Semester B Project

Archive for January, 2017

Fall Out Boy – Centuries

Posted in Song Research on January 31, 2017 by James Woodliffe

This week I have studied the 2015 hit ‘Centuries’ by American Pop Punk band Fall Out Boy. This single was produced by J.R Rotem, traditionally a more hip hop producer having previously worked with artists such as Flo Rida and Nicole Scherzinger. The video that is linked explains JR Rotem’s influence over the track with Lead Vocalist Patrick Stump. As Rotem explains, the single’s composition started with the Suzanne Vega sample of “Tom’s Diner” which he had been playing around with for a while. Using samples is a lot less common in the “rock” genre and more in step with “hip hop”, however the move in pop music during the 00s has been towards more hip hop pop. He created the original hook and gave it to Fall Out Boy to create their own spin on it. The track uses a mixture of real instrumentation and plug ins to simulate instrumentation. JR Rotem as a pianist describes VSTs having come so far that “There really is no point recording a real piano unless you have time to set it up with correct mic positioning in the right room. These days the plug ins are so good it’s hard to tell the difference”. 10:50 shows the creation of vocal harmonies to pull out the hook in the track. The production also adds a bit more reverb or delay to lift up the sections and give them power. These elements will be implemented into my own production.

Tracks used
Real drums
Bass (Real)
Sub Bass (Fake)
Strings (Fake)
Horns (Fake)
Guitars (Real)
Vocals (Stacked)

The track maintains a very strong pop music mentality. Every beat is perfectly in time and ever vocal is in tune and been autotuned/melodyned (as seen in the video at 11:40). As this is a staple in contemporary pop music, it is paramount that I use this in my own work. J.R Rotem explains the creation as him “making beats” to start the creative process off then using soft/hard synths and horns to build up dynamics up to the chorus here the “drop” or “hook” are. The creative process of this song has been described as a “back & forth” of creation between Patrick Stump and J.R Rotem. This is a luxury that unfortunately I won’t be able to capitalise on as I will be doing the majority of the project solo. This will be the most challenging aspect of the project due to J.R Rotem using Top Line writers etc as well to utilise.

Week 1 – Project Outline

Posted in Uncategorized on January 29, 2017 by James Woodliffe

For my Semester B Project I will researching the creation of pop music and the producer’s role as a co-creator. My initial ideas for this project came from my fascination with Max Martin. Max Martin is regarded by many as the most prolific writer/producer of the 21st Century. Having writing/production credits with Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, The Weekend, Maroon 5, James Blunt and Justin Timberlake (to name a few!). He has accumulated the 3rd most #1s of all time, behind Paul McCartney & John Lennon and also is the runner up of producers with the most #1s of all time, #1 space being occupied by George Martin.

For this project I will be researching production styles of contemporary pop music and the writing styles that accompany it with Producer/Writers. Below is a list of several artists I will be identifying with and breaking the production/writing down. Each week I will be adding to my research by having a more in-depth look at these songs and the production.

Lorde – Royals
Taylor Swift – Shake It Off
Fall Out Boy – Centuries
Lana Del Rey – Video Games
Haim – If I Could Change Your Mind

I have also created an iTunes listening playlist to familiarise myself with songs that are pop orientated which have achieved commercial acclaim. The majority of the tracks have producer/writers and use a team. Over the coming weeks I will be listening to this playlist to influence my work, and most likely be adding/removing songs from the playlist.

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