Neel, Mike, and Phil
Neel, Mike, and Phil

Hit Songs with Unconventional Structures


People think that pop songs have a standard structure – verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus –  and many do. Mostly because that familiarity works. But some hit songs challenge convention, they chart their own path to great success. So this episode we thought we would find some recent songs that go against the grain and still manage to be popular. So how do they do it? That’s what we tried to find out.

Neel brought in “Hey Ya” by Outkast. It’s a groove in different key signatures but still a coherent piece of ear candy. In its sub-structure, the deceptive cadence makes the repeating chord progression both unusual and catchy.

Phil was intrigued by The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven“. Despite the lengthy intro, a instrumental break after the first verse, long verses and other structural anomalies it is a beautiful – and successful – love song.

And Mike focused on a Rihanna hit, “Stay“. Despite its atypical length of verse, chorus and bridge this song proved to be a massive hit for one of pop music’s top hitmakers. And oddly enough, the verse melody is almost the same as the chorus. Yet it works.

Take a listen, see what you think and send us your suggestions of unconventional hit songs:





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