whole thing.

Chk-chk-chk-chk.

Well, there’s a surprise. At 1:32-1:34 the whole band sings “Woah-oh-oh” at the top of their lungs. This is becoming very shouty song.

Incidentally, while the band was shouting “Woah-oh-oh” the drummer snuck in an excellent drum fill.

OK. Back to the verse.

Chk-chk-chk-chk.

The vocals sure are getting shouty. At 1:40-1:41 the entire band decides to shout “Call your name”. Very odd.

1:46-1:53 – Hooray! The bit after the verse and before the chorus. That means there’s a chorus coming up. Woohoo!

Here it comes, here it comes…

1:53-2:20 – Everybody shout: “SHOOTING AT THE WALLS OF HEARTACHE, BANG BANG, I AM THE WARRIOR” etc.

I still like this chorus.

“AND HEART TO HEART YOU’LL WIN” etc.

2:20-2:51 – What a singularly uninspiring guitar solo. And the guitar’s slightly out of tune. Grrr. (However, it’s entirely possible that the producer told the guitarist to “keep it simple”. If that’s the case, then I’m not a fan of the producer.)

2:51-3:11 – This is the bit that, I presume, went down a storm when the band played it live. It’s where the band goes quiet except for the drummer who plays one-two-three-four repeatedly on his bass drum, and the singer sings the chorus. This ploy is a common one in popular music, and it’s designed so that the entire audience can shout along with the singer, thereby reinforcing the communal feeling in the auditorium. (Ah, the shared experience of the rock concert.)

From it 3:03-3:11 the band slowly builds and builds the music (as it would in the concert hall) towards the inevitable…

3:11-3:39 – …repeat of the chorus, where everyone’s singing and playing loudly. (And the guitarist chucks in that little three-note thingy again at 3:12, reminding me one more time that I also used it in one of my songs. We can all share the notes, can’t we?)

3:39-3:59 – And here’s where the song starts its fade to let you know the band won’t be stopping anytime soon, They’re just going to keep playing until the studio engineer pulls down the faders until you can’t hear them anymore.

3:59 – I can’t hear them anymore.

***

I enjoyed that. Thanks, Michael!

Trivia

“The Warrior” was written by two people: Holly Knight, who also wrote “Love Is A Battlefield“; and Nick Gilder, who was responsible for “Roxy Roller“, one of my all-time favourite songs from the 1970s.

(*Is 41 episodes of Educating Peter a “tradition”?)

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