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greedy Deconstructed

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greedy Deconstructed

Tate McRae

"greedy" serves as the lead single from Tate McRae’s 2023 sophomore album, Think Later, marking her first Hot 100 top 10 hit. The track was collaboratively penned by McRae alongside a team of esteemed behind-the-scenes talents, including Amy Allen, known for her contributions to hits such as Halsey’s “Without Me” and Harry Styles’ “Adore You” and “Matilda;” Jasper Harris, whose credits include Jack Harlow’s “First Class” and Post Malone’s “I Like You (A Happier Song);” and Ryan Tedder, renowned for his work with OneRepublic and hits like Maroon 5’s “Love Somebody” and Jonas Brothers’ “Sucker,” among others.

This powerhouse lineup of writers alongside producers Grant Boutin, Harris, and Tedder, meticulously crafted "greedy" into a song poised for global acclaim. Noteworthy qualities include its irresistibly catchy melodies, expertly arranged vocal and instrumental hooks, and McRae's emotive delivery, breathing life into relatable themes of love, relationships, and self-empowerment. Also notable is the delicate balance between familiarity and uniqueness, allowing “greedy” to resonate widely with audiences while carving out its own distinct identity.

Since its release, "greedy" has surged into the top 10 on over 50 charts worldwide, claiming the number one position on more than 20, including the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 and Adult Top 40 charts in the United States.

Note this report is published in segments. Stay tuned for the next segment detailing the song’s lyrics and narrative.

At-A-Glance


Artist: Tate McRae
Song:
"greedy”
Songwriters:
Amy Allen, Jasper Harris, Ryan Tedder, Tate McRae
Producers:
Grant Boutin, Jasper Harris, Ryan Tedder
Mastering Engineer:
Dave Kutch
Mixer:
Manny Marroquin
Record Label:
RCA
Primary Genre:
Pop
Influences:
Alt/Indie, Dance/Club, Electropop/Synthpop, Pop, R&B/Soul
Length:
2:09
Form:
I-A-B-T-A-B-A-B-O
Key:
F# minor
Tempo:
111 BPM
First Chorus:
0:21 / 16% of the way into the song
Intro Length:
0:04
Electronic vs. Acoustic Instrumentation:
Electronic/Acoustic Combo
Prominent Instruments:
Bass (Synth), Drums/Perc (Acoustic/Electronic Combo), Handpan percussion, Synth (Non-Bass)
Primary Lyrical Theme:
Inspiration/Empowerment, Love/Relationships, Love/Relationships (Romantic/Being In Love/Seeking Love)
Title Appearances:
"greedy" appears three times in the song

Section Abbreviation Key
I = Intro | A = Verse | PC = Pre-Chorus | B = Chorus | PST = Post-Chorus | C = Bridge
IB = Instrumental Break | VB = Vocal Break | “D” = Departure | T = Turnaround | O = Outro
Music notation and lyric excerpts are reproduced here under Fair Use terms, for the purposes of commentary and criticism.

Song Structure


Song Sections

“greedy” contains nine sections within its framework:

  • One intro section
  • Three verse sections (one functions as a bridge surrogate “D” [departure] section)
  • Three chorus sections
  • One turnaround post-chorus section
  • One outro post-chorus section

Song Section Classifications

“D” (Departure) Section Classification

In lieu of a far more common bridge, “greedy’s” “D” section is its third verse, appearing between choruses 2 and 3, right where one would expect to find it. While it shares melodic commonalities with the other verses, it features a notable changeup in instrumental arrangement and provides additional narrative development. This was a clever, albeit atypical way, to bolster the song’s memorability factor while simultaneously heightening interest on a lyrical, arrangement and energy level, along with setting up the final chorus for maximum perceived impact.

While the use of a “D” section has been highly common among non-hip hop hits over the past five years (despite a notable decrease in the first three quarters of 2023), verse bridge surrogates have been few and far between, comprising only 10% of “D” sections. Other recent hits that have utilized a verse “D” section include “Boy’s a Liar, Pt. 2,” “Bad Decisions” and “Seven.”

Use of a “D” Section in Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – Q3 2023 

Post-Chorus Section Classification

“greedy’s” post-choruses are the turnaround following the first chorus and the outro following chorus 3. Both feature a nonsense vocal that cleverly reinforces the handpan percussion hook melody, while the outro also includes the “I would want myself” standout statement hook from the preceding chorus.

Post-chorus popularity among non-hip hop Hot 100 top 10 hits has varied over the past five years, from a low of 35% of songs in 2018 up to 65% in the first three quarters of 2023, which is the highest it’s been in over a decade. However, while the outro has been the second most common post-chorus section behind the vocal break, the turnaround post-chorus has been far more elusive at just 3% of songs. Among them are other notable hits such as “Anti-Hero,” “Fast Car,” and “Good As Hell.”

Use of a Post-Chorus in Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – Q3 2023 

Post-Chorus Sections in Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – Q3 2023

Form

Time and Percent into the Song When Core Sections Occur

“greedy”

Core A-B-A-B-D-B Form in Hot 100 Top 10 Hits (Q4 2022 – Q3 2023) 

The percentage into the song when “greedy’s” core sections (verse, chorus and “D” section) occur is slightly to moderately earlier than non-hip hop Hot 100 top 10 averages in the year prior to its release. This is due in part to characteristics that contributed to its short runtime as detailed below.

Song & Section Length

Song Length

“greedy” clocks in at just 2:09, 1:12 shorter than the Hot 100 top 10 average of 3:21 in the year prior to the song’s release. In fact, “greedy” is the second-shortest non-hip hop top 10 during this time period, right behind Lil Uzi Vert’s “Just Wanna Rock” (2:02). This is in-tune with the top 10’s gravitation towards shorter run times, led by the general rising prominence of the under 3:00 song length range.

Contributing to “greedy’s” short run time are its vibrant 111 BPM tempo, shorter than average section lengths (see below for details), and compact nine section framework, due in part to its exclusion of a pre-chorus and vocal break post-chorus on either end of the first two choruses.

Song Length Ranges of Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – Q3 2023 

Section Length

“greedy” features relatively uniform section lengths, all landing at 17 seconds save for the slightly longer 19-second outro, the notably shorter 4-second intro, and 2-second turnaround. In terms of bars, this translates to 8, 9, 2, and 1, respectively.

Compared to the average section length of non-hip hop Hot 100 top 10 hits in the year prior to the song’s release, “greedy’s” intro averaged 9 seconds shorter, the verse 10 seconds shorter, the chorus 6 seconds shorter, and the outro 2 seconds shorter.

*Note: Section lengths are rounded.

Total Section Breakdown

*Note that numbers may be rounded, resulting in slightly more or less than 100% of the song’s total composition

“greedy” allocates an equal amount of time to the choruses and verses, each comprising 41% of the song’s total composition. Note that the atypically higher verse allocation is due to the song’s inclusion of a verse 3 “D” section as opposed to a more common bridge (most non-hip hop hits contain two verses in their framework). The outro follows distantly at just 15%, and the intro and turnaround account for the least amount of time at just 3% and 2%, respectively.

In terms of trends in the year prior to its release, “greedy” allocates notably more time to its verses and choruses, slightly more time to its outro, and less time to its turnaround and intro.

“greedy” / Q4 2022 – Q3 2023 Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Average Time Allocation

  • Intro: 3% / 7
  • Verse: 41% / 30%
  • Chorus: 41% / 34%
  • Turnaround: 2% / 4%
  • Outro: 15% / 10%

Tempo and Key

Tempo

“greedy’s” tempo lands at 111 BPM, 10 BPM faster than the non-hip hop top 10 average of 101 BPM in the first three quarters of the year. This is in line with the mainstream’s gravitation towards faster tempos and contributes both to its short runtime and dance influence. Other notable recent dance-influenced top 10s that fall within this tempo range are “Cuff It,” “Dance The Night,” and “Flowers.”

Average Tempo in Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – Q3 2023 (Top 5)

Key

“greedy” is in the key of F# minor. While minor tonalities in non-hip hop songs have been in the minority since 2019, the gap has generally been closing, culminating in a close 49%/51% split in the first three quarters of 2023.

Major vs. Minor Keys in Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – Q3 2023 

Genres & Influences


Genres & Influence Blend

Key

X: The influence appears prominently within the stanza and/or section
x: The influence appears minimally within the stanza and/or section
-/-: Divides stanzas

“greedy” features a combination of pop, R&B, dance/club, electropop/synthpop, and alternative influences that are put into effect by the qualities of the vocals, instrumentation, lyrics, and overall production.

The song’s main influence and primary genre is pop. This is due in part to its catchy K.I.S.S. ME (Keep it Simple, Singable and Memorable) melodies, array of infectious hooks, familiar pop structure, relatable love/relationships and inspiration/empowerment-themed lyrics, and polished production, to name a few.

Complementing the song’s pop influence is a notable R&B influence. Vocally, it is put into effect by McRae’s combination of smooth, sultry, confident, and melismatic vocals, which are in line with the styles of other recent R&B and pop-influenced stars such as Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa, and SZA, among others. Instrumentally, the smooth synths contribute to the R&B vibe, which along with the vocals culminates in the third verse’s filtered production.

The song’s underlying dance influence is put into effect mainly by its danceable 111 BPM tempo and dance-ready drum groove. It is featured notably throughout the entire song save for the first stanza of verse 3, which features a more simplified drum pattern.

Working hand-in-hand with the song’s overarching pop and dance influences is electropop/synthpop. It is put into effect mainly by the ample of use of synths - both bass and non-bass – and featured in varying degrees of prominence throughout the song save for the intro and turnaround, where it’s omitted. The influence is prominently featured in the chorus and outro sections due to their dense, synth-heavy qualities; moderately prominent in the second and third verses; and is least prominent in the sparser first verse.

Lastly, “greedy” possesses an underlying alternative influence that is present throughout the entire song. Contributing to it are the atypical handpan percussion hook, the dark, foreboding melodic synth in the chorus, the unique drum timbres, and left-of-center vocal production qualities.

Blending In & Standing Out in the Hot 100 Top 10

“greedy’s” expert balance of genres and influences enabled it to both blend in and stand out in the Hot 100 top 10. While individually all its influences are familiar to mainstream ears due to their varying degrees of prominence over the years, it’s their unique combination that is far more atypical.

Over the past decade, only six other Hot 100 top 10 hits have possessed all these influences under one roof in varying degrees of prominence, most of which stem from 2018 or earlier:

  • “Beauty And A Beat” (Justin Bieber featuring Nicki Minaj – 2013)
  • “Roses” (The Chainsmokers featuring Roses – 2016)
  • “Closer” (The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey – 2016)
  • “Bad At Love” (Halsey – 2017)
  • “Happier” (Marshmello, Bastille – 2018)
  • “Lavender Haze” (Taylor Swift – 2022)

Pop as a Primary Genre in the Hot 100 Top 10: 2018 – Q3 2023 

“greedy’s” Influences in the Hot 100 Top 10: 2018 – Q3 2023 (Outside the Hip Hop/Rap Primary Genre) 

Energy & Dynamics


Energy Arrangement

S.I.A. (Section Impact Accentuator) Key

Downward Red S.I.A.: The full accompaniment is removed from the mix, resulting in a brief reduction in energy
Downward Yellow S.I.A.: A part of the accompaniment is removed from the mix, resulting in a brief reduction in energy

Loudness

“greedy’s” loudness levels generally match the song’s three energy “waves,” progressing from low to high across each sectional progression. Levels range from -12.5 in the turnaround (quietest) to -7.5 in the chorus “hook centers” and outro (loudest). Note that the higher loudness levels in these song-defining sections allows them to further stand out, connect, and bolster the listener’s emotional connection with the song.

Energy: Section-By-Section

Wave 1: Intro (I) – Vocal Break 1 (VB1)

Intro (I)

“greedy’s” intro features the lowest energy in the song, as is commonplace in Hot 100 top 10 hits. Consisting mainly of the percussive handpan hook, the sparseness of the arrangement provides room for energy and density growth in subsequent sections while the hook’s vibrant rhythm puts the song into motion.

Midway through the section a reverse swell effect enters the mix, followed by a brief electronic drum roll, full accompaniment pull and high-pitched “whoo” at the end. Together, this S.I.A. (section impact accentuator) technique serves to heighten tension and anticipation leading into the verse and maximize its impact upon arrival.

Verse 1 (A1)
Verse 1 begins with prominent glide bass on beat 1, which amplifies its impact following the S.I.A. at the end of the intro. Along with the continuation of the handpan hook, the section adds a steady drum/percussion beat into the mix that supports McRae’s eight-note driven vocals. The denser arrangement provides the verse with a greater degree of intensity compared to the intro, while McRae’s rhythmic vocals provides heightened forward motion.

At the end of the section, a brief partial accompaniment pull S.I.A. is implemented through the omission of the handpan hook. This creates a brief lull in energy that allows the chorus to hit with increased perceived impact.

Chorus 1 (B1)
Following the partial accompaniment pull S.I.A., the chorus brings “greedy’s” energy up to its first peak through changeups in the instrumental arrangement and McRae’s vocals. Instrumentally, the arrangement is notably denser compared to the verse, adding sub bass, a lead synth hook and synth pad into the mix. Vocally, McRae’s vocals are in a higher register and delivered with a greater sense of urgency and passion. These changeups also take the song’s emotional intensity to an apex in support of the lyrics.

Turnaround (T)

Following the intense chorus, energy “wave” 2 begins with a notable reduction in energy in the brief one-bar turnaround. This is achieved through its thinned-out arrangement, where all the elements are removed save for the drums/percussion and McRrae’s hummed delivery of the handpan hook melody. This brief changeup serves to heighten listener engagement while providing room for energy and arrangement growth in subsequent sections.

Wave 2: Verse 2 (A2) – Outro (O) 

Verse 2 (A2)
Verse 2 provides a significant rise in energy over the preceding turnaround, just as verse 1 rose in energy over the intro. However, just as the turnaround’s energy is higher than the intro due to the additional elements in the mix, the same is the case between verses. While they are similar, verse 2 adds sub bass and synth pad, which provides it with a denser, more intense feel.

Additionally, verse 2 uniquely adds a S.I.A. midway through the section, as opposed to exclusively at the end. The combination of the reverse swell effect and omission of the synth bass and pad creates a brief lull that both heightens in-section interest and provides additional like-section contrast.

Chorus 2 (B2)

Following the S.I.A., “greedy’s” energy leaps back up to a peak in chorus 2. While it features the same qualities as its chorus 1 counterpart, the degree of energy contrast against the preceding verse isn’t as great this time around due to the denser verse 2 arrangement. However, the implementation of the same S.I.A. technique at the end of the section allows chorus 2 to hit with a comparable degree of impact. 

Verse 3 (A3)

Stanza 1 of the verse 3 “D” (departure) section provides a notable reduction in energy compared to the chorus through its stripped back, filtered arrangement. For the first time, the percussive handpan hook is omitted from the mix, and the drums consist of a sparse, filtered kick/snare and perc. pattern. In addition, a dark synth pad is introduced, which provides the mix with a more serene vibe while McRae’s familiar rhythmic verse melody and hummed double provides forward motion. At the end of the stanza, a partial accompaniment pull S.I.A. is once again implemented to heighten engagement leading into the second stanza.

With the elements of stanza 1 remaining in effect, stanza 2 raises energy through the reintroduction of the full drum/perc. beat and handpan hook. The section culminates in a unique, brief, full accompaniment pull S.I.A. along with two kicks that usher in the third and final chorus in an impactful manner.

Chorus 3 (B3)

The third and final chorus thrusts “greedy’s” energy back up to a peak that is on par with choruses 1 and 2 due to the similar instrumental arrangements and vocal qualities.  

Outro (O)
The outro rides the listener out on an energetic high as the song comes to a conclusion. However, its energy is a notch below that of the chorus due to changeups in the vocals. While the outro maintains the chorus’s dense and powerful instrumental arrangement, the repetition of the “I would want myself” vocal is sung in a breathier, less dramatic manner compared to the chorus vocal and treated with ample reverb as it traverses the stereo field.   

In terms of the outro’s two S.I.A.s, the first is implemented midway through the section to heighten engagement and spotlight the all-important “self” lyric. At the end of the section, a final full accompaniment pull S.I.A. is implemented to spotlight the hummed hook as the song concludes.

Instrumental Arrangement


Overview

“greedy” features an expertly crafted instrumental arrangement that keeps the listener engaged from start to finish while working in concert with the vocals and lyrics to establish a unified vibe and heighten emotional connection.

Primary Instruments

Drums/Percussion

Handpan Percussion  Hook (Electronic)
Handpan percussion plays the main melodic hook heard throughout the majority of the song. It was created using an Omnisphere patch of sugar packets hitting a handpan, providing a rattling tone overtop the pitches.

Kick (Electronic)
The electronic kick is introduced in the first verse and remains in effect throughout the song. It is processed with compression and features a strong, punchy quality that allows it to cut through the mix. The accented off-beats and 808 timbre provides it with a quality found in both hip hop and electropop productions.
 
A low-pass filter is used on the kick in the first half of verse 3, removing the high end. This provides it with a subtler quality that jibes with the more serene accompaniment.  

Snare (Electronic)
The electronic snare is introduced in verse 1 and remains in effect throughout the song. It provides a steady backbeat on beats 2 and 4 and possesses a bright and dry timbre that allows it to cut through the mix. Like the kick, it is processed with low-pass filtering in verse 3 to reduce its prominence in the mix.

Claps (Electronic)
The electronic claps are introduced in verse 1 and remain in effect across sections except for the first half of verse 3. Made up of several claps layered together, they appear one sixteenth note before beat 2, as well as directly on beat 2. The anticipated note and the depth of the bright clap layers add to the snare sound, providing the backbeat with heightened punch, body, and definition.

Hand Drum (Backbeat)
A hand drum is introduced to the mix in verse 3 playing on beat 4, and for the remainder of the song on beats 2 and 4.  Functioning similarly to the snare, its organic timbre provides a subtle additional texture and helps punctuate the backbeat.

Open Hat (Electronic)
The electronic open hi-hat is heard briefly in the choruses 1 and 3, subtly contributing to the groove while providing additional high frequency information.

Shaker (Electronic)
The electronic shaker is introduced in verse 1 and remains in effect throughout the song save for the first half of verse 3.  It functions as a low-level percussive embellishment, playing a repeated groove throughout the first two beats of each measure.

Conga (Acoustic)
The acoustic conga is introduced in verse 1 and is featured sparsely across sections. It subtly contributes to the groove while providing the mainly electronic mix with acoustic color and texture.

Electronic Drum Roll
The electronic drum roll, a rapid fill with a clicky, synthetic timbre, is heard on the last beat of every two-bar phrase throughout the song. It is moved to the upbeat of beat 1 in the first chorus, then shifted to beat 4 in subsequent choruses and is reversed in bar 4 of verse 2 to complement the reversed synth lead.

Crash (Electronic)
The electronic crash possesses a sizzle-y timbre and is used to subtly punctuate the arrival of each four-bar phrase during choruses and the outro.

Bass

Sub Bass
The sub bass enters in the first chorus and remains in effect in each section save for the brief turnaround. It is a rich, legato bass that provides low-end power and depth within the otherwise mid and high-frequency range dominant mix.

Glide Bass
The glide bass is featured exclusively in the drums/percussion-driven first verse, punctuating the section’s arrival and midway points.

Funky Synth Bass
The funky synth bass enters in verse 3, providing a classic 1980s funky embellishment leading into the second half of the section.

Synths

Bright Synth Lead
The bright lead synth is heard in each chorus as well as the outro. It plays a high-pitched sustained melody that functions as one of the song’s main hooks while contributing to vibe through its tense and tremolo-processed quality.   

Warm Synth Pad
The warm synth pad is introduced in the first chorus and remains in effect throughout the song save for the turnaround. It is layered on top of the sub bass, providing the bottom end with additional color and texture. In verse 3, the timbre is tweaked to provide the pad with a fuller tone within the sparse arrangement.

Breathy Synth Pad
The breathy synth pad is introduced in the first verse and remains in effect across sections save for the turnaround. It is heard most notably within the sparser arrangements (i.e., verse 1), and possesses an airy, breathy timbre that pairs with heavy reverb to add low-level atmosphere to the mix.  

Guitars

Palm Muted Electric Guitar
The palm muted electric guitar is first introduced in the second half of verse 3 and remains in effect for the duration of the song. Its primary function is to reinforce the handpan hook melody in a fresh manner while contributing a new texture to the mix.

Keys

Electric Piano  
The electric piano enters in chorus 2 and is subsequently featured in chorus 3 and the outro. Its Fender Rhodes timbre contributes warmth to the mix while its arpeggiated pattern outlines the chord progression.

Effects

Reverse Vocal Swell
The reverse vocal swell is exclusively heard at the end of the intro leading into verse 1. Its primary function is to heighten tension and engagement leading into the first installment of the narrative.

Reverse Synth Swell
The reverse synth swell functions in a transitional capacity across most sections in the song. Similar to the vocal swell, its primary function is to heighten tension and engagement while imparting the mix with additional color and texture.

Instrumental Arrangement: Section By Section

Intro (0:00 – 0:04)

Chord Progression: N.C. 

“greedy’s” 4-second intro features the sparsest arrangement in the song, consisting solely of the handpan hook and reverse swell effect. Within this short runtime, the section achieves a host of important things:

  • The sparseness of the arrangement spotlights the handpan hook, allowing it to easily cut through airwave clutter, grab the listener’s attention and hook them in. In addition, its unique timbre functions as an instantly identifiable calling card for the song. As soon as one hears it, they know exactly what song it is.
  • The sparseness of the arrangement leaves room for density and energy growth in subsequent sections, while the upper-mid frequency  focus provides room for frequency expansion.
  • The percussive quality of the handpan hook and its associated rhythm establish the song’s vibrant 111 BPM groove in lieu of drums.
  • Aspects of the handpan hook’s melody and rhythm foreshadow and subsequently reinforce McRae’s lead vocal in the verse, turnaround, and outro sections.
  • The qualities of the handpan hook and swell effect establish “greedy’s” pop influence and allude to the electropop direction the song takes.
  • The reverse swell effect, which enters at the midway point, serves as a tension and anticipation heightening section impact accentuator (S.I.A.) leading into the verse. The S.I.A. is bolstered by the brief electronic drum roll, full accompaniment pull, and high-pitched “whoo” at the end.

Intro Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Verse 1 (0:04 – 0:21)

Chord Progression: F#m (F# minor: i) 

With the handpan hook providing cross-section continuity, the verse adds drums/percussion into the mix, consisting primarily of electronic kick, layered snare and claps, and shaker. Together, they lock the listener into the song’s fully developed, vibrant groove in conjunction with McRae’s rhythmic eighth note-driven vocals. The instrumental groove remains constant throughout the section, keeping the listener’s full focus on McRae and the first installment of the narrative without distraction.  

In addition to the drum/perc groove, sporadic sub bass and conga are introduced to the mix:

  • A brief sub bass glide is implemented on beat 1 of measures 1 and 5 (the section’s starting and midway points). In measure 1 it introduces the section in an impactful manner following the anticipation heightening S.I.A. at the end of the intro. Its return in measure 5 serves as a familiar beacon while subtly heightening interest within the repetitive section.
  • A single conga hit is employed on beat 3 of measures 4, 6 and 8. While subtle, it further defines the groove while providing an acoustic texture to the overt electronic mix.

Also, in terms of timbre and frequency, the layered snare and claps define and punctuate the backbeat (a highly common practice in electro-leaning hits) while contributing mid/high frequency information to the mix. The punchy kick covers the mid-low range and the sporadic sub bass covers the low end. However, its sporadic use allows for low-end expansion in the ensuing chorus. In addition, a low-level, breathy pad processed with copious reverb  is featured throughout, providing the mix with additional depth and atmosphere.

At the end of the section, a brief partial accompaniment pull S.I.A. is implemented through the omission of the handpan hook. This creates a brief transitional lull that boosts engagement leading into the chorus while enabling it to hit with increased perceived impact.

Verse 1 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Chorus 1 (0:21 – 0:38) 

Chord Progression: D – Bm – F#m – E (F# minor: bVI-iv-i-bVII) 

Following the S.I.A. at the end of the verse, the first chorus hits hard with the densest instrumental arrangement heard in the song thus far. It features both recycled and new elements, simultaneously adding familiarity and interest while accentuating the chorus’s vibe and emotional impact.  

Familiarity
The continuation of the handpan hook, snare, claps, shaker, and conga keeps the listener locked in the infectious groove across sections. However, the handpan hook’s prominence is reduced within the denser arrangement. While it might seem counter intuitive to reduce a primary hook’s visibility, there are a few key reasons for it:

  • It puts the listener’s full focus on the catchy chorus vocals and summative lyrics.
  • It makes room for the new melodic synth hook (see below).
  • It prevents the handpan hook from becoming overly redundant and waring out its welcome.

Interest
Along with low-level electronic crash, which subtly punctuates the start of both four-bar phrases, the chorus adds the following new and changed up elements to the mix:

  • The sub bass now plays a continuous legato pattern as opposed to sporadic glides.  This provides the mix with continuous bottom end power and low-frequency depth within the otherwise mid and high-frequency mix. It also contributes to the section’s dark vibe, which compliments the lyrics.
  • A new warm synth pad is layered on top of the sub bass, providing additional color and texture that also compliments the vibe.
  • A new bright lead synth plays two near-verbatim repetitions of a high-pitched, sustained melody that begins on the downbeats of measures 11 and 15. The pattern’s simplicity, unique timbre, and vibrato processing creates a recognizable instrumental hook that stands out while not overshadowing McRae’s lead vocal focus. Additionally, its timbre imparts a tense, somewhat ominous vibe that compliments the foreboding lyrics.
  • Similarly to the entrance of the chorus, the exit uses a reverse synth swell to heighten the impact of the ensuing turnaround. This is achieved by likely subverting the listener’s expectations of a more intense section (i.e., a post-chorus) and instead going into breakdown mode in the turnaround.

Chorus 1 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Turnaround (0:38 – 0:40) 

Chord Progression: N.C. 

Following the dense and energetic chorus, the 1-bar turnaround breaks the song down to the core drum/percussion groove, consisting of kick, snare, claps, shaker and conga. While brief, this pronounced shift serves a few key purposes within the song’s framework:

  • It notably heightens the listener’s engagement following the arrangement build in the preceding sections.
  • It provides room for arrangement, energy, and frequency growth in the ensuing sections.
  • It puts the listener’s focus on McRae’s new hummed delivery of the handpan hook melody. This creatively keeps the hook melody in the listener’s head while heightening interest and preventing the handpan from becoming overly redundant.
  • It keeps the listener locked in the song’s core groove while all the above is achieved.

Turnaround Arrangement: At-A-Glance 

Verse 2 (0:40 – 0:58) 

Chord Progression: D – Bm – F#m – E (F# minor: bVI-iv-i-bVII)

Following the brief transitional turnaround, verse 2 engages the listener at a heightened level through a return to the core verse 1 arrangement. The main differences between like-sections are the addition of sub bass and warm synth pad, which weren’t present the first time around. These elements provide verse 2 with a comparatively denser and more energetic quality that enhances both like-section and cross-section interest while maintaining familiarity in the scope of the song.

In addition, a reverse swell effect is uniquely implemented at the midway point. While subtle, it serves to further heighten in-section interest while providing additional like-section variation. In the second half of the verse, the tone subtly shifts, introducing a more pronounced sub-bass and warmer synth sound.  

At the end of the section, the same breakdown S.I.A. technique that was used to transition into chorus 1 is used to transition into chorus 2. However, this time around its impact is more pronounced due to the denser arrangement that precedes it.

Verse 2 Arrangement: At-A-Glance 

Chorus 2 (0:58 – 1:15) 

Chord Progression: D – Bm – F#m – E (F# minor: bVI-iv-i-bVII) 

The chorus 2 arrangement is essentially the same as its chorus 1 counterpart, which strengthens the song’s familiarity factor. However, to prevent cookie-cutter redundancy, arpeggiated electric piano chords are added to the mix. Their addition serves a variety of purposes, including providing subtle like-section contrast, contributing to density, and providing additional color, texture, and harmonic support. Furthermore, the warm Fender Rhodes-inspired timbre contributes to the vibe while seamlessly blending in with the other elements in the mix.

Chorus 2 Arrangement: At-A-Glance 

Verse 3 (1:15 – 1:32)

Chord Progression: D – Bm – F#m – E (F# minor: bVI-iv-i-bVII) 

Verse 3 serves as “greedy’s” main “D” (departure) section in lieu of a much more common bridge. While most of its instrumental elements have been featured in previous sections, their unique context heightens interest while supporting the familiar verse melody.

Segment 1 (Bars 1-4)
The first half of the section strips back to kick, snare, conga, and two synth pads – the warm synth pad and breathy synth pad – all of which were present in verse 2. Together, these elements, along with the notable omission of the handpan hook, achieve the following:

  • The sparseness of the arrangement notably heightens interest and engagement coming out of the dense and intense chorus while putting the full focus on McRae’s vocals and narrative development.
  • The filtered processing of several instruments and synth pads creates a melancholic vibe that frames the vocals and lyrics in a unique context.
  • The stripped back drum/perc pattern prevents the familiar vibrant groove from becoming redundant while keeping the listener locked in and leaving room for development.
  • The omission of the handpan hook is important for a few key reasons, including preventing it from becoming overly redundant, providing a reduction in energy, and leaving room for higher frequency growth (also achieved through the filtering). In its absence, McRae subtly hums the hook melody, further reinforcing it while contributing to forward motion and groove (her vocal is essentially functioning in an instrumental capacity).
  • In bar 4, a partial accompaniment pull S.I.A. is implemented leading into the second segment. Along with heightening in-section interest, it emphasizes the lyric “never met someone like that” through its breakdown quality, locks the kick in with the vocal, and provides a brief funky flourish through the funky synth bass embellishment.

Segment 2 (Bars 5-8)
The second half of the section adds the other verse 2 elements back into the mix, which ramps up density and intensity while heightening both like-section familiarity and in-section interest. However, the filtering remains in effect, which both maintains the section’s vibe and provides room for frequency development in the ensuing chorus.  

The main new element added to the mix is a palm muted electric guitar, which delivers the familiar handpan hook melody. Its addition further defines and reinforces the hook melody while the handpan hook is relegated towards the back of the mix due to the filtering. It also provides the section with unique color and texture not heard before.

At the end of the verse, a unique full accompaniment pull S.I.A. and two kick drum hits usher in the third and final chorus in an impactful manner.

Verse 3 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Chorus 3 (1:32 – 1:50) 

Chord Progression: D – Bm – F#m – E (F# minor: bVI-iv-i-bVII)

Following the pronounced S.I.A., the third and final chorus hits with high impact, returning to the chorus 2 accompaniment along with the continuation of the palm muted electric guitar hook from verse 3. This dense instrumental arrangement takes the song’s intensity to a grand climax in conjunction with McRae’s impassioned vocals while maintaining strong familiarity with the other choruses.

Chorus 3 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Outro (1:50 – 2:09) 

Chord Progression: D – Bm – F#m – E (F# minor: bVI-iv-i-bVII)

The outro maintains the intense chorus 3 arrangement, with the sole variation being a brief mid-section S.I.A. that captures attention within the repetitive section. The cross-section continuity keeps the listener locked into the intense groove while placing their main focus on the repetition of the vocal hooks without distraction.

At the end of the section, a full accompaniment pull S.I.A. is implemented to create a jarring moment that spotlights McRae’s hummed delivery of the hook as the song comes to a conclusion.

Outro Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Vocals


Vocal Production

Lead Vocal Gender

“greedy” features a solo female lead vocal from Tate McRae. Over the past five years, solo female and solo male-led non-hip hop hits essentially ran neck-and-neck in the Hot 100 top 10. However, the gap widened in the first three quarters of 2023, with solo male outperforming solo female 40% to 28%.

Lead Vocal Gender in Hot 100 Top 10 (Non-Hip Hop Hits): 2018 – Q3 2023

Lead Vocal Delivery

“greedy” features sung lead vocals from Tate McRae. While sung vocals are unsurprisingly most common among non-hip hop hits, they have recently been in decline, dropping from 79% of songs in 2019 down to 65% in the first three quarters of 2023. Conversely, songs with a combination of sung and rapped vocal qualities have been on the rise.

Lead Vocal Delivery in Hot 100 Top 10 (Non-Hip Hop Hits): 2018 – Q3 2023

Background Vocals

“greedy” features a host of background vocals that heightens its impact and engagement value. They include unison and low-octave doubles that enhance McRae’s lead; low-level hummed vocals that double the instrumental handpan hook; sung vocals that reinforce the “I would want myself” chorus hook in a fresh manner in the outro; and independent of the lead sung and shouted adlibs that serve as catchy embellishments.

Effects & Processing

An array of vocal effects and processing are used throughout the song to heighten its engagement and emotional impact. They include varying degrees of reverb, delay, compression, and Auto-Tune, as well as formant shifting and autopan.

Vocal Delivery Arrangement Overview

Lead: Female (Tate McRae): Tate McRae’s lead vocal
BGV 1: Female (Unison Double):
Background vocal doubles in unison with the lead
BGV 2: Female (Low Octave Double):
Background vocal doubles an octave below the lead
BGV 3: Female (Instrumental Hoo Double):
Filtered background vocal doubling the handpan hook
BGV 4: Female (Sung Vocal Hook):
Background vocals that sing the “I would want myself” hook in the outro
BGV 5: Adlibs:
Independent of the lead sung and shouted adlibs.

Key

S: Sung
SH:
Shouted
W:
Whispered
hm:
Hummed, low level in the mix
BGV:
Background vocals
Underlined Lyrics:
Denotes unison and octave doubles with the lead; one underline denotes unison double(s), and double underlines denote additional octave double(s)
Color-Coded Lyrics:
Denotes lyrics sung in unison with the lead (light green), octaves with the lead (dark green), and independent of the lead (orange). Note that this matches the color-coding of the above vocal arrangement overview table.
Italicized Lyrics:
Denotes a unique production quality.

Vocal Production: Section-By-Section Detail

Intro

The first vocal heard in the song is a high-pitched, sampled “woo.” Appearing at the end of the intro, it serves as engaging lead in to the ensuing verse while fitting with the song’s overt mainstream pop qualities.

Verse 1

Verse 1 introduces McRae’s solo lead vocal into the mix. Her voice is processed with compression, minimal Auto-Tune, and ample reverb, seamlessly blending her vocal into the mix while providing heightened space, depth, and vibe. In addition, her breaths are left in the mix both here and throughout the song, further humanizing her performance and providing additional nuances to the mix.

At the section’s midway point, formant shifting is used on the “ta-ta-ta” vocal that precedes “talking.” This unique production effect provides mid-section interest and ear candy, bolsters the song’s electropop vibe, and accentuates the impact of the “you keep talking” lyric through its ping-ponging repetition across the stereo field.

In addition, a hummed vocal outlines the handpan hook and aspects of the lead vocal at a very low level in the mix throughout the section, providing additional subtle texture and hook definition.

Chorus 1

With vocal qualities from the verse providing continuity, the chorus adds additional vocal layers, adlibs, and effects to the mix, enhancing its ability to stand out and heightening the song’s emotional impact.

  • A low octave double of McRae’s lead provides it with increased texture, weight, and impact.
  • More pronounced use of Auto-Tune provides her voice with a unique texture while further accentuating the song’s electropop vibe.
  • Delay, which is heard most notably at the end of line 4, further fills out the mix.
  • A high register “no it won’t” adlib at the beginning of line 8 cleverly intertwines with McRae’s lead, further heightening interest and emotion as the section concludes.  

Turnaround

Following the robust vocal production of the chorus, the brief turnaround strips it back along with the instrumental arrangement. Here, McRae’s vocal is simply treated with minimal reverb, providing it with a more direct, intimate quality. This helps draw attention to the first iteration of the nonsensical “uh” hook while providing room for vocal production growth in subsequent sections.

At the end of the turnaround, the background “woo” from the intro is reprised, providing a familiar, engaging lead in to the ensuing verse.

Verse 2

Verse 2 features essentially the same vocal production as its verse 1 counterpart, including the engaging mid-section formant processing on “loo-loo-loo-, lookin’,” which was initially used on “talk” in verse 1.

The production development compared to the preceding turnaround heightens cross-section interest, while the similarities with verse 1 creates like-section familiarity and aids in the listener’s ability to easily lock in with the next installment of the story.

Chorus 2

Like the relation between verses 1 and 2, chorus 2 features essentially the same vocal production qualities as chorus 1, maintaining familiarity while heightening interest.

Verse 3

Verse 3 features the same core vocal production qualities as verses 1 and 2. The main difference is the whispered delivery of the ping-ponging “so” in line 3, which jibes with the more restrained qualities of the arrangement.

Chorus 3

Chorus 3 features the same vocal production qualities as choruses 1 and 2, achieving the same like-section and cross-section results.

Outro

The outro features the most varied vocal production in the song, which notably heightens engagement as the song draws to a close. However, its qualities are also familiar, which helps ensure that the listener remains locked in while reinforcing key hooks.

Following the vocally dense chorus, the first two lines of the outro reprise the “I would want myself” hook, but now as a breathy background vocal. Processed with copious reverb and autopan that traverses the stereo field, this provides engaging variation against the continuity of the chorus’s energetic instrumental arrangement. Interest is then further heightened in line 3, where McRae belts the vocal out in a similar fashion to the chorus, followed by a reversion to the background vocal deliveries in lines 4 and 5.

Interest is then further heightened at the tail end of the song in line 6 through a reprise of the turnaround’s more direct and intimate nonsense hook. Here, it’s presence is further amplified by its solo featuring in the mix.

Vocal Melody

Key
Part Graphs
Graphs: Reflect Lead vocals (excludes harmony)
Numbers in the graphs: Depict the scale degree of each note
Curved Line: Slur across two or more pitches
Vocal Melody Part Classifications
Main melodic parts, such as upper-case A,B and C, reflect the main melodic structure of each line in a song section.

Melodic subparts, such as lower-case a, b, c, reflect melodic structure both within and across lines.

The vocal melody part classifications in each section are specific to that particular section type (i.e., verses, pre-choruses, etc.) and do not relate to other section types (i.e., part A classification in verse 1 does not relate to part A in the chorus, but part A in verse 1 does relate to part A in verse 2).

Vocal melody parts are determined by pitches, rhythms, and melodic pattern commonalities.

Underlined lyrics in the vocal melody tables represent E.O.L.A. (end-of-line accentuator) nano hooks and are explained in their respective sections.

Verses

Overview

K.I.S.S. ME Construction

Like most hit song melodies, all three of “greedy’s” verse sections are rooted in the Hit Songs Deconstructed K.I.S.S. ME principle, an acronym for keep it simple, singable, and memorable:
  • The melodies generally reside in an easy-to-sing range.
  • There is abundant stepwise and stagnant motion.
  • The melodic patterns logically unfold and are easy to follow.
  • The rhythms are highly simplistic and easy-to-lock into.
  • The relatively lengthy lines are broken into two shorter, easier-to-digest segments through the melodic contrast between phrases.
  • There is ample repetition between melodies with just enough contrast to prevent a monotonous listening experience.

E.O.L A. Nano Hooks

Lines 1-3 conclude with an E.O.L.A. (end-of-line accentuator) nano hook, which is comprised of a descending 4-3-1pattern. Its inclusion heightens catchiness, connectability, and provides a familiar base for which the listener to land following subtle melodic variation in the preceding melodies. 

Prosody/Emotional Connection
The nature of the melodic patterns, in conjunction with McRae’s delivery style, jibes perfectly with the lyrics to create a unified vibe and heighten the listener’s emotional connection with the song.
Chorus Set Up
I lieu of a pre-chorus, the verse melodies effectively set up the high register, vibrant chorus for maximum impact. This is achieved through their generally low registers, descending melodic patterns, and stagnant rhythms.

Melodic Structure Overview & Detail

Verse 1 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Verse 2 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Verse 3 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Verse 1 Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Verse 2 Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Verse 3 Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Melodic Structure Detail

*Note that all images and analysis shown below pertains to verse 1 unless otherwise noted. Differences between verses 1, 2 and 3, if any, are detailed in each line grouping’s analysis.

Lines 1 & 2

Line 1

Part a1: He said “Are you se-ri-ous?
Part a1:
I’ve tried, but I can’t fig-ure out

Line 1 is composed of two back-to-back subpart a1 melodies. They are highly simplistic patterns, both starting on scale degree 5 and traversing down to the root by way of scale degrees 4 and 3 (see above for details). This, along with the mainly eighth note driven rhythms, achieves the following at the top of the song.

  • It allows the listener to easily connect with and sing along to the song’s opening line.
  • The directness and resolve of the pattern amplify the emotion behind the lyric, “he said ‘are you serious?’”
  • The conclusion on the root provides subtle melodic segmentation against the nearly identical subpart a1 melody that follows, which begins with a leap back up to scale degree 5. This breaks the relatively lengthy 15 syllable line into two shorter, easier to digest 7 and 8 syllable segments while maintaining the driving eighth note rhythm.

Line 2

Part a2: I’ve been next to you all night
Part a1: And still don’t know what you’re a-bout

Line 2 is composed of subparts a2 and a1. It is highly similar to line 1 except for the continuation on scale degree 4 at the end of the first segment (a2) as opposed to descending to the root. This subtle variation melodically bridges the related lyrical phrases and subtly heightens interest against the otherwise repetitive melodies. The line concludes on the root in the familiar a1 melody that follows.

Verse 2 and 3 Variations

Lines 1 and 2 in all three verse sections possess a combination of melodic similarities and differences along with nearly identical rhythms. This helps to foster familiarity, memorability, and ease of connection as the song progresses, while simultaneously keeping things interesting and preventing monotony. 

  • Verse 2: The most notable difference in verse 2 compared to verse 1 occurs in line 1. Instead of concluding on the root in its first segment, it continues on scale degree 4, providing continuity across the lyrically unresolved phrases similar to line 2 in verse 1.
  • Verse 3: In contrast to verse 2, which features a more pronounced changeup in its first line compared to verse 1, verse 3 begins with a return to the familiar a1 melodies that began verse 1. Along with heightening familiarity within the song’s main “D” (departure) section, they allow the listener to easily connect before being introduced to the more pronounced melodic changeups that that follow in line 2 (subparts a7 and a8).


Lines 3 & 4

Line 3

Part a2: You keep ta-ta-ta-talk-in’
Part a3: But not much com-in’ out your mouth

Line 3 is composed of subparts a2 and a3. While subpart a2 features essentially the same melody as the first segment of line 2 that precedes it, it is kept interesting through its unique vocal production (see the vocal production segment of the report for details).

Subpart a3 possesses a more differentiated pattern compared to the subparts heard thus far in the section. However, it shares essentially the same rhythm and familiar 4-3-1 E.O.L.A. descent at the end, which brings the lyrical statement to a resolved conclusion. 

Line 4

Part a4: Can’t you tell that I want you?”
Part a5:
I say, yeah


Line 4 is composed of subparts a4 and a5. Subpart a4 is highly similar to subpart a2 at the beginning of lines 2 and 3, with the main difference being a brief dip down to scale degree 3 as opposed to continuity on scale degree 4.

Subpart a5 that follows is a short 4-4-3 melodic fragment. While it begins in the same manner as many of the other concluding melodies, by keeping it short and ending on scale degree 3 as opposed to the root, it creates tension, anticipation, and room for the chorus vocal pickup that follows.  

Verse 2 and 3 Variations

The melodies of lines 3 and 4 are nearly identical across verse sections save for line 4 in verse 3. These commonalities are important on two key levels:

  • They return the listener to familiar territory following the more pronounced variations that occur in their respective line 2’s.
  • They provide a familiar lead in to the ensuing chorus in lieu of a pre-chorus.

Line 4 of verse 3 features a more pronounced melodic and rhythmic changeup compared to its preceding section counterparts. This creates a unique moment that further heightens engagement leading into the final chorus of the song by breaking the listener’s likely expectations while spotlighting the lyrical statement, “let me check.”

Choruses

Overview

K.I.S.S. ME Construction

Like the verses, the chorus is also largely rooted in the K.I.S.S. ME principle to ensure that the listener easily connects with and remembers the song’s primary “hook center”:

  • There is abundant stepwise motion and generally short intervallic leaps (save for the scale degree 1-6 leap in the song title hook melody).
  • The melodic patterns logically unfold and are easy to follow. In addition, the section features A.M.P.s (alternating melodic patterns), which are two nearby pitches that alternate in a stepwise or intervallic manner. Along with subtly heightening catchiness, these patterns create mainstream familiarity on a subconscious level due to their widespread use in hits throughout the ages.
  • The rhythms, while more varied than the verse, are easy-to-lock into.
  • The lines are short, ranging from 2 to 6 syllables in length.
  • There is an effective balance of repetition and contrast.

However, the chorus also deviates from the K.I.S.S. ME principle in one key area – it resides in a high range, generally an octave above the verse. While this makes the section a bit more difficult for the average listener to sing along to, there are a few important reasons for it:

  • It enables the chorus to notably stand out against the preceding verse.
  • It spotlights key vocal hooks.
  • It bolsters the emotional impact of the lyrics along with the melodic patterns and rhythms.

Chorus-Verse Commonalities

While not identical, the chorus and verse sections share melodic commonalities that make the song more cohesive and memorable on a subconscious level for the listener:

Chorus line 1 / Verse subpart a3 melodies

The similarities subtly foreshadow and subsequently reinforce the song’s primary vocal hook, “I would want myself.” Note that the chorus iteration concludes with a variation of the verse E.O.L.A. nano hook (5-3-1 and 4-3-1, respectively).

Chorus line 4 / General Verse Melodies

Line 4 of the chorus resides largely on scale degree 4 with an eighth note rhythm. This is a commonality shared with the melodies and rhythms throughout the verse sections. 

Melodic Structure Overview & Detail

Chorus Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Verse 1 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Verse 2 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Verse 3 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Chorus Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Melodic Structure Detail

Lines 1 & 2

Line 1

Part a1: I would want my-self

Chorus 1 is composed of subpart a1 and enters as a pickup at the end of the pre-chorus. Its melodic shape is highly similar to subpart a3 in the verses (4-3-4-5-3-1 vs. 4-4-3-4-5-4-3-1) but resides an octave higher and concludes with a sustained slur as opposed to individual eighth notes. Together, these commonalities and differences achieve the following:

  • The pronounced ascending leap from the verse to the chorus immediately grabs the listener’s attention and ushers them into the section.
  • The melody’s higher register notably calls attention to and accentuates the emotional impact of the song defining lyrical hook, “I would want myself.” In addition, the slurred sustained ending further spotlights the key lyric, “self,” while the conclusion on the root hammers it home in a definitive, resolute manner.
  • The melodic shape and rhythmic commonalities shared with the verse makes the song even more cohesive and memorable. However, this is likely on a subconscious level with the listener since it is not very overt.

Line 2

Part b1: Ba-by, please be-lieve me

Line 2 is composed of subpart b1. It picks up where line 1 left off, on the root across two sixteenth notes, which are the fastest rhythms heard in the song thus far. This effectively sets up the engaging leap to scale degree 6 on the lyric “please be-lieve” before descending to scale degree 5 to conclude on the lyric “me.” Like line 1 that precedes it, these qualities serve a variety of purposes, including heightening listener engagement, spotlighting a lyric, and bolstering emotional impact, along with melodically foreshadowing the song title hook that follows in line 5 of stanza 2. The conclusion on scale degree 5 heightens tension and anticipation for the line that follows.

Lines 3 & 4

Line 3

Part a1: I’ll put you through hell

Line 3 returns to subpart a1. It melodically reinforces the “I would want myself” hook from line 1 but with different lyrics, which simultaneously heightens interest.    

Line 4

Part b2: Just to know me, yeah, yeah

Line 4 is composed of subpart b2. After beginning with two sixteenth notes on the root, a commonality shared with its line 2 counterpart, it diverts through an alternation between scale degrees 4 and 3, which is the Hit Songs Deconstructed A.M.P. technique (see the overview for details). Here, it subtly bolsters the catchiness of the “yeah, yeah” lyric while heightening tension leading into line 5 that follows. In addition, the concentration on scale degree 4 is another commonality shared with lines in the verse, again subtly heightening familiarity on a subconscious level.

Stanza 2

Lines 5 & 6

Lines 7 & 8

Lines 5-7

Part a1: So sure of your-self
Part b1: Ba-by don’t get greed-y
Part a1: That sh*t won’t end well

Lines 5-7 reinforce the melodies of their lines 1-3 stanza 1 counterparts while the lyrical changeups serve to heighten interest. Here, the song title hook, “baby don’t get greedy,” stands out through its high register placement against the surrounding melodies, while the impactful statement that follows, “that sh*t won’t end well,” is delivered in a more intimidating, resolute manner with its descent down to the root.

Lines 8

Part c: End well

Line 8 is composed of subpart c. It features a unique, slurred, 3-2-3-2 A.M.P. melody, which heightens interest of the repeated lyric while providing tension leading into the hummed vocal hook that follows in the ensuing turnaround.

Turnaround

The brief turnaround reinforces aspects of both the verse melody and handpan instrumental hook in a fresh but familiar manner. Keeping it fresh and interesting in the scope of the song is McRae’s hummed delivery and nonsensical lyric.

Note that because of the familiar 4-3-1 E.O.L.A. nano hook at the end of the turnaround, the following verse (2) doesn’t repeat the nano hook at the end of its first segment. Instead, it resides mainly on scale degree 4. Had both melodies been similar, it could have resulted in melodic redundancy across sections.  

Outro

Overview

The outro reprises two of the song’s main vocal hooks in fresh and familiar ways. It’s centered around the repetition of the “I would want myself” hook from the chorus, which is presented both as a unique sounding background vocal and in its familiar lead vocal form.

The section ends with the hummed vocal hook from the turnaround. This leaves the song’s main hook melody lingering in the listener’s head as the song comes to a conclusion.

Melodic Structure Overview & Detail

Outro Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Turnaround Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Chorus Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Verse 1 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Verse 2 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Verse 3 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Outro Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Melodic Structure Detail

Lines 1 – 3

Line 1

Part a1: I would want my-self

Line 1 is composed of subpart a1. It features stepwise and intervallic A.M.P. motion across scale degrees 5-3-4-7-3, providing the “I would want myself” hook from the chorus with a unique, catchy quality along with its staccato rhythm, breathy background vocal delivery, and ping-ponging production.

Line 2

Part a2: I would want my-self

Line 2 is composed of subpart a2. It is the same as its line 1 counterpart except for the conclusion on two scale degree 4 eighth notes on the creatively segmented single syllable lyric, “se-elf.” This subtly heightens interest against the otherwise melodically and lyrically repetitive lines while heightening tension and anticipation for the chorus variation that follows in line 3.

Line 3

Part b: I would want my-self

Line 3 is composed of subpart b. It is a melodic and lyrical repetition of its featuring at the top of the chorus, hammering home the key lyric in a direct, impassioned, and resolute manner.

Lines 4 – 6

Line 4

Part a1: I would want my-self

Line 4 repeats the a1 melody and lyric that defines line 1. However, here it overlaps the line 3 lead at the beginning, albeit at a lower level in the mix. This demonstrates the complimentary qualities of the a1 and b melodies.

Line 5

Part a2: I would want my-self

Line 5 is composed of subpart a2, and is identical to its line 2 counterpart.

Line 6

Part c: Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh

Line 6 is composed of subpart c. It is a return to the hummed hook melody of the turnaround, which breaks the listener’s expectation of another iteration of the “I would want myself” hook, further heightening their engagement at the end of the song along with an additional hook reinforcement.

The main difference between this iteration and the turnaround is that it ends on scale degree 3 as opposed to the root, leaving the phrase with an unfinished quality. This serves two purposes: to subvert expectations and allow the listener to fill in the “missing” note, and to leave the listener wanting more, encouraging repeat listens of the song.

Lyrics & Rhymes


Rhyme Schemes

Overview

“greedy” features an abundance of expertly crafted rhymes and other lyrical connection accentuators that bolsters the song’s ability to connect and resonate. Among them are logically unfolding end-of-line rhyme schemes and a host of strategically placed internal rhymes, double rhymes, alliterations, lyrical repetitions, and cross-section commonalities.

Key

A & B: End-of-line rhymes
X:
Non-rhymes
Lyrics:
The primary rhyme at the end of each line
Underline:
Repetitive lyrics
Colors and rhyme schemes are unique to each section
Analysis reflects the most notable commonalities within each section

At-A-Glance: End-Of-Line Rhymes Section-By-Section

Verse 1 

End-Of-Line Rhymes

Verse 1 features an AAAX end-of-line rhyme scheme across its four lines. Lines 1-3 are comprised of the A-scheme and are connected by the “OW”-sounding commonality in the lyrics “out,” “a-BOUT,” and “mouth.” Line 4 breaks this familiar pattern through its conclusion on the lyric, “I say yeah.” This serves to further heighten listener engagement leading into the ensuing chorus.

Internal Rhymes, Alliteration & Other Connection Accentuators

In addition to its end-of-line rhymes, verse 1 features a host of other lyrical connection accentuators that bolsters its connection value and memorability. Some of the most notable are:

  • The internal “EYE” sounding rhymes across lines 1 and 2, including their similar placement at each line’s midway points.
  • The repetition and alliteration featured in the creatively stuttered “ta-ta-ta, talk-in.’”
  • The double end-of-line rhymes in the lyrics “fig-URE OUT,” “YOU’RE a-BOUT,” and “YOUR MOUTH.”

Verse 2

End-Of-Line Rhymes

Like verse 1, verse 2 features an AAAX end-of-line rhyme scheme across its four lines, creating structural familiarity across like-sections. However, the sound of the rhymes differs, which simultaneously heightens interest as the song progresses. In contrast to verse 1’s “OW”-sounding rhyme, verse 2 features the “AY”-sounding commonality in the lyrics “name,” “age,” and “es-CAPE.”

Internal Rhymes, Alliteration & Other Connection Accentuators

In addition to its end-of-line rhymes, verse 2 also features a host of other lyrical connection accentuators. Some of the most notable include:

  • The similarly placed “IH”-sounding commonality across lines 1-3 in the lyrics “eye-IN,” “run-NIN’,” and “look-IN.”
  • The repetition and alliteration featured in the creatively stuttered “loo-loo-loo, look-in,’” which is similar to “talk-in’” in verse 1.
  • The similarly placed “past” and “half” internal rhymes in line 1 and 2, respectively, which create a near double end-of-line rhyme with “name” and “age,” respectively.

Verse 3

End-Of-Line Rhymes

Verse 3, which serves as “greedy’s” main “D” (departure) section in lieu of a bridge, deviates from verses 1 and 2 with its AABB end-of-line rhyme scheme. Lines 1 and 2 feature the A-scheme and are connected by the “AH”-sounding commonality in the lyrics, “act” and “that.” Lines 3 and 4 shift to the B-scheme through the “EH”-sounding commonality in the lyrics “ef-fect” and “check” (note that that the lyric “yeah” at the end of line 4 does not greatly affect the end-of-line rhyme connection).

Internal Rhymes, Alliteration & Other Connection Accentuators

Like verses 1 and 2, verse 3 features additional lyrical connection accentuators that serve to heighten cohesion and memorability. They include:

  • The double end-of-line rhyme and alliteration featured in the lyrics “an act” in line 1.
  • McRae’s pronunciation of the lyric “ef-FECT” at the end of line 3, which makes a subtle connection with the “act” and “that” end-of-line rhymes. Although this verse follows an AABB rhyme scheme, this pronunciation adjustment makes verse 3 echo back to the AAAB rhyme scheme in the preceding verses.
  • The repetition and alliteration featured in the creatively stuttered “so, so, so,’” similar to the techniques used in verses 1 and 2.
  • The similarly placed “EE”-sounding internal rhyme at the end of the first segment in lines 2 and 3 (“me” and “cra-ZY”).
  • The string of “EH”-sounding commonalities in the lyrics “ef-FECT,” “said,” “LEM-me,” and “check,” at the end of the section. Note that the line 4 connection is bolstered by its rhythmic qualities.

Choruses 

End-Of-Line Rhymes

The chorus features an ABAX/ABAA end-of-line rhyme scheme across its two four-line stanzas. The A scheme is comprised of the “EH”-sounding commonality in the lyrics “my-SELF,” “hell,” “your-SELF,” and “well.” The B scheme is comprised of the “EE”-sounding commonality in the lyrics “me” and “greed-y.” Line 4 breaks the familiar ABA pattern across stanzas through its conclusion on the non-rhyming lyric, “yeah, yeah.”

Internal Rhymes, Alliteration & Other Connection Accentuators

The chorus features a plethora of other lyrical connection accentuators that bolsters its ability to connect and resonate. Some of the most notable include:

  • The repetition of the “EE”-sound in line 2’s “Ba-BY, please be-lieve me.” This, along with the reinforcement in line 4, accentuates the connection value and memorability of the song title hook, “”ba-BY don’t get greed-y.”
  • The lyric “me” in line 4, which internally connects the line to the “EE”-sounding B-scheme despite the non-rhyming “yeah, yeah” lyrics that follow.
  • The use of alliteration in lines 1 and 6 (“would want” and “get greedy,” respectively).
  • The lyrical repetition at the end of both stanzas (“yeah, yeah” and “end well, end well”).
  • The similarly placed internal rhymes across lines 1 and 3 (“would” and “put”) and lines 6 and 7 (“don’t” and “won’t”).
  • The double rhymes in lines 3 and 5 (“you”/ “through” and “sure”/ “your,” respectively).

Outro

The outro simply features the repetition of the “I would want my-self” hook across its first five lines, followed by the engaging shift in the repetitive “uh-uh” hook at the end.

Note this report is published in segments. Stay tuned for the next segment detailing the song’s lyrics and narrative.

Companion
Logic Project

This file includes the correct meter, tempo and song arrangement displayed as empty MIDI regions for each instrument. Load your copy of the song to see when each instrument enters and leaves the mix, how the arrangement of like and cross-sections compare, how energy and dynamics are working from an arrangement point of view, and more.

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Paint The Town Red Deconstructed

Yael Template Test
Paint The Town Red Deconstructed

Doja Cat

"Paint The Town Red" serves as the second single from Doja Cat's 2023 album, Scarlett. The song boasts a talented team of writers, including Doja Cat herself, along with Earl On The Beat, Jean-Baptiste, Karl Rubin, and Ryan 'DJ Replay' Buendia. Additional credit is given to Burt Bacharach and Hal David, courtesy of their 1964 Dionne Warwick hit, "Walk On By," which is skillfully incorporated into the song. This expertly crafted track marks Doja Cat's sixth appearance in the Hot 100's top 10 as a primary artist and her second chart-topping hit.

The success of "Paint The Town Red" can be attributed, in part, to its ability to effectively serve the song, the artist, and the marketplace – a trifecta known as Hit Songs Deconstructed's S.A.M. principle. In terms of serving the song, it possesses all the qualities expected of a massive hit: catchy hooks, a captivating vocal performance by Doja Cat, intriguing lyrics, a groovy beat, a familiar structure, and a seamless blend of elements that enhance the listener's emotional connection to the song.

Equally important is the song's personal resonance with Doja Cat and its ability to both create familiarity and push the boundaries of her existing Hot 100 top 10 catalog. Lyrically, "Paint The Town Red" is an empowering anthem celebrating Doja's self-worth and resilience in the face of haters. Her compelling delivery brings authenticity to the lyrics, deepening the connection between fans and the song.

In terms of her Hot 100 top 10 body of work, "Paint The Town Red" maintains elements of hip hop, R&B/soul, pop, and retro influences, all of which are present in the majority of her hits. Additionally, the song features primarily electronic drums, synth bass, non-bass synths and electric piano, clocks in over 100 BPM, and is delivered using a blend sung and rapped deliveries. These qualities, along with the inclusion of catchy post-choruses, further heightens “Paint The Town Red’s” familiarity factor with listeners. However, the song distinguishes itself from many of her other hits with its more pronounced hip-hop/rap quality, the use of the "Walk On By" sample from the early/mid-1960s (as opposed to her previous references to the 1950s and 1970s), and its focus on lifestyle and boasting-themed lyrics, as opposed to love and relationships.

"Paint The Town Red’s" expert fusion of hip hop, pop, R&B/soul, and retro also allowed it to resonate with a broad fanbase while standing out in the competitive music marketplace. The inclusion of a prominent trap-influenced beat and extended rapped verses aligns with contemporary hip hop trends, while the timeless allure of the 1964 "Walk On By" sample infuses a pop and R&B/soul influence that resonates across generations. The entirely sung, repetitive, and catchy post-choruses further enhance the song's pop appeal, contributing to its top placement on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart.

Since its release in August 2023, "Paint The Town Red" has achieved impressive global recognition, landing in the top 10 on over 50 charts worldwide and reaching the coveted #1 position on more than 20 of them.

At-A-Glance


Artist: Doja Cat
Song: "Paint The Town Red"
Songwriters: Burt Bacharach, Doja Cat, Earl On The Beat, Hal David, Jean-Baptiste, Karl Rubin Brutus, Ryan ‘DJ Replay’ Buendia
Producers: Earl On The Beat, Jean-Baptiste, Karl Rubin Brutus, Ryan ‘DJ Replay’ Buendia
Mastering Engineer: Dale Becker
Mixer: Serban Ghenea
Record Label: RCA
Primary Genre: Hip Hop/Rap
Influences: Retro (1960s), Pop, R&B/Soul, Trap
Length: 3:50
Form: I-B-VB-A-B-VB-A-B-VB-O
Key: G Dorian
Tempo: 100 BPM
First Chorus: 0:19 / 8% of the way into the song
Intro Length: 0:19
Electronic vs. Acoustic Instrumentation: Electronic/Acoustic Combo
Prominent Instruments: Bass (Synth), Drums/Perc (Primarily Electronic), Guitar (Acoustic), Piano (Electric), Snaps, Strings (String Section), Synth (Non-Bass), Wind (Trumpet)
Primary Lyrical Themes: Boasting, Inspiration/Empowerment, Lifestyle
Title Appearances: "Paint The Town Red" appears six times in the song

"Paint The Town Red" Section Abbreviation Key
I = Intro | A = Verse | B = Chorus | VB = Vocal Break | PST = Post-Chorus | O = Outro
Music notation and lyric excerpts are reproduced here under Fair Use terms, for the purposes of commentary and criticism.

Overview, Highlights & Takeaways


Hooks

“Paint The Town Red” features an assortment of strategically arranged sampled and non-sampled hooks that take its catchiness, connectability, and emotional impact to a heightened level.
“Paint The Town Red’s” Hook Arrangement Table

Sample Hooks 

"Paint The Town Red" incorporates two sampled hooks, one vocal and one instrumental, sourced from Dionne Warwick's 1964 hit, "Walk On By." These hooks remain in effect throughout the song, appearing in different degrees of prominence, both in conjunction with and independently of Doja Cat's lead vocal and the accompanying trap beat.

While each hook is catchy on its own, it’s their combined call and response quality that forms a super-catchy multipart hook that takes the song’s infectiousness to a heightened level. In addition, these hooks achieve the following:

  • Contribute to the song’s vibe and emotional impact.
  • Provide the song with an underlying 1960s retro influence.
  • Accentuate the song’s ability to stand out among its mainstream contemporaries.
  • Complement and enhance the song’s narrative through the vocal hook’s summative connotation. 

Doja Cat Vocal Hooks

“Paint The Town Red’s” chorus and vocal break post-chorus “hook centers” feature three unique Doja Cat vocal hooks. 

Standout Statement Hook #1 (Chorus)

The first hook heard from Doja Cat is her direct, confident, rapped delivery of the powerful lyric “(yeah), b***h, I said what I said.” Primely placed at the top of both chorus stanzas, the hook also serves as the song’s main opening line following the sampled intro, effectively drawing the listener in and setting the tone for the impactful lyrical summation and developments that follow.

Song Title Hook (Chorus)

Bookending each chorus stanza is Doja Cat’s rapped delivery of the song title hook, “I don’t care, I paint the town red,” which provides the song’s main lyrical summation in an intriguing, yet easy-to-grasp, manner due to its familiarity in popular culture. Heightening its impact is its effective combination of lyrical A.I.D.E. principle components including action (“paint”), imagery (full hook), detail device (metaphor), and emotion.

In addition, the song title portion of the hook is both foreshadowed and subsequently reinforced by the rhythmic, inflection, and rhyme commonalities in the vocals that precede and follow (i.e., “said what I said,” “famous instead,” “get to my head”). This is a technique that Hit Songs Deconstructed calls an E.O.L.A., an acronym for end-of-line accentuator.
 

Song Title Hook E.O.L.A. Commonalities
Standout Statement #2 (Post-Chorus)
The vocal break post-chorus houses “Paint The Town Red’s” other notable standout statement hook across the first two lines of each stanza: “Mm, she the devil / She a bad lil’ b***h, she a rebel.” 

In contrast to the rapped chorus hooks, this hook is sung, which provides an engaging variation in the scope of the song while making the song even more appealing to a pop audience. Further bolstering this appeal is the hook’s K.I.S.S. ME (keep it simple, singable, and memorable) components, including its short to moderate-length phrases, easy-to-lock into rhythms, easy-to-follow melodic patterns, effective balance of repetition and contrast, and a combination of stepwise and stagnant motion along with a few interest-heightening intervallic leaps.

The hook essentially consists of three distinct segments that are segmented from one another by a sustained note and rest:
  • Segment 1: The sustained “Mm” provides an engaging contrast against the faster-paced, rapped delivery of the preceding chorus, enabling the vocal break post-chorus to further stand out and connect. In addition, it provides subtle separation between sections of similar accompaniment without breaking up the groove.
  • Segment 2: The impactful lyric, “she the devil,” stands out with its faster-paced quality and notable leap of a fifth into the key lyric, “devil.”  Note that this lyric also ties in with the red color theme in the song title hook.
  • Segment 3: The concluding standout statement, “she a bad lil’ b***h, she a rebel,” stands on its own following the eighth rest at the end of segment 2. Further punctuating its presence is the leap of a fourth into the impactful lyric, “bad lil’ b***h.” 
Further bolstering the hook’s ability to connect and resonate are the following:
  • The “she the devil” and “she a rebel” components rhyme and feature the same rhythms, which heightens cohesion and memorability against the lyrical and melodic variations.
  • The full hook melody is almost identically repeated in the next two lines, while subtle melodic variations and lyrical changes enhance engagement while contributing to the post-chorus lyrical summation.

Structure: Overview

Genres & Influences: Overview

“Paint The Town Red” features a combination of hip hop, trap, pop, R&B/soul and retro 1960s influences that are put into effect by the qualities of the vocals, instruments, lyrics, and the overall production.

Key

X: The influence appears prominently within the stanza and/or section
x: The influence appears minimally within the stanza and/or section
-/-: Divides stanzas

Instrumentation & Arrangement: Overview

Energy: Overview

S.I.A. (Section Impact Accentuator) Key

Bar Lines: Illustrate increases and decreases in energy over the course of the song
Downward Red S.I.A.: The full accompaniment is removed from the mix, resulting in a brief reduction in energy.
Downward Yellow S.I.A.: A part of the accompaniment is removed from the mix, resulting in a brief reduction in energy.

Harmony: Overview

“Paint The Town Red” features one main chord progression with no significant deviations.

Progression 1

Progression 1: Variation 1 

Gm7 – Am7

Vocal Production: Overview

Lead Vocal Gender

“Paint The Town Red” features a solo female vocal performance from Doja Cat. Within the hip hop genre, Hot 100 top 10s with a solo female lead have been few and far between over the past five years, accounting for just 6% of songs or less. In the first two quarters of 2023, the only representative preceding “Paint The Town Red’s” arrival in Q3 was Coi Leray’s “Players.”

Lead Vocal Gender in Hot 100 Top 10 (Hip Hop Hits): 2018 – Q2 2023 

Lead Vocal Delivery

“Paint The Town Red” features a combination of sung and rapped lead deliveries from Doja Cat. Hip hop top 10s that feature a combination of sung and rapped deliveries have been by far most common over the past five years and beyond, accounting for 80% or more since 2020.

Lead Vocal Delivery in Hot 100 Top 10 (Hip Hop Hits): 2018 – Q2 2023 

Background Vocals

Complementing Doja Cat’s lead are an assortment of background vocals, including unison doubles, lead harmonies, and independent of the lead adlibs. Together they serve to heighten interest within and across sections, contribute to vibe and emotion, foster familiarity, and call attention to key lyrics.    

In addition, Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By” vocal remains in effect throughout the entire song, serving mainly in a background capacity save for the intro and outro, where it’s the only vocal in the mix. 

Effects & Processing

“Paint The Town Red” features common hit song vocal processing, including reverb, compression, and subtle autotune to heighten the effectiveness of the sung vocal performances.

Vocal Production Visualization Key 

Lead: Female (Doja Cat): Doja Cat’s lead vocal
Sample Vocal: Female (Dionne Warwick): Dionne Warwick’s lead vocal from the “Walk On By” sample
BGV 1: Female (Unison Double): Background vocal doubles in unison with the lead
BGV 2: Female (Lead Harmony): Background vocals that harmonize with the lead on different pitches

S: Sung
R: Rapped
BGV: Background vocals

Underlined Lyrics: Denotes unison doubles with the lead
Color-Coded Lyrics: Denotes lyrics sung in unison with the lead (light green) and in harmony with the lead (dark green). Note that this matches the color-coding of the above vocal arrangement overview table

Vocal Delivery Arrangement Overview

Vocal Melody: Overview

Sectional Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance 

CHORUSES 

VOCAL BREAKS 

VERSE 1 

VERSE 2 

Sectional Melodic Pattern: At-A-Glance

CHORUSES

VOCAL BREAKS 

VERSE 1

VERSE 2

Rhymes: Overview

“Paint The Town Red” features an abundance of expertly crafted rhymes and other lyrical connection accentuators that bolsters the song’s ability to connect and resonate. Among them are logically unfolding end-of-line rhyme schemes and a plethora of strategically placed internal rhymes, double and triple rhymes, alliterations, lyrical repetitions, cross-section commonalities and unique pronunciations to make rhymes happen where they otherwise wouldn’t.

Key

A, B & C: End-of-line Rhymes
Underline: Repetitive lyrics
Colors and rhyme schemes are unique to each section

*For simplicity of analysis, note that only lyrics connected by both rhyme and another notable characteristic (i.e., proximity, placement, melodic connection, etc.) are shown in each table. Lyrics that rhyme but are otherwise unconnected are not noted.

Narrative: Overview

“Paint The Town Red” is a lifestyle, inspiration/empowerment and boasting-themed song about Doja Cat’s defiance and perseverance against her haters. Supporting this are depictions of Doja Cat’s confidence, rebellious spirit, and determination to succeed on her own terms, while addressing topics of fame, personal qualities, and career aspirations.

The narrative unfolds in a logical and easy-to-follow manner, utilizing an effective balance of clever and common lyricism that is both intriguing and easy-to-grasp. While the interpretive storyline pertains to Doja Cat specifically, the universal subject matter of perseverance and living life your own way primes “Paint The Town Red” to connect with the listener on a profound personal level as well. 

INTRO & ALL SUBSEQUENT SECTIONS

CHORUSES

VOCAL BREAKS

VERSE 1

VERSE 2

Song Structure


Overview

“Paint The Town Red” possesses structural qualities that are in line with both hip hop (the song’s primary genre) and non-hip hop Hot 100 top 10 hits. The song’s hip hop-leaning qualities include the chorus preceding the first verse, omission of a “D” (departure) section and pre-chorus, lengthy verses, and minor tonality, all of which are more common in hip hop hits than genres outside of hip hop. Conversely, the inclusion of catchy vocal break post-choruses, spending the vast majority of time in a hook-based section (intro, chorus, post-chorus and outro) and 100 BPM tempo are more in line with genres outside of hip hop, most notably pop.

Together, these qualities, among others, helped make “Paint The Town Red” familiar and approachable to both hip hop and non-hip hop audiences alike, broadening the song’s reach and success potential.

Song Sections

“Paint The Town Red” contains 10 sections within its framework:

  • One intro section
  • Two verse sections
  • Three chorus sections
  • Three vocal break post-chorus sections
  • One outro section

Song Section Classifications

Post-Chorus Section Classification

“Paint The Town Red’s” post-choruses are the vocal breaks following each chorus. They feature the summative “Mm, she the devil / she a bad lil’ b***h she a rebel” vocal hook over the continuation of the chorus accompaniment and sample-based “Walk On By” hook.

While post-chorus usage among hip hop Hot 100 top 10 hits has generally been low in recent years, accounting for less than 10% of songs between 2017 and 2021, they’ve recently been on the rise. In 2022, their use jumped to 28% of songs, and midway through 2023 they were at 40% (present in two of the year’s five hip hop hits). In addition to “Paint The Town Red,” notable recent hip hop hits that feature a pre-chorus in their framework include “Super Freaky Girl” (#1), “All My Life” (#2), and “Big Energy” (#3).

Use of a Post-Chorus in Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – Q2 2023

Form

Time and Percent into the Song When Core Sections Occur

“Paint The Town Red”

Song & Section Length

Song Length

“Paint The Town Red” clocks in at 3:50, 23 seconds longer than the mid-year 2023 hip hop average of 3:27, and 35 seconds longer than the overall Hot 100 top 10 average of 3:15. Since 2020, the 3:30-3:59 song length range has increased both among hip hop hits and the overall top 10, rising to 40% and 29% of songs, respectively.

Song Length Ranges of Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – Q2 2023

Section Length

“Paint The Town Red” features highly uniform section lengths, which creates structural familiarity in the scope of the song. Each section lands at 19 seconds/8 bars save for the notably longer double length verse sections, which is a common trait of verse-centric hip hop hits. Compared to hip hop Hot 100 top 10 trends over the past year (Q3 2022 – Q2 2023), “Paint The Town Red’s” section lengths are within 5 seconds or less of the average:

  • The intro is 2 seconds longer than the hip hop average of 17 seconds.
  • The verse is 3 seconds shorter than the hip hop average of 42 seconds.
  • The chorus is 5 seconds shorter than the hip hop average of 24 seconds.
  • The outro is 5 seconds shorter than the hip hop average of 24 seconds.
  • The vocal break is 4 seconds longer than the hip hop average of 15 seconds.

Note that while the verses are the longest sections in the song, an equal amount of time is spent in the combined hook-centric chorus and vocal break post-chorus sections. This provides the song with an effective flow and balance between hooks and narrative development as it progresses.

*Note: Section lengths are rounded.

Total Section Breakdown

*Note that numbers may be rounded, resulting in slightly more or less than 100% of the song’s total composition

The greatest amount of time in “Paint The Town Red” is spend in its two verses, comprising just over one-third of its total composition. The choruses and vocal break post-choruses follow at one-quarter each, followed distantly by the intro and outro at 8% each. In addition, two-thirds of the song is spent in a hook-based section (intro, chorus, vocal break post-chorus and outro).

In terms of trends, “Paint The Town Red” spends significantly less time in the verse, slightly less time in the chorus, significantly more time in the vocal break post-chorus, and a near equal amount of time in the intro and outro compared to hip hop Hot 100 top 10 averages over the past year.

“Paint The Town Red” / Q3 2022 – Q2 2023 Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Average Time Allocation

  • Intro: 8% / 9%
  • Verse: 34% / 46%
  • Chorus: 25% / 30%
  • Vocal Break: 25% / 10%
  • Outro: 8% / 12%

Tempo and Key

Tempo

“Paint The Town Red” sits at 100 BPM, 20 BPM faster than the mid-year 2023 hip hop average of 80 BPM. Over the past year, only 24% of hip hop hits have landed over 100 BPM, with a couple of the most notable being the #1s “First Class” (107 BPM) and “Super Freaky Girl” (133 BPM). Note, however, that the song’s tempo is in line with non-hip hop tempos, which averaged at 103 BPM and 101 BPM in 2022 and mid-year 2023, respectively.

Tempo Range in Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: Q3 2022 – Q2 2023

Key

“Paint The Town Red” is in the key of D minor. Minor tonalities in hip hop hits have been in the majority for over a decade, accounting for 80% of songs in the first half of 2023.

Major vs. Minor Keys in Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – Q2 2023

Hooks


“Paint The Town Red” features an assortment of strategically arranged sampled and non-sampled hooks that take its catchiness, connectability, and emotional impact to a heightened level.

“Paint The Town Red’s” Hook Arrangement Table

Sample Hooks 

"Paint The Town Red" incorporates two sampled hooks, one vocal and one instrumental, sourced from Dionne Warwick's 1964 hit, "Walk On By." These hooks remain in effect throughout the song, appearing in different degrees of prominence, both in conjunction with and independently of Doja Cat's lead vocal and the accompanying trap beat.

While each hook is catchy on its own, it’s their combined call and response quality that forms a super-catchy multipart hook that takes the song’s infectiousness to a heightened level. In addition, these hooks achieve the following:

  • Contribute to the song’s vibe and emotional impact.
  • Provide the song with an underlying 1960s retro influence.
  • Accentuate the song’s ability to stand out among its mainstream contemporaries.
  • Complement and enhance the song’s narrative through the vocal hook’s summative connotation.

Doja Cat Vocal Hooks

“Paint The Town Red’s” chorus and vocal break post-chorus “hook centers” feature three unique Doja Cat vocal hooks.

Standout Statement Hook #1 (Chorus)
The first hook heard from Doja Cat is her direct, confident, rapped delivery of the powerful lyric “(yeah), b***h, I said what I said.” Primely placed at the top of both chorus stanzas, the hook also serves as the song’s main opening line following the sampled intro, effectively drawing the listener in and setting the tone for the impactful lyrical summation and developments that follow.

Song Title Hook (Chorus)
Bookending each chorus stanza is Doja Cat’s rapped delivery of the song title hook, “I don’t care, I paint the town red,” which provides the song’s main lyrical summation in an intriguing, yet easy-to-grasp, manner due to its familiarity in popular culture. Heightening its impact is its effective combination of lyrical A.I.D.E. principle components including action (“paint”), imagery (full hook), detail device (metaphor), and emotion.

In addition, the song title portion of the hook is both foreshadowed and subsequently reinforced by the rhythmic, inflection, and rhyme commonalities in the vocals that precede and follow (i.e., “said what I said,” “famous instead,” “get to my head”). This is a technique that Hit Songs Deconstructed calls an E.O.L.A., an acronym for end-of-line accentuator.  

Song Title Hook E.O.L.A. Commonalities

Standout Statement #2 (Post-Chorus)

The vocal break post-chorus houses “Paint The Town Red’s” other notable standout statement hook across the first two lines of each stanza: “Mm, she the devil / She a bad lil’ b***h, she a rebel.”

In contrast to the rapped chorus hooks, this hook is sung, which provides an engaging variation in the scope of the song while making the song even more appealing to a pop audience. Further bolstering this appeal is the hook’s K.I.S.S. ME (keep it simple, singable, and memorable) components, including its short to moderate-length phrases, easy-to-lock into rhythms, easy-to-follow melodic patterns, effective balance of repetition and contrast, and a combination of stepwise and stagnant motion along with a few interest-heightening intervallic leaps.

The hook essentially consists of three distinct segments that are segmented from one another by a sustained note and rest:

  • Segment 1: The sustained “Mm” provides an engaging contrast against the faster-paced, rapped delivery of the preceding chorus, enabling the vocal break post-chorus to further stand out and connect. In addition, it provides subtle separation between sections of similar accompaniment without breaking up the groove.
  • Segment 2: The impactful lyric, “she the devil,” stands out with its faster-paced quality and notable leap of a fifth into the key lyric, “devil.”  Note that this lyric also ties in with the red color theme in the song title hook.
  • Segment 3: The concluding standout statement, “she a bad lil’ b***h, she a rebel,” stands on its own following the eighth rest at the end of segment 2. Further punctuating its presence is the leap of a fourth into the impactful lyric, “bad lil’ b***h.”

Further bolstering the hook’s ability to connect and resonate are the following:

  • The “she the devil” and “she a rebel” components rhyme and feature the same rhythms, which heightens cohesion and memorability against the lyrical and melodic variations.
  • The full hook melody is almost identically repeated in the next two lines, while subtle melodic variations and lyrical changes enhance engagement while contributing to the post-chorus lyrical summation.

Genres & Influences


Genres & Influence Blend

Key

X: The influence appears prominently within the stanza and/or section
x: The influence appears minimally within the stanza and/or section
-/-: Divides stanzas

“Paint The Town Red” features a combination of hip hop, trap, pop, R&B/soul and retro 1960s influences that are put into effect by the qualities of the vocals, instruments, lyrics, and the overall production.

The song’s main influence and primary genre is hip hop. This is due in part to Doja Cat’s rap-styled delivery throughout much of the song and the electronic kick, hi hat and bass-focused instrumental arrangement. In addition, the timbre and patterns of the drums and bass provide the song with an underlying trap influence. These influences are featured prominently throughout the song save for the intro, where they’re omitted all together, and the second stanza of both verse sections, where the core drum and bass accompaniment drops out.

“Paint The Town Red’s” pop, R&B/soul and retro 1960s influence are featured in tandem with one another throughout the song and put into effect by the “Walk On By” sample. Recorded back in 1964, the sample features light pop and R&B-styled vocals from Dionne Warwick, smooth keys, and a catchy trumpet hook to boot. Together, these influences are most prominent in the intro and outro and take more of a back seat behind the hip hop/trap instrumental arrangement and Doja Cat’s vocals in the other song sections. However, the pop influence is also prominent in the vocal break post-choruses due to Doja Cat’s entirely sung delivery of the song’s primary vocal hook.

Blending In & Standing Out in the Hot 100 Top 10

“Paint The Town Red’s” expert balance of influences enabled it to connect with a wide array of audiences and cross over into diverse Billboard charts including the US Hot 100, Rhythmic, R&B/Hip Hop, Mainstream Top 40 and Adult Top 40 charts.  

Within the hip hop genre specifically, pop and R&B/soul influences have generally been on the rise over the past few years while trap dropped off to a still-notable 80% of songs. The main differential factor both within hip hop and the overall Hot 100 top 10 is the song’s 1960s influence, put into effect by the “Walk On By” sample.

Since 2018, only 2% of hip hop hits have featured a 1960s influence, with the most notable being Lizzo’s chart-topper “Truth Hurts.” Within the overall Hot 100 top 10, it’s been the case with only 3% of hits, with a couple of notable #1s including “Kill Bill” and “Stuck With You.” 

Hip Hop as a Primary Genre in the Hot 100 Top 10: 2018 – Q2 2023

Influences in the Hot 100 Top 10: 2018 – Q2 2023 (Within Hip Hop)

Energy & Dynamics


Overview

“Paint The Town Red” features a relatively linear, groove-based energy flow across its three energy “waves.” This type of energy arrangement is more commonplace in hip hop than in genres outside of hip hop, which tend to feature more dynamic fluctuations across sections.

However, to help keep things interesting along the way, lower-energy breakdowns are implemented in the second stanza of each verse, and partial and full accompaniment pull S.I.A.s (section impact accentuators) are implemented within and across sections to heighten engagement, highlight key lyrics, and provide separation between sections of similar accompaniment.

Energy Arrangement

Energy Graph Key

Bar Lines: Illustrate increases and decreases in energy over the course of the song
Downward Red S.I.A.: The full accompaniment is removed from the mix, resulting in a brief reduction in energy.
Downward Yellow S.I.A.: A part of the accompaniment is removed from the mix, resulting in a brief reduction in energy.

Loudness

“Paint The Town Red’s” loudness level progressions are generally in-line with the song’s three energy “waves.” The loudest sections in the song are the vocal break post-chorus, first stanza of each verse, and outro, all landing at -8.5 LUFS. Close behind are the choruses, landing at -9 LUFS. Note that all these sections share the commonality of the loud and powerful hip hop/trap beat.  

Following these sections are the second stanza of each verse, landing at -13.5 LUFS. These two sections forego the core hip hop/trap beat in favor of the softer “Walk On By” sample supporting Doja Cat’s rapped delivery. The softest section in the song is the intro, which lands at a notably quieter -18.5 LUFS. This is the only section in the song comprised entirely of the “Walk On By” sample without any supporting vocals from Doja Cat or powerful hip hop/trap beat.

Section-By-Section

Wave 1: Intro (I) – Vocal Break Post-Chorus 1 (VB1 PST)

Intro (I)
“Paint The Town Red’s” lowest energy section is the intro. Consisting solely of the “Walk On By” sample, it establishes a mellow, laid-back groove that provides room for energetic growth in subsequent sections, along with enabling the ensuing chorus to hit with greater perceived impact.

Chorus 1 (B1)
With the “Walk On By” sample from the intro remaining in effect, “Paint The Town Red’s” first chorus hits hard with the introduction of the powerful bass, snap and hi hat hip hop/trap- based arrangement. This, along with Doja Cat’s rhythmic-focused delivery, provides the song with a greater sense of groove-based forward motion and power.

S.I.A. #1

A partial accompaniment pull S.I.A. is implemented in the last two beats of the chorus through the removal of the hip hop/trap arrangement, leaving only the “Walk On By” sample in the mix. This creates a brief transitional lull that achieves a few key things, including providing separation between sections of similar accompaniment, enabling the ensuing vocal break post-chorus to further stand out and connect, and highlighting the “paint the town red” song title hook. 

Vocal Break Post-Chorus 1 (VB PST 1)
Following the energy reducing S.I.A., the vocal break post-chorus brings the song's energy to its first peak. While both the chorus and vocal break post-chorus feature the powerful and forward-moving hip hop/trap beat, the post-chorus’ flowing melodies and most notably denser vocal production provide the section with a subtly more intense quality.

S.I.A. #2

A partial accompaniment pull S.I.A. in line with S.I.A. #1 is used to transition from the vocal break post-chorus into the first verse with the same results.

Wave 2: Verse 1 (A1) – Vocal Break Post-Chorus 2 (VB2 PST)

Verse 1 (A1) Stanza 1
Following the S.I.A. at the end of the vocal break post-chorus, the first stanza of verse 1 brings the song’s energy down a touch to a level on par with the preceding chorus. This is due to the reversion to a rapped delivery from Doja Cat over the continuation of the hip hop/trap arrangement.

S.I.A. #3

At the transition point into the second stanza, another partial accompaniment pull S.I.A. in line with the others is implemented. However, this time it is used to subtly heighten engagement and set the stage for the stanza 2 breakdown that follows.

Verse 1 (A1) Stanza 2
The verse’s second stanza omits the core hip hop/trap beat for the first time since the intro, leaving only the “Walk On By” sample and backbeat snaps supporting Doja Cat’s rapped vocals.  
This provides an engaging reduction in density while maintaining forward motion.

S.I.A. #4

Further heightening engagement in this two-stanza section is the first instance of a full accompaniment pull S.I.A. Appearing midway through the second stanza, this brief one-beat full accompaniment pull creates an unexpected, jarring moment that also serves to highlight the first of the standout “ugh” lyrics.

S.I.A. #5

At the end of the verse, the snaps are pulled from the already sparse arrangement to further bolster the arrival of the ensuing chorus.

Chorus 2 and Vocal Break Post-Chorus 2 (B2, VB2 PST)
Both chorus 2 and vocal break post-chorus 2 follow suit with their first occurrence counterparts in terms of energy, arrangement, and vocal qualities.

Wave 3: Verse 2 (A2) – Outro (O)

Wave 3 essentially features the same arrangement and energy flow as wave 2, which creates structural and sonic familiarity in the scope of the song. However, there are a couple of key differences to note:
  • A one-beat full accompaniment pull S.I.A. is uniquely implemented on the downbeat of the third and final chorus. Along with heightening engagement at the onset of the section due to its unexpected use, it also serves to highlight another standout lyric, “b***h.”
  • The outro bookends the song on a familiar note with the “Walk On By” sample and the omission of Doja Cat’s vocals. However, compared to the intro, the powerful hip hop/trap beat remains in effect. This rides the listener out on an energetic groove before abruptly cutting off at the end.  

Instrumental Arrangement


Overview

“Paint The Town Red’s” instrumental arrangement is both classic and current, fusing the classic 1964 “Walk On By” sample with a modern hip hop/trap beat.
Along with creating an engaging sonic tapestry, both work in perfect unison with Doja Cat’s vocals to accentuate the impact of the empowerment-themed lyrics.

Instruments: Hip Hop/Trap Beat

Drums/Percussion

Kick (Electronic)
The electronic kick drum possesses a modern, punchy timbre. It is present solely in the first stanza of the verses and outro, where it locks in with the bass pattern to provide it with heightened definition and power.

Snaps (Electronic)
The electronic snaps are initially heard in the first chorus and provide the backbeat (beats 2 and 4) for the duration of the song. They possess a layered, bright quality, which along with the subtle chorusing enables them to further stand out in the mix. In addition, the decision to use snaps on the backbeat as opposed to a snare was warranted to enhance the song’s laid-back, grooving vibe.

Hi Hat (Electronic)
The electronic hi hat is featured in every song section except for the intro. It possesses a bright timbre and plays an eighth-note pattern interspersed with rapid-fire rolls, which is commonplace in trap beats. Its use contributes high-frequency information to the mix, provides forward motion, and bolsters the song’s hip hop/trap influence.

Filtered Hi Hat (Electronic)
The filtered hi hat appears solely in the first stanza of each verse and outro. It provides these sections with heightened sonic and rhythmic interest with its unique, gritty, electronic shaker-like timbre and syncopated accents.

Bass

808 Bass
The 808 bass is heard in every song section except for the intro. It possesses a deep timbre, providing each section with low end power and rhythmic motion while contributing to the song’s hip hop/trap influence.

Instruments: "Walk On By" Sample & Complementing Elements

Drums/Percussion

Shaker (Acoustic)
The acoustic shaker contributes to the laid-back groove with a consistent eighth-note pattern. It is processed with reverb and slightly panned to the right.

Brass

Lead Trumpet
The lead trumpet plays a staccato pattern that serves as the song’s catchy, recognizable instrumental hook and is panned to the left.

Warbly Trumpets
Two harmonizing trumpets with a warbly quality play a repetitive, sustained two-note pattern in every section of the song save for the first half of the intro. They provide engaging harmonic and timbral contrast while contributing to the song’s vibe and meshing with the other sample elements in the mix.

Synths

Bright Synth
The bright synth is heard in the first stanza of each verse and the outro. It possesses a bright timbre reminiscent of a Yamaha DX7 that provides engaging high-frequency contrast against the other midrange-focused elements in the mix.

Warbly Flute Synth
The warbly flute synth contributes a sustained pad-like pattern at a low level in the mix, subtly providing contrast through its resonant and warbled timbre.

Warm Brass Synth Lead
The warm brass synth plays a tension-heightening, ascending countermelody in the second stanza of both verses carrying over into the beginning of each ensuing chorus. It possesses a distinct brass-like timbre that complements the sampled trumpet and is treated with reverb and delay that contributes to the section’s depth and atmosphere. In addition, vibrato is added to further heighten interest as it progresses.

Keys

Electric Piano
The electric piano is heard in the intro and verses, establishing a harmonic foundation, possessing a timbre similar to a classic Rhodes, and adding depth and atmosphere to the mix through its notable reverb, tremolo, and filter processing. 

Guitars

Acoustic Guitar Strumming
The acoustic guitar is featured relatively low in the mix, panned right. It plays a steady eighth-note strummed pattern that contributes to the groove and provides additional texture.

Electric Guitar Stabs
A bright electric guitar processed with slight overdrive contributes to the groove with syncopated muted stabs.

"Walk On By" Sample

“Paint The Town Red” uses a brief five-second sample (0:14-0:19) from Dionne Warwick’s 1964 hit, “Walk On By,” as its main “hip hop beat” hook, as Hit Songs Deconstructed calls it. Penned by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, the song hit the top spot on the Cashbox R&B chart and #6 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The original sample segment consists of acoustic guitar strums, electric guitar stabs, vibey electric piano, low-level acoustic piano, and a shaker, all of which support Dionne Warwick’s delivery of the “walk on by” song title hook and trumpet hook. Complementing these elements in “Paint The Town Red” are the uniquely added warbly trumpets, warbly flute synth, warm brass synth, and bright synth, all of which enhance its presence and vibe. In addition, the sample’s fidelity has been manipulated with a glitchy, skipping effect, which provides it with heightened character.

The core sample repeats throughout the song, with the complementing elements being added and removed as warranted. In terms of prominence, it is featured most notably in the intro, where it’s the sole element in the mix. It takes more of a back seat in the vocal sections of the of the song, where it serves to support Doja Cat’s vocals while being reinforced in a subtler manner, and in the verse stanza 1 segments, choruses, vocal break post-choruses, and outro, it is featured in conjunction with the prominent hip hop/trap beat. Furthermore, note that the sample’s mid-range focus provides room for the hip hop/trap beat to further fill out the frequency spectrum with the high frequency hats and low frequency bass and kick.

Instrumental Arrangement: Section-By-Section

Intro (0:00 – 0:19)

Chord Progression: Gm7 – Am7 (G Dorian: i7 – ii7)

“Paint The Town Red’s” intro consists solely of the modified “Walk On By” sample (see above for specifics). Its instrumental arrangement achieves a few key things at the top of the song:

  • It begins mid-stream into the sample (i.e., in the middle of Warwick’s sustained “bye” as opposed to a smoother, more natural lead in). While this “false beginning” is much more atypical than the more common “false ending,” it functions as a psychological tool that instantly engrosses the listener in the song.
  • It immediately imparts the song’s retro R&B/soul and pop influences. However, the sample’s processing and complementing elements provide it with a modern spin as well, making it more relevant to modern ears.
  • It establishes a laid-back groove that is both serene and melancholic. Along with drawing the listener in and setting the song’s initial vibe and emotion, it enables the direct confidence present in Doja Cat’s ensuing chorus vocal and accompanying hip hop/trap beat to further stand out and connect in comparison.
  • Along with the Dionne Warwick vocal, the sample serves as an instantly recognizable, unique calling card for the song. As soon as one hears it, they know exactly what song it is.
  • Its midrange focus provides room for high and low frequency growth in the subsequent chorus. 

Intro Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Chorus 1 (0:19 – 0:38)

Chord Progression: Gm7 – Am7 (G Dorian: i7 – ii7)

With the “Walk On By” sample elements remaining in effect to provide cross-section continuity and vibe, the chorus adds a prominent hip hop/trap beat to the mix, consisting of electronic kick, 808 bass, hi hat and snaps. Their addition achieves a few key things, including:

  • Enabling the chorus to stand out and connect on a profound level right from the get-go. Furthermore, note that the bass entering on the downbeat in tandem with the key lyric “bitch” punctuates its impact.
  • Locking the listener into a powerful groove. Note that the rapid-fire hi hat roll in the last beat of bar 4 (i.e., the midway point of the section) serves to further heighten interest while imparting the chorus with a recognizable trap characteristic.
  • Complementing Doja Cat’s confidently rapped vocals through the beat’s powerful, driving qualities.
  • Filling out the frequency spectrum from the low bass to the mid/high snaps to the high hi hats. 

In the last bar of the chorus, the 808 bass, snaps and hi hat are removed from the mix. This creates a partial accompaniment pull S.I.A. (section impact accentuator) that:

  • Provides separation between sections of similar accompaniment.
  • Enables the ensuing vocal break post-chorus to further stand out and connect.
  • Further calls attention to the “paint the town red” song title hook through the arrangement’s sparser qualities.

Chorus 1 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Vocal Break 1 (0:38 – 0:57)

Chord Progression: Gm7 – Am7 (G Dorian: i7 – ii7)

The vocal break post-chorus retains the same instrumental arrangement as the preceding chorus. This continuity across sections keeps the listener locked in the groove and allows their full attention to be on the first instance of the “Mm, she the devil…” vocal hook without distraction.

In the last two beats of the section, the bass, snaps and hi hat are once again pulled from the mix. Like the chorus before it, this S.I.A. technique serves to subtly heighten engagement leading into the ensuing verse and provide separation between sections of similar accompaniment.

Vocal Break 1 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Verse 1 (0:57 – 1:36)

Chord Progression: Gm7 – Am7 (G Dorian: i7 – ii7)

Stanza 1
The first stanza of verse 1 features the same core accompaniment as the preceding vocal break post-chorus, providing cross-section continuity against the lyrical development and vocal style shift from sung to rapped. However, there are a few subtle and notable changeups to the arrangement that help to prevent redundancy:

  • A kick drum is layered in with the 808 bass, further punctuating the rhythmic pattern and providing the section with additional low-end power.
  • A filtered, gritty electronic hi hat playing a sparse, syncopated pattern provides additional texture while subtly contributing to the groove. Conversely, note that the rapid-fire hi hat roll that was featured at the midway point of the chorus and vocal break post-chorus is omitted from the mix.
  • The classic Rhodes-sounding keys from the intro returns, providing the verse with additional color, texture, vibe, and harmonic support.
  • A bright synth performing whole note chords provides additional harmonic support and an engaging timbral shift due to its bright, digital timbre.

In the last two bars of the first stanza, the arrangement begins to thin out. First to go is the electric piano, followed by the bright synth, warbly trumpet, and the bulk of the percussion and bass. This provides a smooth, wind down transition into the ensuing breakdown second stanza while maintaining the listener’s focus on the vocals without jarring distraction.

Stanza 2
The second stanza initially breaks down to the sparsest arrangement heard since the intro, consisting primarily of the “Walk On By” sample, backbeat snaps, and the newly added warm brass synth. This synth performs an ascending legato pattern that heightens tension and interest as the section progresses, while the overarching breakdown heightens engagement against the preceding denser and more powerful hip hop/trap beat.

At the midway point of the stanza, a full accompaniment pull S.I.A. is implemented, creating an engaging, jarring moment that also serves to highlight the first of the repeated “ugh” vocals. This is followed by the return of the warbly trumpet, which subtly heightens interest as the song approaches the second chorus. Further bolstering the chorus’ impact is the omission of snaps on beat 4.

Verse 1 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Chorus 2 (1:36 – 1:55)

Chord Progression: Gm7 – Am7 (G Dorian: i7 – ii7)

Following the verse breakdown, chorus 2 hits hard with the reintroduction of the powerful 808 bass and hats. This returns the song to the powerful hip hop/trap groove that defined its chorus 1 counterpart.

The sole difference between choruses is the carryover of the warm brass synth lead from the preceding verse, which gradually decreases in volume over the first two bars. While subtle, this helps to provide a greater sense of cohesion across disparate sections. 

Chorus 2 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Vocal Break 2 (1:55 – 2:14)

Chord Progression: Gm7 – Am7 (G Dorian: i7 – ii7)

Similar to the chorus 1/chorus 2 relationship, the second vocal break post-chorus features an identical arrangement as its first occurrence counterpart. Along with heightening familiarity in the scope of the song, it keeps the listener locked in the catchy groove while the vocal hooks take center stage.

Vocal Break 2 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Verse 2 (2:14 – 2:53)

Chord Progression: Gm7 – Am7 (G Dorian: i7 – ii7)

Like the chorus and vocal break post-chorus relationships, verse 2 features the same instrumental arrangement as its verse 1 counterpart, allowing the listener’s focus to be on the lyrical development.

The sole difference between sections is the omission of the full accompaniment pull, which was initially implemented on the first instance of the lyric “ugh” in verse 1. This strategic decision prevents redundancy and predictability in the scope of the song. Instead, a vocal rest is implemented to provide a changeup across sections.

Verse 2 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Chorus 3 (2:53 – 3:12)

Chord Progression: Gm7 – Am7 (G Dorian: i7 – ii7)

Chorus 3 features the same instrumental arrangement as its chorus 1 and 2 counterparts with one notable difference: a full accompaniment pull S.I.A. is implemented on the downbeat. Where the bass hit punctuated the lyric “b***h” in choruses 1 and 2, here the full accompaniment pull does the same in a fresh, new way by creating an engaging, unexpected moment that also serves to bolster the final chorus’ arrival.

Chorus 3 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Vocal Break 3 (3:12 – 3:31)

Chord Progression: Gm7 – Am7 (G Dorian: i7 – ii7)

Vocal break 3 is identical to its previous vocal break counterparts.

Vocal Break 3 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Outro (3:31 – 3:50)

Chord Progression: Gm7 – Am7 (G Dorian: i7 – ii7)

The outro reprises the first stanza arrangement of both verse sections. This rides the listener out on a powerful, groove-based note without new or recycled vocal material from Doja Cat.
The song ends as abruptly as it began by cutting off mid-stream, which leaves the listener hanging and likely longing for more. 

Outro Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Harmonic Progressions


“Paint The Town Red” features one main chord progression with no significant deviations.

Progression 1

Progression 1: Variation 1

Gm7 – Am7

Progression Characteristics

“Paint The Town Red’s” sole chord progression is rooted in G Dorian, following a Gm7 – Am7 (i7 – ii7) pattern. The unique use of the Dorian mode and two-chord progression provides the song with an underlying cycle of tension and release, heightened by the use of jazz-based tensions present in the chord progression (7th) and trumpet hook (9th).

Delivering the chord progression throughout the song are an assortment of synths and electric piano. Complementing it are aspects of the trumpet, 808 synth bass and low-level acoustic guitar patterns.

*In the Hit Songs Deconstructed Immersion Database, the song is shown in the key of D minor, since the database does not account for all modes. This was done to properly illustrate the all-important E natural in the Am7 chord, which is indicative of G Dorian.

Vocals


Vocal Production

Lead Vocal Gender

“Paint The Town Red” features a solo female vocal performance from Doja Cat. Within the hip hop genre, Hot 100 top 10s with a solo female lead have been few and far between over the past five years, accounting for just 6% of songs or less. In the first two quarters of 2023, the only representative preceding “Paint The Town Red’s” arrival in Q3 was Coi Leray’s “Players.”

Lead Vocal Gender in Hot 100 Top 10 (Hip Hop Hits): 2018 – Q2 2023

Lead Vocal Delivery

“Paint The Town Red” features a combination of sung and rapped lead deliveries from Doja Cat. Hip hop top 10s that feature a combination of sung and rapped deliveries have been by far most common over the past five years and beyond, accounting for 80% or more since 2020.

Lead Vocal Delivery in Hot 100 Top 10 (Hip Hop Hits): 2018 – Q2 2023

Background Vocals

Complementing Doja Cat’s lead are an assortment of background vocals, including unison doubles, lead harmonies, and independent of the lead adlibs. Together they serve to heighten interest within and across sections, contribute to vibe and emotion, foster familiarity, and call attention to key lyrics.

In addition, Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By” vocal remains in effect throughout the entire song, serving mainly in a background capacity save for the intro and outro, where it’s the only vocal in the mix.

Effects & Processing

“Paint The Town Red” features common hit song vocal processing, including reverb, compression, and subtle autotune to heighten the effectiveness of the sung vocal performances.

Vocal Production Visualization Key

Lead: Female (Doja Cat): Doja Cat’s lead vocal
Sample Vocal: Female (Dionne Warwick): Dionne Warwick’s lead vocal from the “Walk On By” sample
BGV 1: Female (Unison Double): Background vocal doubles in unison with the lead
BGV 2: Female (Lead Harmony): Background vocals that harmonize with the lead on different pitches

S: Sung
R: Rapped
BGV: Background vocals

Underlined Lyrics: Denotes unison doubles with the lead

Color-Coded Lyrics: Denotes lyrics sung in unison with the lead (light green) and in harmony with the lead (dark green). Note that this matches the color-coding of the above vocal arrangement overview table

Vocal Delivery Arrangement Overview

Intro

The first vocal heard in “Paint The Town Red” is Dionne Warwick’s solo sung lead from the “Walk On By” sample. Processed with reverb and featured mid/low in the mix, her serene, soulful delivery jibes perfectly with the instrumental elements in establishing the song’s underlying laidback groove.

Note that Warwick’s sampled vocal appears throughout the remainder of the song but is omitted from the remaining lyric tables for visualization purposes.

Chorus 1

The first chorus provides a jarring shift in vocal production with the introduction of Doja Cat’s rapped lead into the mix. Her vocal is processed with minimal reverb, which allows her direct, confident delivery to punctuate the trap beat and accentuate the impact of the lyrics, most notably on the section opener, “yeah, b***h.” Furthermore, note the juxtaposition between Doja Cat’s lead against Dionne Warwick’s laid-back sampled vocal, which is now featured at a lower level in the mix. This contrast further heightens interest as the song progresses.

Stanza 2 introduces a higher register, breathy harmony into the mix that is double tracked, panned across the stereo field, and processed with more notable reverb compared to Doja’s lead. It appears on the last four syllables of each line, achieving the following:

  • It heightens interest against the repetitive vocals and lyrics.
  • It provides the chorus with a unique quality that enables it to further stand out against the other sections in the song.
  • It accentuates key lyrics in each line, including the song title in line 8.

In addition, the harmony’s similar placement across lines fosters familiarity, which bolsters the listener’s ability to connect with the section.

Vocal Break 1

“Paint The Town Red” undergoes another notable shift in vocal production in the first vocal break post-chorus. Doja Cat shifts to a sung delivery as opposed to rapped, with her lead now featured at a relatively equal level with the sung doubles and harmonies that span the stereo field. This, along with the notable reverb, creates a lush, dense, smooth vocal soundscape that achieves the following:

  • It complements the continuation of the “Walk On By” sample, which is featured relatively low in the mix.
  • It provides engaging contrast against Doja Cat’s rapped lead in the chorus and continuation of the trap beat. This both serves to heighten interest as the song progresses while enabling the post-chorus to further stand out and connect.
  • The harmony layer becomes more prominent and direct in the second stanza, heightening interest against the section’s otherwise repetitive qualities.

Verse 1

Verse 1 reverts to the direct, rapped vocal qualities that define the first chorus, which simultaneously heightens both interest and familiarity in the scope of the song.

Similar to the chorus and post-chorus, the verse changes things up a bit in its second stanza to heighten interest against the continuation of Doja Cat’s rapped lead, which is in effect through the entirety of the section. Here, notable reverb is applied to the lyric “ugh” at the beginning of the last four lines. Along with heightening interest, it achieves the following:

  • It provides a cohesive thread across the last four lines, further engaging the listener through the familiarity imparted.
  • It serves as an additional embellishment that also provides “Paint The Town Red” with a notable, standout quality.
  • It accentuates the emotion present in the lyrics.

In the last line of the section, two “yeah” lead pickups are heard, heightening interest and hyping things up as the song heads into the second chorus.

Chorus 2 - Outro

The balance of the song features vocal production qualities that are in line with the sections that precede them, along with a few deviations:

  • The choruses and vocal break post-choruses are identical to their first occurrence counterparts.
  • Verse 2 is identical to verse 1 save for two changeups: The reverb-laden “ugh” and “yeah” lead pickups are omitted, which prevents predictability and redundancy in the scope of the song; and there is a subtle changeup in the quality of Doja Cat’s rapped lead at the beginning of the second stanza.
  • The outro reverts to the “Walk On By” sample, bookending the song on a familiar note with Dionne Warwick’s solo lead.

The outro maintains the same vocal qualities as the preceding two sections, which provides cross-section cohesion as the song draws to a close.

Vocal Melody

Key

Vocal Part Classifications
Main vocal parts, such as upper-case A,B and C, reflect the main melodic/rapped structure of each line in a song section.
Vocal sub-parts, such as lower-case a, b, c, reflect melodic/rapped structure both within and across lines.

The vocal part classifications in each song section are specific to that particular section (i.e., a part A classification in verse 1 does not relate to part A in verse 2 or the chorus).

Vocal parts are determined by pitches, rhythms, inflections, and pattern commonalities.

Choruses

Chorus Part Structure: At-A-Glance

“Paint The Town Red’s” all rapped chorus is composed of an ABBB/ABBB main vocal structure across its two stanzas. It features relatively simple, short, repetitive patterns which, in conjunction with the similar 7888/6888 syllable structure and AAAA/AAAA end-of-line rhyme scheme, makes the all-important chorus very easy to connect with and remember.

Opening Line
Doja Cat’s opening line, “yeah, b***h, I said what I said,” is composed of vocal subparts a and b1. Subpart a consists of two quarter notes that rise in inflection, helping to punctuate the standout lyric, “yeah, b***h.” Subpart b1 follows with alternating rises and falls in inflection, similar to the Hit Songs Deconstructed A.M.P. (Alternating Melodic Pattern) technique. This provides the powerful opening line with a catchy, roll-off-the-tongue quality that easily connects with and is remembered by the listener. In addition, note the rise in inflection at the end of subpart b1 on the lyric “said.” This contrasts the other subpart b2s in the section, all of which fall in inflection and conclude with a more direct quality. The rise provides the line with an intriguing quality that piques interest and heightens anticipation for what comes next.

Subsequent Lines 
The subsequent lines in both stanzas are composed of subpart b2, all of which are identical across iterations. While similar to subpart b1, they possess subtle rhythmic and inflection differences, which together provides the chorus with an effective balance of familiarity and interest. Additionally, note that the last four syllables of each b2 subpart are identical to subpart b1, save for the fall in inflection. This commonality serves as a catchy E.O.L.A. (End Of Line Accentuator) that further bolsters connection value across lines along with the repetitive rhyme scheme and syllable structure.

Stanza 2
Stanza 2 features the same lead vocal qualities as stanza 1, ensuring that the chorus gets firmly ingrained in the listener’s head. Helping to heighten interest are the inclusion of background vocals, which complement Doja Cat’s lead (see the Vocal Production segment of the report for details).

Vocal Breaks

Vocal Break Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

In contrast to Doja Cat’s rapped verses and choruses, the vocal break post-choruses are entirely sung, following an alternating A-B main melodic structure across their two stanzas. As one would expect from a post-chorus “hook center,” it features catchy melodies that largely adhere to the Hit Songs Deconstructed K.I.S.S. ME principle (keep it simple, singable and memorable) to ensure the section fully connects with and is remembered by the listener. Among the section’s K.I.S.S. ME qualities are its short to moderate length phrases, easy-to-lock into rhythms, easy-to-follow melodic patterns, effective balance of repetition and contrast, and a combination of stepwise and stagnant motion along with a few interest-heightening intervallic leaps.

Lines 1, 3, 5, 7
The odd numbered lines throughout the section are composed of the A melody and two subparts – two variations of subpart a (a1 and a2) and subpart b.

The opening line of both stanzas, “Mm, she the devil,” is composed of subparts a1 and b. Subpart a1 is the “mm” vocal, which is sustained for one and a half beats on the root. Subpart b, “she the devil,” is delivered over scale degrees 1-1-5-4 and features a faster, mainly sixteenth note delivery. Together, they achieve a few key things:

  • The sustained “Mm” in line 1 provides engaging contrast against the faster-paced, rapped delivery of the preceding chorus, enabling the vocal break post-chorus to further stand out and connect. In addition, it provides subtle separation between sections of similar accompaniment without breaking up the groove.
  • The leap of a fifth in the subpart b melody punctuates the potent lyric, “she the devil.” In addition, it provides the post-chorus with an engaging variation from its mainly stepwise and stagnant patterns.
  • Along with the lyrics, the unique melodic qualities create one of the song’s most recognizable standout vocal hooks.

Lines 3 and 7 are composed of subparts a2 and b. Subpart a2 differs from subpart a1 in that it features a string of faster-paced sixteenth notes on the root preceding the sustained quarter note commonality with subpart a1. This variation serves to heighten both interest and familiarity while accommodating the additional lyrics and melodically filling out the section.

Lines 2, 4, 6, 8
The even numbered lines are composed of the C melody, which features two subtle variations (subparts c1 and c2).

Following the engaging leap of a fifth in the subpart b melody (“she the devil”/ “to the pedal”) and ensuing eighth rest, the first five syllables of the C melody return to the root, which provides engaging contrast and sets up another leap to scale degree 4 in the lyric “she a bad lil’ b***h” before descending stepwise down to scale degree 2. Along with heightening interest, it calls attention to and punctuates this powerful lyric while also providing a subtle familiarity with subpart b due to the similar melodic shape and sixteenth-note based rhythms.

In the same vein, the end of each line features a notable commonality between subparts b and c, with an identical rhythmic pattern across the last four syllables, as depicted in the boxed areas in the sheet music above. This contributes to the post-chorus’s effective balance of familiarity and interest while also serving as an E.O.L.A. that bolsters rhyme connection.

Verse 1

Verse 1 Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Following the sung vocal break post-chorus, verse 1 reverts to an all-rapped delivery from Doja Cat. The entire two-stanza, 16-line section is composed of an all-A main vocal structure due to the commonalities across lines. However, there an array of subpart a and b variations brought on by changes in rhythm and inflection that help to keep things interesting while keeping the listener locked into Doja’s flow and the lyrical developments.

Stanza 1
Stanza 1 features a lesser amount of variation compared to stanza 2, which is warranted to help ensure the listener remains locked into the song, especially following the simplistic post-chorus (if the verse patterns were too complex, the listener might disengage).

Each line is composed of two subparts (a & b) that possess distinct qualities:

  • Subpart a resides on a higher inflection than subpart b and features an eighth and syncopated sixteenth-note rhythmic pattern that remains largely the same across lines.
  • Subpart b initially continues the higher inflection but then drops lower across the last few syllables. This, along with the rhythmic shift, heightens interest within lines while serving as a consistent E.O.L.A. across lines, heightening familiarity and end-of-line rhyme connection as the stanza progresses. 

Stanza 2
Stanza 2 features a combination of subtle and more pronounced shifts in rhythm and inflection compared to stanza 1. In addition to heightening interest while remaining cohesive within the scope of the section, these shifts also serve to bolster the impact of the lyrical developments. A few of the most notable changeups include:

  • The shift to an eighth-note rhythm across the last few syllables of each line as opposed to the faster eighth and sixteenth-note rhythms in the first stanza. Note that this also serves as an E.O.L.A.
  • The inclusion of a quarter note that delivers the lyric “ugh” at the beginning of the last four lines. This, along with the reverb processing, creates a unique standout moment that further heightens interest while emphasizing the fed-up emotion behind the lyric. 

Verse 2

Verse 2 Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Like verse 1, verse 2 features an all-rapped delivery from Doja Cat. However, her rap style differs in a manner more indicative of hip hop than pop, which typically features highly similar verse melodies across iterations. In addition, verse 2 features a higher degree of inflection and rhythmic variation across its two stanzas with an all-A/all-B main vocal structure, respectively (as opposed to all-A across stanzas), along with an assortment of subpart variations.

However, this variation is balanced by the section’s short to moderate length lines, use of repetition and rhyme scheme mirroring, which ensures that the listener still easily connects with and remembers what they’re hearing.

Stanza 1
Similar to verse 1, stanza 1 in verse 2 is composed of multiple variations of subparts a and b (note that they are not related to verse 1). Subpart a features straightforward, eighth and sixteenth-note rhythms with slight variations in inflection across lines to punctuate key lyrics. Subpart b features inflection variations reminiscent of the Hit Songs Deconstructed A.M.P. (Alternating Melodic Pattern) technique and identical eighth and sixteenth-note syncopated rhythms, which also serve as a cohesion-heightening E.O.L.A. across the stanza.

Stanza 2
Stanza 2 features a more notable changeup in Doja’s rap style compared to stanza 1, hence the B main vocal part tagging. In addition to being a bit shorter, these lines essentially run straight through without any notable segmentation, unlike preceding verse stanzas. Along with heightening interest within the section, the shift in style also accentuates the impact of the lyrics. A few examples include:

  • Lines 9-11 are delivered with alternating rises and falls in inflection, also similar to the Hit Songs Deconstructed A.M.P. technique. This provides a catchy, taunting-like quality that heightens the impact of the boastful lyrics.
  • Line 12’s “fans ain’t dumb but extremists are,” where Doja Cat delivers the impactful lyric in a more impassioned manner compared to the other lines in the section.
  • The prolonged period of rest that follows line 12, which allows the impactful line to sink in while creating an unexpected, off-kilter moment that heightens the impact of the powerful lyric that follows, “I’m a demon lord,” which is delivered in a more matter-of-fact manner. Furthermore, note that this is the same point in verse 1 that features a full accompaniment pull S.I.A. (Section Impact Accentuator). This cleverly creates structural familiarity in the scope of the song in a fresh way.
  • Doja’s stress on the last lyric in the section, “more,” which heightens the emotional impact of the standout statement, “Fame ain’t somethin’ that I need no more.”

Lyrics & Rhymes


Rhyme Schemes

Overview

“Paint The Town Red” features an abundance of expertly crafted rhymes and other lyrical connection accentuators that bolsters the song’s ability to connect and resonate. Among them are logically unfolding end-of-line rhyme schemes and a plethora of strategically placed internal rhymes, double and triple rhymes, alliterations, lyrical repetitions, cross-section commonalities and unique pronunciations to make rhymes happen where they otherwise wouldn’t.

At-A-Glance: End-Of-Line Rhymes Section-By-Section

Key

A, B & C: End-of-line Rhymes
Underline:
Repetitive lyrics
Colors and rhyme schemes are unique to each section

*For simplicity of analysis, note that only lyrics connected by both rhyme and another notable characteristic (i.e., proximity, placement, melodic connection, etc.) are shown in each table. Lyrics that rhyme but are otherwise unconnected are not noted.

Rhymes & Syllables: Section-By-Section 

Intro & Outro

The intro and outro feature the repetition of Dionne Warwick’s “walk on by” vocal, bookending the song on a catchy and memorable note.

Choruses

End-Of-Line Rhymes
The chorus features an all-A end-of-line rhyme scheme across its two lyrically repetitive stanzas. Each line is connected by the “EH”-sounding rhyme in the lyrics “said,” “in-STEAD,” “head,” and “red.”

Internal Rhymes, Alliteration & Other Connection Accentuators
Along with the end-of-line rhymes, the following lyrical connection accentuators bolster the chorus’ ability to connect and resonate with the listener:

  • Repetition of the “EYE”-sounding pronouns across lines (“I,” “I’d,” “my”).
  • Near rhymes in the third-to-last syllable of each line: “what,” “fa-MOUS,” “to” (creatively pronounced as “TUH” to make the connection), and “the.”
  • Internal rhymes in lines 3 and 7 in the lyrics “let” and “get.”

Vocal Breaks

End-Of-Line Rhymes

Like the chorus that precedes it, the vocal break post-chorus features an all-A end-of-line rhyme scheme across its two lyrically repetitive stanzas. However, the sound of the end-of-line rhyme is changed up between sections to help maintain interest as the song progresses (i.e., “EH” vs. “UH”).

Internal Rhymes, Alliteration & Other Connection Accentuators
Further bolstering the connection value of the vocal break post-chorus are the following:

  • Repetition of the “EH”-sounding rhyme in the second-to-last syllable across lines. This creates a double rhyme with the “UH”-sounding end-of-line rhyme.
  • The “EH”-sounding rhyme also creates cross-section familiarity and cohesion with the similar sounding end-of-line rhymes in the chorus (e.g., “said,” “red,” etc.).
  • Repetition of the “EE”-sounding rhyme across lines the lyrics “she” and “me.”

Verse 1

End-Of-Line Rhymes
Verse 1, which is twice as long as the chorus and vocal break post-chorus sections, features an AAAAAAAA/BBBBCCCC end-of-line rhyme scheme across its two stanzas. Stanza 1 features the “EE”-sounding rhyme in the last lyric/syllable of each line. Note that this creates familiarity and cohesion with the “EE”-sounding rhyme featured throughout the preceding vocal break post-chorus in the lyrics “she” and “me.”

Stanza 2 initially shifts to the B scheme across the first four lines with the “EYE”-sounding commonality in the lyrics “time,” “fore-SIGHT,” “court-SIDE,” and “times.” The last four lines then shift to the C scheme with the “AIR”-sounding commonality in the lyrics “no-WHERE,” “hair,” “here” (creatively pronounced as “hair” to make the connection), and “there.”

Internal Rhymes, Alliteration & Other Connection Accentuators
Verse 2 features an abundance of internal rhymes, repetitive lyrics and alliteration that bolsters its connection value. A few of the most notable include:

  • Double and triple rhymes that accentuate end-of-line connection. Examples in each stanza include “rem-e-dy” and “Hen-nes-sy” in stanza 1, “fore-sight and “court-side” in the first four lines of stanza 2, and “no-where” and “no hair” in the last four lines of stanza 2.
  • Repetition of the lyric “don’t come with no” across lines 3 and 4. This further bolsters the connection value of the line along with the triple rhymes that follow.
  • Repetition of the lyric “you gon’ see me” at the beginning of lines 11 and 12, along with the rhyming lyrics “sleep-in” and “eat-in” that follow, respectively.
  • Repetition of the standout lyric, “ugh,” at the beginning of lines 13-16.
  • Alliteration in lines 9, 11 and 12.

Verse 2

End-Of-Line Rhymes
Verse 2, features an AAAAAAAA/BBBBBBBB end-of-line rhyme scheme across its two stanzas. Stanza 1 features the “IH”-sounding rhyme (“b***h,” “sis,” “it,” etc.), then stanza 2 shifts to the B scheme with the “AR”/ “OR”-sounding rhyme. Note that while some lyrics lean more towards the “AR” sound (e.g., “car” and “ar”) and others lean more towards the “OR” sound (e.g., “for” and “be-FORE”), Doja Cat subtly adjusts her pronunciations to maintain cohesion across lines.  

Internal Rhymes, Alliteration & Other Connection Accentuators
Like verse 1, verse 2 features a plethora of internal rhymes, alliteration and repetitive lyrics that bolster its connection value. A few of the most notable include:

  • The inclusion of the “OOH” and “EYE”-sounding rhymes in the second and third-to-last syllables of each line across stanza 1, creating a more a much more impactful triple end-of-line rhyme (i.e., “you try “b***h,” “new vibe sis,” etc.).
  • Use of alliteration in lines 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 15, and 16. Note that this is significantly more than verse 1, which only features alliteration in three lines.
  • Commonalities with verse 1, including the “EE” rhyme (end-of-line rhyme in the first stanza of verse 1, internal rhyme across most lines in the second stanza of verse 2) and the “OR” rhyme (second-to-last syllable internal rhyme in lines 9-12 in stanza 2 of verse 1, end-of-line rhyme in stanza 2 of verse 2), among others.
  • Repetition of “I don’t need” across lines 3, 4, 5, and 9, along with the “UH” sounding rhyme that directly follows each.

Narrative

Overview

“Paint The Town Red” is a lifestyle, inspiration/empowerment and boasting-themed song about Doja Cat’s defiance and perseverance against her haters. Supporting this are depictions of Doja Cat’s confidence, rebellious spirit, and determination to succeed on her own terms, while addressing topics of fame, personal qualities, and career aspirations.

The narrative unfolds in a logical and easy-to-follow manner, utilizing an effective balance of clever and common lyricism that is both intriguing and easy-to-grasp. While the interpretive storyline pertains to Doja Cat specifically, the universal subject matter of perseverance and living life your own way primes “Paint The Town Red” to connect with the listener on a profound personal level as well.

Lyrical Theme Trends

“Paint The Town Red” features boasting, inspiration/empowerment and lifestyle lyrical themes. Despite the drop-off in the first half of 2023, lifestyle has been the predominant theme in hip hop hits for years, followed by boasting. However, inspiration/empowerment has been far less so, though it did see a notable jump in the first half of 2023 thanks to the arrival of Lil Durk and J. Cole’s “All My Life” and Coi Leray’s “Players.”

Lyrical Themes In Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – Q2 2023

Narrative Flow: At-A-Glance

Key

Focus: Details each line’s main character focus. In “Paint The Town Red,” it pertains to Doja Cat, Doja Cat’s fans, and her haters
Tone:
The tone of the line, either positive (P) or negative (N)
Parentheses:
The tone is implied and/or relates to the preceding line

Intro & All Subsequent Sections

The first lyric heard in “Paint The Town Red” is the sampled “walk on by” hook. While it’s performed by Dionne Warwick, in the context of “Paint The Town Red” it cleverly reflects Doja Cat’s dismissal of her haters as opposed to its literal, action-based meaning.

However, note that its connotation does not become apparent until taken in context with the ensuing sections, where it functions as a summative looped background vocal underneath Doja Cat’s lead. Here in the intro, its main purpose is to lyrically pique the listener’s curiosity to find out more while hooking them into the song on a catchy, soulful, retro note.

Chorus

Following the intro, “Paint The Town Red” heads into the chorus as opposed to a verse, which is far more common in hip hop than it is in genres outside of hip hop. In conjunction with the continuation of the summative “walk on by” background vocal hook from the intro, the chorus further summarizes the narrative, which is Doja Cat’s perseverance in the face of her haters to live life her way and to the fullest.

Note that directly following the intro with the chorus has two key benefits:

  • It further piques the listener’s curiosity to find out what led up to the impactful summation, further ensuring that they remain tuned in until they do in the ensuing sections.
  • It follows the hook-based intro with another hook-centric section, further hooking the listener into the song in a profound manner. 

The chorus consists of two lyrically repetitive four-line stanzas, is communicated entirely from Doja Cat’s point-of-view in both the past and present tenses and unfolds in an engaging manner with an alternating problem/solution flow across lines.

The lyricism is largely common and clean, save for the expletive “b***h” in line 1 and the clever, metaphorical “paint the town red” song title hook at the end of each stanza. This creates a chorus that is intriguing, powerful, and easy-to-grasp. Furthermore, while the lyrics pertain specifically to Doja Cat, which enables her to deliver them in a compelling and believable manner, their underlying empowerment and perseverance themes are universal, which allows the listener to connect on a deeper and more personal level.

Opening Line
While Dionne Warwick’s sampled “walk on by” hook is technically “Paint The Town Red’s” opening line, it’s Doja Cat’s standout statement hook, “yeah, b***h, I said what I said,” that serves as the definitive opener. Delivered in a direct and compelling manner, it achieves the following:

  • Introduces Doja Cat into the song on a powerful, impactful note.
  • Establishes the song’s direct, defiant tone.
  • Conveys Doja’s heated response to a not-yet-revealed adversity, which piques the listener’s curiosity to find out more. Note that in the context of the song, “b***h” refers to other artists, extremist fans, and others that Doja Cat clashes with.


Subsequent Lines
Lines 2 and 3 provide additional detail that leads to the summative song title hook at the end of the first stanza, before lyrically repeating in the second stanza:

  • Line 2: “I’d rather be famous instead” expresses Doja Cat’s desire for fame. Note that the concluding lyric, “instead,” initially piques the listener’s curiosity to find out more in the ensuing sections while subsequently contributing to the summation in choruses 2 and 3 after the supporting detail comes to light.
  • Line 3: “I let all that get to my head” expresses Doja letting something get to her head. Like line 2, line 3 initially piques curiosity while contributing to the summation in subsequent choruses. In the context of the full narrative, this open-ended statement can be construed as pertaining to the negative things Doja Cat’s haters say about her, or the intense adulation from extreme fans, as intimated in line 12 of verse 2.
  • Line 4: “I don’t care, I paint the town red” is the metaphorical song title hook that cleverly and impactfully sums the narrative up by conveying Doja Cat’s acceptance of the way things are and her ultimate desire to live life to the fullest. In addition, the recklessness, debauchery, and extravagance that the lyric invokes serves as a prelude for the lyrical developments to come in the verses, while subsequently summing them up in subsequent iterations. However, note that while this is a likely interpretation of the lyric, it can also be construed in a more negative light, due to its action and imagery-based qualities, which is Doja Cat spilling the blood of her haters, tying in with the “devil” and “demon” references in the vocal break post-chorus and verse 2, respectively. 

Vocal Break

Following the chorus, “Paint The Town Red” heads into yet another summative hook-based section, the vocal break post-chorus. Note that while following the intro with a rapped chorus is far more common in hip hop, following the chorus with a sung vocal break post-chorus is far more common in pop. Here, the vocal break post-chorus serves to lyrically expound on the chorus’ “paint the town red” summation, detailing Doja Cat’s rebellious spirit, drive, and determination to succeed her way.

Like the chorus, the post-chorus consists of two, four-line stanzas that repeat. However, they differ in the following key areas:

  • The post-chorus is entirely positive as opposed to featuring a combination of positive and negative toned lines. Note that this direction was warranted following the positive chorus summation, “I don’t care, I paint the town red.”
  • It is communicated entirely in the present as opposed to a combination of past and present tenses. This jibes with the positive, self-actualizing focus of the section.
  • Most notably, the first three lines of each stanza find Doja Cat referring to herself in the third person before switching back to the first person P.O.V. at the end. This provides the post-chorus with a unique, engaging quality in the scope of the song, and contributes to “Paint The Town Red’s” standout qualities among its mainstream contemporaries (most hit songs do not feature artists referring to themselves in the third person). 

In terms of the section’s lyricism, the use of slang, descriptive adjectives, and idiom delivers the narrative in an impactful, compelling, and engaging manner, while the common language enables the listener to easily connect with the message.

Narrative Flow

  • Lines 1 & 2: While at face value line 1’s “she the devil” has a negative connotation, here it cleverly frames Doja Cat’s rebellious spirit in a positive light in conjunction with line 2’s “She a bad lil’ b***h she a rebel.” This is also the case with the lyric “bad lil’b***h,” which reflects Doja Cat’s positive attributes through its slang connotation as opposed to its negative usage at the beginning of the chorus. Furthermore, note the connection between the lyric “devil” and “paint the town red.” The devil is often associated with red, and further reflects Doja Cat’s look on her single.
  • Line 3: While “she put her foot to the pedal” is ambiguous within the context of the post-chorus, when viewed in the context of the full song, it can be construed as pertaining to Doja Cat’s drive and ambition.
  • Line 4: Shifting back to the first-person perspective, “It’ll take a whole lot for me to settle” essentially summarizes the entire section through its “I’m gonna do things my way and not give up so easily” connotation.

Verse 1

Following three summative, hook-based sections, the first verse provides the narrative with detailed insight that supports and puts them into context. The verse is comprised of the following qualities:

  • It consists of two lyrically differentiated eight-line stanzas, which contrasts the chorus and post-chorus’ two lyrically similar four-line stanzas.
  • It’s comprised mainly of positive, self-actualized, boastful statements delivered by Doja Cat in the first-person singular. However, the strategic shift to Doja Cat’s haters at the beginning and end of stanza 1 provides the narrative with additional dimension and was necessary to further set up the summative sections that follow. In addition, Doja Cat’s fans are mentioned in line 6, and line 13 briefly shifts back to Doja Cat referring to herself in the third person (see below for details).
  • It features a greater degree of intriguing, impactful and specific lyricism compared to both the chorus and post-chorus sections, which notably heightens the listener’s interest and engagement. However, it’s effectively balanced by more straight-forward, common-leaning lyricism, which ensures that they are still able to grasp what the narrative is about and provide an effective lead-in to the chorus that follows. 

Stanza 1

Lines 1-6: Doja Cat’s Personal Qualities
The first six lines of the verse provide insight into Doja Cat’s personal qualities that her haters either disapprove of or are jealous of:

  • Line 1: “Said my happiness is all of your misery” sets the section in motion with a generalized statement pertaining to Doja Cat’s haters’ disapproval and/or jealousy towards her professional and personal success and happiness, which is laid out in the following lines.
  • Line 2: “I put good d**k all in my kidneys” is a clever and impactful way to refer to her hookups.
  • Line 3: “This Margiel’ don’t come with no jealousy” pertains to the way she dresses and accessorizes (Maison Margiela is a unique, edgy and expensive boutique of wearables, accessories, jewelry, etc.). Note that this ties in with her non-conformist, rebellious, extravagant approach to life as depicted in the chorus and post-chorus sections.
  • Line 4: “My illness don’t come with no remedy” can be construed in one of two ways based on the listener’s interpretation of the lyric “illness” - it can pertain people’s negative perceptions about Doja Cat’s mental state due to her rebellious qualities and her contentment with the way she is; or her boasting about her “illness” (slang for prowess), which ties in with the empowering lyrical summations. Both are relevant within the context of the story.
  • Lines 5: “I am so much fun without Hennessy” is a clever way of depicting her rebelliousness in terms partying (i.e., she doesn’t need to drink to have fun). In addition, the use of the specific lyric, “Hennessy” makes an end-of-line rhyme connection with the other lines in the stanza.
  • Line 6: “They just want my love and my energy” lyrically develops out of line 5, shifting the focus to her fans/friends for the first time while depicting her naturally positive qualities. 

Lines 7-8: Doja Cat’s Haters
Following the string of positively toned lines that precede them, lines 7 and 8 abruptly shift back to Doja Cat’s haters, bookending the stanza on a familiar note. Both lines depict Doja Cat standing up in the face of her haters and her willingness to meet them head on.

In addition to providing the stanza with heightened lyrical dimension and concluding it on an impactful note, this shift to a negative tone was important to help set up and heighten the impact of the positive-toned self-actualizing lyrics that follow in stanza 2.

Stanza 2

Lines 9-12: Doja Cat’s Career
The first four lines of stanza 2 return to positive territory by depicting Doja Cat boasting about her confidence in her continued career success while simultaneously reinforcing her rebellious spirit. This provides the narrative with additional dimension while remaining in line with the overall theme and message.

  • Lines 9 and 10: “I’m going to glow up one more time / Trust me, I have magical foresight” cleverly and impactfully convey her confidence in her continued success.
  • Line 11: “You gon’ see me sleepin’ in courtside” can be construed as pertaining to her success, allowing her to able to score courtside seats while at the same time highlighting her rebellious qualities (i.e., sleeping courtside), which ties in with the main summation.
  • Line 12: “You gon’ see me eatin’ ten more times” is a clever way of further predicting her continued success (“eating” is slang for having success at doing something).

Lines 13-16: Doja Cat’s Looks and Behaviors
The last four lines of stanza 2 shift from Doja Cat’s career to her looks and behaviors, again providing the narrative with heightened depth while remaining in line with the main theme and message.

  • Line 13: “Ugh, you can’t take that b***h nowhere,” may be negative at face value, this line also has an implied positive connotation as it depicts Doja Cat referring to herself in a playfully self-deprecating manner that sets in motion her rebellious qualities that follow. Likewise, it can also be construed as pertaining to people’s negative views of her.
  • Line 14: “Ugh, I look better with no hair” focuses on her going against the grain with her looks.
  • Line 15: “Ugh, ain’t no sign I can’t smoke here” focuses on her going against the grain in terms of her actions.
  • Line 16: “Ugh, gimme the chance and I’ll go there” summarizes the stanza by stating she is going to continue to push the boundaries and do things her way, which ties in with the post-chorus statement, “it’ll take a whole lot for me to settle.”

In addition, the “ugh” commonality at the beginning of each line serves a few key purposes:

  • It bolsters the emotional impact in conjunction with the way that Doja Cat vocally communicates it.
  • It provides the lengthy verse with a unique and memorable quality, which is bolstered by its common placement across lines.

Verse 2

Following the second vocal break post-chorus, verse 2 provides the narrative with additional detail that supports the summations while remaining in line with the main theme and message. While the lyrical developments help to keep things interesting as the song progresses, verse 2 also possesses certain commonalities with verse 1 to maintain familiarity in the scope of the song:

Commonalities

  • It consists of two lyrically differentiated eight-line stanzas.
  • It’s comprised mainly of positive-toned lines communicated by Doja Cat from the first-person perspective along with additional focus on her fans and haters. Furthermore, the first stanza in both verses are structurally similar, focusing on the haters both at the beginning and end. This heightens structural familiarity in the scope of the song while the new lyrics keep things interesting and engaging.
  • It features a high degree of intriguing, impactful lyricism and use of specifics that relate to Doja Cat. However, it is once again balanced by more common-leaning lyricism with universal appeal that enables the narrative to easily connect and resonate.

Stanza 1
In the first stanza of verse 2, Doja Cat once again turns her attention to her career. However, as opposed to boasting about her prediction of continued success as depicted in lines 9-12 of verse 1, here she takes on her fellow artist and fan haters as it pertains to her artistic direction, collaborators, fanbase and looks.

  • Line 1: “Said pop make money, now you try, bitch”: Doja defends her pop-leaning style as it contributes to her fame and success as illustrated throughout the song. Furthermore, she calls out her fellow artists to try and do the same (i.e., it’s not as easy as one might think).
  • Line 2: “You could use a revamp with a new vibe, sis” disses fellow artists who become stale and predictable; ties in with her renegade style of changing things up.
  • Line 3: “I don't need a big feature or a new sidekick”: Doja Cat’s boastful statement inferring that she alone can bring success to her songs and doesn’t need a star co-primary or featured artist to help her do it.
  • Line 4: “I don't need a new fan 'cause my boo like it” focuses on the people she loves as opposed to more fame and adulation.
  • Line 5: “I don't need to wear a wig to make you like it” further elaborates on Doja Cat’s non-conformist approach to her looks (ties in with the verse 1, line 14 lyric, “Ugh, I look better with no hair”).
  • Line 6: “I'm a two-time bitch, you ain't knew I'd win?”: Doja Cat further boasts about her success.
  • Line 7: “Throw a shot like you tryna have a food fight then” is a clever statement where Doja Cat calls out those hate on her as weak and not influencing her.
  • Line 8: “All my opps waitin' for me to be you, I bet” sums up the stanza with a focus on her haters and those that are waiting for her to conform, which goes against the entire premise of the “Paint The Town Red” narrative.

Stanza 2
The second stanza finds Doja Cat reiterating her confidence in her career aspirations along with further calling out her haters.

  • Line 9: “Said I got drive, I don't need a car” cleverly ties in Doja Cat’s drive with her success.
  • Line 10: “Money really all that we fiendin' for” further qualifies the line 1 lyric, “Said pop make money, now you try, bitch.”
  • Line 11: "I'm doin' things they ain't seen before” reiterates her non-conformist artistic style.
  • Line 12: “Fans ain't dumb, but extremists are” conveys Doja’s known dislike of her extreme fans (she has called them out on social media on numerous occasions).
  • Line 13: “I'm a demon lord” illustrates Doja’s lighthearted, joking view of herself as others have perceived her. The lightheartedness of this seemingly negative statement is further bolstered by her delivery style. In addition, the line’s function is similar to the self-deprecating verse 1 lyric, “Ugh, you can’t take that b***h nowhere.”
  • Line 14: “Fall off what? I ain't seen the horse” is a clever, boastful statement illustrating that she hasn’t even come close to faltering in her career.
  • Line 15: “Called your bluff, better cite the source” calls out her haters that make up stories about her.
  • Line 16: “Fame ain't somethin' that I need no more” is the last lyrical development in the song, conveying Doja Cat’s contentment with what she has achieved and doesn’t need that to be the focus of her ambitions any longer. 

Song Title

Clever/Powerful or Universal/Generic

Song titles fall on a spectrum ranging from unique, clever, attention-grabbing and/or powerful (e.g., “3D,” “Slime You Out,” and “’Slut!’”) to those that possess more of a basic/universal quality (e.g., “greedy,” “Hold Me Closer,” and “Lose Control”).

“Paint The Town Red” falls on the attention grabbing/powerful end of the spectrum, due in part to its effective use of A.I.D.E. principle components including action (“paint”), imagery (full hook), detail device (metaphor), and emotion. Together, along with the metaphor’s connotation, piques listener interest to see what it relates to in the context of the story.

Song Title Word Count

Consisting of four words, “Paint The Town Red” is in the minority among its hip hop contemporaries. Since 2018, only 13% or less featured four words in their title, with none in the first half of 2023. Not surprisingly, the trend in hip hop is in line with the overall Hot 100 top 10 – the more words there are in a title, the less common it is.

Song Title Word Count: Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits (2018 – Q2 2023)

Song Title Appearances and Placement

The title “paint the town red” appears six times in the song, exclusively in the chorus. The 6-10 song title appearance range has generally been the third most common among hip hop hits since 2018, accounting for under one-fifth of songs. However, there was no representation in the first half of 2023.
The title is primely placed at the end of each chorus stanza, where it provides the hook-based lyrical summation in conjunction with the “I don’t care I” statement that precedes it.

Song Title Appearances: Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits (2018 – Q2 2023)

Song Title Placement: Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits (2018 – Q2 2023)

Word Cloud

Benchmark


This section spotlights “Paint The Town Red’s” familiarity and standout factors relative to the Hot 100 top 10, both as a whole and in the hip hop genre specifically, in the quarter before the song entered the chart (Q2 2023). The familiarity factors enable “Paint The Town Red” to more easily connect with a wide, mainstream audience, while the more atypical factors help it to stand out from the pack.

Of the categories benchmarked in the table below, “Paint The Town Red” is in line with 58% of the top characteristics in the overall Hot 100 top 10 and 74% in hip hop hits specifically.  

“D” Section: A section that provides a pronounced vocal, lyrical, instrumental and/or energy level departure around two-thirds of the way into a song. “D” sections can include bridges, bridge surrogates, and diversified recycled sections.
*Indicates a particular song characteristic falling within a 5% margin of error of the most popular compositional characteristic in a given category

Additional Familiarity & Standout Factors

In addition to the commonalities shown in the chart above, other factors that contributed to “Paint The Town Red’s” ability to easily connect with both hip hop and pop fans alike are its easy-to-lock into rapped deliveries; K.I.S.S. ME melodies (Keep It Simple, Singable and Memorable); catchy vocal hooks; strong, effective rhymes; intriguing, yet easy-to-follow narrative; and logical structure, to name a few.

Conversely, its effective balance of hip hop and pop qualities also helped set the song apart from many of its mainstream contemporaries, as many lean more towards one end of the spectrum or the other. In addition, the heavy use of the “Walk On By” sample provided “Paint The Town Red” with a unique quality, as did the unique lyrical spin on common lyrical themes.  

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