Tuesday, November 3

Sly – The Cat Empire – Song Form

Sly – The Cat Empire – Song Form
View the video HERE. Purchase on iTunes HERE.

Rhyme Scheme –

Let’s go through the rhyme scheme of each verse since they aren’t consistent…

- Rhyme scheme = aabb, time/shrine/sorts/thoughts

If frizzy hair was a metaphor for festival time
Then this woman is a goddess of that festival shrine
Met her at a jam, in a garden of sorts
I must confess, god bless, some impure thoughts

- Rhyme scheme = aabb, night/pride/know/glowed

“Show us the money” was the call of the night
But no money could have bought even a piece of her pride
There might have been a sea of people, I don’t know
Because all I could see was how this woman glowed

- Rhyme scheme = aaxa, killa/spill ya(!)/bean/vanilla

She caterpillar so good that all the Greeks go, “killa
Break and enter, take you like a glass of milk, then spill ya
Saw her coming, what a scene, what I mean is she got the sex coffee bean
But she tastes like vanilla

…I should point out that there is the cool “what a scene/coffee bean” internal rhyme in the 3rd line :)

- Rhyme scheme = aabb, floor/commodore/worthwhile/style

Well alright, she ignite when we hit the floor
Like the vroom on a V8 super commodore
Well if it makes a good story, well it’s just worthwhile
With her, it’s like dealing stories in a sprinkler style

- Rhyme scheme = xaaa, Jini/alright/stride/sly

Do the Louie, the J-J-J-Jinii
Do the boom-shak, hit the sack, hit the sack, back seat’s feeling alright
Do the Monkey shuffle, Rocket with a funk stride
Do the late checkout with a do not disturb sign outside…now do the Sly

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Chorus – Internal Rhyme-a-rama

This chorus is one of the best examples out there of how internal rhymes that are close together completely make the momentum of a song zip forward without changing the actual tempo of the song. They set the stage with the first line…

So, aye, it’s a pleasure to meet ya, you look line one incredible creature

…and then things just go bananas from here on out…

Want to treat ya fine, let’s dance and grind, get so funk-inflicted it’s a crime
You’re divine, you’re sublime, and well, ya blow my mind
You’re so sly

…by they end, things are absolutely cookin’.

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Alternative Rhymes –

If you came to this song for perfect rhymes, you will be hopelessly disappointed. The rhymes in this song completely crack me up with their ingenuity and spunk…my main favorite being killa/spill ya/ tastes like vanilla. I love alternative rhymes. I really do. I believe they are the future of songwriting. There are only two sets* of perfect rhymes in this whole song…


*that isn’t completely true, there’s some perfect internal rhymes (crime/sublime, scene/bean, etc), but no other end of line perfect rhymes. Check out the variety…

***Advanced: I’ll put the rhyme type in italics***

time/shrine – nasal family rhyme (m, n, ng, are formed in the nasal cavity, and are in the same family)

sorts/thoughts – subtractive rhyme (the R sound was subtracted from the second word)

night/pride – plosive family rhyme (t, d…among others…are formed with little bursts of air, get it? “plosive/explosive”!)

know/glowed – additive rhyme (the D sound was added to the long O sound)

killa/spill ya – additive rhyme (the Y sound was added)

spill ya/vanilla – subtractive rhyme (the Y sound was subtracted)

alright/stride – plosive family rhyme

stride/sly – subtractive rhyme (the D sound was subtracted)

This tells you that you aren’t limited to just perfect rhymes all the time. There is an incredible amount of flexibility for both meaning and simply sounding fresh when you use alternative rhymes. There is not one single cliché rhyme in the bunch. If you are a beginning songwriter, a good place to start with alternative rhymes is additive and subtractive, where you take a consonant off the end, or put one on the end.  

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Verse/chorus contrast –

The biggest contrasting factor is with rhyme, no doubt. The verse are rhymes are pretty straight forward, mostly aabb. The chorus is jammed crammed with internal rhymes, but the ending words don’t match.

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Remember a few songs ago, I talked about how much I love lyrics where the character changes somehow. The character arc in this one isn’t huge, he goes from alone to dancing with the girl, but it still is a change. The song didn’t stay one dimensional by having him watch her the entire time. Besides, how bad can a song be where the first line mentions “frizzy hair”!

Alright…go write something irreverent.


PS. Send me your original lyric if you would like it to be considered for analysis. Send it HERE.

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