Imagine Dragons

Believer Deconstructed

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PRO Edition

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Based on the Hit Songs Deconstructed PRO report, Essentials delivers high-level takeaways through insightful section-by-section analysis illustrated with charts, graphs and commentary, providing an in-depth understanding of the hit songwriting and production techniques involved in crafting the song.

Believer Deconstructed Pro


Believer, the lead single from Imagine Dragons’ third studio album, Evolve, is the fruit of a collaboration between Imagine Dragons and Pop hitmakers Mattman & Robin and Justin Tranter, who have also co-written hits for Selena Gomez, DNCE and Nick Jonas, among many others. The single was released in February 2017 and, to date, has cracked the Top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100 and hit #1 on the Billboard US Adult Top 40 and Hot Rock Songs charts, where it’s been for more than 20 consecutive weeks.

Believer is a prime example of a song that connects with the masses by capitalizing on today’s compositional trends, while standing out from the pack and remaining true to the Imagine Dragons signature sound. This effective combination helped Believer to become one of Imagine Dragons’ most successful singles.

At a Glance


Group: Imagine Dragons
Song: Believer
Songwriters: Benjamin Arthur McKee, Daniel Coulter Reynolds, Daniel Platzman, Daniel Wayne Sermon, Justin Drew Tranter, Mattias Larsson, Robin Fredriksson
Producers: Mattman & Robin (Mattias Larsson, Robin Fredriksson)
Record Label:
Interscope
Primary Genre: Rock
Influences: Alt/Indie, Folk, Hip Hop/Rap
Length: 3:20
Full Form: I-A-PC-B-A-PC-B-A-PC-B
Key: Bb Minor

Tempo: 125 BPM
First Chorus: 0:53 / 27% of the way into the song
Intro Length: 0:08
Electronic vs. Acoustic Instrumentation: Acoustic/Electronic Combo
Prominent Instruments: Bass, drums/percussion, guitars, organ, effects
Primary Lyrical Theme: Inspiration
Title Appearances: Believer appears 18 times within the song
Primary Lyrical P.O.V: 1st, 2nd

Section Abbreviation Key

I=Intro
A=Verse
PC=Pre-Chorus
B=Chorus

Overview, Highlights & Takeaways


Standout Factors & Connection Accentuators

What follows are details about some of the key characteristics that help Believer to stand out among its mainstream contemporaries while simultaneously connecting with a wide-reaching audience.

Hooks & Payoffs

First Line Hook: Verse

Each verse stanza cleverly begins in a sequential manner, which provides the narrative with a uniquely engaging flow:

  • Verse 1, stanza 1: “First things first”
  • Verse 1, stanza 2: “Second things second”
  • Verse 2: “Third things third”
  • Verse 3: “Last things last”

Furthermore, each of these lines possess the same core melody, which reinforces the hook in the listener’s head as the song progresses.


The only recent hit that used a similar technique is 7 Years, which features the sequential “once I was X years old” line where X is an age that increases throughout the song.

Nonsense Vocal Hook: Verse

The last two lines in each verse stanza conclude with the nonsense “oh ooh” hook. This provides the verse with a left-of-center infectious spin due to the way its sung, and heightens memorability in the process.

Atypical Instrumental Hook

Believer’s main instrumental hook is its core drum/clap pattern, which is established in a solo manner in the intro and featured in every section save for the third verse. Its powerful, militaristic, march-type quality provides the song with a unique sound and vibe compared to many of its mainstream contemporaries, and effectively jibes with and accentuates the overcoming/embracing adversity, inspiration-themed narrative.

Powerful Payoff: Chorus

Believer’s powerful chorus functions as the primary payoff within the song due to its sonic, lyrical and melodic qualities. Sonically it’s the most powerful section in the song and features the densest arrangement, adding sub bass, distorted electric bass, organ, and additional guitars on top of the instrumentation from preceding sections. The intensity is augmented by the vocal characteristics, which for the most part are shouted and sung an octave above the other sections in the song providing the primary lyrical payoff, “PAIN! You made me a, you made me a believer, believer” with a heightened degree of impact and emphasis. Coupled with the line’s repetitive lyrical and melodic characteristics, this hook easily connects and resonates with the listener.


Unique C.I.A.’s (Chorus Impact Accentuators)

The impact of each chorus is heightened by the C.I.A. (chorus impact accentuator) moment that spans the last two beats of the pre-chorus and the first two beats of the chorus. The cinematic, video game / trailer quality of the woosh and lull provides an off-kilter moment that serves to heighten tension and anticipation between the lyrical cliffhanger at the end of the pre-chorus (“seein’ the beauty through the..”) and the resolution in the chorus (…”PAIN!”).

As a result, this technique serves to engage the listener at a heightened level and enables the payoff to hit with a great degree of impact. The C.I.A. returns in the second half of the chorus (which is very atypical in the Top 10 of the Hot 100), providing another off-kilter moment that heightens the impact of the section’s final “PAIN!” proclamation. Note that each C.I.A. within the song possesses a slightly differentiated quality compared to the others, which helps to keep it fresh and engaging with each iteration.

Standout Lyrics

Effective Specific and Universal Narrative Blend

Believer was written specifically about how pain has influenced the life and work of Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds, and the forthcoming, confessional narrative will no doubt heighten the fan base’s connection with Reynolds, and the band. However, the essence of the narrative is universal, and geared to connect with anyone who has gone through pain in their life and turned it into something positive, or inspire people who are currently going through pain to embrace it and turn it into a positive.

Unique Narrative Spin Through Religion

Religious lyrics are somewhat of an anomaly in the Top 10 of the Hot 100. Over the past few years there have only been a few songs that feature them, such as Don’t You Worry Child (Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin – 2013) and Take Me To Church (Hozier – 2014). Believer’s use of religious lyrics provides the song with a unique spin that enables it to further stand out among its mainstream contemporaries. Among them are lyrics such as “believer,” “prayer to the ones up above,” “spirit to a dove” and “grace of the fire and the flames.”

Standout Structure

Effective Structure: Verse

Each of Believer’s three verse sections features the same structure. The characteristics of the structure serves to get each respective section, and the song as a whole, further ingrained in the listener’s head.

Example:

  • Line 1 (Sequential lyrical hook): “First things first”
  • Line 2 (Narrative development): “I’ma say all the words inside my head”
  • Line 3 (Narrative development + nonsense hook): “I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been, oh ooh”
  • Line 4 (Repetition of preceding phrase): “The way that things have been, oh ooh”

Engaging Cross-Sectional Vocal Variations

Each like-section in the song (e.g. verse 1/verse 2) possesses a unique vocal quality. The verse sections are sung in a vibrant manner, the pre-choruses feature a monotone rapped-sung hybrid quality, which creates a greater sense of urgency and forward momentum as the song heads toward the chorus, and the chorus features a combination of shouts, animated high-register vocals and lower-register relaxed, assured vocals that accentuate the impact of the lyrical summation and payoff. Together these disparate vocal qualities provide the song with a high degree of engagement value.

KEY
Font Size: The larger the “x,” the higher the energy

vocal-delivery-chart-believer

Influence Fusion

Blend In and Stand Out Influence Fusion

Believer features a fusion of Rock, Alt/Indie, Folk and Hip Hop/Rap influences that shape its sound and vibe. This specific combination has not been featured in a Hot 100 Top 10 hit in well more than a few years. The closest match is recent Twenty One Pilots hits such as Heathens, Ride and Stressed Out, which feature Rock, Alt/Indie and Hip Hop/Rap influences.

Furthermore, while Alt/Indie, Folk and Rock influences are relatively uncommon in Hot 100 Top 10 hits (only around 15% of songs during the past year featured any of these influences), Hip Hop/Rap was the most popular, playing a role in 58% of songs. This, along with its other mainstream compositional qualities such as an easy-to-follow structure, an effective blend of repetition and contrast and a universal narrative among others, helped Believer connect and resonate with the masses.

Structure: Overview

Form: I / A – PC – B / A – PC – B / A – PC – B

Believer kicks off with the intro and is directly followed by 3x verse – pre-chorus – chorus sectional progression. The song concludes abruptly following the third chorus.

Song Length: Believer is 3:18 in length. Only 16% of Hot 100 Top 10 hits landed in the 3:00 – 3:29 range in Q2-2017.

Section Length: The first verse and all three choruses are the longest sections in the song, each clocking in at 30 seconds / 16 bars. The first two pre-choruses follow at 15 seconds / 8 bars, and the third pre-chorus and intro are the shortest, each 8 seconds / 4 bars in length.

Sectional Time Allocation: Of all the sections, the greatest amount of time is allocated to the chorus, which comprises 46% of Believer’s total composition. The verse follows at 31%, the pre-chorus at 19%, and the intro accounts for the least amount of time at just 4%.

First Chorus Appearance: Believer’s first chorus hits at 54 seconds / 27% of the way into the song. This is in-line with the most popular first chorus occurrence range in the Hot 100 Top 10 in Q2-2017. The listener is kept engaged up until this point by the infectious intro, verse and pre-chorus.

Energy & Dynamics: Overview

Believer progresses through three energy level “waves.” Each wave begins with a lower energy level compared to the section that precedes it, and concludes with an energy level peak.

  • Wave 1: Intro (I) – Chorus 1 (B-1)
  • Wave 2: Verse 2 (A-2) – Chorus 2 (B-2)
  • Wave 3: Verse 3 (A-3) – Chorus 3 (B-3)
At-A-Glance: Energy & Dynamics – Section By Section

KEY
Wave: Indicates cross-sectional energy level flow from low to high
Sectional Progression: Sections that appear twice back-to-back on the graph denote the first half vs. second half of a section (e.g. A-1, A-1)
C.I.A.: Chorus impact accentuator moment
MTI-Believer


Genres & Influences: Overview

Believer features a fusion of Rock, Alt/Indie, Folk and Hip Hop/Rap influences that shape its sound and vibe. These influences are in effect throughout the song except for Hip Hop, which is only featured in the pre-chorus sections.
influence-chart-believer

Narrative: Overview
Narrative

Believer is an inspiration-themed song about a protagonist who decides to embrace the pain in his life, turn it into a positive and become a better person for it. While the narrative pertains specifically to Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds, the underlying message is universal and wide-reaching. The narrative is communicated in a highly engaging and memorable manner via its religious references, clever analogies, hooks, and effective structure.

Narrative Flow: In-A-Nutshell
  • Verse 1: Establishes the proclamation/confessional format of the song and the premise of the narrative – the protagonist is “tired of the way that things have been,” and he’s “fired up” and ready for a change.
  • Verse 2: Advances the narrative by interjecting religion into the equation and the power of overcoming adversity by turning hate into peace.
  • Verse 3: Can be interpreted as the protagonist welcoming pain into his life, and that it’s the force that drives him in the present and the future as well.
  • Pre-Chorus 1: Advances the narrative toward the ensuing summation/payoff in the chorus by providing insight into how pain has impacted the protagonist’s life.
  • Pre-Chorus 2: Advances the narrative by focusing on the pain itself and the protagonist’s inability to suppress it, which leads to him embracing it in the chorus.
  • Pre-chorus 3: Same as the second stanza pre-chorus 2 – the protagonist is unable to suppress his pain.
  • Chorus: Provides the summation of the narrative in that the protagonist accepts and embraces his pain, and becomes a better person for it.
Vocals: Overview
Vocal Production

Believer features a host of different vocal characteristics that take its impact to a heightened level. Among them are sung, rapped, shouted and sung/shouted hybrid deliveries, solo and group vocals, doubling, multi-pitch harmony, and varying degrees of reverb. These characteristics change both within and across sections, which provides for a very engaging listening experience.

Melody

The vocal melody in Believer spans Ab3 to Db4 and utilizes both the Bb natural minor and Bb harmonic minor scales. Each of the song’s three verse sections features the same vibrantly-sung melody comprised of four melodic parts, with just some subtle differences between each occurrence preventing cookie-cutter monotony from occurring.

The pre-choruses provide contrast relative to the other sections in the song due to their monotone-esque, rapped/sung hybrid qualities. Pre-choruses 1 and 2 share two melodic part commonalities, which heightens like-section familiarity and memorability. However, pre-chorus 2 introduces a few new melodic parts as well, which heightens engagement.

The chorus provides contrast compared to the other sections due to the shouted quality of the vocals throughout much of the section, its higher register and the adherence to the K.I.S.S. ME (Keep It Simple, Singable and Memorable) principle more than any other section in the song. This is due to its highly repetitive structure within lines, across lines, and across stanzas.

Sectional Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Verse 1
verse-1-part-table-believer

Verse 2

verse-2-part-table-believer

Verse 3

verse-3-part-table-believer

Pre-Chorus 1

pre-chorus-1-part-table-believer

Pre-Chorus 2

pre-chorus-2-part-table-believer

Chorus

chorus-1-part-table-believer

Sectional Melodic Flow: At-A-Glance

Full Song
vocal-melody-full-believer

Verse 1

verse-1-melodic-direction-believer

Verse 2

verse-2-melodic-direction-believer

Verse 3

verse-3-melodic-direction-believer

Pre-Chorus 1

pre-chorus-1-melodic-direction-believer

Pre-Chorus 2

pre-chorus-2-melodic-direction-believer

Chorus

chorus-1-melodic-direction-believer

Rhyme Schemes: Overview

Believer features an effective combination of in-line and cross-line rhyme schemes as well as repetitive lyrics to bolster the song’s memorability factor and engagement value.

KEY
X: Non-rhyme
A & B: Rhymes
Lyrics: The primary rhymer at the end of each line
/: Divides the first stanza from the second where applicable

Verse 1: XAAA / XBBB (“first” – “head” – “been” – “been” / “second” – “be” – “sea” – “sea”)

Verse 2: XAAA (“third” – “a-bove” – “a dove” – “a-bove”)

Verse 3: XAAA (“last” – “flames” – “veins” – “veins”)

Pre-Chorus 1: XXXX / AAAX (“age” – “masses” – “few” – “me” / (“pain” – “veins” – “brain” – “the”)

Pre-Chorus 2: AAAA / XXXX (“crowd” – “cloud” – “ground” – “drown” /“flow-in’” – “limited” – “down” – “like”)

Pre-Chorus 3: XXXX (“flowin’” – “limited” – “down” – “like”)

Chorus: ABAB / AAXAB (“pain” – “believer” – “pain” – “believer” / “pain” – “rain” – “from” – “pain” – “believer”)

Instrumentation & Arrangement: Overview

Believer Arrangement

*Click image to enlarge

Instruments

Believer features five primary instrument types in the mix that shape its sound and vibe – bass, drums/perc, guitars, organ, and effects.

Bass: A variety of bass sounds are used throughout the song. They include distorted synth bass, sub bass, bass slide, and distorted electric bass.

Guitars: Fingerpicked acoustic guitar is one of the dominant instruments in in the song, and the four electric guitars used in the song include heavily distorted feedback, muted melodies, and picked arpeggios.

Organ: A layered organ sound possessing church, Hammond and synth pad qualities.

Drums/Percussion: A wide range of acoustic and electronic drums and percussion is utilized in Believer. Among the acoustic instruments are claps, kick, toms, snare and an assortment of cymbals and percussion. Varying types of electronic percussion are featured in select sections.

Effects: A layered woosh sound effect is used in transitions throughout the song

Harmony: Overview

Believer utilizes three chord progressions. The primary chord progression is used in the verses and pre-choruses 1 and 2. The second progression is a variation of the first progression and is used in the choruses. The third progression is differentiated relative to the first two and is used for the third pre-chorus.

  • Verse & Pre-chorus 1 & 2 progression: Bbm-Gb-Adim (Bbm: i-VI-vii°)
  • Pre-chorus 3 progression: Gbadd4-Ab-Adim (Bbm: VIadd4-VII-vii°)
  • Chorus progression: Bbm-Gb-F | Bbm-Gb-F | Bbm-Gb-Adim | Bbm-Gb-F (Bbm: i-VI-V | i-VI-V | i-VI-vii° | i-VI-V)

Song Structure


Timeline


Sections

Believer contains 10 sections in its framework:

  • One intro
  • *Three verse sections
  • *Three pre-chorus sections
  • Three chorus sections

*Outside of Hip Hop, songs possessing three verse sections are atypical in the Top 10 of the Hot 100. Possessing three pre-chorus sections is quite rare as well.

Form

Sections are arranged into the following form:

I / A – PC – B / A – PC – B / A – PC – B

Believer kicks off with the intro and is directly followed by 3x verse – pre-chorus – chorus sectional progression. The song concludes abruptly following the third chorus.

Bridge Surrogate Classification

Verse 3 and pre-chorus 3 function as bridge surrogates due to the departure they provide within the last third of the song in lieu of a bridge. Reference the Music & Instruments: Section by Section part of the report for details.

I – A – PC – B – A – PC – B – APC – B

Section Length
Time


Bars


The first verse and all three choruses are the longest sections in the song, each clocking in at 30 seconds / 16 bars in length. The first two pre-choruses follow at 15 seconds / 8 bars, and the third pre-chorus and intro are the shortest, each 8 seconds / 4 bars in length.

Sectional Segmentation

The following full sections are split into two individual stanzas which possess similar and contrasting characteristics. Their two-part structure serves to heighten memorability while keeping things fresh and engaging.

  • Verse 1: 30 seconds / 16 bars split into two 15-second / 8-bar stanzas.
  • All Choruses: 30 seconds / 16 bars split into two 15-second / 8-bar stanzas.
  • Pre-Choruses 1 & 2: 15 seconds / 8 bars split into two 8-second / 4-bar stanzas.
Total Section Breakdown


Of all the sections, the greatest amount of time is allocated to the chorus, which comprises 46% of Believer’s total composition. The verse follows at 31%, the pre-chorus at 19%, and the intro accounts for the least amount of time at just 4%.

Energy & Dynamics


Believer progresses through three energy level “waves.” Each wave except begins with a much lower energy level compared to the section that precedes it, and concludes with an energy level peak.

KEY
Wave: Indicates cross-sectional energy level flow from low to high
Sectional Progression: Sections that appear twice back-to-back on the graph denote the first half vs. second half of a section (e.g. A-1, A-1)
C.I.A.: Chorus impact accentuator moment



  • Wave 1: Intro (I) – Chorus 1 (B-1)
  • Wave 2: Verse 2 (A-2) – Chorus 2 (B-2)
  • Wave 3: Verse 3 (A-3) – Chorus 3 (B-3)
Wave 1: Intro (I) – Chorus 1 (B-1)
Intro (I)

Believer begins with an attention-grabbing burst of power, which is put into effect by the distorted synth bass stab and slide. The march-style drums/percussion puts the song into motion and locks the listener into the infectious groove that remains in effect throughout the section.


intro-waveform-believer

Verse 1 (A-1)

With the drum/perc groove from the intro remaining in effect, the energy level is kicked up a notch in the first verse due to the addition of Reynolds’ vocals and acoustic guitar. The guitar plays an arpeggiated pattern that provides the section with additional forward momentum, and bass slides provide subtle bursts of power and mark phrases.


verse-1-waveform-believer

Pre-Chorus 1 (PC-1)

The energy level is kicked up in the pre-chorus due to Reynolds’ shift to a rapped/sung hybrid delivery consisting primarily of swung eighth notes and triplets. This provides increased forward momentum and a more urgent vibe as the song heads toward the payoff in the chorus. The accompaniment remains the same as it was in the preceding verse.


pre-chorus-1-waveform-believer

Cross-Section Chorus Impact Accentuator #1

During the last two beats of the pre-chorus a major shift in the arrangement transpires where the preceding vocals and accompaniment are pulled, and a woosh effect is employed. The woosh swell cuts off abruptly at the onset of the chorus, at which point the distorted synth bass stab/slide that kicked the off the song makes a return, followed by another woosh that occupies the first two beats of the chorus.

The full chorus impact accentuator moment spans four beats and provides an off-kilter, cinematic, video game / trailer-type moment that serves to engage the listener at a heightened level as the song heads into its primary sectional payoff.

Chorus 1 (B-1)

The tension that had been building through the intro, verse, and pre-chorus and culminating in the chorus impact accentuator moment is released on beat 3 of the chorus, where the “PAIN!” proclamation sounds in tandem with the drum/china cymbal hit. The song’s energy is thrust up to its first peak, where it remains throughout the section.

In the first stanza, the heightened energy is due in part to the addition of new instruments such as sub bass, organ, electric guitar feedback and hi-hats, the more pronounced characteristics of the snare, and the shouted and sung/shouted hybrid qualities of the vocals.

The energy level remains relatively constant in the first half of the second stanza due to the tradeoff between the more subdued/non-shouted vocals and the introduction of the heavily distorted electric bass.

In-Section Chorus Impact Accentuator #1

At the midway point in the second stanza, all the elements are pulled from the mix while another woosh – distorted synth bass stab/slide – woosh transitional effect is employed. This creates another unexpected off-kilter moment that serves to engage the listener at a heightened level and enable the “PAIN!” proclamation that follows to hit with increased impact and vigor.


chorus-1-waveform-believer

Wave 2: Verse 2 (A-2) – Chorus 2 (B-2)
Verse 2 (A-2)

The energy level is brought back down in the second verse following the intense chorus, marking the beginning of the song’s second energy level wave. The lower comparative energy is due in part to the omission of chorus accompaniment elements, most notably the sustained bass and organ, as well as the less intense quality of the vocals (i.e. sung an octave lower in a non-shouted manner).

However, the energy level of the second verse is a notch higher than its verse 1 counterpart due to the additional percussion, harmonized “ooh’s,” and muted electric guitar that enters in the second half of the section.


verse-2-waveform-believer

Pre-Chorus 2 (PC-2)

The energy level is kicked up a notch in the first half of the pre-chorus due to Reynolds’ shift to a rapped/sung hybrid delivery, the addition of a second electric guitar that harmonizes with the first, and additional percussion. The level further increases in the second half of the section due to Reynolds’ rapid-fire triplet delivery lasting for more than two straight measures. This, as well as the other characteristics of the section provide the second pre-chorus with a higher energy level compared to its pre-chorus 1 counterpart.

pre-chorus-2-waveform-believer

Cross-Section Chorus Impact Accentuator #2

The cross-section impact accentuator that transitions into the second chorus possesses both commonalities and differences with its chorus 1 counterpart. While it occurs in the same spot, it begins with a triplet drum buildup and riser effect, which creates a greater degree of tension at the end of the pre-chorus and puts the impact accentuator into motion.

Chorus 2 (B-2)

Following the chorus impact accentuator transitional moment, the energy level of the song is thrust up to a new peak, which is a notch higher than the first chorus. This is primarily due to additional percussion and the electric guitar arpeggio being added to the mix, both of which are not featured in the first chorus.

In-Section Chorus Impact Accentuator #2

Essentially the same woosh – distorted bass stab/slide – woosh impact accentuator that was featured in the second half of the first chorus is utilized in chorus 2.


chorus-2-waveform-believer

Wave 3: Verse 3 (A-3) – Chorus 3 (B-3)
Verse 3 (A-3)

Following the energy level peak in the preceding chorus, the energy drops to its lowest level in the song in the third verse, which provides engaging cross-section contrast and marks the beginning of the third and final energy wave. This is due to the section’s sparse arrangement, consisting solely of Reynolds’ vocals and acoustic guitar arpeggio accompaniment.

The level increases a tad toward the end of the section due to the addition of the organ, which essentially functions as a pickup into the pre-chorus that follows.


Pre-Chorus 3 (PC-3)

The energy level is kicked up in the third pre-chorus due in part to accompaniment additions such as metallic sounding percussion, sub bass and toms, as well as Reynolds’ shift to the rapid-fire triplet rapped/sung hybrid vocal delivery that also defines the second stanza of pre-chorus 2.


pre-chorus-3-waveform-believer

Cross-Section Chorus Impact Accentuator #3

The cross-section impact accentuator that transitions into the third chorus possesses both commonalities and differences with its chorus 1 and chorus 2 counterparts. While it occurs in the same spot, certain characteristics have been changed up.

Whereas the first two impact accentuators followed a woosh –distorted bass stab/slide – woosh progression, the third does away with the first woosh and distorted bass stab/slide, leaving silence instead. The silence is broken by a woosh into a drum/china cymbal hit much like in the first two accentuators, but this time adds a drum roll crescendo as well. The addition of the drum roll and the contrast to the silence at the transition point makes this the most dynamic of all three impact accentuators, thus greatly heightening the impact of the third and final chorus.

Chorus 3 (B-3)

The third and final chorus possesses the highest energy level in the entire song. This is due to its dense arrangement, consisting of most of the instruments that appeared in the preceding sections coupled with changed up characteristics and new additions. Among the most notable are the heavily distorted electric bass being in effect throughout the entire section, and additional background vocals, respectively.

In-Section Chorus Impact Accentuator #3

The in-section impact accentuator moment that transpires in the third chorus possesses both commonalities and differences with its chorus 1 and chorus 2 counterparts. While it occurs in the same spot – at the midway point in the second stanza – its characteristics have been changed up.

Here, a woosh and toms playing triplets take the intensity level to an apex, but instead of being followed by the bass stab/slide, two beats of near silence are employed. This is followed by a breathy woosh that ushers in the “PAIN!” proclamation that follows. This brief, pronounced lull coupled with the unexpected changeup in implementation enables the balance of the chorus to hit with the greatest impact in the scope of the song, and engages the listener at a heightened level as it nears its conclusion.

Following the in-section impact accentuator, the energy is thrust back up to an apex where it remains until the song cuts off abruptly at the end.


chorus-3-waveform-believer

Genres & Influences


Many of today’s hits feature a fusion of different genres, sub-genres and influences that helps to achieve the following:

  • Provide the song with a unique sound that enables it to stand out from its mainstream contemporaries via interesting and at times unconventional pairings.
  • Increase the fan base and sales potential of the artist and song by traversing multiple genres.
Primary Influences

Believer features a fusion of Rock, Alt/Indie, Folk and Hip Hop/Rap influences that shape its sound and vibe. These influences are in effect throughout the entire song except for Hip Hop, which is only featured in the pre-chorus sections.


Rock & Alt/Indie

The entire song possesses a Rock and Alt/Indie influence, which is put into effect by the edgy characteristics of both the accompaniment (acoustic drums, electric guitars, distorted bass) and vocals.

Folk

The Folk influence is primarily put into effect by the arpeggiated acoustic guitar heard throughout the majority of the song and is augmented by the sparseness of the arrangement in the first and third verses and third pre-chorus.

Hip Hop/Rap

The Hip Hop/Rap influence is featured exclusively in the pre-chorus sections and is put into effect by the rapped characteristics of Reynolds’ lead vocal.

Primary Instruments


Believer features five primary instrument types in the mix that shape its sound and vibe – bass, drums/percussion, guitars, organ, and effects.

*Click image to enlarge

Bass

Four different bass sounds play important roles throughout Believer.

Distorted Synth Bass

This distorted synth bass sound is first heard at the very beginning of the song, and then at the beginning and halfway through the second stanza (part Y) of choruses one and two. It is accompanied by the bass slide in each occurrence.

Bass Slide

This is a descending glissando used to emphasize phrasing. It accompanies the distorted synth bass each time that instrument appears, and appears independently in verses 1 and 2, pre-choruses 1 and 2, and chorus 1.

Sub Bass

This low, droning bass provides prominent low end in each chorus, and subtle low end in pre-chorus 3.

Electric Bass

A heavily distorted electric bass is featured exclusively in the chorus sections. Its use becomes more widespread in each subsequent chorus, appearing in the first half of part Y in chorus 1, nearly all of part Y of chorus 2, and almost the entirety of chorus 3, with the exception of the impact accentuator moments.

Organ
Layered Organ

A layered organ sound possessing church, Hammond and synth pad qualities is featured in each chorus, the end of verse 3, and throughout pre-chorus 3. It jibes with and accentuates the underlying religious connotation of the lyrics.

Guitar

One acoustic guitar and four different electric guitars are featured throughout Believer.

Acoustic Guitar

Fingerpicked acoustic guitar is one of the dominant instruments in Believer. It is featured in every section save for the third pre-chorus, and provides an underlying Folk and Singer/Songwriter vibe.
Believer_Guitar

Electric Guitar 1 (Feedback)

Heavily distorted electric guitar feedback provides a brief burst of intensity leading into the “PAIN!” proclamation halfway through the first stanza (part X), and is featured as part as the impact accentuator halfway through the second stanza (part Y) in each chorus.

Electric Guitar 2 (Picked)

Electric guitar playing arpeggiated chords doubles the acoustic guitar an octave up in choruses 2 and 3.

Electric Guitar 3 (Muted)

Electric guitar playing a muted, high-pitched, single-line melody is featured in the second half of verse 2, pre-chorus 2, and chorus 3.

Electric Guitar 4 (Muted)

This electric guitar playing a muted melody harmonizes with muted electric guitar 3 in pre-chorus 2.

Drums/Percussion

A wide range of drums and percussion is utilized in Believer.

Claps (Acoustic)

Multiple layers of claps are utilized in the manner that hi-hat and snare drum typically would be in the first two verses and pre-choruses. They are utilized in all three choruses as well, but are less prominent in the mix due to the overall density of the mix.
Believer_Claps

Kick (Acoustic)

An acoustic kick works in tandem with the toms in pushing the momentum of the song forward. It is present in every section save for the third pre-chorus.
Believer_Kick

Toms (Acoustic)

Acoustic toms, a common element in Imagine Dragons songs, are used throughout Believer to impart a driving, tribal, and somewhat militaristic vibe. They’re featured in every section save for the third verse.
Believer_Toms

Snare (Acoustic)

Snare drum is layered in on beat three of each measure in the intro, verses 1 and 2, pre-choruses 1 and 2, and every chorus to help reinforce the backbeat.
Believer_Snare

Drum Groove

Believer_Full

The claps, snare, toms, and kick team up to create the main drum groove that is in effect in every section of the song save for the bridge surrogates – verse 3 and pre-chorus 3. The triplet part in the kick and toms gives the groove a sense of constant motion which is also aided by the steady quarter note claps. The snare and additional claps team up to create the backbeat that punctuates beat 3 of each measure. The groove and timbre of these percussion instruments jibe with the “toughness” and “strength” themes of the song’s narrative.

Cymbals (Acoustic)

Hi-Hat

Hi-hat is used to fill out the drum beat in the choruses and second pre-chorus.

Crash Cymbal

Crash cymbal is used at the onset and in select other instances in each chorus (reference the Logic arrangement for details).

China Cymbal

Crash cymbal is used at the onset and in select other instances in each chorus (reference the Logic arrangement for details).

Splash Cymbal

Splash cymbal is used only once, sounding three-quarters of the way through the first chorus.

Drum Roll (Acoustic)

Two different low-pitched drum rolls are used. The first is used to transition into the third pre-chorus. The second is more prominent, lower in pitch and used to transition into the third chorus.

Percussion Layer 1 (Acoustic)

The first percussion layer enters in the second verse and is subsequently used in pre-chorus 2 & 3, and chorus 2 & 3. It has an acoustic, metallic timbre and plays steady eighth note triplets.

Percussion Layer 2 (Electronic)

This electronic percussion layer plays steady eighth note triplets in the second stanza of chorus 2 & 3.

Percussion Layer 3 (Electronic)

This electronic percussion layer has an industrial electronic timbre and plays steady eighth note triplets in the second pre-chorus.

Percussion Layer 4 (Electronic)

This electronic percussion plays on beat two of every measure in the last chorus and has an effect similar to that of an open hi-hat.

Effects
Woosh

A layered woosh sound effect is used in transitions throughout the song (see the Logic arrangement for details). It is most prominent in the transitions into each chorus, and has the characteristics of reversed claps, reverse snare, and white noise.

White Noise

A white noise hit with long decay is used in chorus 3 at the onset and halfway through the second stanza (part Y). It helps to achieve the dense, energetic mix of the final chorus.

Music & Instruments: Section By Section


Intro (0:00 – 0:08)
Primary Instruments Featured In The Mix
  • Dist. Syn. Bass: (Low fuzzy synth – Level: Mid)
  • Bass Slide: (Descending bass slide – Level: Mid)
  • Claps (Acoustic): (Acoustic claps – Level: Mid)
  • Kick (Acoustic): (Punchy acoustic kick – Level: Mid)
  • Toms (Acoustic): (Punchy acoustic toms – Level: Mid)
  • Snare (Acoustic): (Sounds on beat 3) – Level: Mid)
Chord Progression: Bbm-Gb-Adim (Bbm: i-VI-vii°)
Characteristics

Clocking in at just 8 seconds, the intro is one of the two shortest sections in the song and features the sparsest arrangement – drums, claps and bass. It begins with a single distorted synth bass stab and slide in conjunction with the drums and claps, which remain in effect for the duration of the section.

  • The distorted synth bass stab and slide at the onset functions as an effective attention-grabbing device due to their powerful and atypical quality in relation to many of the song’s mainstream contemporaries. They return at specific points throughout the song, heightening familiarity and embellishing the sections in which they’re featured.
  • The drums and claps form the primary instrumental hook and lock the listener into the infectious core groove that remains in effect throughout the majority of the song.
  • The march-style drum/perc pattern establishes a vibe that jibes with and accentuates the inspirational lyrical theme and the strength exhibited by the protagonist.
  • Beginning a song with a solo drum hook is quite atypical in the Top 10 of the Hot 100 (Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off is one notable exception). As a result, this characteristic helps Believer to easily cut through airwave clutter and grab the listener’s attention in an airplay environment.

Transition Point (Intro to Verse 1): Turns on a dime.

Verse 1 (0:08 – 0:38)
Primary Instruments Featured In The Mix
Part X (0:08 – 0:23)
Part Y (0:23 – 0:38)
  • Bass Slide: (Descending bass slide – Level: Mid)
  • Claps (Acoustic): (Acoustic claps – Level: Mid)
  • Kick (Acoustic): (Punchy acoustic kick – Level: Mid)
  • Toms (Acoustic): (Punchy acoustic toms – Level: Mid)
  • Snare (Acoustic): (Sounds on beat 3) – Level: Mid)
  • **Acoustic Guitar: (Fingerpicked – Level: Mid)

**Indicates the first appearance of an instrument in the mix

Chord Progression: Bbm-Gb-Adim (Bbm: i-VI-vii°)
Characteristics

The first verse features the same drum/clap pattern as the intro, which keeps the listener locked in the infectious march-styled groove. The bass slide is also featured (although without the distorted synth bass accompaniment as featured in the intro), sounding halfway through the first stanza and at the beginning and halfway point of the second stanza.

The new edition to the section is acoustic guitar. The fingerpicked, arpeggiated chords provide additional forward momentum, color, and an underlying folk vibe.

Transition Point (Verse 1 into Pre-Chorus 1): The first verse transitions seamlessly into the pre-chorus.

Pre-Chorus 1 (0:38– 0:53)
Primary Instruments Featured In The Mix
Part X (0:38 – 0:46)
  • Bass Slide: (Descending bass slide – Level: Mid)
  • Claps (Acoustic): (Acoustic claps – Level: Mid)
  • Kick (Acoustic): (Punchy acoustic kick – Level: Mid)
  • Toms (Acoustic): (Punchy acoustic toms – Level: Mid)
  • Snare (Acoustic): (Sounds on beat 3) – Level: Mid)
  • Acoustic Guitar: (Fingerpicked – Level: Mid)
Part Y (0:46 – 0:53)

Same as Part X with the addition of:

  • **Woosh: (Cinematic sound effects – Level: Mid)

**Indicates the first appearance of an instrument in the mix

Chord Progression: Bbm-Gb-Adim (Bbm: i-VI-vii°)
Characteristics

The accompaniment from the verse carries over into the pre-chorus in an unadulterated manner. This provides groove and vibe continuity between sections, and enables the significantly changed up vocals to take center stage in the mix (i.e. the shift to Reynolds’ rapped/sung hybrid delivery).

Transition Point (Pre-Chorus 1 into Chorus 1):  During the last two beats of the pre-chorus a major shift in the arrangement transpires where the preceding vocals and accompaniment are pulled, and a woosh effect is employed. The woosh swell cuts off abruptly at the onset of the chorus, at which point the distorted synth bass stab/slide that kicked the off the song makes a return, followed by another woosh that occupies the first two beats of the chorus. This chorus impact accentuator moment spans four beats and provides an off-kilter, cinematic, video game / trailer-type moment that serves to engage the listener at a heightened level as the song heads into its primary sectional payoff.

Chorus 1 (0:53 – 1:24)
Primary Instruments Featured In The Mix
Part X (0:53 – 1:09)
  • Dist. Syn. Bass: (Low fuzzy synth – Level: Mid)
  • Bass Slide: (Descending bass slide – Level: Mid)
  • **Sub Bass: (Sine wave bass – Level: Mid)
  • Claps (Acoustic): (Acoustic claps – Level: Mid)
  • Kick (Acoustic): (Punchy acoustic kick – Level: Mid)
  • Toms (Acoustic): (Punchy acoustic toms – Level: Mid)
  • Snare (Acoustic): (Sounds on beat 3) – Level: Mid)
  • **Hi-Hat (Acoustic): (Quarter notes – Level: Mid)
  • **Crash Cymbal: (Acoustic crash cymbal hit – Level: Mid)
  • **china Cymbal: (Acoustic china cymbal hit – Level: Mid)
  • **Splash Cymbal: (Acoustic splash cymbal hit – Level: Mid)
  • Acoustic Guitar: (Fingerpicked – Level: Mid)
  • **Electric Guitar 1 (Feedback): (Noisy electric guitar – Level: Mid)
  • **Organ: (Sustained Chords – Level: Mid)
  • Woosh: (Cinematic sound effects – Level: Mid)
Part Y (1:09 – 1:24)

Same as Part X with the following additions:

  • **Electric Bass: (Distorted electric bass – Level: Mid)
  • **Percussion Layer 2 (Electronic): (Steady triplets – Level: Low)

**Indicates the first appearance of an instrument in the mix

Chord Progression: Bbm-Gb-F | Bbm-Gb-F | Bbm-Gb-Adim | Bbm-Gb-F (Bbm: i-VI-V | i-VI-V | i-VI-vii° | i-VI-V)
Characteristics

Following the woosh and bass stab/slide chorus impact accentuator that spans the last two beats of the pre-chorus and first two beats of the chorus, the full chorus accompaniment hits hard on beat 3, marked by a snare and china cymbal hit. This accentuates the impact of the shouted “PAIN!” vocal, and kicks the chorus into gear.

The section features both carryover material from the pre-chorus and introduces new material in both stanzas. As a result, the engagement value of the section, and the song, is heightened, while familiar elements from the preceding sections help to make the song more memorable.

Carryover Material

The full accompaniment from the pre-chorus carries over into the chorus, which provides familiarity between sections.

New Material

The following instruments make their first appearance in the first stanza of the chorus:

  • Sub Bass: Playing sustained notes, the sub bass outlines the chord progression throughout the section, providing more bottom end and a greater sense of underlying power.
  • Organ: Playing sustained notes, the organ follows the chord progression and provides the section with additional color and an underlying dark, semi-eerie, Retro 70’s vibe.
  • Electric Guitar: A burst of heavily distorted electric guitar feedback followed by a string bend is featured at the midway point of the first stanza. This provides an intense, tension-laden lead-in to the shouted “PAIN!” that follows.
  • Drums/Percussion: Hi-hat is added to the mix, which further fills out the core drum groove that has been in effect since the very beginning of the song. The snare remains in effect but now is now brighter, has more attack, and is more prominent in the mix compared to the preceding sections.
  • Woosh: A woosh effect enters the mix toward the end of the first stanza, functioning as a subtle transitional element leading into the second stanza that follows.

In the second stanza, a heavily distorted electric bass that follows the chord progression is added to the mix and remains in effect for the first four bars. Its addition provides the section with a greater sense of power and foreboding, and helps to keep the intensity level at a high by offsetting the changeover to the more subdued sung vocals on lines 5, 6 and 7 as opposed to the shouted and sung/shouted hybrid vocals that define the first stanza. Low-level electronic percussion is also introduced, further filling out the groove and providing additional color and texture.

At the midway point in the second stanza, all the elements are pulled from the mix while another woosh – distorted synth bass stab/slide – woosh transitional effect is employed. This creates another unexpected off-kilter moment that serves to engage the listener at a heightened level and enable the “PAIN!” proclamation that follows to hit with increased impact and vigor.

Following this transitional moment, the heavily distorted electric bass is removed from the mix as the intense vocals from the first stanza return (lines 1 and 2 from the first stanza are repeated verbatim).

Transition Point (Chorus 1 into Verse 2): A bass slide marks the beginning of the second verse.

Verse 2 (1:24 – 1:39)
Primary Instruments Featured In The Mix
  • Bass Slide: (Descending bass slide – Level: Mid)
  • Claps (Acoustic): (Acoustic claps – Level: Mid)
  • Kick (Acoustic): (Punchy acoustic kick – Level: Mid)
  • Toms (Acoustic): (Punchy acoustic toms – Level: Mid)
  • Snare (Acoustic): (Sounds on beat 3) – Level: Mid)
  • **Perc. Layer 1 (Acoustic): (Plays steady triplets – Level: Mid)
  • *Acoustic Guitar: (Fingerpicked – Level: Mid)
  • **Electric Guitar 3 (Muted): (Picked, single note – Level: Mid)

*Indicates a new or significantly changed up instrument in the mix compared to the preceding section
**Indicates the first appearance of an instrument in the mix

Chord Progression: Bbm-Gb-Adim (Bbm: i-VI-vii°)
Characteristics

Following the intense chorus, which features the highest energy and densest arrangement in the song thus far, the second verse brings the energy back down and opens the arrangement back up by reverting to the acoustic guitar and core drum/perc pattern that defines the first verse. As a result, the listener remains locked in the infectious groove, and like-section accompaniment familiarity is imparted.

However, there are a few notable accompaniment differences between verse sections, which accentuates the engagement value of the song due to the like-section contrast imparted.

  • Percussion with a metallic timbre is added into the mix.
  • The snare is more prominent in the mix than it was in the first verse.
  • Electric guitar playing a muted, high-pitched, single-line melody is introduced in the second half of the section.

These additions and changeups provide the core groove with additional dimension, the section with additional color and texture, and a higher energy level compared to the first verse.

Transition Point (Verse 2 into Pre-Chorus 2): The second verse seamlessly transitions into the pre-chorus.

Pre-Chorus 2 (1:39–1:56)
Primary Instruments Featured In The Mix
Part X (1:39 – 1:47)
  • Bass Slide: (Descending bass slide – Level: Mid)
  • Claps (Acoustic): (Acoustic claps – Level: Mid)
  • Kick (Acoustic): (Punchy acoustic kick – Level: Mid)
  • Toms (Acoustic): (Punchy acoustic toms – Level: Mid)
  • Snare (Acoustic): (Sounds on beat 3) – Level: Mid)
  • *Hi-Hat (Acoustic): (Quarter notes – Level: Mid)
  • Perc. Layer 1 (Acoustic): (Plays steady triplets – Level: Mid)
  • **Perc. Layer 3 (Electronic): (Quarter notes – Level: Low)
  • Acoustic Guitar: (Fingerpicked – Level: Mid)
  • Electric Guitar 3 (Muted): (Picked, single note – Level: Mid)
  • **Electric Guitar 4 (Muted): (Picked, harmonizes with muted. el. gtr. 1 – Level: Mid)
Part Y (1:47 – 1:56)

Same as Part X with the following additions:

  • *Woosh: (Cinematic sound effects – Level: Mid)

**Indicates the first appearance of an instrument in the mix
*Indicates a new or significantly changed up instrument in the mix compared to the preceding section

Chord Progression: Bbm-Gb-Adim (Bbm: i-VI-vii°)
Characteristics

The accompaniment from the preceding verse carries over into the pre-chorus, which provides continuity between sections. Additionally, a second electric guitar playing a muted melody is introduced, which harmonizes with the electric guitar that remains in effect from the preceding verse.

Both guitars now span the stereo field (guitar 1 is panned right, guitar 2 is panned left), and along with the additional percussion provide the second pre-chorus with a denser, more intense vibe compared to the verse that precedes it as well as its pre-chorus 1 counterpart. Note that this jibes with and accentuates the more intense, driving characteristic of Reynolds’ vocal in the second half of the section, creating a greater sense of urgency and forward momentum as the song heads toward the second chorus.

Transition Point (Pre-Chorus 2 into Chorus 2): The impact accentuator moment that transitions into the second chorus possesses both commonalities and differences with its chorus 1 counterpart. While it occurs in the same spot, it begins with a triplet drum buildup and riser effect, which creates a greater degree of tension at the end of the pre-chorus and puts the impact accentuator into motion. Additionally, the riser effect at the end of the pre-chorus begins at a lower level than in the first chorus impact accentuator.

Chorus 2 (1:56 – 2:25)
Primary Instruments Featured In The Mix
Part X (1:56 –2:10)
  • *Dist. Syn. Bass: (Low fuzzy synth – Level: Mid)
  • Bass Slide: (Descending bass slide – Level: Mid)
  • *Sub Bass: (Sine wave bass – Level: Mid)
  • Claps (Acoustic): (Acoustic claps – Level: Mid)
  • Kick (Acoustic): (Punchy acoustic kick – Level: Mid)
  • Toms (Acoustic): (Punchy acoustic toms – Level: Mid)
  • Snare (Acoustic): (Sounds on beat 3) – Level: Mid)
  • Hi-Hat (Acoustic): (Quarter notes – Level: Mid)
  • *Crash Cymbal: (Acoustic crash cymbal hit – Level: Mid)
  • *china Cymbal: (Acoustic china cymbal hit – Level: Mid)
  • Perc. Layer 1 (Acoustic): (Plays steady triplets – Level: Mid)
  • Acoustic Guitar: (Fingerpicked – Level: Mid)
  • *Electric Guitar 1 (Feedback): (Noisy electric guitar – Level: Mid)
  • **Electric Guitar 2: (Picked arpeggiated chords – Level: Mid)
  • *Organ: (Sustained Chords – Level: Mid)
  • Woosh: (Cinematic sound effects – Level: Mid)
Part Y (2:10 – 2:25)

Same as Part X with the following additions:

  • *Electric Bass: (Distorted electric bass – Level: Mid)
  • *Perc. Layer 2 (Electronic): (Steady triplets – Level: Low)

*Indicates a new or significantly changed up instrument in the mix compared to the preceding section
**Indicates the first appearance of an instrument in the mix

Chord Progression: Bbm-Gb-F | Bbm-Gb-F | Bbm-Gb-Adim | Bbm-Gb-F (Bbm: i-VI-V | i-VI-V | i-VI-vii° | i-VI-V)
Characteristics

Chorus 2 features the same core accompaniment characteristics as its chorus 1 counterpart, which along with the vocal and lyrical commonalities heightens familiarity and memorability of the song’s primary sectional payoff.

There are, however, a few new additions and changeups that provide engaging like-section contrast:

  • The metallic-sounding percussion from the preceding verse and pre-chorus remains in effect.
  • Arpeggiated electric guitar doubles the acoustic guitar arpeggios an octave higher.
  • The heavily distorted electric bass is reinstated following the mid-second stanza transitional moment. It didn’t return in the first chorus.

These changeups and additions provide the second chorus with additional color, texture and heightened intensity compared to the first chorus.

Transition Point (Chorus 2 to Verse 3): Turns on a dime.

Verse 3 (2:25 – 2:41)
Primary Instruments Featured In The Mix
  • *Kick (Acoustic): (Single hit at onset of section – Level: Mid)
  • *Toms (Acoustic): (Single hit at onset of section – Level: Mid)
  • **Drum Roll: (Swell on bass drum – Level: Low)
  • Acoustic Guitar: (Fingerpicked – Level: Mid)
  • *Organ: (Enters at transition – Level: Mid)

*Indicates a new or significantly changed up instrument in the mix compared to the preceding section
**Indicates the first appearance of an instrument in the mix

Chord Progression: Bbm-Gb-Adim (Bbm: i-VI-vii°)
Characteristics

Following the second chorus, which features the densest and most powerful arrangement in the song thus far, verse 3 shifts gears on a pronounced level by going into breakdown mode. All of the accompaniment elements are pulled from the mix save for the acoustic guitar, which serves as the sole backdrop to Reynolds’ vocals throughout the majority of the section.

Considering that the song does not contain a bridge, the pronounced cross-section and like-section contrast imparted by the verse 3 bridge surrogate dramatically heightens the engagement value of the song, right around where one would typically expect to find a bridge (i.e. between two-thirds and three-quarters of the way in).

On the third beat of the seventh measure organ is introduced for the first time in a verse section (it had previously only been featured in the chorus sections). This provides additional contrast compared to the other verse sections, and essentially functions as a pickup into the pre-chorus that follows.

Transition Point (Verse 3 into Pre-Chorus 3):  A low-level cinematic-style drum roll enters at the tail end of the verse, ushering in the pre-chorus that follows.

Pre-Chorus 3 (2:42 – 3:01)
Primary Instruments Featured In The Mix
  • *Sub Bass: (Sine wave bass – Level: Mid)
  • *Toms (Acoustic): (Punchy acoustic toms – Level: Mid)
  • *Perc. Layer 1 (Acoustic): (Plays steady triplets – Level: Mid)
  • *Organ: (Sustained chords – Level: Mid)

*Indicates a new or significantly changed up instrument in the mix compared to the preceding section

Chord Progression: Gbadd4-Ab-Adim (Bbm: VI(add4)-VII-vii°)
Characteristics

Pre-chorus 3 provides a pronounced departure compared to the other pre-chorus sections in the song, just as verse 3 does compared to the other verse sections:

  • The organ, which was introduced in the last bar of the preceding verse, remains in effect throughout the section. Note that this is the only pre-chorus section in the song that features organ in the mix.
  • Metallic sounding percussion, which was previously only featured in the second verse, pre-chorus and chorus but pulled in the third verse, is added back into the mix.
  • Sub bass provides an underlying sense of power and bottom end.
  • The chord progression is changed up to begin with a major chord. This creates the feeling of a harmonic arrival point, which enhances the emotional impact of the section and jibes with the resolved/acceptance connotation of the lyrics.
  • The core groove is thinned compared to the other sections, consisting only of tom triplets. While this provides pronounced and engaging contrast, the inclusion of the tom triplets provides familiarity as well.

Together, these accompaniment elements provide the section with a dramatic, triumphant vibe, which jibes with and accentuates the song’s embracing adversity lyrical theme and provides a victorious entry into the third and final chorus, where the protagonist uses pain to better himself.

Transition Point (Pre-Chorus 3 to Chorus 3): The cross-section impact accentuator that transitions into the third chorus possesses both commonalities and differences with its chorus 1 and chorus 2 counterparts. While it occurs in the same spot, certain characteristics have been changed up.

Whereas the first two impact accentuators followed a woosh – bass stab/slide – woosh progression, the third does away with the first woosh and bass stab/slide, leaving silence instead. The silence is broken by a woosh into a drum/china cymbal hit much like in the first two accentuators, but this time adds a drum roll crescendo as well. The addition of the drum roll and the contrast to the silence at the transition points makes this the most dynamic of all three impact accentuators, thus greatly heightening the impact of the third and final chorus.

Chorus 3 (2:48 – 3:20)
Primary Instruments Featured In The Mix
Part X (2:48 – 3:04)
  • *Electric Bass: (Distorted electric bass – Level: Mid)
  • Sub Bass: (Sine wave bass – Level: Mid)
  • *Claps (Acoustic): (Acoustic claps – Level: Mid)
  • *Kick (Acoustic): (Punchy acoustic kick – Level: Mid)
  • Toms (Acoustic): (Punchy acoustic toms – Level: Mid)
  • *Snare (Acoustic): (Sounds on beat 3) – Level: Mid)
  • *Hi-Hat (Acoustic): (Quarter notes – Level: Mid)
  • *Crash Cymbal: (Acoustic crash cymbal hit – Level: Mid)
  • *china Cymbal: (Acoustic china cymbal hit – Level: Mid)
  • *Drum Roll: (Swell on bass drum – Level: Mid)
  • Perc. Layer 1 (Acoustic): (Plays steady triplets – Level: Mid)
  • **Perc. Layer 4 (Electronic): (Plays on beat 2 of each bar – Level: Low)
  • Acoustic Guitar: (Fingerpicked – Level: Mid)
  • *Electric Guitar 1 (Feedback): (Noisy electric guitar – Level: Mid)
  • *Electric Guitar 2 (Picked): (Picked arpeggiated chords – Level: Mid)
  • *Electric Guitar 3 (Muted): (Picked, single note – Level: Mid)
  • Organ: (Sustained Chords – Level: Mid)
  • *Woosh: (Cinematic sound effects – Level: Mid)
  • **White Noise: (Hit with decay at beginning and ¾ through the section – Level: Low)
Part Y (3:04 – 3:20)

Same as Part X

*Indicates a new or significantly changed up instrument in the mix compared to the preceding section
**Indicates the first appearance of an instrument in the mix

Chord Progression: Bbm-Gb-F | Bbm-Gb-F | Bbm-Gb-Adim | Bbm-Gb-F (Bbm: i-VI-V | i-VI-V | i-VI-vii° | i-VI-V)
Characteristics

The third and final chorus features the densest arrangement in the entire song. Almost all of the accompaniment elements that made an appearance in previous sections are included, and along with a few changeups and new additions function to take the energy and excitement level of the song to a grand apex as it heads toward a conclusion.

Arguably the most notable changeup compared to the other choruses is that the heavily distorted electric bass is implemented right from the get-go, and remains in effect throughout the entire section (it was previously only featured in the first four bars of the second stanza in choruses 1 and 2). This alone provides the last chorus with a comparatively higher sustained intensity level.

The third chorus also features an in-section impact accentuator moment as is the case with the other chorus sections. While it occurs in the same spot as the others – at the midway point in the second stanza – its characteristics have been changed up.

Here, a woosh and toms playing triplets take the intensity level to an apex, but instead of being followed by the bass stab/slide, two beats of near silence are employed. This is followed by a breathy woosh that ushers in the “PAIN!” proclamation that follows. This brief, pronounced lull coupled with the unexpected changeup in implementation enables the balance of the chorus to hit with the greatest impact in the scope of the song, and engages the listener at a heightened level as it nears its conclusion.

Ending

The full accompaniment cuts off abruptly during the last repeat of the title lyric, “believer.” It leaves only a low-level decaying woosh as the sole backdrop for the conclusion of the title lyric, “-liever,” and the resolution of the background vocals.

Harmonic Progressions


Chord Progressions

Believer utilizes three chord progressions. The primary chord progression is used in the verses and pre-choruses 1 and 2. The second progression is a variation on the first progression and is used in the choruses. The third progression is differentiated relative to the first two and is used for the third pre-chorus.

Harmonic Progression 1


prog 1 guitar

Characteristics

The first chord progression, the four-bar cycle: Bbm-Gb-Adim (Bbm: i-VI-vii°) is used in the verses, pre-choruses 1 & 2. It’s played primarily by the arpeggiated, fingerpicked acoustic guitar. It features a diminished chord which is quite rare in the Top 10 on the raised seventh degree (A) of the Bb harmonic minor scale which helps to build tension at the end of the progression and create more momentum toward the tonic at the beginning of the next phrase.

Harmonic Progression 2


prog 2 - chorus

Characteristics

The second chord progression is used in every chorus. It is similar to the first chord progression (the acoustic guitar part is even the same) but the bass is changed up to create three instances of F major. The progression is a 16-bar cycle made up of four four-bar cycles. The first two four-bar cycles are the same: Bbm-Gb-F (Bbm: i-VI-V). This is followed by Bbm-Gb-Adim (the same as harmonic progression 1) followed by one more iteration of Bbm-Gb-F.

Note that the structure of the full 16-bar progression is the same as the section’s core vocal structure:


Harmony - Vocal Comparison Chart

Harmonic Progression 3


prog 3 -Organ

Characteristics

The third chord progression, Gbadd4-Ab-Adim (Bbm: VIadd4-VII-vii°) is utilized in the pre-chorus 3 bridge surrogate. It has a much different character than the other chords for three reasons:

  • It begins on Gb major, and is the only progression in the song that starts on a major chord.
  • It’s the only progression to utilize Ab major.
  • It is delivered by organ and is the only time in the song that the acoustic guitar does not put the chord progression into effect.

Rhyme Schemes


Verse 1


verse-1-rhyming-believer

Note: The nonsense lyrics in (parenthesis) are not included as part of the main rhyme scheme.

Stanzas 1 and 2 in verse 1 feature an XAAA / XBBB rhyme scheme, respectively. Lines 1, 2 and 3 in the first stanza are connected by the “eh” sounding commonality in the last proper lyric – “head,” “been,” and “been,” respectively. Lines 3 and 4 are further connected by the “oh ooh” nonsense vocals at the end (note that these nonsense vocals are not factored in as part of the main scheme). There are also in-line rhymes and additional repetitive lyrics that heighten the connection value of the stanza.

In the second stanza, lines 5, 6, and 7 are connected by the “ee” sounding commonality in the last proper lyric – “be,” “sea,” and “sea,” respectively. The second stanza also features the same nonsense vocals and respective placement as the first stanza, as well as repetitive lyrics.

Verse 2


verse-2-rhyming-believer

Note: The nonsense lyrics in (parenthesis) are not included as part of the main rhyme scheme.

Verse 2 features the same rhyme scheme as found in both stanzas of the first verse, except with a different sounding primary rhymer. Lines 2, 3 and 4 are connected by the “uhv” sounding commonality in the last proper lyric – “above,” “dove” and “above,” respectively. Furthermore, verse 2 possesses additional commonalities with verse 1 including the “oh ooh” nonsense vocals, repetitive lyrics and in-line rhymes.

Verse 3


verse-3-rhyming-believer

Note: The nonsense lyrics in (parenthesis) are not included as part of the main rhyme scheme.

Verse 3 features the same rhyme scheme as both stanzas of the first verse and the second verse, except with a different sounding primary rhymer. Lines 2, 3 and 4 are connected by the “aymes” / “aynes” sounding commonality in the last proper lyric – “flames,” “veins” and “veins,” respectively. It also possesses additional commonalities with verse 1 and verse 2 including the “oh ooh” nonsense vocals and repetitive lyrics. Additionally, take note of the alliteration on lines 2 and 3 – “fire and the flames” and “face of the future,” respectively.

Pre-Chorus 1


pre-chorus-1-rhyming-believer

Stanzas 1 and 2 in pre-chorus 1 feature an XXXX / AAAX rhyme scheme, respectively. The first stanza is one of only two stanzas in the song where none of the lines are connected by a primary rhymer at the end. Instead, the following occurs:

  • All lines are connected by the “in” sounding commonality that appears at the beginning or near the middle – “tak-in’,” “brok-en,” “sulk-in’,” “writ-in,’” “feel-in,’” “po-ems” (“poems” is connected due to the way Reynolds sings the lyric coupled with its syllable and rhythmic properties).
  • Line 4 features the “me” commonality at the end of each of its four phrases, as well as the “look,”“took (to)” and “shook (to)” commonalities.

The second stanza features both commonalities with the first stanza and possesses unique characteristics as well:

  • The first lyric on each line features the “in” commonality with the first stanza – “singin’,” “takin’,” “speakin’,” “seein’.”
  • Lines 5, 6 and 7 feature the “ain” sounding commonality at the end in the lyrics “pain,” “veins,” and “brain,” respectively.
  • Lines 5, 6 and 7 feature the “from the” commonality.
Pre-Chorus 2


pre-chorus-2-rhyming-believer

Stanzas 1 and 2 in pre-chorus 2 feature an AAAA / XXXX rhyme scheme, respectively. Note that this is essentially the reverse of the pre-chorus 1 scheme (XXXX / AAAX). Each of the four lines in the first stanza are connected by the “ow” sounding commonality at the end in the lyrics “crowd,” “cloud,” “ground,” and “drown.”

Each also features the “in” commonality toward the beginning of each line as is the case in the second stanza of pre-chorus 1 – “chokin’” (following the “I was” pickup),“buildin’,” “fallin’,” “hopin’.” It’s also featured in the following lyrics as well:

  • Line 3: “feel-in’s”
  • Line 5: “ebb-in’,” “flow-in’”
  • Line 7:“o-pen”

While none of the lines in the second stanza are connected at the end, each possesses in-line rhymes or cross-line repetitive lyrics. Reference the chart above for details.

Chorus


chorus-1-rhyming-believer

Stanzas 1 and 2 in the chorus feature an ABABA / AXAB rhyme scheme, respectively. In the first stanza, lines 1 and 3 are connected by the lyric “pain,” and lines 2 and 4 are connected by the title lyric, “believer,” at the end. Lines 2 and 4 are further connected by the in-line and cross-line repetitive lyrics as depicted in the chart above.

Lines 5, 6 and 8 in the second stanza features the “ain” sounding commonality at the end in the lyrics “pain,” “rain,” and “pain,” respectively. Lines 5, 6 and 9 contain in-line repetitive lyrics as well.

Additionally, note that while lines 7 and 8 are technically part of the same sentence (i.e. “my life, my love, my drive, it came from…pain”), the manner in which its sung (i.e. the pause following the lyric “from”) causes the lyric “pain” to stand out in the same way that it does within the other lines in the section. For this reason and purposes of analysis, the lyric “pain” is not included as part of line 7).

Additional Cross-Section Commonalities

The following are examples of cross-section commonalities that heighten the familiarity of the song and accentuate its memorability factor as a result:

  • The stanzas in each verse section feature the same rhyme scheme.
  • The first line in each verse stanza features the same structure:
    • Verse 1, stanza 1: “First things first”
    • Verse 1, stanza 2: “Second things second”
    • Verse 2: “Third things third”
    • Verse 3: “Last things last”
  • Each verse stanza features the nonsense “oh ooh” nonsense vocal in the same spot.
  • Each verse stanza features repetitive lyrics on the last two lines.
  • The last two lines in pre-chorus 2 feature the “ain” sounding commonality in the lyric “rained,” which is also featured in the ensuing chorus in the lyrics “pain” and “rain.”

Vocals


Vocal Production


Believer features a host of different vocal characteristics that take its impact to a heightened level. Among them are sung, rapped, shouted and sung/shouted hybrid deliveries, solo and group vocals, doubling, multi-pitch harmony, and varying degrees of reverb. These characteristics change both within and across sections, which provides for a very engaging listening experience.

KEY
Lead 1: Solo male (Reynolds), panned up the middle – processed with reverb
Lead 2: Group lead vocal (no discernable single lead voice), panned across spectrum – processed with reverb
Bkrgrnd Double: Additional background vocal layers that double Lead 1 in certain sections
Harm Group 1: Verse & pre-chorus harmony
Harm Group 2: Chorus group vocals
Ind. “Oh”: Independent background “oh” vocal – appears only in chorus 3
S: Sung
SH: Shout
R: Rapped

Verse 1


verse-1-vocal-production-believer

Each line in verse 1 features Reynolds’ sung lead, which is panned primarily up the middle and effected with reverb. The end of lines 3, 4, 7 and 8 feature his higher register “ooh” nonsense vocal, which is doubled at the same pitch and effected with ample reverb. This provides the section with a left-of-center infectious quality that heightens the section’s, and the song’s, ability to stand out and resonate.

Pre-Chorus 1


pre-chorus-1-vocal-production-believer

Pre-chorus 1 possesses both similar and contrasting vocal characteristics compared to the verse that precedes it. The main commonality is the processing of Reynolds’ lead vocal, which is primarily panned up the middle and effected with reverb. The differences are as follows:

  • In contrast to the verse which is sung, the pre-chorus features a rapped/sung hybrid vocal due to its rhythmic qualities, monotone runs, and minor pitch variations.
  • Reynolds’ lead is doubled at the same pitch throughout the entire section, as opposed to just a single lyric as is the case in the preceding verse. Spanning the stereo field, the additional vocals provide the section with a bigger, more urgent feel.

Together, these changeups provide cross-section contrast that heightens the engagement value of both the section and the song.

Chorus 1


chorus-1-vocal-production-believer

Just as the pre-chorus provides a pronounced vocal shift compared to the verse that precedes it, the chorus provides a pronounced shift compared to the preceding pre-chorus. The first stanza (lines 1 – 4) features Reynolds multi-tracked lead in two octaves that spans the stereo field, paired with a lower-level harmonizing group background vocal. These characteristics, along with the high-register shouted and sung/shouted deliveries, accentuate the impact of the lyrics and provides the chorus with a powerful quality that enables it to stand out in relation to the other sections in the song.

The first three lines in the second stanza (lines 5, 6, and 7) continue with the multi-tracked and harmonizing vocals from the first stanza, and introduce an additional vocal up the middle. The main difference compared to the first stanza is that these lines are sung in a lower register and not shouted. This shift both provides engaging in-section contrast and prevents the shouted vocals from becoming too overbearing and ultimately losing their effect with the listener.

Lines 8 and 9, however, revert to the shouted/sung vocal qualities (as well as melody and lyrics) that define lines 1 and 2, which brings the section to a conclusion on a powerful and familiar note.

Verse 2


verse-2-vocal-production-believer

Verse 2 features essentially the same vocal characteristics as verse 1 except in regard to the nonsense “ooh” vocal. Here, it’s provided with additional layers of multi-pitch harmony (as opposed to being multi-tracked at the same pitch), which provides engaging like-section contrast.

Pre-Chorus 2


pre-chorus-2-vocal-production-believer

Pre-chorus 2 features the same core vocal characteristics as its pre-chorus 1 counterpart, with the main difference being that a high-pitch harmony is in instituted throughout the section. While not a major shift, it does provide engaging like-section contrast (i.e. pre-chorus 2 vs. pre-chorus 1).

Additionally, the doubling and harmony is removed from the last line, leaving only Reynolds’ singular lead. This changeup functions to subtly prep the listener for the chorus that follows and enables the chorus to hit with greater impact once the multi-pitch group vocals are instituted.

Chorus 2


chorus-2-vocal-production-believer

Chorus 2 features the same vocal characteristics as its chorus 1 counterpart, thus reinforcing the section in an unadulterated manner from a vocal standpoint.

Verse 3


verse-3-vocal-production-believer

Verse 3 features the same vocal characteristics as verse 1, omitting the multi-pitch harmony on the “ooh” lyrics that was introduced in verse 2. Note that this changeup was well warranted in verse 3, as it jibes with the sparseness of the overall arrangement in providing engaging contrast in the scope of the song.

Pre-Chorus 3


pre-chorus-3-vocal-production-believer

While pre-chorus 3 features the same rapped/sung hybrid vocals as the other pre-choruses, it is unique in that it doesn’t contain doubled or harmonized vocals. Instead, it features Reynolds’ solo lead, which is in-line with the verse sections and continues the intimate feel from the preceding verse. This, along with its changed-up length (one stanza vs. two) and accompaniment compared to the other pre-choruses provides engaging contrast in the scope of the song along with verse 3 that precedes it.

Chorus 3


chorus-3-vocal-production-believer

Chorus 3 features the same vocal characteristics as choruses 1 and 2 with one exception – prolonged background “oh” vocals, which are independent of the lead (i.e. they don’t harmonize with the lead), are featured throughout much of the section. Their addition provides the final chorus with increased color, texture and a subtly higher degree of intensity as the song heads toward its conclusion.

Vocal Melody



*Note: The song utilizes two forms of the Bb minor scale:

  • Bb natural minor, which utilizes Ab
  • Bb harmonic minor, which utilizes A natural

Ab3 and A3 have been combined on to one line in the above graph. Details can be found below.

Verse 1

Begins on Bb3 and ends a major seventh higher on A4

Pre-Chorus 1

Begins an octave lower on A3 and ends a minor third higher on C4

Chorus 1

Begins a minor seventh higher on Bb4 and ends a minor second lower on A4

Verse 2

Begins a major seventh lower on Bb3 and ends a major seventh higher on A4

Pre-Chorus 2

Begins an octave lower on A3 and ends a minor second higher on Bb3.

Chorus 2

Begins an octave higher on Bb4 and ends a minor second lower on A4

Verse 3

Begins a minor seventh lower on Bb3 and ends a major seventh higher on A4

Pre-Chorus 3

Begins an octave lower on A3 and ends a major second higher on Bb3

Chorus 3

Begins a minor second higher on Bb4 and ends a minor second lower on A4

KEY
Part Graphs
  • Numbers in the Graphs: Depict the scale degree of each note.
  • Curved Line: Slur across two or more pitches
Vocal Melody Part Assignments

The vocal melody part assignments in the verse sections are related to one another (e.g. a melodic phrase with a part 1 classification in verse 1 is related to a part 1 classification in verse 2). The same is the case with pre-choruses 1 and 2. Verse and pre-chorus part assignments are NOT related to each other or chorus part assignments.

VERSE 1
Line Reference

Line 1: First things first
Line 2: I’m-a say all the words in-side my head
Line 3: I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been, (oh ooh)
Line 4: The way that things have been,(oh ooh)

Line 5: Sec-ond things sec-ond
Line 6: Don’t you tell me what you think that I could be
Line 7: I’m the one at the sail, I’m the mas-ter of my sea,(oh ooh)
Line 8: The mas-ter of my sea,(oh ooh)

Lead Vocal Range

High: Bb4
Low: Ab3

Overview
Melodic Structure Overview

The first verse features sung vocals and is composed of two stanzas (each consisting of four lines), four melodic parts, seven pitches (Bb (two octaves), Db, Eb, F, Ab, and A natural which are the first, third, fourth, fifth, seventh and raised seventh degrees of the Bb minor scale, respectively), and spans a ninth from Ab3 to Bb4.

Both stanzas possess the same melodic part structure (1 / 2-3 / 2-3-4 / 3-4) and feature ample repetition, which enables each stanza, and the section as a whole, to easily connect and resonate with the listener. However, there are subtle differences as well, which prevent the melody from becoming monotonous.

The first verse introduces two notable vocal hooks, both of which make a return appearance in the other verse sections in the song:

  • The first line in both stanzas (lines 1 and 5) feature the “first things first” and “second things second” hooks, respectively. They’re composed of just one melodic part (part 1) and are the shortest and most simplistic lines in the scope of the section. In contrast to the other melodic parts that occur multiple times, the part 1 melody appears only once at the beginning of each stanza, serving to hook the listener into the story that follows in familiar and memorable manner.
  • The last two lines in each stanza conclude with the nonsense “oh ooh” hook. It provides a left-of-center spin that further enables the section, and the song, to stand out. In each instance, it directly follows the melodic and lyrical repetition of a phrase, which heightens the memorability.

Verse 1 Melodic Direction: At-a-Glance
verse-1-melodic-direction-believer

Verse 1 Melodic Part Structure: At-a-Glance
verse-1-part-table-believer

*The syllable counts above reflect only the proper lyrics on each line
Verse-1-vocal-sheet-believer

Syllable Count

Excluding the nonsense “oh ooh” vocals, lines in the first verse range from 3 to 15 syllables.  Note that the first line in each stanza – which features the “first things first” / “second things second” hook – are the shortest.

Segmentation

In-Line Segmentation
(Do lines run straight through without a pause or are they broken into shorter segments by prolonged lyrics and rests?)

Aside from a few longer quarter notes surrounded by shorter eighth notes, the lines in the first verse run straight through without a pause.

Cross-Line Segmentation

The second to last line in each stanza is segmented from the last by a short eighth rest (i.e. lines 3 & 4 / 7 & 8). This provides subtle division between the repetition of the back-to-back phrases.

Lines 4 and 5 are segmented from one another by a longer dotted half rest. This provides more pronounced segmentation between stanzas.

Melodic Structure Detail
Stanza 1
Lines 1 & 2

Line 1: First things first
Line 2: I’m-a say all the words in-side my head


verse-1-1-vocal-parts-believer


A1-L1-2

Line 1

Part 1a:“First things first”

Line 1 is composed of part 1a. It spans a perfect fifth, consists of three pitches (Bb, Eb, F, which are the first, fourth, and fifth degrees of the Bb minor scale, respectively), and three syllables.

It begins with a leap from the tonic up to the fifth scale degree (F) and concludes with a step down to Eb.

Note that this hook is featured at the beginning of each verse stanza throughout the song. Each iteration features a very similar (and in some cases identical) melodic and rhythmic structure as well as lyrical premise:

  • Verse 1, First Stanza: “First things first”
  • Verse 1, Second Stanza: “Second things second”
  • Verse 2: “Third things third”
  • Verse 3: “Last things last”
Line 2

Part 2a: “I’m-a say all”
Part 3: “the words in-side my head”

Line 2 is composed of two melodic parts – part 2a and part 3. It spans a minor sixth, consists of five pitches (Bb, Db, Eb, F, Ab which are the first, third, fourth, fifth and seventh degrees of the Bb minor scale, respectively), and 10 syllables.

Part 2a resides primarily in the fourth scale degree (Eb) save for a single dip down to Db. It features an all swung eighth note rhythm except for the quarter note that appears three-syllables in on the lyric “say,” as well as at the very end. Considering that the majority of the line is composed of swung eighth notes, the quarter note that appears three syllables in is important in that it provides heightened rhythmic interest. Note that this is the first instance of the part 2 melody that is also featured on lines 3, 6 and 7.

The balance of the line is composed of part 3. In contrast to part 2a, which features a monotone-esque progression, part 3 begins a step higher on the fifth scale degree (F), and then progresses down to the seventh scale degree (Ab) followed by a stepwise ascent to the tonic to conclude. Note that this is the first instance of the part 3 melody that repeats verbatim on lines 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8.

Lines 3 & 4

Line 3: I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been, oh ooh
Line 4: The way that things have been, oh ooh


verse-1-2-vocal-parts-believer


A1-L3
A1-L4

Line 3

Part 2b: “I’m fired up and tired of”
Part 3: “the way that things have been”
Part 4a: “oh ooh”

Line 3 is composed of three melodic parts – part 2b, part 3 and part 4a. It spans a major ninth, consists of six pitches (Bb (two different octaves), Db, Eb, F, Ab which are the first, third, fourth, fifth and seventh degrees of the Bb minor scale, respectively), and 12 syllables.

The proper vocal portion of the line, which is composed of part 2b and part 3, is nearly identical to its line 2 counterpart (composed of part 2a and part 3), which heightens familiarity and memorability. The sole difference occurs at the beginning due to the two additional quarter notes on the lyrics “I’m fired.” This provides additional rhythmic interest compared to line 2 and is the reason for the part 2b distinction as opposed to part 2a.

Following the part 2b – part 3 progression, a new part is introduced – part 4a. It begins up a minor third from where part 3 leaves off (Db), followed by a leap up a minor sixth to the tonic, and a drop down a perfect fourth to conclude on the fifth scale degree (F). Note that this is the first instance of the “oh ooh” nonsense vocal hook that appears in each verse section stanza throughout the song.

Line 4

Part 3: “The way that things have been”
Part 4b: “oh ooh”

Line 4 is composed of two melodic parts – part 3 and part 4b. It spans a ninth, consists of seven pitches (Bb (two octaves), Db, Eb, F, Ab, A natural, which are the first, third, fourth, fifth, seventh and raised seventh degrees of the Bb minor scale, respectively), and six syllables.

Essentially it is a melodic and lyrical carbon copy of the last two parts of line 3 (part 3 and part 4a), with the exception being that part 4 concludes on the raised seventh scale degree (A) as opposed to the fifth (F) (hence the part 4b classification as opposed to part 4a). Concluding on the raised seventh leaves listener hanging in anticipation for the second stanza that follows.

Stanza 2
Lines 5 & 6

Line 5: Sec-ond things sec-ond
Line 6: Don’t you tell me what you think that I could be


verse-1-3-vocal-parts-believer


A1-L5-6

Line 5

Part 1b: “Sec-ond things sec-ond”

Line 5, which is the first line in the second stanza, is composed of part 1b. While it features the same core melodic shape as its part 1a counterpart in the first stanza (i.e. “first things first”), it contains additional syllables which provide it with a slightly changed up feel while simultaneously reinforcing the hook in the listener’s head.

Line 6

Part 2c: “Don’t you tell me what”
Part 3: “you think that I could be”

Line 6 is composed of two melodic parts – part 2c and part 3. It essentially features the same characteristics as its line 2 counterpart in the first stanza except for one additional syllable in the part 2 segment (hence the part 2c classification as opposed to part 2b). As a result, the entire line except for the last note features an eighth note rhythm. This provides for a slightly different rhythmic feel compared to line 2, which contains a quarter note three syllables in.

Lines 7 & 8

Line 7: I’m the one at the sail, I’m the mas-ter of my sea, oh ooh
Line 8: The mas-ter of my sea, oh ooh


verse-1-4-vocal-parts-believer


A1-L7
A1-L8

Line 7

Part 2d:“I’m the one at the sail, I’m”
Part 3:“the mas-ter of my sea”
Part 4a: “oh ooh”

Line 7 is composed of three melodic parts – part 2d, part 3 and part 4a. With the exception of part 2, it features the same melodic characteristics as its line 3 counterpart in the first stanza. The difference is that here part 2 features a slightly altered melody and rhythm, which helps to keep things fresh and engaging yet concurrently memorable due to the similarities with the other part 2’s.

Line 8

Part 3:“The mas-ter of my sea”
Part 4b: “oh ooh”

Line 8 is the last line in the first verse and is composed of two melodic parts – part 3 and part 4b. It features the same melody as line 4, which is the last line in the first stanza. Again, concluding on the raised seventh scale degree (A) leaves the listener hanging in anticipation for the next section that follows, in this case the pre-chorus.

Additionally, note that the lyrical structure of lines 7 and 8 is the same as lines 3 and 4, which heightens familiarity and memorability.

First Stanza

Line 3: I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been, oh ooh
Line 4: The way that things have been, oh ooh

Second Stanza

Line 7: I’m the one at the sail, I’m the mas-ter of my sea, oh ooh
Line 8: The mas-ter of my sea, oh ooh

VERSE 2
Line Reference

Line 1: Third things third
Line 2: Send a prayer to the ones up a-bove
Line 3: All the hate that you’ve heard has turned your spir-it to a dove, oh ooh
Line 4: Your spir-it up above, oh ooh

Lead Vocal Range

High: Bb4
Low: Ab3

Overview
Melodic Structure Overview

Verse 2 features almost the same vocal melody as the first stanza of verse 1, which heightens familiarity and memorability. The two differences are as follows:

  • The beginning of line 3 (part 2e) features a slightly altered melody and rhythm compared to the part 2’s in the first verse. It’s most closely affiliated with part 2d on line 7, “I’m the one at the sail, I’m.”
  • Multi-pitch harmony is employed on the nonsense “oh ooh” lyrics.

While subtle, these differences heighten engagement and prevent both verse sections from being carbon-copies of one another.

Verse 2 Melodic Direction: At-a-Glance
verse-2-melodic-direction-believer

Verse 1 Melodic Direction Reference: At-a-Glance
verse-1-melodic-direction-believer

Verse 2 Melodic Part Structure: At-a-Glance
verse-2-part-table-believer

*The syllable counts above reflect only the proper lyrics on each line
Verse-2-vocal-sheet-believer

Syllable Count

The second verse features a similar syllable count as the first stanza of the first verse (3-9-14-6 vs. 3-10-12-6).

Segmentation

In-Line Segmentation
(Do lines run straight through without a pause or are they broken into shorter segments by prolonged lyrics and rests?)

As is the case in the first verse, aside from a few longer quarter notes surrounded by shorter eighth notes, the lines in the second verse run straight through without a pause.

Cross-Line Segmentation

Just as in the first verse, the second to last line in the section is segmented from the last by a short eighth rest. This provides subtle division between the repetition of the back-to-back phrases. A dotted half rest is employed at the end of the section, which provides segmentation from the pre-chorus that follows.

Melodic Structure Detail
Lines 1 & 2

Line 1: Third things third
Line 2: Send a prayer to the ones up a-bove


verse-2-1-vocal-parts-believer


A2-L1-2

Lines 3 & 4

Line 3: All the hate that you’ve heard has turned your spir-it to a dove, oh ooh
Line 4: Your spir-it up above, oh ooh


verse-2-2-vocal-parts-believer


A2-L3
A2-L4

VERSE 3
Line Reference

Line 1: Last things last
Line 2: By the grace of the fi-re and the flames
Line 3: You’re the face of the fu-ture, the blood in my veins, oh ooh
Line 4: The blood in my veins, oh ooh

Lead Vocal Range

High: Bb4
Low: Ab3

Overview
Melodic Structure Overview

Verse 3 features almost the same vocal melody as the first stanza of verse 1 and all of verse 2. As is the case between verse 2 and the first stanza of verse 1, one of the differences occurs at the beginning of line 3. Here, the part 2d melody is utilized as opposed to part 2b (verse 1) or part 2e (verse 2). Note that this is the only time in any of the verse sections where a part 2 melody is recycled (the part 2d melody first appears at the beginning of line 7 in the first verse).

Additionally, verse 3 omits the multi-pitch harmony that was employed on the “oh ooh” nonsense lyrics in verse 2 (it reverts to the same pitch doubled vocal as featured in verse 1), and contains additional slurred lyrics in the part 3 melody compared to the other verse sections (“fi-re” and “blo-od”).

Again, while subtle, these differences prevent the verse sections from being cookie cutter repetitions of one another.

Verse 3 Melodic Direction: At-a-Glance
verse-3-melodic-direction-believer

Verse 1 Melodic Direction Reference: At-a-Glance
verse-1-melodic-direction-believer

Verse 2 Melodic Direction Reference: At-a-Glance
verse-2-melodic-direction-believer

Verse 3 Melodic Part Structure: At-a-Glance
verse-3-part-table-believer

*The syllable counts above reflect only the proper lyrics on each line
Verse-3-vocal-sheet-believer

Syllable Count

The third verse features almost the same syllable count as the first stanza as the first verse (3-10-12-5 vs. 3-10-12-6).

Segmentation

In-Line Segmentation
(Do lines run straight through without a pause or are they broken into shorter segments by prolonged lyrics and rests?)

As is the case with the first and second verse, aside from a few longer quarter notes surrounded by shorter eighth notes, the lines in the third verse run straight through without a pause.

Cross-Line Segmentation

Also in-line with the first and second verse, the second to last line in the section is segmented from the last by a short eighth rest.

Melodic Structure Detail
Lines 1 & 2

Line 1: Last things last
Line 2: By the grace of the fi-re and the flames


verse-3-1-vocal-parts-believer


A3-L1-2

Lines 3 & 4

Line 3: You’re the face of the fu-ture, the blood in my veins, oh ooh
Line 4: The blood in my veins, oh ooh
verse-3-2-vocal-parts-believer


A3-L3
A3-L4

PRE-CHORUS 1
Line Reference

Line 1: I was bro-ken from a young age
Line 2: Tak-in’ my sulk-in’ to the mass-es
Line 3: Writ-in’ my po-ems for the few
Line 4: That look at me, took to me, shook to me, feel-in’ me

Line 5: Sing-in’ from heart-ache from the pain
Line 6: Tak-in’ my mes-sage from the veins
Line 7: Speak-in’ my les-son from the brain
Line 8: See-in’ the beau-ty through the…

Lead Vocal Range

High: Db4
Low: A3

Overview
Melodic Structure Overview

The first pre-chorus is composed of two stanzas (each consisting of four lines), three melodic parts, four pitches (Bb, C, and Db and A natural which are the first, second, third, and raised seventh degrees of the Bb minor scale, respectively), and spans a diminished fourth from A to Db.

In contrast to the verse, the pre-chorus spans a much smaller range, is more rhythmically dense, and features a monotone-based hybrid sung/rapped delivery that puts the song’s Hip Hop/Rap influence into effect for the first time. The rhythmic delivery style pushes the energy up, creating a greater sense of urgency and forward momentum as the song heads toward the second chorus.

Pre-Chorus 1 Melodic Direction: At-a-Glance
pre-chorus-1-melodic-direction-believer

Verse 1 Melodic Direction Reference: At-a-Glance
verse-1-melodic-direction-believer

Verse 2 Melodic Direction Reference: At-a-Glance
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Verse 3 Melodic Direction Reference: At-a-Glance
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Pre-Chorus 1 Melodic Part Structure: At-a-Glance
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Syllable Count

With the exception of lines 4 and 8, each line in pre-chorus 1 is eight or nine syllables in length. Line 4 is the longest at 13, and line 8 is the shortest at six. Note that line 8 is lyrically incomplete as it serves to heighten anticipation leading into the chorus that follows.

Segmentation

In-Line Segmentation
(Do lines run straight through without a pause or are they broken into shorter segments by prolonged lyrics and rests?)

Each line runs straight through without a pause.

Cross-Line Segmentation

Lines 5, 6, 7 and 8 are subtly segmented from one another by the quarter note value of the lyrics “pain,” “veins,” and “brain,” respectively, compared to the eighth note triplets that surround them.

Melodic Structure Detail
Lines 1 & 2

Line 1: I was bro-ken from a young age
Line 2: Tak-in’ my sulk-in’ to the mass-es


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PC1-L1-2

Line 1

Part 1a: “I was”
Part 2a: “bro-ken from a young age”

Line 1 is composed of parts 1a and 2a. It spans a minor second, consists of two pitches (Bb and A, which are the and first and raised seventh degrees of the Bb minor scale, respectively), and eight syllables.

It begins with part 1, a two-note pickup on A, “I was” and then continues with a monotone run on Bb (part 2a). The run begins with the lyric “broken” on eighth notes which emphasizes these lyrics. The eighth note triplets on the lyrics “from a” rhythmically push into the next emphasized eighth note lyrics, “young age.”

This format, a triplet pickup followed by a monotone run is used on all but one line in the section, line 4.

Line 2

Part 1b: “Tak-in’ my”
Part 2a: “sulk-in’ to the mass-es”

Line 2 is composed of parts 1b and 2a. It’s confined to the tonic, Bb, and contains eight syllables.

It begins with a three-note pickup (part 1b) and continues on with a monotone run, part 2a, utilizing the same rhythmic flow as the second half of line 1. “Sulk-in’” is spread across two eighth notes, “to the” across eighth note triplets, and “masse-s” is spread across eighth notes.

Lines 3 & 4

Line 3: Writ-in’ my po-ems for the few
Line 4: That look at me, took to me, shook to me, feel-in’ me


pre-chorus-1-2-vocal-parts-believer


Line 3

Part 1b: “Writ-in’ my”
Part 2b: “po-ems for the few”

Line 3 is composed of parts 1b and 2b. It spans a minor third, consists of two pitches (Bb and Db, which are the first and third degrees of the Bb minor scale, respectively), and eight syllables.

It begins with a three-note pickup on Bb (part 1b), then leaps up a minor third to conclude with a monotone run on Db (part 2b). This part differs from part 2a used on the first two lines due to it being one not shorter. “Po-ems” and “few” are emphasized by eighth notes in this case.

Line 4

Part 3a: “That look at me, took to me, shook to me, feel-in’ me”

Line 4 is composed of part 3a. It spans a minor second, consists of two pitches (C and Db, which are the second and third degrees of the Bb minor scale, respectively), and 13 syllables.

The line is comprised of a steady stream of eighth note triplets beginning on Db with the lyrics “That look at me,” followed by dropping down to C for the duration of the line. This steady rhythmic stream imparts this line with the most rapped characteristic in the scope of the section.

Lines 5 & 6

Line 5: Sing-in’ from heart-ache from the pain
Line 6: Tak-in’ my mes-sage from the veins


pre-chorus-1-3-vocal-parts-believer


Line 5

Part 1b: “Sing-in’ from”
Part 2c: “heart-ache from the pain”

Line 5 is composed of parts 1b and 2c. It spans a major second, consists of two pitches (Bb and C, which are the first and second degrees of the Bb minor scale, respectively), and 8 syllables.

It begins with a three-note pickup on C (part 1b), followed by a step down to a monotone run on Bb (part 2c) to conclude. This monotone run ends with a quarter note on “pain,” offering the most emphasis and segmentation of any part 2 so far in the song. The lyric that’s emphasized, “pain,” will soon play a prominent role in the chorus and the summation of the narrative.

Line 6

Part 1b: “Tak-in’ my”
Part 2c: “mes-sage from the veins”

Line 6 is composed of parts 1b and 2c. It consists of one pitch (Bb), and 8 syllables.

It is melodically and rhythmically the same as line 2, with the exception that it concludes with a quarter note rather than an eighth, emphasizing the lyric, “veins.”

Lines 7 & 8

Line 7: Speak-in’ my les-son from the brain
Line 8: See-in’ the beau-ty through the…


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PC1-L7-8

Line 7

Part 1b: “Speak-in’ my”
Part 2c: “les-son from the brain”

Line 7 is composed of parts 1b and 2c. It spans a minor third, consists of two pitches (Bb and Db, which are the first and third degrees of the Bb minor scale, respectively), and 8 syllables.

It is melodically and rhythmically the same as line 3, with the exception that it concludes with a quarter note rather than an eighth, emphasizing the lyric, “brains.”

Line 8

Part 1b: “See-in’ the”
Part 2d:“beau-ty through the”

Line 8 is composed of parts 1b and 2d. It spans a minor second, consists of two pitches (C and Db, which are the second and third degrees of the Bb minor scale, respectively), and 6 syllables.

Rhythmically, it progresses just like line 7 but stops short, ending on the last note of a set of three eighth note triplets, which creates a “cliffhanger” heading into the subsequent chorus.

PRE-CHORUS 2
Line Reference

Line 1: I was chok-in’ in the crowd
Line 2: Build-in’ my rain up in the cloud
Line 3: Fall-in’ like ash-es to the ground
Line 4: Hop-in’ my feel-in’s, they would drown

Line 5: But they nev-er did, ever lived, ebb-in’ and flow-in’
Line 6: In-hib-it-ed, lim-it-ed
Line 7: ‘Till it broke o-pen and rained down
Line 8: You rained down, like…

Lead Vocal Range

High: Db4
Low: A3

Overview
Melodic Structure Overview

Vocally, like pre-chorus 1, pre-chorus 2 features hybrid sung/rapped vocals and is composed of two stanzas (each consisting of four lines), four pitches (Bb, C, and Db and A natural which are the first, second, third, and raised seventh degrees of the Bb minor scale, respectively), and spans a diminished fourth from A to Db. However, pre-chorus 2 is composed of five melodic parts as opposed to three.

The first stanza of pre-chorus 2 is nearly a carbon copy of the second stanza of pre-chorus 1, with slight rhythmic differences. The second stanza provides engaging contrast compared to the first stanza as well as all of pre-chorus 1 due to the rapid-fire triplets that last for more than two straight measures, which are followed by the more spacious closing melody on the last two lines. These new developments create a greater sense of drama heading into the chorus that follows.

Pre-Chorus 2 Melodic Direction: At-a-Glance
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Verse 1 Melodic Direction Reference: At-a-Glance
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Verse 2 Melodic Direction Reference: At-a-Glance
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Verse 3 Melodic Direction Reference: At-a-Glance
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Pre-Chorus 1 Melodic Direction Reference: At-a-Glance
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Pre-Chorus 2 Melodic Part Structure: At-a-Glance
pre-chorus-2-part-table-believer


Syllable Count

All lines in the second pre-chorus except for two span seven or eight syllables. The exceptions are line 5, which consists of 13, and line 8, which consists of just four.

Segmentation

In-Line Segmentation
(Do lines run straight through without a pause or are they broken into shorter segments by prolonged lyrics and rests?)

None.

Cross-Line Segmentation

Cross-line segmentation is put into effect between lines 1, 2, 3 & 4 by the longer quarter note value of the lyrics “crowd,” “cloud,” “ground,” and “drown” relative to the eighth note triplets that surround them. It is put into effect between lines 4 & 5 by an eighth note triplet rest, and between lines 7 & 8 by an eighth rest.

Melodic Structure Detail
Lines 1 & 2

Line 1: I was chok-in’ in the crowd
Line 2: Build-in’ my rain up in the cloud


pre-chorus-2-1-vocal-parts-believer


PC2-L1-2

Line 1

Part 1a: “I was”
Part 2c: “chok-in’ in the crowd”

Line 1 begins just like line 1 in the first pre-chorus with a two-note pickup on A. The balance of the line is the same as line 5 in the first pre-chorus.

Line 2

Part 1b: “Build-in’ my”
Part 2c: “rain up in the cloud”

Line 2 is the same as line 1 except that it begins with a three-note pickup on Bb.

Lines 3 & 4

Line 3: Fall-in’ like ash-es to the ground
Line 4: Hop-in’ my feel-in’s they would drown


pre-chorus-2-2-vocal-parts-believer


PC2-L3-4

Line 3

Part 1b: “Fall-in’ like”
Part 2c: “ash-es to the ground”

Line 3 is a carbon copy of line seven in pre-chorus 1.

Line 4

Part 1b: “Hop-in’ my”
Part 2c: “feel-in’s, they would drown”

Line 4 is the same as line 8 in pre-chorus 1 but adds a quarter note on the end to rhythmically match the three lines that precede it.

Line 5

Line 5: But they nev-er did, ever lived, ebb-in’ and flow-in’


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PC2_L5

Line 5

Part 1a: “But they”
Part 4: “nev-er did, ever lived”
Part 3b: “ebb-in’ and flow-in’”

Line 5 is composed of parts 1a, 4, and 3b. It spans a minor third, consists of three pitches (Bb, C, and Db, which are the first, second and third degrees of the Bb minor scale, respectively), and 13 syllables.

It begins with part 1a, which is the same two-note pickup on A that kicks off both pre-choruses. From there it progresses through a run of eighth note triplets, beginning with part 4 which is comprised of two repetitions of Db-Bb-Bb. The line then heads to part 3b, a monotone triplet run on Db.

Lines 6, 7 & 8

Line 6: In-hib-it-ed, lim-it-ed
Line 7: ‘Till it broke o-pen and rained down
Line 8: You rained down, like…


pre-chorus-2-4-vocal-parts-believer


Line 6

(Part 3b): “In-”
Part 4: “hib-it-ed, lim-it-ed”

Line 6 begins with a continuation of part 3b on the lyric, “in,” and then repeats part 4 just as it was used on line 5.

Line 7

Part 3b:“‘Till it broke o-pen and”
Part 5:“rained down”

Line 7 begins with another iteration of part 3b, which is then followed by the first segment of a new part, part 5. This segment is rhythmically much slower than the parts that precede it, consisting of an eighth note on Db and dotted quarter note on C. Due to the rhythmic contrast to the preceding lines and the utilization of a minor second, this part brings a great deal of tension to the section, and provides a “wavering” feel that is satisfied on line 8.

Line 8

(Part 5):“You rained down, like”

The melody continues to “waver” on line 8 between Db and C before finally concluding on Bb, bringing the section to a resolved conclusion.

CHORUS
Line Reference

Line 1: Pain
Line 2: You made me a, you made me a be-liev-er, be-liev-er
Line 3: Pain
Line 4: You break me down, you build me up, be-liev-er, be-liev-er

Line 5: Pain
Line 6: Oh let the bul-lets fly, oh let them rain
Line 7: My life, my love, my drive, it came from
Line 8: Pain
Line 9: You made me a, you made me a be-liev-er, be-liev-er

Lead Vocal Range

High: Db5
Low: Db4

Overview
Melodic Structure Overview

The chorus features a combination of sung, shouted and sung/shouted hybrid vocals, which is unique to the section. It’s composed of two stanzas (each consisting of four lines), four melodic parts, seven pitches (Bb, C, Db (two octaves), Eb, F and A natural, which are the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and raised seventh degrees of the Bb minor scale, respectively), and spans an octave from Db4 to Db5, occupying a higher register than the preceding sections.

Both stanzas possess similar and contrasting characteristics, which heightens memorability while keeping things fresh and engaging.

Line groups 1/2 and 3/4 in the first stanza feature the same melodic part structure and sung/shouted delivery, reinforcing the powerful “PAIN!” proclamation and “you made me a, you made me a believer, believer” hooks in the listener’s head.

Lines 5, 6 and 7 in the second stanza provide engaging contrast in the scope of the section by introducing two new melodic parts and switching to a sung delivery in a lower register. However, note that these two melodic parts alternate across the three lines (i.e. part 4-5-4-5), which makes the departure memorable.

The section concludes with a return to the melodic part structure, shouted and sung/shouted vocals, and lyrics that define lines 1 and 2 in the first stanza. This results in a ramp-up in intensity and excitement and brings the section to a conclusion on a familiar note.

A couple of other vocal characteristics that take the impact of the chorus to a heightened level are:

  • The manner in which the vocals are sung jibes with and accentuates the impact of the lyrics. This includes the “PAIN!” shouts, the high-register sung/shouted vocals that follow each “PAIN!”  proclamation, and the lower-register sung vocals that convey lines 5 – 7, including the more relaxed and assured “oh let the bullets fly, oh let them rain.”
  • The “PAIN!” proclamation further primes the chorus for audience participation in a live setting. In addition to the section’s singalong characteristic, it’s not a far stretch to imagine an audience launching their arms up in the air and shouting out “PAIN!” along with the band when performed in concert.

Chorus Melodic Direction: At-a-Glance
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Verse 1 Melodic Direction Reference: At-a-Glance
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Verse 2 Melodic Direction Reference: At-a-Glance
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Verse 3 Melodic Direction Reference: At-a-Glance
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Pre-Chorus 1 Melodic Direction Reference: At-a-Glance
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Pre-Chorus 2 Melodic Direction Reference: At-a-Glance
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Chorus Melodic Part Structure: At-a-Glance
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Syllable Count

Lines in the chorus range from one to 14 syllables in length (for analysis purposes, “pain” shouts are being considered their own line in each occurrence). Lines in the first stanza alternate 1 / 14 / 1 / 14. The beginning of the second stanza switches things up slightly after the first line, with line 6 lasting 10 syllables and line 7 lasting nine. The second stanza concludes just as the first, with lines 8 and 9 lasting one and 14 syllables, respectively.

Segmentation

In-Line Segmentation
(Do lines run straight through without a pause or are they broken into shorter segments by prolonged lyrics and rests?)

Lines 2, 4 and 9 feature a dotted quarter rest that segments the first “believer” from the second toward the end of the line.

Cross-Line Segmentation

There are two types of cross-line segmentation employed within the chorus – rests and prolonged lyrics:

Rests

  • Lines 2 and 3 are segmented from one another by a lengthy whole rest (a half rest appears both at the end of line 2 and the beginning of line 3).
  • Line 4, which is the last line in the first stanza, is segmented from line 5 by a half rest.

Prolonged Lyrics

  • Line 6 is segmented from line 7 by the lyric “rain,” which is held three and a half beats.
  • Line 7 is segmented from line 8 by the half rest that occurs at the beginning of line 8.
Melodic Structure Detail
Lines 1 & 2

Line 1: Pain
Line 2: You made me a, you made me a be-liev-er, be-liev-er


chorus-1-1-vocal-parts-believer


B-L1-2

Line 1

Part 1:“Pain”

Line 1 is composed of part 1. It consists of a single lyric – “pain” – which is shouted on the tonic (Bb). This is the first of four iterations of the lyric “pain” in the section – three of which are shouted and one that is sung in a slurred manner across two pitches.

While it’s typically the title that stands out within the scope of a section (and “believer” DOES stand out in its own way – more on that soon), the shouted manner that “pain” is proclaimed coupled with its placement make it the true standout vocal moment within the section, and the song.

Line 2

Part 2:“You made me a, you made me a”
Part 3:“be-liev-er, be-liev-er”

Line 2 is composed of two melodic parts – part 2 and part 3. It spans a minor sixth, consists of five pitches (Bb, C, Db, F, A which are the first, second, third, fifth and raised seventh degrees of the Bb minor scale, respectively), and 14 syllables.

Part 2 consists of two phrases that feature the same lyrics and an almost identical melody as well. The first phrase consists of four syllables and begins a perfect fourth below the tonic (F), followed by a leap up a minor sixth to the third scale degree (Db), and then followed by a Db – C progression to conclude. The second phrase is the same as the first except that it begins on the tonic. While subtle, this slight variation prevents these two back-to-back phrases from coming across in a cookie-cutter type manner.

Part 3 features the 2x repetition of the title lyric, “be-liev-er.” While both iterations feature the same rhythm, they differ in regard to their melodic shape. The first “be-liev-er” begins with two iterations of the tonic, Bb (“be-liev”), and concludes with a leap up to the third scale degree, Db. Note that the changeup in rhythm and melodic direction compared to part 2 that precedes it provides engaging contrast in the scope of the line and further enables the title lyric to stand out and connect with the listener.

Following the dotted quarter rest at the end of the first “believer,” the title is restated a second time with the same rhythm, but with a reversed melodic direction that descends to the raised seventh scale degree by way of Db – C – A. This achieves the following:

  • The title melody is further reinforced the listener’s head due to the rhythmic similarities.
  • It continues with the engaging melodic flow started at the beginning of the line.
  • Concluding on the raised seventh (A) leaves the listener hanging in anticipation for line 2 that follows.
Lines 3 & 4

Line 3: Pain
Line 4: You break me down, you build me up, be-liev-er, be-liev-er


chorus-1-2-vocal-parts-believer


Lines 3 and 4 feature the same melodic characteristics as their line 1 and line 2 counterparts, as well as a combination of repeated and newly introduced lyrics. As a result, the excitement level is kept at a high and the melody and certain key lyrics (i.e “pain” and “believer”) are further reinforced in the listener’s head, while the lyrical differences help to keep things fresh and engaging.

Lines 5, 6

Line 5: Pain
Line 6: Oh let the bul-lets fly, oh let them rain


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B_L5-6

Line 5

Part 4: “Pain”

Line 5, the first line of the second stanza, is composed of part 4. While it shares the lyrical commonality, “pain,” with lines 1 and 3, here it’s sung (as opposed to shouted) in a lower-register slurred manner across Eb – F (the fourth and fifth scale degrees), and prolonged for a dotted quarter + half duration (as opposed to the aforementioned “pain’s,” which are dotted quarters).

The changed-up manner in which this “pain” is delivered provides engaging contrast in the scope of the section, and prevents the “PAIN!” shouts from becoming overly redundant and overbearing.

In contrast to the preceding lines in the section, which are mainly focused on the first three scale degrees (Bb, C & Db), line 5 (and lines 6 and 7 that follow) is based on the fourth and fifth scale degrees (Eb and F). Along with the sung delivery, the melodic contrast gives these lines the attitude and edge they need to stand out from the others in the chorus.

Line 6

Part 5:“Oh let the bul-lets fly, oh let them”
Part 4: “rain”

Line 6 is composed of two melodic parts – part 5 and part 4. It spans a major third, consists of three pitches (Db, Eb, F, which are the third, fourth and fifth degrees of the Bb minor scale, respectively), and 10 syllables. As is the case with line 5, line 6 is sung and in a lower-register compared to the higher-register shouted and sung/shouted hybrid vocals that define the first stanza

Part 5 features an all eighth note rhythm and alternates Eb – Db throughout, with the exception being the additional Eb note at the very beginning. This, coupled with its lower-register, sung qualities compared to the first stanza provides engaging in-section contrast.

Part 6 consists of one lyric – “rain” – which features the same slurred characteristic as the lyric “pain” at the beginning of the stanza on line 5. This further heightens the memorability of the section, especially considering the new melodic parts introduced compared to the first stanza.

Line 7: My life, my love, my drive, it came from


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B_L7

Line 7

Part 5:“My life, my love, my drive, it came from”

Line 7 is also composed of part 5, which heightens familiarity and memorability in the scope of the section.

Lines 8 & 9

Line 8: Pain
Line 9: You made me a, you made me a be-liev-er, be-liev-er


chorus-1-1-vocal-parts-believer


B-L1-2

Lines 8 and 9 are a carbon copy repeat of lines 1 and 2 in the first stanza. Following the lower-register sung vocals on lines 5, 6 and 7, they thrust the excitement factor back up due to their shouted and sung/shouted hybrid vocal qualities, and essentially bring the section full-circle to conclude on a familiar and powerful note.

Lyrics & Title


Lyric Types


This section provides select examples of the different types of lyrics featured throughout the song. For in-depth analysis of the narrative, reference the Story Flow & Meaning section of the report.

Detail Lyrics & Phrases
(These lyrics provide detail as to what’s happening in the story – literally, metaphorically, or both)

Verse 1
  • I’ma say all the words inside my head
  • I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been
  • I’m the one at the sail, I’m the master of my sea
Verse 2
  • Send a prayer to the ones up above
  • All the hate that you’ve heard has turned your spirit to a dove
Verse 3
  • By the grace of the fire and the flames
  • You’re the face of the future, the blood in my veins
Pre-Chorus 1
  • I was broken from a young age
  • Writin’ my poems for the few
Pre-Chorus 2
  • I was chokin’ in the crowd
  • Buildin’ my rain up in the cloud
Chorus
  • Pain
  • You made me a, you made me a believer, believer
  • You break me down, you build me up, believer, believer

Imagery Lyrics & Phrases
(These lyrics “paint a picture” in the listener’s head in order to further engross them in the story.)

Verse 1
  • I’m the one at the sail, I’m the master of my sea
Verse 3
  • By the grace of the fire and the flames
  • You’re the face of the future, the blood in my veins
Pre-Chorus 2
  • Buildin’ my rain up in the cloud
  • Fallin’ like ashes to the ground
Chorus
  • Oh let the bullets fly, oh let them rain

Place Lyrics
(These lyrics reflect places in the narrative)

Verse 1
  • I’m the one at the sail, I’m the master of my sea
Verse 2
  • Send a prayer to the ones up above
Pre-Chorus 2
  • Buildin’ my rain up in the cloud
  • Fallin’ like ashes to the ground

Time Lyrics
(These lyrics reflect the timeline in the narrative)

Verse 1
  • First things first
  • Second things second
Verse 2
  • Third things third
Verse 3
  • Last things last
Pre-Chorus 1
  • I was broken from a young age

Action Based Lyrics & Phrases
(These lyrics inform the listener of action that is taking place in the narrative)

Verse 1
  • I’ma say all the words inside my head
  • I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been
Verse 2
  • Send a prayer to the ones up above
Pre-Chorus 1
  • Writin’ my poems for the few
  • Singin’ from heartache from the pain
Pre-Chorus 2
  • Fallin’ like ashes to the ground
  • ‘Till it broke open and rained down
Chorus
  • You break me down, you build me up, believer, believer

Oh let the bullets fly, oh let them rain

Emotional/State Of Mind Based Lyrics and Phrases
(These lyrics shed light on the characters’ state of mind and/or convey emotion)

Verse 1
  • I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been
  • I’m the one at the sail, I’m the master of my sea
Verse 2
  • All the hate that you’ve heard has turned your spirit to a dove
Pre-Chorus 1
  • I was broken from a young age
  • I was broken from a young age
  • Singin’ from heartache from the pain
Pre-Chorus 2
  • I was chokin’ in the crowd
  • Hopin’ my feelin’s, they would drown
Chorus
  • Pain
  • You break me down, you build me up, believer, believer
Nonsense Lyrics
  • Verse 1, 2, 3: oh ooh

Song Title


Clever/Powerful or Universal/Generic

Song titles fall on a spectrum spanning from unique, clever, attention-grabbing and/or powerful (e.g. DNA., Passionfruit, 24K Magic), to those that possess more of a universal/generic characteristic (e.g. Stay, Let Me Love You).

Believer falls on the attention-grabbing end of the spectrum due to its powerful connotation and the curiosity it elicits as to what it pertains to.

Song Title Appearances and Placement

Believer appears 18 times in the song exclusively in the chorus sections. It’s featured twice in a back-to back manner on lines 2 and 4 in the first stanza, and closes out the second stanza/full section as well:

Line 1: Pain
Line 2: You made me a, you made me a believer, believer
Line 3: Pain
Line 4: You break me down, you build me up, believer, believer

Line 5: Pain
Line 6: Oh let the bullets fly, oh let them rain
Line 7: My life, my love, my drive, it came from
Line 8: Pain
Line 9: You made me a, you made me a believer, believer

Song Title Impact Accentuation

The impact of the song title is accentuated by the question/answer characteristic of the melody used for each iteration of “believer, believer” and the fact that both iterations utilize the same rhythm, an eighth note pickup followed by two quarters.

The first “believer” ascends from the tonic up to the third scale degree, providing the “question.” This “question” is then answered beginning on the same note and then descending to the second scale degree and concluding on the raised seventh scale degree, which provides a great deal of tension that is then resolved on the following line or in the following section.

The melodic ascent countered by the ensuing descent provides engaging contrast in the scope of the line and further enables the title lyric to stand out and connect with the listener.
Title-Impact-Notation

Word Cloud



Narrative


Believer is an inspiration-themed song about a protagonist who decides to embrace the pain in his life, turn it into a positive and become a better person for it. While the narrative pertains specifically to Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds, the underlying message is universal and wide-reaching. The narrative is communicated in a highly engaging and memorable manner via its religious references, clever analogies, hooks, and effective structure.

Dan Reynolds on the Meaning Behind Believer

The following is an excerpt from a Dan Reynolds interview with People magazine:

“A lot of my greatest strengths are due to my greatest weaknesses or flaws or physical ailments. It brought me discipline, gratitude and compassion. The song is about how pain made me a believer,” he reflects. “It’s made me a believer in myself, it’s made me a believer in my art and work. I wouldn’t have my art if it wasn’t for pain. It takes somewhat of a healthy place to appreciate it because when you’re in the midst of it you don’t appreciate it. You’re just upset.”

He adds: “The meaning of the song is really reflecting on specific things in my life that were painful, whether it was anxiety and dealing with crowds, feeling overwhelmed by that or the success of the band, disease, going through depression—anything that was a source of pain in my life. And just rising above that, finding a place of perspective where I could be appreciative of the pain in my life and make it my greatest strength.”

Highlights

Vocal/Lyrical Hooks

Believer features the following vocal/lyrical hooks that accentuate its impact and memorability:

Verses: First Line

Each verse stanza begins in a clever sequential manner, which provides the narrative with a uniquely engaging flow:

  • Verse 1, stanza 1: “First things first”
  • Verse 1, stanza 2: “Second things second”
  • Verse 2: “Third things third
  • Verse 3: “Last things last”

Verses: Nonsense Lyrics

The last two lines in each verse stanza conclude with the nonsense “oh ooh” hook. This both provides the verse with a left-of-center infectious spin, and reinforces memorability in the process.

Chorus: Summation/Payoff

The “PAIN! You made me a, you made me a believer, believer” proclamation provides the summation of the narrative in a powerful, infectious and memorable manner that stands out in the scope of the section, and the song. This is due in part to the shouted manner in which its communicated, and its repetitive structure, featuring a back-to-back repetition of the “you made me a, you made me a” and “believer, believer” lyrics.

Repetitive Verse Structure

Each of Believer’s three verse sections features the same structure. The characteristics of the structure serves to get each respective section, and the song as a whole, further ingrained in the listener’s head.

Example – Verse 1:

  • Line 1 (Sequential lyrical hook): “First things first”
  • Line 2 (Narrative development): “I’ma say all the words inside my head”
  • Line 3 (Narrative development + nonsense hook): “I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been, oh ooh”
  • Line 4 (Repetition of preceding phrase): “The way that things have been, oh ooh”

Effective Specific and Universal Narrative Blend

Believer was written specifically about how pain has influenced the life and work of Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds, and the forthcoming, confessional narrative will no doubt heighten the fan base’s connection with Reynolds, and the band. However, the essence of the narrative is universal, and geared to connect with anyone who has gone through pain in their life and turned it into something positive, or inspire people who are currently going through pain to embrace it and turn it into a positive.

Unique Spin Through Religion

Religious lyrics are somewhat of an anomaly in the Top 10 of the Hot 100. Over the past few years there have only been a few songs that feature them, such as Don’t You Worry Child (Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin – 2013) and Take Me To Church (Hozier – 2014). Believer’s use of religious lyrics provides the song with a unique spin that enables it to further stand out among its mainstream contemporaries. Among them are lyrics such as “believer,” “prayer to the ones up above,” “spirit to a dove” and “grace of the fire and the flames.”

Pre-Chorus / Chorus Sectional Continuity & Payoff Impact Accentuation

The last line in each pre-chorus provides a lead-in to the ensuing chorus due to the fact that they are incomplete and resolve on line 1 in the chorus that follows, which provides continuity between sections. Additionally, the impact of the chorus is maximized by the instrumental, off-kilter, tension-laden chorus impact accentuator moment that precedes it.

  • Pre-chorus 1 – Chorus 1: “Seein’ the beauty through the…<impact accentuator moment>…PAIN!”
  • Pre-chorus 2 & 3 – Chorus 2 & 3: “You rained down, like…<impact accentuator moment>…PAIN!”

Lyrically Differentiated Pre-Choruses

Most Top 10-charting hits have their pre-choruses possessing the same lyrics and melody. However, this is not the case with Believer. While each pre-chorus features a similar rapped/sung hybrid delivery, the lyrical content is different and aspects of the melody differ as well. This results in an effective combination of cross-section familiarity and contrast which heightens both engagement and memorability.

Narrative Development In-A-Nutshell

  • Verse 1: Establishes the proclamation/confessional format of the song and the premise of the narrative – the protagonist is “tired of the way that things have been,” and he’s “fired up” and ready for a change.
  • Verse 2: Advances the narrative by interjecting religion into the equation and the power of overcoming adversity by turning hate into peace.
  • Verse 3: Can be interpreted as the protagonist welcoming pain into his life, and that it’s the force that drives him in the present and the future as well.
  • Pre-Chorus 1: Advances the narrative toward the ensuing summation/payoff in the chorus by providing insight into how pain has impacted the protagonist’s life.
  • Pre-Chorus 2: Advances the narrative by focusing on the pain itself and the protagonist’s inability to suppress it, which leads to him embracing it in the chorus.
  • Pre-chorus 3: Same as the second stanza pre-chorus 2 – the protagonist is unable to suppress his pain.
  • Chorus: Provides the summation of the narrative in that the protagonist accepts and embraces his pain, and becomes a better person for it.

Narrative Structure: At-A-Glance

Verse 1

Verse 1 is the only verse section in the song that is composed of two stanzas. The first stanza is communicated exclusively in the present tense and in the first person P.O.V. The second stanza features essentially the same structure as the first, except that it introduces an instance of the second person P.O.V. for the first time.

Line 1: First things first
Line 2: I’ma say all the words inside my head
Line 3: I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been, oh ooh
Line 4: The way that things have been, oh ooh

The first stanza sets the scene and puts the narrative into motion. Lines 1 and 2 establish the proclamation/confessional format that defines the entire song. Line 3 establishes the premise of the narrative, being that the protagonist is “tired of the way that things have been,” and he’s “fired up” and ready for a change. However, at this point the listener doesn’t know what this relates to, which keeps them on the hook for the developments that follow.

*While subjective, in the scope of the full narrative line 3 can be interpreted as the protagonist being tired of letting “pain” have a negative effect on him, and embracing it instead to better his life.

Line 3 concludes with the first iteration of the nonsense “oh ooh” vocal hook, and is followed by line 4, which repeats the “the way that things have been” phrase along with another iteration of nonsense vocal hook. The lyrical repetition reinforces the memorability of the stanza, while the nonsense vocal hook provides an infectious, left-of-center spin.

*Note that the use of the slang lyric “I’ma” as opposed to “I’m going to” or “I’m gonna” enables the lyrics to resonate with a younger demographic.

Line 5: Second things second
Line 6: Don’t you tell me what you think that I could be
Line 7: I’m the one at the sail, I’m the master of my sea, oh ooh
Line 8: The master of my sea, oh ooh

The second stanza begins in a similar manner as the first stanza with the “second things second” statement on line 5. This both signals the next installment of the protagonist’s proclamation/confession, and heightens memorability due to the lyrical structure and vocal melody familiarity imparted.

Line 6 introduces the second person P.O.V. for the first time in the song. It provides insight into what the protagonist is “tired and fired up about” as stated in the first stanza – “don’t you tell me what you think that I could be.” Note that who the “you” pertains to is not specified, and heightens the song’s universal connection as a result (i.e. “you” can be applied to whomever the listener wants).

* While subjective, the song could be interpreted as a dialogue between the protagonist and the pain he feels. Instead of letting “pain” determine the course of the protagonist’s life, he proclaims that he’s in charge as depicted on line 7 that follows. This theme can be applied to a plethora of scenarios as pertaining to the listener. A prime example would be the song’s younger demographic applying it to a scenario where their parents are telling them “what they should be” when they get older.

Line 7 provides the protagonist’s defiant and empowering follow up to line 6 with the clever seafaring analogy, “I’m the one at the sail, I’m the master of my sea,” and is followed by another iteration of the nonsense “oh ooh” vocal hook. Line 8 repeats the last phrase of line 7 as well as the nonsense vocal hook just as was done at the end of the first stanza.

Pre-Chorus 1

Pre-chorus 1 is composed of two stanzas, communicated both in the past and present tense and in the first person P.O.V. It advances the narrative toward the ensuing summation/payoff in the chorus by providing insight into how pain has impacted the protagonist’s life – specifically his artistry and ability to connect with an audience. While the section clearly pertains to Dan Reynolds, its connection is also universal for anyone who has channeled pain into artistic creativity.

Line 1: I was broken from a young age
Line 2: Takin’ my sulkin’ to the masses
Line 3: Writin’ my poems for the few
Line 4: That look at me, took to me, shook to me, feelin’ me

Line 1 harkens back to the protagonist’s childhood and establishes that he experienced pain “from a young age,” communicated by the powerful lyric, “broken.”  Lines 2, 3 and 4 detail how the protagonist expresses his pain, and his audience’s connection with it.

Line 5: Singin’ from heartache from the pain
Line 6: Takin’ my message from the veins
Line 7: Speakin’ my lesson from the brain
Line 8: Seein’ the beauty through the...

Lines 5, 6 and 7 in the second stanza continue with the premise that was established in the first stanza – the protagonist’s expression of his pain through his lyrics and music. It depicts how the pain in his heart (line 5 – “heartache”), coursing through his body (line 6 – “veins”) and in his mind (line 7 – “brain”) has influenced his message and lessons for his audience, enabling them to “look at him, take to him, shake to him, feel him” as depicted at the end of the first stanza.

Line 8 provides a departure from the other lines in the section and functions as a lyrical lead-in to the chorus that follows. This is achieved by equating pain with beauty, which is the premise of the chorus, and by concluding the section in a lyrically incomplete manner, which resolves in the chorus with the first “PAIN!” proclamation.

Chorus 1

The chorus is composed of two stanzas, communicated in the past and present tense and in the first and second person P.O.V. It provides the summation of the narrative in that the protagonist accepts and embraces his pain, and becomes a better person for it.

Line 1: Pain
Line 2: You made me a, you made me a believer, believer
Line 3: Pain
Line 4: You break me down, you build me up, believer, believer

The first stanza begins with the shouted “PAIN!” proclamation. It cleverly completes the lyrical lead-in from the chorus (“seein’ the beauty through the…PAIN!”), while concurrently functioning as part of the song title payoff that follows on line 2, “you made me a, you made me a believer, believer.”

The essence of the summation/payoff is that the pain the protagonist experiences has  a positive effect on him, thus making him a believer in its benefits.

*Note the underlying religious implication of the lyric “believer.” It ties in with the other religious references within the song.

Line 3 features another “PAIN!” proclamation followed by a description of the negative and positive effects that pain has had on the protagonist (i.e.“you break me down, you build me up”), which is then followed by another iteration of the song title.

Line 5: Pain
Line 6: Oh let the bullets fly, oh let them rain
Line 7: My life, my love, my drive, it came from
Line 8: Pain
Line 9: You made me a, you made me a believer, believer

The first three lines in the second stanza – lines 5, 6 and 7 – provide an engaging and empowering development in the narrative. Sung in a more calm and assured manner than the first stanza (which works well because the protagonist is now a “believer” in “pain”), line 6 depicts the protagonist welcoming pain, which is communicated in a powerful manner via the lyrics “oh let the bullets fly, oh let them rain.” The reason for this is made clear on line 7 that follows, which asserts that the things the protagonist holds dear – his “life,” “love” and “drive,” all came from “pain” (line 8), and made him a “believer” as a result (line 9).

*Note that lines 8 and 9 are lyrical and melodic carbon copies of lines 1 and 2 in the first stanza. This brings the section full circle, reiterates the summation of the narrative, and heightens memorability in the process.

Verse 2

Line 1: Third things third
Line 2: Send a prayer to the ones up above
Line 3: All the hate that you’ve heard has turned your spirit to a dove, oh ooh
Line 4: Your spirit up above, oh ooh

Verse 2 is composed of one stanza and features almost the same structure as both stanzas in the first verse. It differs in that line 3 is not repeated verbatim on line 4, and it is primarily conveyed in the second person P.O.V. as opposed to the first (line 2 is ambiguous – it can be construed as being conveyed in the first person plural or second person). Who the “you” refers to is also ambiguous. It can refer to other people, or the protagonist referring to himself.

The section advances the narrative by interjecting religion into the equation (i.e. “prayer” and “spirit” on lines 2 and 3, respectively), and the power of overcoming adversity by turning “hate” into peace, which is cleverly conveyed through the “dove” analogy on line 3.

Pre-Chorus 2

Pre-chorus 2 is composed of two stanzas. In contrast to pre-chorus 1, it is communicated exclusively in the past tense in the first, second and third person P.O.V. Also in contrast to pre-chorus 1, which depicts the protagonist’s expression of his pain, pre-chorus 2 advances the narrative by focusing on the pain itself and the protagonist’s inability to suppress it, which leads to him embracing it in the chorus.

Line 1: I was chokin’ in the crowd
Line 2: Buildin’ my rain up in the cloud
Line 3: Fallin’ like ashes to the ground
Line 4: Hopin’ my feelin’s, they would drown

Line 1 provides detail regarding one of the protagonist’s “pain” scenarios – anxiety as it relates to crowds. Lines 2 and 3 are ambiguous, but can be construed as the pain building up within the protagonist. Line 4 brings the stanza to a conclusion by depicting the protagonist’s desire to suppress his pain instead of embracing it.

Line 5: But they never did, ever lived, ebbin’ and flowin’
Line 6: Inhibited, limited
Line 7: ‘Till it broke open and rained down
Line 8: You rained down, like…

Lines 5 and 6 in the second stanza advance the premise established in the first stanza by indicating that the protagonist wasn’t able to suppress his feelings of pain, and it continued to consume him. Line 7 infers that the pain the protagonist was feeling reached a saturation point where he wasn’t able to take it anymore, and then “rained down,” which is reiterated twice on lines 7 and 8.

This provides the lead-in to the chorus that follows, both due to the incompleteness of the line that is resolved in the chorus (i.e.  “you rained down, like…PAIN!”), and its implied connotation that the protagonist decided to not let the overwhelming pain consume and defeat him, but instead embrace and empower him.

Chorus 2

Chorus 2 features the same lyrical content as chorus 1.

Verse 3

Line 1: Last things last
Line 2: By the grace of the fire and the flames
Line 3: You’re the face of the future, the blood in my veins, oh ooh
Line 4: The blood in my veins, oh ooh

Verse 3 is composed of one stanza, features the same structure, and is conveyed in the present tense like the other verse sections. However, it is conveyed both in the first and second person P.O.V., which is unique compared to the other verses.

While the meaning of this section is ambiguous and subject to interpretation by the listener, one possibility is that it pertains to pain itself, which works within the scope of the narrative. Conveyed with a religious undertone on line 2, here the protagonist seems to welcome pain into his life (“grace” conveys welcoming and “fire and flames” depict pain – note that this relates to the religious term, “by the grace of God”).

Lines 3 and 4 depict pain as being the driving force in the protagonist’s current and future life.

Pre-Chorus 3

Line 1: But they never did, ever lived, ebbin’ and flowin’
Line 2: Inhibited, limited
Line 3: ‘Till it broke open and rained down
Line 4: You rained down, like…

Pre-chorus 3 features the same lyrical content as the second stanza in pre-chorus 2.

Chorus 3

Chorus 3 features the same lyrical content as choruses 1 and 2.

Benchmark


This section compares Believer to the 25 songs that landed in the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 during Q2-2017.

“D” Section: The sum of bridge and  bridge surrogates that provide a pronounced departure around two-thirds of the way into a song.

Familiarity Factors

Believer shares the following compositional characteristics that were most popular among the 25 songs that charted in the Hot 100 Top 10 during Q2-2017. The commonalities make it easier for a mainstream audience to connect with the song, especially in an airplay environment due to the familiarity they impart (i.e. the song isn’t coming out of left field which would cause the listener to have to work at connecting with the song).

Top Characteristics

Believer being in-line with the most popular (#1) characteristics of Q2-2017’s Top 10 charting hits:

  • Credited Songwriters: 5+ (7 credited songwriters)
  • Lead Vocal Gender: Solo male
  • Song Title Word Count: 1 Word
  • Song Title Placement: Chorus
  • Prominent Instruments: Drums/percussion (synth bass is #2)
  • Acoustic Vs. Electronic Instrumentation: Acoustic/electronic combo
  • First Section: Intro
  • First Chorus Occurrence (Time Into Song): 0:40 – 0:59 Range (0:54)
  • First Chorus Occurrence (Percent Into Song): 20% – 29% Range (27%)
  • “D” (Departure) Section: Contains

Additionally, the easy-to-follow structure, balance of melodic repetition and contrast, and a plethora of memorable instrumental and vocal hooks help the song to connect with a wide mainstream audience.

Standing Out

The following characteristics help Believer to stand out among its mainstream contemporaries.

Instruments

Acoustic Drums

Acoustic drums and especially toms are an essential component of the Imagine Dragons sonic signature. However, songs featuring acoustic drums are quite rare in the Top 10 of late.

Claps

While claps/snaps have been commonplace in the Top 10 recently, appearing in 76% of songs during Q2-2017, most songs feature them only on back beats (usually beats 2 & 4, or beat 3 in songs with a half time feel). Believer employs claps on every beat.

Acoustic and Electric Guitars

Only three songs that charted in the Top 10 during Q2-2017 utilize both acoustic and electric guitars. They were Shape Of You, Body Like A Back Road and Malibu. None of these songs feature fingerpicked acoustic guitar, which is the case with Believer.

Unique Influence Blend: Hip Hop / Rock

Believer fuses the Rock style Imagine Dragons is known for with aspects of Hip Hop (e.g. the rapped delivery in the pre-chorus sections), which was tied with Trap for the most prominent influence in the Hot 100 Top 10 during Q2-2017. The only other song that landed in the Top 10 during Q2 that features both influences was Kendrick Lamar’s HUMBLE. However, it’s worth noting that HUMBLE. stems from the Hip Hop/Rap primary genre and features Rock as a secondary influence, while Believer is the opposite, stemming from the Rock primary genre and featuring Hip Hop as a secondary influence.

Additionally, note that Twenty One Pilots helped to popularize Rock and Hip Hop fusion in 2016 with hits such as Heathens, Ride and Stressed Out, but have not had a Top 10 hit so far in 2017.

Harmony: Diminished Chord

The A diminished chord found in every section of the song is an extremely rare chord type to find not only in the Top 10, but anywhere in mainstream music. It’s more prevalent in classical music. It’s employment in Believer helps to give the song a serious, dark vibe.

Unique C.I.A.’s (Chorus Impact Accentuators)

The impact of each chorus is heightened by the C.I.A. (chorus impact accentuator) moment that spans the last two beats of the pre-chorus and the first two beats of the chorus. The cinematic, video game / trailer quality of the woosh and lull provides an off-kilter moment that serves to heighten tension and anticipation between the lyrical cliffhanger at the end of the pre-chorus (“seein’ the beauty through the..”) and the resolution in the chorus (…”PAIN!”).

The C.I.A. returns in the second half of the chorus (which is very atypical in the Top 10 of the Hot 100), providing another off-kilter moment that heightens the impact of the section’s final “PAIN!” proclamation.

Vocal Types

Believer features a broader range of vocal delivery types than is commonly found in the Top 10, including sung, shouted, sung/shouted hybrid and sung/rapped hybrid. The employment of such a variety of delivery types brings a vast emotional and dynamic range to the song, while showcasing Reynolds diversity as a singer.

Sequential First Lines

Each verse stanza cleverly begins in a sequential manner, which provides the narrative with a uniquely engaging flow:

  • Verse 1, stanza 1: “First things first”
  • Verse 1, stanza 2: “Second things second”
  • Verse 2: “Third things third”
  • Verse 3: “Last things last”

The only recent song that used a similar technique is 7 Years, which features the sequential “once I was X years old” line where X is an age that increases throughout the song.

Unique Narrative Spin Through Religion

Religious lyrics are somewhat of an anomaly in the Top 10 of the Hot 100. Over the past few years there have only been a few songs that feature them, such as Don’t You Worry Child (Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin – 2013) and Take Me To Church (Hozier – 2014).

 

 

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