Is "Never Gonna Let You Go" really "The Most COMPLEX Pop Song of All Time"?

Murray

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This guy, Rick Beato, analyzes the chord progressions, and comes to that conclusion:

 

Harry

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I like his presentation, and it is a wild song that sounds a lot more simple than it is. But I always expected that "the most complex pop song" would likely be a Bacharach composition. Don't know.

But I would suggest that if this song is thought the most complex, then perhaps the Spanish version, "Nunca Mas Diras Adios" is just that little bit more complex in that at least the singers are not native Spanish speakers.

This model would be comparable to the old adage that if Fred Astaire was the best ever dancer, then Ginger Rogers was just a little bit better for doing everything that Fred did, backwards, and on high heels.
 

Mike Blakesley

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OK, well I guess I can delete my other thread where I "discovered" this video. I should have known it wouldn't have sat around the internet for three whole weeks without somebody on here finding it!

I had the same thought you did about Bacharach. I haven't heard all of his stuff, but one of his most complex songs has to be "Promises, Promises," if not in chords, at least rhythmically. How many time changes does that thing have anyway?
 

Murray

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He's made a follow-up video, where he does a complete breakdown of the song. Watching him write down all those chord symbols on the white board, gives me major flashbacks of calculus lectures in university! :laugh:

 

Rudy

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Not a pop song, but Pat Metheny wrote a tune called "Sunlight" on his Secret Story album where he wanted to get all twelve keys into one song. He managed to pull it off effortlessly, and I didn't realize that was the intention until I heard a podcast about the tune many years later where he explains its structure.



(Scroll down to "Secret Story -- Album Commentary.")
 

Mike Blakesley

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The original video has over 2 million streams as of right now. Who knows, maybe it'll hit the chart again.
 

Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
I love Beato's things. I saw that title a few weeks back and didn't see this tune coming but it really is incredibly complex. It has a million key changes in it and many are unexpected. Thou shalt not ever sleep on Barry Mann. Just an incredible songwriter.

Ed
 

Mike Blakesley

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It's kind of funny how he gets two or three minutes into the new video and all the commenters are asking "what song" he's talking about -- he forgot to tell the name of it, until his cameraman or somebody finally reminded him.
 

Rudy

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Doesn't matter to me in any case--I can't stand that song! 🤣
 

Mike Blakesley

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Definitely not in my top 150 Sergio favorites. :D I would pick virtually anything by Brasil '66 or '77 (well except maybe "I Know You") ahead of it, but I gotta give props to the songwriters for their inventiveness.
 

Harry

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I listened to that record on the radio hundreds of times before I knew it was Sergio. And as it turns out, it's only a produced-by-Sergio recording.
 

Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
I'll be the sore thumb. The lyric is a little too Hallmark-ian but the music, arrangement, performance, and production have no apologies to make to me. There's no way the average band or even a good one could navigate through this thing and the triple-scale crew does a fantastic job. I love the synth solo and the Rhodes playing (by Robbie Buchannan, I believe) is just perfect. Lastly, Joe Pizzulo has an incredible voice. I love his tone and phrasing. He's been around for decades and was among the "first call crew" for a very long time. He can still hit every one of those notes in the last chorus even now with all the power he had in 1983. Very interesting to hear the woman handling the low harmony and doing it well. Leeza Miller nails here.

It doesn't sound the least bit like a Sergio tune but I honestly couldn't care less when it's this good.

Ed
 

Mike Blakesley

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Sergio became like Quincy Jones during his second A&M tenure by mainly assuming the role of producer. He still played lots of keyboards of course but the “band” concept was gone. I was always sad about this and wish he would do another band-oriented album. But, I suppose working outside the band framework gives him more freedom to just follow his muse.
 

Rudy

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I've always felt his sound from this point onward is too generic, and the vocals (aside from Gracinha) just grate on me. Nothing against the vocalists, but they're just not my style. Although to his credit, he's created his own style of music with the band format he's had for the past couple of decades, with his signature keyboard styling that makes it unique. If it weren't for his keys, though, this could pass for any generic band of this era. Which is why I don't particularly care for the single.

If the maker of this video thinks this is complex, I'd hate to hear him try to figure out the Genesis track "Firth of Fifth." Especially that piano intro. Or, well, hundreds of others tunes I could think of that run circles around this one...
 

JOv2

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The guy clearly knows chord theory, but he's overplaying the so-called "complexity". At its core, it a bunch of 2-5-1s with a couple key changes. The "difficulty" I suppose is relegated to the voicings and the turnarounds. No biggie unless your musical diet is 90% 12-bar blues. I think he makes it a big deal because he's a businessman hocking his big-note guitar song books...😁
 

Harry

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One talent I never seemed to be able to acquire was the ability to hear a chord and know what it was or even how to re-create it on the piano. As a result, my piano "talent" has always been reduced to reading a score and attempting to play it as-written. So when I see people who can hear a chord and instantly be able to rattle off what it is - I find that a bit magical.

My 45 of the single is a promo version with the same song in stereo on both sides. One side has a notation from my old program director to dub the song from a 12". I'm not sure if he was referring to a 12" promo single or the 12" album, SERGIO MENDES.

scan0020.jpg
 

Harry

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Looking at that label above, I wondered if the single was a slightly shorter edit of the song (3:55), so I did a comparison with the album version, which, ripped from a Japanese CD, reported on my computer as being 4:15. It turns out to be exactly the same length and was one of those cases where the record company simply misrepresented the true length of a song, pushing this one to "under 4 minutes". I guess it worked since the record got - and gets - lots of radio airplay and was a big hit.

I also attempted to snip the audio at 3:55, and begin the 15 second fade at 3:40. While it sort-of works, it disappears at "...gonna try and make up...", which is more awkward.

Just wasting time on a Sunday morning...
 

Rudy

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The guy clearly knows chord theory, but he's overplaying the so-called "complexity". At its core, it a bunch of 2-5-1s with a couple key changes. The "difficulty" I suppose is relegated to the voicings and the turnarounds. No biggie unless your musical diet is 90% 12-bar blues. I think he makes it a big deal because he's a businessman hocking his big-note guitar song books...😁
Yeah, the whole premise of that video is overblown and "look at how smart I am" smarminess. There are way more complex tunes out there. Truth of the matter is, it's a pop song. And a boring, formulaic one at that. Nothing to see here.
 

JOv2

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Sarcastically speaking, I'm tone-deaf to some degree; so to overcome "the ear" shortcoming I learned to sonically identify simple chord-to-chord transitions (e.g., up a 3rd, down a 4th, etc). From there I could build out the voicing based on the root, if obvious (much easier in pop -- except Bacharach, 1966/67 Brian Wilson and all Zappa). Also, learning to listen for two notable things helped me: (1) Reducing it to simple bock chord triad inversions (e.g. 1-3-5; 3-5-1; 5-1-3); and (2) placement of the root within the simple triad. (E.g., with C Maj: if I drop the triad down a full step, I now have a C11 (aka Csus9); if I shift the triad up a full step I now have a C 6/9 (w/b5). Both, in varying voicings, are "big time" Bacharach chords; Wilson picked up on these as well on Pet Sounds and notably on Smile; needless to say, these things are the hallmark of jazz piano, guitar and vibes voicings). To address my sonic gap, once I pick up on the simple/base chord progression, I transcribe, visually, to the piano; and when I play the trumpet I simply visualize the keyboard.

I'm with you, I wish I could just get it instantly without going through all this rigamarole. My college trumpet prof and later my private teacher could call all that stuff out on the spot -- they had the theory and the ear. I just could never get my ear to work that way.
 

Murray

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One talent I never seemed to be able to acquire was the ability to hear a chord and know what it was or even how to re-create it on the piano. As a result, my piano "talent" has always been reduced to reading a score and attempting to play it as-written. So when I see people who can hear a chord and instantly be able to rattle off what it is - I find that a bit magical.
I've always envied people who can play by ear, or hear a song and are able to write down the notation, or can transpose a written score on the fly (to accompany a singer who needs a different key). My piano skills are also limited to reading, and playing a score as written. There are so many songs I'd like to learn, but the sheet music is either long out of print and impossible to find, or was never available in the first place.
 

Rudy

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Trust me on this--perfect pitch is a curse, not a gift...
 

Mr Bill

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I listened to that record on the radio hundreds of times before I knew it was Sergio. And as it turns out, it's only a produced-by-Sergio recording.
I agree. While I was excited to see Sergio had returned to the "A&M fold" I soon realized that he was now more of a "Quincy Jones - producer" than a "Sergio Mendes - artist" with this release. However I was excited by the success of this album (and this single) even if it wasn't what I was expecting from him. "Rainbow's End" is my favorite cut from the LP, written by David Batteau, whose self titled LP from the mid-70s is a favorite of mine...

--Mr Bill
 
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