At a Glance
Primary Instrumentation, Tone & Mix
Hit Factor Assessment
Why it’s a Hit
Artist: Three Days Grace
Song/Album: World So Cold / Life Starts Now
Songwriter(s): Gontier, Sanderson, Walst, Stock
Week on BB Chart: January 1, 2011
Chart Position: #3 Billboard Rock Song
Sub Genre: Alt. Metal
First Chorus: 1:07 (28% into the song)
Intro Length: 0:29
Outro Length: 0:19
Primary Tone (Electric/Acoustic): Electric
Lyrical Theme: Love/Relationships
Primary Lyrical P.O.V: 1st Person
Section Length (Length of each individual section within the song)
Here we see the two longest sections of the song occurring in the intro (structured in two halves – the mellow and heavy sections), and the chorus, each at 0:29. The next longest section occurs in the bridge at 0:27, followed by the 1st verse at 0:26. Note that the 2nd and 3rd verses are half verses, each at 0:13.
Structure Timeline (Shows when each section hits within the timeline of the song)
Total Section Analysis (Total time consumed by each section and its percentage of the total song)
Comprising 36% of the total song, it’s easy to see that the heart of “World So Cold” resides in that monster, soaring chorus. The verse follows at 21%.
Momentum/Intensity Factor (Evaluation of the intensity of each section within the song timeline on a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being the most intense)
“World So Cold” is characterized by lots of shifts in momentum, intensity and tension with the purpose of accentuating each sections vibe within the song.
We start things off mellow, with a phased, slightly overdriven guitar intro. At 0:13 the intensity is kicked into high gear with the entrance of the full drums and ultra distorted guitars.
As we enter the first verse at 0:29, the intensity is brought back down with the reversion back to the slightly overdriven phased guitars of the intro and the mid-level vocal delivery (i.e. not too light, and not too intense). The vibe continues throughout the section, before entering into the pre-chorus.
At 0:55, we enter the pre-chorus and see the intensity increased a notch over the verse with the introduction of the distorted guitar melody line, switch from hat to ride cymbal, and the increased urgency in the vocal delivery. At 1:07, the momentum comes to a screeching halt, followed by the brief solo vocal with the lyrics “living in a.”
Once we hit the lyric “world” at 1:08, the intensity catapults up with the addition of the full drums, ultra distorted guitars and soaring vocals of the chorus. The momentum continues throughout the section, before dropping back down during the held notes of the turn-around.
The same pattern continues through the second verse, pre-chorus and chorus, eventually increasing a notch during the bridge with the presence of a more driving, urgent beat and increased tension.
The momentum is then brought way back down as we enter the half-verse, characterized by the processed, low-fi vocal and vintage organ, before launching right back into the huge chorus. The intensity of the chorus is then kicked up a notch through the outro (same vibe that was present during the 2nd part of the intro), before abruptly ending at 3:56 with the trail-off lasting until 4:03.
Kicking things off with the dark, slightly overdriven phased guitars, the intro does a great job of quickly settling the listener into a dark/mellow place before slamming them with the second half of the section characterized by the ultra-intense distorted guitars and heavy drums. Overall, the intro does a great job of setting the scene for things to come during the rest of the song.
The verses, characterized by the same dark, phased guitars that were present during the first part of the intro, work in perfect unison with the dark/melancholy nature of Adam’s vocal delivery and phrasing to create a very effective, engaging sonic landscape. Later in the song, the sparse half verse after the bridge gives some additional color, with the organ and low-fi vocals. Overall, the verse does a great job of providing a dark, grooving vibe that provides great contrast to the heavy chorus that lies ahead.
This pre-chorus does a great job of subtly increasing the tension from the verse due to the more urgent nature of the vocal delivery, change up in phrasing, the addition of the guitar melody and the more up-front bass in the mix. All of these elements come together to perfectly set up the huge chorus that follows.
Definitely the highlight and focal point of the song, this chorus is effective on a number of levels. First, the way that the momentum completely drops off during the “living in a” lyrics and then comes pummeling back in once we get to “world” with the wall of guitars and soaring vocals brings the intensity of the song to a whole new level. Secondly, the mix of the multi-tracked guitars, drums and vocals work in perfect unison to create an over the top, tremendous sound. The lyrics are simple in nature (i.e. easy to remember) and are phrased in a very memorable manner. The end result – this chorus gets stuck in your head and doesn’t leave. It’s a tremendous payoff for the listener.
The bridge within “World So Cold” does a good job of changing things up in the song (like any good bridge should), and it does so while maintaining the intensity and urgency of the chorus. The lyrics provide a new direction, moving from the “how I feel” theme established in the verse and pre-chorus to a “I don’t deserve this” theme in the bridge. Overall, the new melodic direction coupled with the up-front synth and shift in vocal phrasing provide a good lead in to the sparse half verse that lies ahead.
Virtually identical to the second half of the intro (now with the addition of vocals), this outro does a great job of bringing the song back to where it all began. The abrupt, false ending leaves the listener wanting more.
Here we see that the levels are compressed and cranked to the max to enhance the wall of sound present specifically in the chorus, bridge and outro sections. What’s interesting is that the verses, which are not nearly as heavy as the choruses, have their overall levels close to that of the aforementioned sections. The only sections of the song where we have a drop in level occur during the first part of the intro and the half-verse that comes after the bridge. Overall, this song was engineered for LOUDNESS.
Compares the song being analyzed against all Rock songs that have entered the Billboard Rock top 10: Q1 through Q4-2010.
The key elements present in “World So Cold” are in-line with Q1 – Q4 2010 top 10 Rock hits EXCEPT:
- The overall song structure is very close to that of the majority of top 10 Rock songs except for the fact that it has a half verse after the bridge before launching back into the chorus.
- The song length is 0:16 longer than the average top 10 Rock song.
- The outro length is 0:08 shorter than the average Rock song.
- The song has a pre-chorus (where the majority of hit Rock songs do not contain a pre-chorus)
- The song does not contain a solo.
Does the song flow in a cohesive manner? The way that “World So Cold” is structured is very effective on a couple of levels. First, all of the sections work well with one another from a flow standpoint, constantly changing up the momentum and intensity without having any “jarring” or out of place moments. All of the sections build nicely on one another. Secondly, the sections are changing up quite frequently, with a total of 12 different sections within the song. The end result is that the listener is kept engaged throughout the entire song.
How does the production stand up in maximizing the songs impact? As mentioned in the Waveform section of the report, the song uses vast amounts of compression and pushes the levels to the brink to maximize its huge sound, especially during the 2nd half of the intro, chorus, bridge and outro sections. That being said, the levels and compression do serve the song in accentuating its “wall of sound” vibe. Additionally, all of the instruments are clearly audible in the mix and panned effectively. My only criticism is that it would have been nice to have the levels during the verses drop down even further in order to give provide the song with more of a sonic range.
Does the instrumentation and sound maximize the vibe of the song? One of the strongest aspects of “World So Cold” is the way that the tone and instrumentation accentuate the vibe present in the lyrics and vocal delivery. The slightly overdriven, phased guitars of the verses work in unison with the lyrics in creating the dark/melancholy mood, before being taken to the next level in the ultra thick, heavy wall of sound present in the chorus.
Do the lyrics serve the song and jibe with the vibe of the music? The lyrics within “World So Cold” deal with the despair of losing one’s love. The lyrics during the verses, which deal with how miserable he feels NOW, are accentuated by the dark, melancholy nature of the music (specifically the dark, phased guitars). The lyrical theme is continued through the pre-chorus, before changing to a more desolate, searching/yearning theme during the chorus. The music works perfectly in really accentuating the grand nature of the loss he feels. Another good aspect of these lyrics is that they are universal in nature. Just about anyone who has suffered through the loss of a loved one can identify with them, providing the song with mass appeal.
Vocal Delivery: 9/10
Does the tonality and phrasing of the vocals maximize the songs impact? Adam does a great job of accentuating each mood present in different sections of the song. From the dark/melancholy nature of the verses, to the increased tension of the pre-chorus and finally his soaring delivery during the chorus, his vocals works in perfect unison with the music in making the listener feel his pain. The phrasing is excellent as well, specifically during the chorus.
How easy is it to remember this song after you hear it once? There is one specific section that is exceptionably memorable in “World So Cold”, and that’s the monster chorus (comprising the majority of the songs structure at 36%). The other sections are fairly memorable as well, but without that chorus the chances of this song becoming a hit would have been slim. After just the first listen, it’s tough to get the chorus out of your head.
WOW Factors: 6/10
Does this song possess any standout elements or contain special moments that aid in catapulting it to HIT status? I wouldn’t say that any one particular section or moment stands out as a “wow” factor (even the chorus, which is great, but it’s not like, “WOW!”), but I would say that the exceptional use of momentum, tension and intensity shifts (specifically how the 2nd half of the intro and choruses slam in) do provide somewhat of a “wow” effect for the listener with their head smashing brashness.
Does the song provide the listener with a strong payoff (i.e. a hot chorus)? The huge, memorable chorus within “World So Cold” provides the listener with a fantastic payoff, both from a sonic perspective (how it slams in from the pause after the pre-chorus), and from a melodic/memorability standpoint.
Does this song have its own unique vibe when compared to other songs/artists in the genre? “World So Cold” does have a somewhat original sound in the sense that it sounds like a Three Days Grace song. It has their vibe. As far as how it compares to other songs in the genre, there really isn’t anything overly original about it that enables it to completely stand apart from the pack. It sounds like “one of the bunch” in today’s Modern Rock scene.
Longevity: 9/10 (Artist), 3/10 (Overall genre Genre)
Does this song have what it takes to stand the test of time? Will it become a staple of the artist’s repertoire? As with the vast majority of other hit Rock songs that are coming out today, “World So Cold” is good enough where it will no doubt become a staple of the Three Days Grace catalog and repertoire, but in the overall scheme of hit Rock songs that stand the test of time, this one will eventually fade from the public eye – standing as a “period” piece.
- The chorus provides the listener with a great payoff and is very memorable in nature.
- The song makes great use of fluctuations in momentum, tension and intensity, each accentuating the section that follows.
- The lyrics are universal in nature, and jibe perfectly with the vibe of the music.
- New sections are introduced frequently throughout the song, keeping the listener engaged.
- The production values, though highly compressed, do a great job in accentuating the vibe present in each section of the song, especially in hammering home the huge chorus.
- As with quite a few other current hit Rock songs, “World So Cold” lacks in having its own unique identity within the genre, even though it does possess the “Three Days Grace sound”. As a result, it most likely will not stand the test of time when compared to other hit rock songs that do.
There are three primary factors that worked together in making “World So Cold” a hit:
- The Chorus: It’s huge, extremely memorable and provides the listener with a great payoff.
- Lyrical Content: The universal lyrical theme translates to anyone that has ever gone through the process of losing a loved one.
- Prosody: The lyrical theme present in each section of the song is perfectly accentuated and brought to life by the nature of the music. The end result is that the listener FEELS the pain that is being conveyed in the lyrics, taking the effectiveness of the song to a high level and connecting with the audience.
- If your song focuses around a huge chorus that is similar in nature to the one in “World So Cold”, try incorporating a pause or a significant decrease in momentum before entering the section. By “slamming” into the chorus after a lull, you’re going to provide the chorus with more impact, and wind up providing your listener with more of a payoff.
- Having numerous, varying sections within your song will aid in keeping the listener engaged. “World So Cold” has a total of 12.
- Make good use of momentum, tension and intensity shifts throughout your song. If your song is linear in nature, the listener is going to get bored. Change it up, WAKE them up. Keep them engaged.
- Prosody is extremely important in creating an effective song. The nature of your lyrics MUST jibe with the nature of the music. They need to feed off and accentuate each other. This is something that “World So Cold” does quite effectively.
- Lots of songs today (most prominently in Pop, but it’s starting to happen more frequently in Rock) incorporate a breakdown (spare) verse after a bridge or solo. This is a good way to provide the listener with an additional shift in momentum, and set up the section (most probably a huge chorus) that follows.