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Shut Up And Dance

by Walk The Moon

There’s a definite whiff of the ’80s to this production, with its gated drum ambience (especially on the snare), sheeny synth pads, reversed snare ‘whooshes’ (at 0:25, 1:05 and 2:40) and general willingness to embrace stadium–sized reverb/delay effects unabashed. Speaking of delays, the verse vocals are interesting in this respect, because you can hear the mix engineer (Neal Avron in this instance) shifting the balance between a shorter single–tap slapback delay and a longer quarter–note feedback delay to highlight words such as “Kryptonite”, “dream”, and “born”. The bass is well worth keeping an ear out for, too. Not only is the firmly fuzzed tone critical to the tunefulness of the basic distorted–guitar chorus texture, but the rhythmic interplay of the simple verse riff adds significant interest to the lead vocal’s line there, in my opinion. And don’t miss the little rising–scale guitar countermelody under the chorus “oo–oo–oo” line — I’d wager that it’s been tweaked up with the fader automation specially for you to appreciate, so it’d be churlish to ignore it!

Besides all those good things, I think it’s quite clever the way the singer underlines the two “shut up and dance with me” hook–lines in this song’s chorus. The most obvious technique for the first hook is the fifth–upwards rise to G-sharp (first heard at 0:09), where the line has hovered on C-sharp thus far. Clearly this isn’t a factor for the second hook–line (at 0:16), though, preceded as it is by the higher A-sharp of “oo–oo–oo”, but in that case the change out of falsetto delivery performs a very similar highlighting function. However, the trick I like the most is when the syncopation between the kick–drum and the vocal’s rhythmic pattern during the first three lines suddenly resolves for the first hook–line, not only causing the kick–drum hits to heavily accentuate the words “–up and dance with”, but also emphasising the lyrical content by slowing down the note–rate in real terms (from dotted eighths to quarters). And you can hear something similar happening in the prechorus, where the dropped downbeat and subsequent eighth–note kick–snare–kick–kick pattern subverts the whole groove to underpin the lead–vocal’s “she took my arm”, “I don’t know how”, and “we took the floor”.