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Secrets of the Pop Song, BBC Two | reviews, news & interviews

Secrets of the Pop Song, BBC Two

Secrets of the Pop Song, BBC Two

How to write a ballad, with Rufus Wainwright and Guy Chambers

'Don't bore us, get to the chorus': Rufus Wainwright ponders the mysteries of the ballad

This hugely entertaining first instalment of a three-part investigation into what makes pop songs tick took as its theme "The Ballad", perhaps the most bomb-proof of pop's traditional forms. Mind you, the programme's definition of a ballad was pretty loose. For instance, I would say Sting's "Every Breath You Take" is merely medium-paced rather than a ballad. I'd just file Culture Club's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" under "Pop Song".

While your basic song must have intrinsic strengths, it can be utterly transformed by the production and the arrangement

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There's a mistake in the first paragraph. Culture Club's song title is "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me", not "If You Really...".

Good point, Fernando. Now fixed.

This first installment was brilliant, is 'World War Three' going to be released?

If this is meant to be an 'arts' website, ie dealing with the best, most creative things we produce, then I find this review to be extremely uncritical. From what I can see, and from my experience of similar shows, they're dealing with some of the most superficial and throwaway music going. Surely a ballad (in the modern sense of the word, at least) at its best, should be something that really moves us, emotionally? And like good books, the best stuff out there rarely makes it to the top of the Best Sellers' list. But no one ever suggests we take, say Katie Price's autobiography seriously, so why should we do the same with the throwaway music that tops the charts? This ( http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=carl+hall+you+don%27t+know+n... ), for example, is my idea of a ballad - and like much great music, it wasn't commercially successful. Throwaway pop is all very well, but I'd have expected something a little more critical from an arts journal, else I might as well go buy a copy of Smash Hits.

Sorry, that last link doesn't work. For anyone interested, try this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMHdI-mSAr4

Hi Niall. Congratulations on having superior musical taste to everybody else (though that track you link to just sounds like a routine old soul ballad to me). You should try watching Secrets of the Pop Song sometime, since you don't seem to have done so. It's really rather entertaining.

Just caught the second programme and whilst interested in the first part and the 'spliced in' historical stuff containing the usual 'seen before' footage I just felt that some of the serious composition sequences came across as a bit pretentious...I'm trying to be polite here...it was all a bit too smug as if music has just been invented...still good luck to those involved - musics music after all - keep strumming those chords.

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