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Forget Me

by Lewis Capaldi

If you ask me, this song shows signs of having been pared down to bring its duration to the 3:20 mark. The essential problem is that, roughly speaking, the eight-bar verse and prechorus sections last 19 seconds each and the sixteen-bar chorus sections last 38 seconds each, so just the bare bones of a traditional pop structure (with two verses, two prechoruses, and three choruses) based around those elements already finds itself pushing 3:10 without any kind of intro, outro, or middle section at all. Hence why, I suspect, the song launches directly into the first verse so abruptly without any kind of preamble at all, which is a bit of a jolt. In tandem with this, shortening the second prechorus to four bars reclaims just enough time for an eight-bar middle-section, something that I think’s pretty much essential from a musical perspective in order to avoid the potential ennui of two sixteen-bar choruses (with plenty of internal melodic repetition) back to back.

Although Capaldi’s up to his usual trick of trundling soulfully round a sonorously repeating chord progression, at least the progression is a little more intriguing than on the previous hits I’ve critiqued here ( 'Someone You Loved' and 'Before You Go'). You see, from the perspective of traditional classical harmonic theory, what we get is a four-bar IV-vi-V-V pattern throughout, albeit varied slightly to ii-vi-V-V during the prechoruses – in other words, an entire song without the tonic chord. And while there is some sense of unresolved harmonic tension here, I imagine there are plenty of musicians who’d think of it more as a modal progression of vii-ii-I-I in B Mixolydian. Either way, though, it’s a nice bit of variety.

And another nice little production touch is the fast low-pass-filter shutdown of the backing track sustain and effects tails at 2:57, just before the vocal leads us back into the second half of the final chorus. And it’s particularly canny, because the natural effect this has (of focusing the listener’s ear back onto the vocal) coincides with the title lyric. Shame about the ham-fisted tuning-correction, though – the yodelling on “you moving on” at 0:31, “grey” at 1:13, and “face” at 1:29 seems borderline insulting on such a strong vocal performer as this…