Why is that you can’t listen to mainstream radio now without hearing totally over the top productions?  There was a time when you could write a good song, record it in a morning, release it the next day and have a gold record a week later. Why isn’t a good song with a few good hooks enough anymore?

You must be getting the hang of this by now; that’s a rhetorical question.  I’m not really asking for your opinion, it’s just a way of getting to my next pithy observation.  The major artists are so desperate to maintain their profile and their increasingly fickle fanbase that nothing’s sacred and jumping the shark is what you have to do to keep up with Lana del Rey (or Lizzie Grant before the makeover).

Did you know that successful pop music producers have the ethical standards of the Borgias and a relentless urge to force us to listen to their work (sorry, rhetorical again)?  So, at a time when major artists are desperate to stay at the top of the slippery pole, here’s what happens.

One of the biggest artists in the world, Beyonce, releases the song “Love on Top” and it’s a really good song performed by a great singer.  So you don’t need any clever tricks do you?  No posse of “C” list rappers, no credible guest vocalists, no Autotune and definitely no Mark Ronson.  You might think there aren’t many more production tricks you can pull.  Well, let me tell you about the trucker’s gear change.

It’s a little trick which has been around for decades and it’s really effective.  When you get towards the end of a pop song and you’ve run out of verses, you repeat the chorus a few times to get you to the three and a half minute mark.  It can get a bit tedious hearing the chorus three of four times but you can make it more exciting by moving the pitch (or modulating) upwards; it gives it a lift and it can be really easy to do.  But it’s not usually very subtle which is why it’s called a trucker’s gear change.

Usually one of these is enough to keep up the interest to the three-thirty mark: occasionally you get two (Northern Soul classic “The Snake” by Al Wilson for any trainspotters).  So how many do we get in this Kitsch ‘n’ Synch production?  We get four; count them next time you hear it.  How desperate is that when you have a good song to start with?  Was it an engineer who saw the transpose function months ago and went a bit tech-happy when he finally got a chance to use it?

What if the song doesn’t finish at three minutes, thirty seconds?  What if it just keeps going, moving to a higher key every chorus?  Maybe it’s actually a twenty minute mix that only our dogs and cats can hear after 5 minutes; my cat was strutting his stuff five minutes after I thought the song had ended, which is surprising because I thought he was much more into Rizzle Kicks.

Do us all a favour, just give us the song without any gimmicks and trust us to decide how good it is.

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