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  • Writer's pictureCraig Dawson

Key Change

I know that I would probably be expected to use this space to talk about my book, or my life, or something a bit more pertinent to my burgeoning career as a writer. I promise I absolutely will do that at some point, but, for now, there are a couple of reasons why I haven’t been inspired to write about those sorts of things just yet. It’s a bit of a push and a pull.

Firstly, I’m finding the world at the moment incredibly difficult to not only deal with, but also understand. More than ever before, the headlines, delivered from so far away, feel like they loom over me like some gigantic alien spaceship in a 90s sci-fi film, casting a dark shadow that feels threatening and intimidating. Writing about my book or things related to that part of my life, seems a bit inappropriate.

Having said that, I see dog walkers strolling in the sun outside my window, and the birds are chirping happily in my garden, and the dark shadows seem far away again. So, that’s the other reason – I’m looking for things that lift my spirits, in the hope that they can be my torch as we all muddle our way through the dark woods.

I’ve been posting little bits on pop music in the last couple of updates, but today, I want to write about one song in particular, in a bit more depth. Everything I’ve ever said about the positive power of pop music can be found in this song, and is perhaps the greatest example of me brushing off any childish snobbery about the instant, feel-good, redemptive benefits of a really good pop record – ladies and gentlemen, I present to you “I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY” by WHITNEY HOUSTON.

Firstly, head over here to YouTube to watch the video – a perfect ice-core sample pulled out of 80s permafrost, with the colour, energy and easy fun of those times condensed into a five minute blast of sugar icing and cheat-meal calories. The first few seconds date the song almost to the minute – synthesised hand-claps and cowbells, crashing into the room before the bass bursts in, out of breath already as it knows there’s a lot of work to do in the next five minutes. And then, like a freshly-crowned queen arriving at her first banquet, beautiful, fresh-faced Whitney appears, infectious enthusiam ready to pull us along with her.

A blast of joyous chords and the song is underway. The arrangement is fantastic, all chirps and clangs, but wisely, the producers know full well that when you are blessed to have someone with a voice like that, you damn well let her have her space to do whatever she wants to do with it. Whitney sticks more or less to the song, but every so often, she pushes a little bit, and has these little excursions where she just teases that she might just leave the backing track completely, and go off to some new land to find a few more notes to scale.

If that was all, even then it would be a great record. But it’s not. Three minutes in, and Whitney gives us the single most incredible key change in popular music. Even though I’ve heard this song a hundred thousand times, and hope to hear it a hundred thousand more, I will never not be exhilarated by that key change that takes a song already flying above clouds, and finds an updraught to take it to new levels entirely. It is the single purest moment in pop music, undeniable in its ability to thrill.

The song glides down to earth after that peak, and its earned it. Just the backing track and Whitney enjoying herself. I feel better. You feel better.

There. A few hundred words on Whitney and pop. I wasn’t expecting that this morning.

Anyway – buy my book. And be well.

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