Britney Spears' "Toxic" Completely Breaks Music Theory
Why It Seems Easy: As society slowly realizes it was way too hard on Britney Spears, some noise is being made about what a genius she was with her creative vision, particularly her ambitious approach to concert production. Choreography, costumes, spectacle—that's as much a part of being a musician as learning your instrument. But there's always going to be some music snob who sneers, "it's just pop music; there's no real thought behind it." That snob is wrong. Not just because catchiness and danceability are good qualities to have in music, but because a lot of Britney's music had some absolutely bonkers writing behind it.
The Move: None of the instruments in "Toxic" are playing together, but it somehow all works. YouTuber 12tone explains it better here, but essentially, all the instruments seem to be working against each other in real-time. The iconic main riff is a relatively short phrase with many fast, staccato notes immediately colliding with longer, drawn-out ones. It's the musical equivalent of Neo fighting Agent Smith at full speed, and then bullet cam slow-mo hits out of nowhere.
When Britney starts singing, she employs microtonality, a term for sliding around the space between notes. This is common in Arab and Indian music but nearly unheard of in American Top 40 radio. Basically, she's quote-unquote out of tune, but on purpose, and in a way that is meant to evoke unease in her primarily Western audience. The melody also uses a note that used to literally be banned by Catholic Church for sounding Satanic (and employed by WandaVision specifically to sound Satanic). This is speculation, but maybe all that dancing with snakes was alluding to the Biblical Serpent and Eve engineering the fall of Adam. I mean, the song is about a woman who is, what's the word ... toxic. I'm just saying there's a flimsy connection to be made.
Then, after all this weird collection of synth drums and synth strings, a surf-style guitar riff hits right after the chorus. "Finally! Something American!" your xenophobic uncle in a Beach Boys T-shirt yells. Except no, surf rock wouldn't exist were it not for Dick Dale, a Lebanese-American guy who used techniques most commonly heard in Arab and Eastern European music to create that classic California sound. Or more simply, "that Pulp Fiction song."|0|http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CrackedRSS/~3/k-d6bQF4cok/article_29930_6-shallow-songs-that-are-surprisingly-smartly-put-together.html|1||2|feedproxy.google.com|E|