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Last Night Deconstructed

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Last Night Deconstructed

Morgan Wallen

Last Night is the third single from Morgan Wallen’s second album, One Thing At A Time (2023). Co-written by Ashley Gorley, Charlie Handsome, Jacob Kasher and John Byron, and produced by Charlie Handsome and Joey Moi, the song is the first Hot 100 number one of Wallen’s career, and the first country song by a solo male artist to top the Hot 100 in 42 years.

Last Night’s success is a result of the individual strengths and collaborative efforts of the writers and producers, along with Wallen’s ability to bring it to life. Together, they effectively balanced traditional country with mainstream pop and hip hop, connecting and resonating with a wide fan base while at the same time staying true to Wallen’s overall body of work.

In addition to the Hot 100, Last Night has also reached the top spot on the Australia ARIA and Country Hot 50 charts, the Billboard Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs charts, and cracked the Top 10 on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart.

In this report, we take a deep dive into the song’s structure, genres & influences, instrumentation & arrangement, vocal melody & production, lyrics & rhymes, hooks, and more.

At-A-Glance


Artist: Morgan Wallen
Song: Last Night
Songwriters: Ashley Gorley, Charlie Handsome, Jacob Kasher, John Byron
Producers: Charlie Handsome, Joey Moi
Mastering Engineer: Ted Jensen
Mixer: Joey Moi
Record Label: Republic
Primary Genre: Country
Influences: Country, Hip Hop/Rap, Pop, Rock
Length: 2:39
Form: I-B-A-B-VB-A-B-VB-O
Key: F# Major
Tempo: 102 BPM
First Chorus: 0:09 / 6% of the way into the song
Intro Length: 0:09
Electronic vs. Acoustic Instrumentation: Electronic/Acoustic Combo
Prominent Instruments: Bass (Synth), Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric)Snaps
Primary Lyrical Themes: Love/Relationships
Title Appearances: Last Night appears 12 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.

Overview, Highlights & Takeaways


Hooks

I = Intro | A = Verse | B = Chorus | VB = Vocal Break | PST = Post-Chorus | “D” = Departure | = Outro
Number: Denotes the number of times that a particular hook/motif appears within a section
Last Night Hook Table

Vocal Hooks

Song Title Hook

Last Night’s main vocal hook is “no way it was our last night,” appearing in the verses, vocal break post-choruses and outro. At its core is K.I.S.S. ME (keep it simple, singable and memorable) construction, consisting mainly of a stepwise and stagnant eighth and quarter-note driven pattern within a limited range.

There are two variations of the hook, each possessing similar and contrasting qualities:

  • Verses: Each verse begins with the same hook melody and lyric (“no way it was the last night”) but concludes with a lyrical variation (“kiss your lips” and “we break up,” respectively). In verse 1, the hook cleverly serves to both summarize the preceding chorus and kick off the ensuing verse development. In verse 2, it does the same but following the vocal break post-chorus.
  • Vocal Break Post-Choruses & Outro: Following choruses 2 and 3, the vocal break post-choruses feature two back-to-back repetitions of the song title hook. While the first iteration features the same melody heard at the top of the verse sections, the second iteration features a subtle melodic variation that heightens interest and the emotion of the lyric. This same pattern repeats at the end of the outro, bringing the song to a conclusion on a familiar and memorable note, while the new context helps to maintain interest
Last Night Song Title Hook

Instrumental Hooks

Foundational Instrumental Hook

Last Night’s foundational hook is an arpeggiated acoustic guitar pattern featured throughout the song. Its heard most notably in the intro’s sparse arrangement, where it serves to establish the song’s laid back country influence while functioning as an instantly recognizable calling card. It is then reinforced in each subsequent section in varying degrees of prominence, serving as a cohesive thread underneath Wallen’s vocals. 

Last Night Foundational Hook

Nano Hook

The electric guitar nano hook performs a brief, atmospheric, country-influenced lick in every section save for the intro, first chorus and outro. It is strategically placed throughout the song, functioning in a transitional manner leading into choruses 2 and 3 and at the midway point within chorus stanzas, where it serves as a subtle, catchy embellishment.

Last Night Nano Hook

Creative Hook Foreshadowing & Reinforcement

Song Title Hook Reinforcement

The “no way it was our last night” song title hook is melodically reinforced across the last three lines of both verse sections. The first two iterations (3-7-7-7-1) are melodically similar to the hook’s first appearance at the top of the verse, vocal break post-choruses and outro. The last iteration (3-4-3-2-1) is similar to the hook’s second appearance in the vocal break post-choruses and outro. The melody’s new lyrics and context helps to keep things interesting as the song progresses while further ingraining the all-important hook in the listener’s head – albeit in a clever, under-the-radar manner.

Last Night Song Title Hook Reinforcement

Nano Hook Fragment

Fragments of the electric guitar nano hook are heard in each chorus and the outro. In chorus 1, it serves to subtly foreshadow the full hook that makes its first appearance at the end of verse 1 leading into chorus 2. Subsequent iterations serve as familiar embellishments while preventing the full hook from becoming overly redundant.  

Structure: Overview

Last Night form

Genres & Influences: Overview

Last Night features a combination of country, pop, hip hop/rap and rock 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

Last Night Genres and Influences Table

Instrumentation & Arrangement: Overview

Last Night’s instrumental arrangement expertly fuses modern mainstream pop and hip hop with traditional country. Along with broadening the song’s appeal and jibing with Wallen’s body of work, the timbre and patterns of the instrumentation perfectly complements the vocals and lyrics to heighten the listener’s emotional connection with the song.

Last Night Arrangement

Energy: Overview

In contrast to many of today’s hits, Last Night traverses through two energy level waves as opposed to three, which is due to its lack of an energy-reducing “D” section. The song features both subtle and notable energy shifts, effectively maintaining groove and vibe and calling attention to specific sections.

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

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

Last Night Energy Graph

Harmony: Overview

Last Night uses one main chord progression with no significant deviations.

Progression 1

Progression 1: Variation 1a (Intro)

B – C# – D#m

Vocal Production: Overview

Lead Vocal Gender

Last Night features a solo male lead vocal from Morgan Wallen. In 2022, solo male leads among non-hip hop hits were most common, tied with solo female leads at 38% of songs.

Lead Vocal Gender in Hot 100 Top 10 (Non-Hip Hop Hits): 2018 – 2022

Last Night Lead Vocal Gender

Lead Vocal Delivery

Last Night features a combination of sung and sung/rapped deliveries. While the song’s main “hook centers” (choruses, vocal break post-choruses and outro) are entirely sung, Wallen shifts to a more rap-styled performance in the first stanza of both verses.

Over the past five years, roughly one-fifth to one-third of non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 hits have featured a combination of sung and rap-styled deliveries.

Lead Vocal Delivery in Hot 100 Top 10 (Non-Hip Hop Hits): 2018 – 2022

Last Night Lead Vocal Delivery

Background Vocals

Complementing Wallen’s lead are unison and harmonizing background vocals featured exclusively in the last two choruses, post-choruses and outro. Their addition serves to heighten interest and bolster the impact of the song’s main “hook centers.”

Effects & Processing

Last Night features common hit song vocal processing, employing reverb, compression, and subtle autotune to heighten the effectiveness of the vocal performance.

Vocal Delivery Arrangement Overview

Lead: Male (Morgan Wallen): Morgan Wallen’s lead vocal
BGV 1: Male (Unison Double): Background vocal doubles in unison with the lead
BGV 2: Male (Lead Harmony): Background vocals that harmonize with the lead on different pitches

Key

S: Sung
S/R: Sung/Rapped
BGV: Background vocals
Last Night Vocal Production Overview Table

Vocal Melody: Overview

Last Night possesses all the melodic qualities that one would expect to find in a chart-topping hit. At its core is the K.I.S.S. ME principle (keep it simple, singable and memorable), with logically unfolding melodic patterns, easy-to-lock into rhythms, generally short phrases, and an effective balance between stepwise/stagnant motion and intervallic leaps.

The song unfolds in an engaging manner within and across sections, varying the range, direction, and rhythms to maintain interest while heightening the listener’s emotional connection with the lyrics. This is perhaps most notable in the choruses, with their “up and down a hill” arching melodic progressions.

Last Night Chorus Melody Intensity Graph

Sectional Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

CHORUS 1

Last Night Vocal Melody Chorus Table

VERSE 1

Last Night Verse 1 Table

VERSE 2

Last Night Verse 2 Table

VOCAL BREAK POST-CHORUSES

Last Night Vocal Break Table

OUTRO

Last Night Vocal Melody Outro Table

Sectional Melodic Pattern: At-A-Glance

CHORUS 1

Last Night Chorus 1 Vocal Melody Graph

VERSE 1

Last Night Verse 1 Vocal Melody Graph

VERSE 2

Last Night Verse 2 Vocal Melody Graph

VOCAL BREAK POST-CHORUSES

Last Night Vocal Break Vocal Melody Graph

OUTRO

Last Night Outro Vocal Melody Graph

Rhymes: Overview

Last Night features an abundance of expertly crafted rhymes and other connection accentuators that bolster the song’s ability to get firmly ingrained in the listener’s head. 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. In addition, mirroring between the end-of-line rhyme scheme, melodic structure and syllabic structure in certain sections further heightens cohesion and connection value.

Key

A, B & C: End-of-line Rhymes
X:
Non-rhymes
Lyrics: 
The primary rhyme at the end of each line
Colors and rhyme schemes are unique to each section
Last Night Rhymes Overview Table
Narrative: Overview

Last Night is a love/relationships-themed song about a toxic, on-again/off-again relationship and the main character’s feeling, and hope, that it won’t end. The relatable, mainly universal subject matter is conveyed in an easy-to-grasp manner using an effective combination of A.I.D.E. principle components (action, imagery, detail devices, emotion) and a balance of common and clever lyricism. The story unfolds logically within and across sections, with all developments relating to one another while providing the story with additional depth and engagement value.

Among the song’s atypical and clever aspects that bolster its impact are the atypical kickoff chorus, which provides the summation before the backstory and further piques the listener’s curiosity to find out more; the song title hook that simultaneously concludes and begins sections; and conveying sexual content in a PG manner that foregoes the need for an airplay edit.

In addition, the overarching relationship/drinking scenario jibes with Wallen’s overall body of work, defining the narratives of notable hits such as You Proof, One Thing At A Time and others.

CHORUS 1

Last Night Chorus 1 Narrative Table
Last Night Chorus 1 AIDE Common Clever

CHORUS 3

Last Night Chorus 3 Narrative

VOCAL BREAK POST-CHORUS 1

Last Night Vocal Break 1 Narrative Table
Last Night Vocal Break 1 AIDE Common Clever Table

VERSE 1

Last Night Verse 1 Narrative Table
Last Night Verse 1 AIDE Common Clever Table

VERSE 2

Last Night Verse 2 Narrative
Last Night Verse 2 AIDE Common Clever Table

OUTRO

Last Night Outro Narrative Table
Last Night Outro AIDE Common Clever

Song Structure


Overview

Last Night possesses structural qualities that are both in line with, and depart from, recent Hot 100 Top 10 trends. Notable commonalities include its easy-to-follow form, beginning with an intro and concluding with an outro, inclusion of a post-chorus, omission of a pre-chorus, and clocking in on the shorter-end of the spectrum, among others.

However, the song also goes against the grain in certain key areas as well. Two of the most notable are having its first chorus precede the first verse and the inclusion of a highly atypical chorus stanza 2 “D” section, as opposed to a much more common bridge.

Song Sections

Last Night contains 9 sections in its framework:

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

Song Section Classifications

Post-Chorus Section Classification

Last Night’s post-choruses are the vocal breaks following choruses 2 and 3. Both recycle the acoustic guitar foundational hook and summative “no way it was our last night” vocal hook over the continuation of the chorus accompaniment.

Post-chorus popularity among non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 hits has varied over the past five years, most recently rising to 60% of songs in 2022 following a significant drop in popularity in 2021.

Post-Chorus Sections in Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – 2022

Use of a Post-Chorus 2018 to 2022

Structural Anomalies

Atypical "D" Section

While the inclusion of a “D” (departure) section in non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 hits is highly common (generally found in 80% of songs or more over the past five years) the use of a chorus “D” section as opposed to a much more common bridge, isn’t (only 5% of songs during the same time-period featured one).

Furthermore, in hits that do contain a chorus “D” section, the departure typically occurs in the first stanza as opposed to the second and features a variation in the instrumental arrangement (i.e., a breakdown) as opposed to a lyrical changeup.

However, Last Night shares a commonality with other hits in terms of its “D” section placement. Occurring at 71% of the way into the song, this is smack in the middle of where mainstream listeners have become conditioned to expect it (i.e., between 67% and 75% of the way into the song).

Use of a "D" Section in Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – 2022

Use of a D section 2018 to 2022

Chorus Preceding First Verse

Last Night goes against the grain of most non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 hits by introducing its first chorus following the intro and preceding the first verse. While atypical, it’s effective in instantly hooking the listener into the song and piquing their curiosity for the backstory behind the lyrical summation. Furthermore, its unique sparse arrangement compared to the other choruses provides room for arrangement and energy growth in subsequent sections, a characteristic highly indicative of an intro.

Chorus Preceding First Verse in Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – 2022

Chorus preceding first verse 2018 to 2022

Form

Time and Percent into the Song When Core Sections Occur

Last Night

Last Night-Time and Percent When Song Sections Occur

Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Core Sections: 2022

2022 Time and Percent Song Sections Occur

Compared to when “core sections” (verse, chorus and “D” section) occurred on average in non-hip hop Top 10s in 2022, only Last Night’s “D” section was on par (71% vs 69% of the way in). Note that this deviation is mainly due to its first chorus atypically preceding the first verse, which resulted in the verses occurring within a point of where choruses 1 and 2 occurred on average in the Top 10.

Song & Section Length

Song Length

Last Night clocks in at 2:39, 37 seconds shorter than the 2022 non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 average of 3:16. Over the past five years, the under 3:00 song length range has been rising in prominence and surpassed the 3:00-3:29 range in 2021 to become most popular. In 2022, the under three-minute remained most common, accounting for a little over one-third of songs.

Song Length Ranges of Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – 2022

Last Night - Song Length Range

Section Length

Last Night’s sections land at 4, 8 and 16 bars, which is highly common in non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 hits. The shortest sections in the song are the intro and vocal break post-choruses, serving to briefly hook the listener in and reiterate the song’s main vocal and instrumental hooks, respectively. The other sections follow at 8 bars save for chorus 3, which is doubled at 16 bars.

Compared to the song’s non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 contemporaries in 2022, all its sections averaged three to nine seconds shorter than the average save for chorus 3, which averaged 14 seconds longer. 

Last Night - Section Lengths

*Note: Section lengths are rounded.

Total Section Breakdown

Last Night - 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 Last Night is spent in its three choruses, comprising nearly half (48%) of its total composition. The verses distantly trail behind at 24%, followed by the outro and vocal breaks at 12% and 11%, respectively. The least amount of time is spent in the song’s intro, comprising just 6%.

In terms of trends, Last Night spends less time in the verse, more time in the chorus, and a near equal amount of time in the vocal break, intro and outro compared to the non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 average in 2022. 

Last Night / 2022 Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Average Time Allocation

  • Intro: 6% / 7%
  • Verse: 24% / 31%
  • Chorus: 48% / 35%
  • Vocal Break: 11% / 13%
  • Outro: 12% / 10%

Tempo and Key

Tempo

Last Night sits at 102 BPM, just 1 BPM slower than the 2022 non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 average. Note that this is in line with the Top 10’s gravitation towards faster songs, with the 100-109 BPM reaching its highest level of popularity since 2018.

Other notable recent hits that fall into this tempo range include the #1’s We Don’t Talk About Bruno and About Damn Time, and fellow country star Luke Combs’ The Kind of Love We Make.

Tempo Range in Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – 2022 (Top 5)

LN-Tempo Ranges

Key

Last Night is in the key of F# major. Major tonalities have been in the majority among non-hip hop hits since 2019, rising to 58% of songs in 2022.

Major vs. Minor Keys in Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – 2022

Last Night - Key

Hooks


I = Intro | A = Verse | B = Chorus | VB = Vocal Break | PST = Post-Chorus | “D” = Departure | = Outro
Number: Denotes the number of times that a particular hook/motif appears within a section
Last Night Hook Table

Vocal Hooks

Song Title Hook

Last Night’s main vocal hook is “no way it was our last night,” appearing in the verses, vocal break post-choruses and outro. At its core is K.I.S.S. ME (keep it simple, singable and memorable) construction, consisting mainly of a stepwise and stagnant eighth and quarter-note driven pattern within a limited range.

There are two variations of the hook, each possessing similar and contrasting qualities:

  • Verses: Each verse begins with the same hook melody and lyric (“no way it was the last night”) but concludes with a lyrical variation (“kiss your lips” and “we break up,” respectively). In verse 1, the hook cleverly serves to both summarize the preceding chorus and kick off the ensuing verse development. In verse 2, it does the same but following the vocal break post-chorus.
  • Vocal Break Post-Choruses & Outro: Following choruses 2 and 3, the vocal break post-choruses feature two back-to-back repetitions of the song title hook. While the first iteration features the same melody heard at the top of the verse sections, the second iteration features a subtle melodic variation that heightens interest and the emotion of the lyric. This same pattern repeats at the end of the outro, bringing the song to a conclusion on a familiar and memorable note, while the new context helps to maintain interest
Last Night Song Title Hook

Instrumental Hooks

Foundational Instrumental Hook

Last Night’s foundational hook is an arpeggiated acoustic guitar pattern featured throughout the song. Its heard most notably in the intro’s sparse arrangement, where it serves to establish the song’s laid back country influence while functioning as an instantly recognizable calling card. It is then reinforced in each subsequent section in varying degrees of prominence, serving as a cohesive thread underneath Wallen’s vocals. 

Last Night Foundational Hook

Nano Hook

The electric guitar nano hook performs a brief, atmospheric, country-influenced lick in every section save for the intro, first chorus and outro. It is strategically placed throughout the song, functioning in a transitional manner leading into choruses 2 and 3 and at the midway point within chorus stanzas, where it serves as a subtle, catchy embellishment.

Last Night Nano Hook

Creative Hook Foreshadowing & Reinforcement

Song Title Hook Reinforcement

The “no way it was our last night” song title hook is melodically reinforced across the last three lines of both verse sections. The first two iterations (3-7-7-7-1) are melodically similar to the hook’s first appearance at the top of the verse, vocal break post-choruses and outro. The last iteration (3-4-3-2-1) is similar to the hook’s second appearance in the vocal break post-choruses and outro. The melody’s new lyrics and context helps to keep things interesting as the song progresses while further ingraining the all-important hook in the listener’s head – albeit in a clever, under-the-radar manner.

Last Night Song Title Hook Reinforcement

Nano Hook Fragment

Fragments of the electric guitar nano hook are heard in each chorus and the outro. In chorus 1, it serves to subtly foreshadow the full hook that makes its first appearance at the end of verse 1 leading into chorus 2. Subsequent iterations serve as familiar embellishments while preventing the full hook from becoming overly redundant.  

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
Las Night - Genres and influences table

Last Night features a combination of country, pop, hip hop/rap and rock influences that are put into effect by the qualities of the vocals, instruments, lyrics, and the overall production.

The song’s primary influence is country, which remains in effect throughout the entire song. Notable country elements include Wallen’s southern-timbred vocals, the style and prominence of the acoustic guitar, and the use of atmospheric guitar embellishments. Note that the qualities of these elements also provide Last Night with an underlying rock edge.

The song’s pop influence is put into effect by its catchy K.I.S.S. ME (keep it simple, singable and memorable) melodies and hooks, relatable love/relationships-themed subject matter and mainstream-friendly structure, to name a few. While it too is present throughout the entire song, it is not as defining as the song’s overt country qualities and is further minimized in the first stanza of both verses due to Wallen’s shift to a sung/rapped hybrid vocal. This, along with the addition of a prominent kick and sub bass beat in the song’s “hook centers” (each subsequent chorus, vocal break post-chorus and outro) provides Last Night with a subtle to moderate hip hop/rap influence.

Together, these disparate influences and their respective qualities helped Last Night both connect with Wallen’s core country fanbase while also appealing to mainstream pop fans. 

Blending In & Standing Out in the Hot 100 Top 10

Looking at the Billboard Hot 100 specifically, country as a primary genre has been few and far between. For instance, over the past five years (2018-2022), only 10 songs represented the genre (3% of the Top 10), with none reaching the coveted top spot until Morgan Wallen’s Last Night in the first quarter of 2023. Country was equally sparse as an influence in non-hip hop hits in general, being featured in just 15 Top 10s over the same time period.

Conversely, and not surprisingly, pop, hip hop and rock have been notably more popular. Every non-hip hop hit over the past five years has possessed some degree of a pop influence; and while hip hop’s influence is down compared to its heyday a few years earlier, it was still a factor in 38% of songs in 2022. And as for rock, it’s generally held steady between one-quarter and one-third of songs over the same time period.

Country as a Primary Genre in the Hot 100 Top 10: 2018 – 2022

Country as a Primary Genre in the Hot 100 Top 10

Influences in the Hot 100 Top 10: 2018 – 2022 (Outside the Hip Hop/Rap Primary Genre)

Sub-Genres and Influences in the Hot 100 Top 10

Energy & Dynamics


Overview

In contrast to many of today’s hits, Last Night traverses through two energy level waves as opposed to three, which is due to its lack of an energy-reducing “D” section. The song features both subtle and notable energy shifts, effectively maintaining groove and vibe and calling attention to specific sections.

Energy Arrangement

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

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

Last Night Energy Graph

Loudness

Last Night Loudness Graph
Last Night Full Waveform

Last Night’s loudness levels generally progress from low to high throughout the song, with a combination of sustained and notably varied levels along the way. Levels range from -14.5 in the intro (quietest) to -7 in the last chorus, vocal break post-chorus and first-half of the outro (loudest). Note that the song’s main “hook centers” (choruses, post-choruses and outro) are all subtly to substantially louder than the verse sections, which enables them to further stand out and connect.

Energy & Loudness: Section-By-Section

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

Intro (I)
As is the case with many of today’s hits, Last Night’s intro features the lowest energy level in the song, which provides room for growth in subsequent sections. This is due to the sparseness of the arrangement, which consists solely of acoustic guitar that provides a subtle degree of motion, and low-level electric guitar atmospherics.

Last Night Intro Waveform

Chorus 1 (B1)
With the sparse instrumental arrangement of the intro remaining in effect, chorus 1 provides a slight bump in energy due to the addition of Wallen’s emotive vocals into the mix.

Last Night Chorus 1 Waveform

Verse 1 (A1)
Last Night’s energy further increases – albeit slightly – in the first stanza of verse 1. This is mainly due to Wallen’s shift to a rap-influenced, more rhythmically propulsive and dense vocal delivery, and the addition of low-level shaker. Stanza 2’s energy remains relatively on par with stanza 1, but with a higher degree of tension and emotive energy and a lesser degree of rhythmic energy as the song heads into the second chorus. 

Last Night Verse 1 Waveform

S.I.A. #1

In the last two beats of the verse, all the accompaniment elements are pulled from the mix. This provides a transitional lull that spotlights the chorus vocal pickup and guitar nano hook while enabling the more intense chorus to hit with increased perceived impact.

Chorus 2 (B2)
Following the engaging partial accompaniment pull S.I.A., chorus 2 thrusts the song’s energy up to its first peak. As opposed to the rhythmic and tension-based energy in the verse, here the energy is mainly defined by the addition of kick and deep bass, which provide a notably heightened degree of power, backbeat snaps, and a doubled lead vocal. 

Last Night Chorus 2 Waveform

Vocal Break 1 (VB1)
Following the climactic second chorus, vocal break post-chorus 1 keeps energy at a high due to the continuation of the chorus’ powerful accompaniment and the addition of eight-note A.M.P. (alternating melodic pattern) plucks. However, the level is slightly lower than the chorus due to the more restrained and sparse vocal performance.

Last Night Vocal Break 1 Waveform

Wave 2: Verse 2 (A2) – Outro (O)

Verse 2 (A2)
Following two sections of high energy, verse 2 brings the level back down at the beginning of “wave 2,” a commonality shared with many of today’s hits. This is put into effect through the reversion to the core qualities of its verse 1 counterpart, which leaves room for growth in subsequent sections. However, verse 2’s energy is a notch above verse 1 due to the unique addition of cross-stick on the backbeat, which provides the section with a subtly heightened degree of rhythmic energy. 

Last Night Verse 2 Waveform

S.I.A. #2

In the last two beats of verse 2, a partial accompaniment pull S.I.A. is once again employed to transition into the third and final chorus. However, in contrast to S.I.A. #1, the kick and bass are left in the mix, playing a pattern that doubles the chorus vocal pickup. Along with punctuating the vocals, this provides a comparatively more energetic lead in.

Chorus 3 (B3)
Like the verse 1/verse 2 relation, chorus 3 features slightly higher energy compared to its chorus 2 counterpart. Here it’s achieved through the addition of harmony on Wallen’s lead, which contributes to density and results in a subtly more powerful vocal performance.

Last Night Chorus 3 Waveform

Vocal Break 2 (VB2)
Following the climactic third chorus, vocal break post-chorus 2 sees a slight drop in energy due to a decrease in vocal rhythmic motion, similar to its first occurrence counterpart.

Last Night Vocal Break 2 Waveform

Outro (O)
Bars 1-4
After a slight decrease in energy in vocal break post-chorus 2, the first four bars of the outro return to the peak energy level of chorus 3 by maintaining the dense, powerful instrumental arrangement and reprising the chorus’ powerful, emotionally intense vocal delivery.

Bars 5-8
The last four bars of the outro energetically “wind down” the song with a thinned-out arrangement and a reversion to the more restrained post-chorus vocal.

Music & Instruments


Overview

Last Night’s instrumental arrangement expertly fuses modern mainstream pop and hip hop with traditional country. Along with broadening the song’s appeal and jibing with Wallen’s body of work, the timbre and patterns of the instrumentation perfectly complements the vocals and lyrics to heighten the listener’s emotional connection with the song.

Primary Instruments

Drums/Percussion

Kick (Electronic)
The electronic kick drum is initially heard in the second chorus and returns in every subsequent section save for verse 2. It is processed with compression and filtering and possesses a modern hip hop-styled timbre.

Cross-Stick (Acoustic)
The acoustic cross-stick snare is heard solely in verse 2, providing the backbeat. It is processed with a low-pass filter, copious reverb and is relatively low in the mix.

Snaps (Acoustic)
Acoustic snaps are initially heard in the second chorus and appear in every subsequent section save for verse 2. They feature a bright timbre and are processed with notable compression.

Shaker (Acoustic)
Initially heard in verse 1, the low-level, small acoustic shaker plays an eighth-note pattern that contributes to groove and texture.

Bass

Synth Bass (808)
The sole low-end instrument in the song is the 808 synth bass, initially heard in the second chorus and present in every subsequent section save for verse 2. It possesses a powerful, deep timbre that punctuates the mix and contributes to the song’s modern hip hop influence.

Guitars

Acoustic Guitar
Acoustic guitar is the song’s main accompaniment element and is present in every section of the song. It is double tracked, processed with compression, and panned across the stereo field, providing the song’s hook-based harmonic progression.

Sustained Slide Electric Guitar
The sustained slide electric guitar is initially heard in the intro, as well as in the first chorus and verses 1 and 2. It is processed with copious reverb and contributes to the atmospheric vibe.

Nano Hook Electric Guitar
The nano hook electric guitar is heard in the first verse, choruses 2 and 3 and the outro, predominantly performing a brief, country-influenced, atmospheric lick. It is processed with copious reverb and notable high and low-pass filtering.

Atmospheric Electric Guitar
The atmospheric electric guitar provides a low-level, filtered, heavily-reverbed whole-note pattern to the second and third choruses, both vocal break post-choruses, and the outro.

A.M.P. (Alternating Melodic Pattern) Ukulele (Acoustic)
An acoustic, steel-string ukulele with a bright timbre playing an eighth-note A.M.P. (alternating melodic pattern) is featured exclusively in the vocal break post-choruses and outro.

Music & Instruments: Section By Section

Intro (0:00 – 0:09)

Chord Progression: B – C# – D#m (F# Major: IV-V-vi)

Last Night’s intro features a sparse arrangement, consisting solely of acoustic guitar and sustained slide electric guitar.

  • Acoustic: This guitar is featured up front in the mix, panned across the stereo field and is relatively dry in terms of processing, providing an intimate vibe. Its plucked pattern establishes the song’s country influence, laid-back groove, harmonic progression, and serves as the song’s recognizable foundational hook that remains in effect from start to finish. 
  • Sustained Slide Electric: In the back of the mix is an electric guitar playing a slide pattern processed with copious reverb. In addition to contributing to the intro’s sparse, country-influenced landscape, its atmospheric quality provides an underlying sense of tension and unease, which effectively sets the tone for the problematic storyline that lays ahead. 

Furthermore, the general sparseness of the arrangement provides room for growth in subsequent sections, a quality found in the vast majority of recent hit song intros.

Intro Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Last Night Intro Arrangement

Chorus 1 (0:09 – 0:28)

Chord Progression: B – C# – D#m (F# major: IV-V-vi)

The intro accompaniment seamlessly transitions into the first chorus, providing a cohesive thread across sections and allowing the listener’s full attention to be on the vocals and lyrics without distraction. The acoustic guitar foundational hook provides the main accompaniment throughout, while a low-level electric guitar subtly heightens interest while foreshadowing the full chorus 2 nano hook in the second half of the section. 

Chorus 1 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Last Night Chorus 1 Arrangement

Verse 1 (0:28 – 0:47)

Chord Progression: B – C# – D#m (F# major: IV-V-vi)

Verse 1 maintains the chorus accompaniment, again allowing the listener’s focus to be on the vocals and lyrics while maintaining vibe and further reinforcing the foundational guitar hook. The sole instrumental difference between sections is the addition of low-level shaker, which provides subtle rhythmic motion and texture.

At the end of the verse, a partial accompaniment pull S.I.A. (section impact accentuator) is implemented by removing all elements save for a more prominent iteration of the nano hook electric guitar. This jarring moment serves a few key purposes, including:

  • Heightening engagement and tension leading into the subsequent chorus.
  • Highlighting the chorus vocal pickup.
  • Highlighting the full guitar nano hook, which was partially foreshadowed in chorus 1.
  • Allowing the more powerful chorus arrangement to hit with increased perceived impact due to the contrast imparted.

Verse 1 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Last Night Verse 1 Arrangement

Chorus 2 (0:47 – 1:06)

Chord Progression: B – C# – D#m (F# major: IV-V-vi)

Chorus 2 provides the most notable shift in the instrumental arrangement heard thus far in the song. With the acoustic guitar foundational hook and low-level shaker providing cross-section continuity, the following elements are introduced for the first time:

  • Kick and synth bass: An electronic kick and deep 808 synth bass provide notable bottom-end power for the first time in the song. This, along with the hip hop-inspired pattern, calls further attention to the chorus and allows it to further stand out and connect with the listener. Furthermore, note that their dark timbres effectively jibe with the problematic nature of the lyrics to create effective prosody and bolster the listener’s emotional connection with the song. 
  • Snaps: Complimenting the kick and synth bass are acoustic-timbred snaps sounding on the backbeat (beats 2 and 4). In addition to providing a steady rhythmic pulse against the more varied kick/bass pattern, they contribute mid/high frequency information that balances between the higher-frequency acoustic guitar and the lower-frequency kick and bass. 
  • Electric guitar embellishments: Following the electric guitar nano pickup at the end of the verse, two more full and partial repetitions are featured throughout the chorus. Along with the heavy reverb processing, they provide the chorus with a subtle, catchy, country-influenced quality along with a heightened degree of atmosphere. In addition, another heavily reverbed and filtered guitar is featured even lower in the mix that serves the main purpose of providing a heightened degree of underlying atmosphere.

Chorus 2 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Last Night Chorus 2 Arrangement

Vocal Break 1 (1:06 – 1:15)

Chord Progression: : B – C# – D#m (F# major: IV-V-vi)

Vocal break post-chorus 1 continues the core instrumental arrangement from the chorus. This results in maintained vibe and groove while allowing the listener’s full attention to be on the repetition of the song title hook. In addition, a steel-string ukulele playing an A.M.P. (alternating melodic pattern) is added to the mix, which contributes density and texture along with subtly heightening cross-section interest.

Vocal Break 1 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Last Night Vocal Break 1 Arrangementvb

Verse 2 (1:15 – 1:34)

Chord Progression: B – C# – D#m (F# major: IV-V-vi)

Following the dense chorus and vocal break post-chorus, verse 2 strips the arrangement back to the verse 1 accompaniment, which creates like-section familiarity and provides room for the song to grow once again. However, this time around a new filtered cross-stick replaces the chorus’ snaps on the backbeat, heightening interest with its unique timbre and texture. In addition, the underlying acoustic timbre is in line with traditional country, while the filtering and reverb processing puts it in a modern space.

Similar to its verse 1 counterpart, the section ends with a partial accompaniment pull S.I.A. that removes all the verse elements from the mix, along with the reintroduction of the electric guitar nano hook. However, here kick and bass are included as well, which serve to punctuate the vocal pickup and prevent cookie-cutter S.I.A. redundancy.

Verse 2 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Last Night Verse 2 Arrangement

Chorus 3 (1:34 – 2:12)

Chord Progression: B – C# – D#m (F# major: IV-V-vi)

Chorus 3, which is twice the length of the preceding choruses, features essentially the same dense and powerful instrumental arrangement as its chorus 2 counterpart. Note that while many of today’s hits subtly develop the chorus to heighten interest against the vocal and lyrical repetition, here the like-section continuity provides a familiar base against the atypical lyrical changeups across stanzas.

Chorus 3 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Last NIght Chorus 3 Arrangement

Vocal Break 2 (2:12 – 2:21)

Chord Progression: B – C# – D#m (F# major: IV-V-vi)

Vocal break post-chorus 2 features the same instrumental arrangement as its first occurrence counterpart, heightening like-section familiarity while achieving the same cross-section results.

Vocal Break 2 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Last Night Vocal Break 2 Arrangement

Outro (2:21 – 2:39)

Chord Progression: B – C# – D#m (F# major: IV-V-vi)

The first segment of the outro (bars 1-4) maintains the preceding vocal break post-chorus instrumental arrangement. The cross-section continuity keeps the listener locked in and focused while the vocal developments serve to heighten interest.

The second segment of the outro then strips back the arrangement in a similar fashion as the verses. This achieves a few key things, including winding the song down after 20 straight bars of similar dense, energetic accompaniment, further heightening interest as the song draws to a close, and putting the listener’s main focus on the last repetition of the song title hook.

Outro Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Last Night Outro Arrangement

Harmonic Progressions


Last Night uses one main chord progression with no significant deviations.

Progression 1

Progression 1: Variation 1a (Intro)

B – C# – D#m

Progression Characteristics

Last Night’s sole chord progression is rooted in the key of F# major, following a B – C# – D#m (IV – V – vi) pattern. The progression spans two bars, with the first two chords split across the first bar and the third chord performed for a full four beats, creating a subdominant – dominant – tonic flow that provides an underlying sense of forward motion. The harmony is led by the prominent acoustic guitar, which also serves as the song’s main foundational hook. Complementing it are additional electric guitars and synth bass, which reinforce aspects of the progression.

Furthermore, the progression lacks a resolution to the key’s major tonic, instead opting to provide a false resolution on the vi chord at the end of each progression, giving the progression a subtle minor quality.

Vocals


Vocal Production

Lead Vocal Gender

Last Night features a solo male lead vocal from Morgan Wallen. In 2022, solo male leads among non-hip hop hits were most common, tied with solo female leads at 38% of songs.

Lead Vocal Gender in Hot 100 Top 10 (Non-Hip Hop Hits): 2018 – 2022

Last Night Lead Vocal Gender

Lead Vocal Delivery

Last Night features a combination of sung and sung/rapped deliveries. While the song’s main “hook centers” (choruses, vocal break post-choruses and outro) are entirely sung, Wallen shifts to a more rap-styled performance in the first stanza of both verses.

Over the past five years, roughly one-fifth to one-third of non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 hits have featured a combination of sung and rap-styled deliveries.

Lead Vocal Delivery in Hot 100 Top 10 (Non-Hip Hop Hits): 2018 – 2022

Last Night Lead Vocal Delivery

Background Vocals

Complementing Wallen’s lead are unison and harmonizing background vocals featured exclusively in the last two choruses, post-choruses and outro. Their addition serves to heighten interest and bolster the impact of the song’s main “hook centers.”

Effects & Processing

Last Night features common hit song vocal processing, employing reverb, compression, and subtle autotune to heighten the effectiveness of the vocal performance.

Vocal Delivery Arrangement Overview

Lead: Male (Morgan Wallen): Morgan Wallen’s lead vocal
BGV 1: Male (Unison Double):
Background vocal doubles in unison with the lead
BGV 2: Male (Lead Harmony):
Background vocals that harmonize with the lead on different pitches

Key

S: Sung
S/R:
Sung/Rapped
BGV:
Background vocals

Vocal Production: Section-By-Section Detail

Key

Header Markings

LEAD: MALE: Morgan Wallen’s lead vocal
BGV 1: UNISON DOUBLE:
Background vocal doubles in unison with the lead
BGV 2: LEAD HARM: Background vocals that harmonize with the lead on different pitches

Vocal Delivery Markings

S: Sung
S/R:
Sung/Rapped
Bolded Lyrics:
Delineates sung/rapped delivery from sung delivery
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.

Chorus 1

Last Night Chorus 1 Vocal Production

Chorus 1 features Morgan Wallen’s solo lead. It is panned up the middle and minimally processed, with slight compression helping to bring out the subtle nuances in his voice. This, along with the inclusion of Wallen’s breaths, creates an intimate vocal performance that effectively serves the lyrics and heightens the listener’s emotional connection to the song.

Verse 1

Verse 1 features highly similar processing as the preceding chorus, which maintains the intimate vibe across sections. However, following the song title hook in line 1, and across lines 2 and 3, Wallen shifts to a more rap-styled delivery that is enhanced through compression to brings out the subtle vocal fry nuance at the end of each line. Along with heightening interest, this delivery shift bolsters the song’s hip hop influence and puts it further in line with Wallen’s overall body of work.

Wallen then reverts to a more melodic, sung delivery for the remainder of the section, which provides a cohesive lead-in to the ensuing chorus. 

Chorus 2

Last Night Chorus 2 Vocal Production

Chorus 2 features the first instance of vocal layering in the song, a unison double that is spread across the stereo field. Along with heightening cross-section and like-section interest, its addition helps to further punctuate Wallen’s lead in the denser instrumental arrangement.

Vocal Break 1

Last Night Vocal Break 1 Vocal Production Table

The first vocal break post-chorus features similar vocal layering and processing as the preceding chorus, along with the addition of a half-note delay that echoes the song title for four beats at the end of each line. This serves two key purposes, including filling the space between song title hook phrases and subtly reinforcing the title with the listener.

Verse 2

Last Night Verse 2 Vocal Production Table

Following the greater degree of vocal production in the chorus and post-chorus, verse 2 strips things back to a level on par with its verse 1 counterpart. This achieves a few things, including heightening like-section familiarity and cross-section interest, bolstering the intimate vibe, and helping to set up the vocally denser chorus 3 for maximum impact.

Chorus 3

Following the stripped-back second verse, the ensuing chorus follows with the densest vocals heard thus far in the song. For the first time, lead-harmonizing background vocals are added to the mix, which serve both to heighten interest and further punctuate them in the dense instrumental arrangement.

Vocal Break 2

Vocal break post-chorus 2 maintains the same core vocal qualities as the preceding chorus, along with the addition of delay. Note this is the same relation as chorus 2 and vocal break post-chorus 1, save for the inclusion of harmony as opposed to just the double.

Outro

Last Night Outro Vocal Production

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

Overview

Last Night possesses all the melodic qualities that one would expect to find in a chart-topping hit. At its core is the K.I.S.S. ME principle (keep it simple, singable and memorable), with logically unfolding melodic patterns, easy-to-lock into rhythms, generally short phrases, and an effective balance between stepwise/stagnant motion and intervallic leaps.

The song unfolds in an engaging manner within and across sections, varying the range, direction, and rhythms to maintain interest while heightening the listener’s emotional connection with the lyrics. This is perhaps most notable in the choruses, with their “up and down a hill” arching melodic progressions.

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. Sub-melodic parts, 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.

Choruses

Overview

The chorus spans an octave, from D#3 to D#4. However, it’s mainly concentrated within a fourth (F#3 to B3), which along with other K.I.S.S. ME qualities (keep it simple, singable and memorable), including primarily eighth-note-driven rhythms, mainly stepwise and stagnant motion, and logically unfolding melodic patterns, makes it easier for the average listener to sing along to and remember.

In addition, the section features an effective balance of repetition and contrast with its overarching b-c-b melodic substructure, with subtle – and not-so-subtle – variations helping to keep things interesting along the way.

However, the section’s core strength is arguably its line-to-line “up and down a hill” arching melodic progressions. Each line starts in a low register followed by a pronounced leap to a pinnacle pitch, before descending once again at the end. This, along with each subsequent line’s higher peak save for the last, takes the listener on emotional journey that deepens their connection with the song.

Melodic Structure Overview & Detail

Chorus Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Last Night Chorus 1 Vocal Melody Graph

Chorus 1 Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Last Night Chorus 1 Vocal Melody Table
Last Night Chorus 1 Sheet Music

Melodic Structure Detail

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

Stanza 1

Lines 1 & 2

Last Night Chorus 1 Lines 1 and 2 Vocal Melody Graph
Last Night Chorus 1 Lines 1 and 2 Sheet Music
Line 1

Part a: Last night
Part b1: We let the liq-uor talk

Last Night’s opening line is composed of subparts a and b1. It’s a highly simple pattern, with the song title segment (part a) centered entirely on the root across two quarter notes, and the “we let the liq-our talk” segment (part b1) featuring a combination of stepwise and stagnant motion across a string of eighth notes.

Together, the line’s simplicity, limited range and centering on the root achieves a few key things at the top of the song:

  • The simplicity allows the listener to easily connect with the all-important lyrical statement.
  • The centering on the root delivers it in a direct, resolute manner.
  • It provides room for melodic development in subsequent lines.
  • The limited range, along with Wallen’s subdued delivery, establishes a downtrodden vibe that sets the tone for the lyrical content that lays ahead.
Line 2

Part b2: I can’t re-mem-ber
Part c1: Ev-‘ry-thing we said
Part b3: But we said it all

Line 2 is composed of subparts b2, c1 and b3. Subpart b2 picks up where b1 left off with a mostly stagnant, root-centric melody that provides cross-line cohesion as the melody progresses.

Subpart c1 then provides an engaging variation with a leap up to scale degree 4, followed by a stepwise descent to scale degree 2. Along with heightening interest against the lower-range a and b melodies that precede it, this leap of a fourth also serves to heighten the section’s emotional impact.

Line 2 concludes with a return to the lower-range b melody (b3), which is an A.M.P. (alternating melodic pattern) across scale degrees 1 and 2, followed by a descent to the tension-heightening scale degree 6 at the end.

Lines 3 & 4

Last Night Chorus 1 Lines 3 and 4 Vocal Melody Graph
Last Night Chorus 1 Lines 3 and 4 Sheet Music
Line 3

Part b2: You told me that you
Part c2: Wish I was some-bod-y
Part b4: You nev-er met

Line 3 is composed of subparts b2, c2 and b4. While the overarching b-c-b melodic pattern serves to heighten familiarity, the subtle – and not-so-subtle – variations keep things interesting as the chorus progresses.

Like line 2 that precedes it, the most notable variation occurs right in the middle of the line in the c melody. Here it initially leaps up a fifth, climbs to a pinnacle pitch on scale degree 6, then drops back down to scale degree 2 at the end. Along with notably heightening interest, this high-range melody takes the chorus’ emotional impact to its apex.

Line 4

Part b2: But ba-by, ba-by
Part c1: Some-thin’s tell-in’ me
Part b3: This ain’t o-ver yet

Line 4 is composed of subparts b2, c1 and b3. It is nearly identical to its line 2 counterpart, save for two subtle melodic variations in the b subparts. The return to this pattern achieves a few key things, including heightening the chorus’ memorability factor, further enabling the line 3 climax to stand out, and setting up the more resolute song title hook that follows at the top of the verse.

Chorus 2 & 3 Variation
Subsequent choruses are melodically highly similar to chorus 1, save for an additional pickup into the opening line, as well as into stanza 2 of chorus 3.

Verses

Overview

Both verse sections span a sixth, feature almost identical melodies, and largely adhere to the K.I.S.S. ME principle. Following the “up and down the hill” arching melodies in the preceding choruses, the first half of each verse largely centers on the tonic with a notably faster sixteenth note-driven rhythm. Along with providing engaging cross-section contrast and heightening excitement, this shift to a sung/rapped hybrid style bolsters the song’s hip hop influence.

The second half of the verses shift to a more restrained eighth-note rhythm, wider-ranging melodies, and an exclusively sung vocal delivery. This both heightens in-section interest and provides a seamless lead in to the chorus.  

Melodic Structure Overview & Detail

Verse 1 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Last Night Verse 1 Vocal Melody Graph

Verse 2 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Last Night Verse 2 Vocal Melody Graph

Chorus Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Last Night Chorus 1 Vocal Melody Graph

Verse 1 Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Last Night Verse 1 Vocal Melody Sheet Music

Verse 2 Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Last Night Verse 2 Vocal Melody Table
Last Night Verse 2 Vocal Melody Sheet Music

Melodic Structure Detail

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

Stanza 1

Lines 1 & 2

Last Night Vocal Melody Graph Verse 1 lines 1 and 2
Last Night Verse 1 Sheet Music Lines 1 and 2
Line 1

Part a1: No way it was our
Part b: Last night
Part c1: I kiss your lips

Line 1 is composed of subparts a1, b and c1. Subparts a1 and b comprise the song title hook, “no way this was our last night,” with a1 beginning a fifth above where the chorus leaves off. This leap, along with the hook’s conclusion on the root in the b melody, both calls attention to the hook and accentuates its emotional impact.

Subpart c1 that follows, “I kiss your lips,” shifts to faster-paced sixteenth notes for the first time in the song across a more stagnant, root-centered melody. This notable changeup serves as the entry point to Wallen’s more overt sung/rapped hybrid delivery style in the subsequent lines.

Line 2

Part c2: Make you grip the sheets
Part c1: With your fin-ger-tips

Line 2 is composed of subparts c2 and c1. Both maintain the fast-paced rhythm established at the end of line 1 with A.M.P. motion that alternates between scale degrees 1 and 6. Along with keeping excitement at a high, which jibes with and accentuates the hookup-themed lyrics, the sung/rapped hybrid delivery imparts an overt hip hop influence for the first time in the song.

Furthermore, note that the strategic interspersion of eighth notes against the sixteenths serves to heighten catchiness, singability and provide subtle segmentation that makes the full line easier to absorb.

Lines 3 & 4

Last Night Verse 1 Lines 3 and 4 Vocal Melody Graph
Last Night Verse 1 Lines 3 and 4 Sheet Music
Line 3

Part c2: Last bot-tle of Jack
Part c1: We split a fifth

Line 3 picks up where line 2 left off, featuring an almost identical fast-paced melody centered on the root across its c2 and c1 subparts.

Line 4

Part c3: Just talk-in’ ‘bout life
Part c4: Go-in’ sip for sip

Line 4 is composed of subparts c3 and c4. While both feature fast-paced rhythms and stagnant melodic patterns that maintain familiarity with the preceding two lines, they descend by alternating stepwise and stagnant motion across a 3-2-1 pattern. This wraps up the unique sung/rapped segment in an easy-to-latch-onto manner before changing up once again in the ensuing stanza.

Stanza 2

Lines 5 – 7

Last Night Verse 1 Lines 5-7 Vocal Melody Graph
Last Night Verse 1 Lines 5-7 Vocal Melody Sheet Music
Line 5

Part d: Yeah you
Part a1: You know you love to fight

Line 5 is composed of subparts d and a1. Subpart d, which is composed of a leaping 6-3 melody with an eighth and quarter note rhythm, provides engaging contrast against the faster-paced, limited range melodies that precede it. This, along with the rests that precede and follow, heightens interest at the top of the second stanza, sets the stage for the subsequent melodic shift, and draws the listener into the new lyrical development.

Subpart a1 follows with a melody that is identical to the song title hook opening line. However, the new lyrics and context presents it in a fresh manner while further reinforcing the melody with the listener.

Line 6

Part a2: And I say sh*t I don’t mean

Line 6 is composed of subpart a2. It is highly similar to its a1 counterpart, save for the 6-3 leap at the beginning (a commonality shared with part d), and its conclusion on the tension-heightening scale degree 6.

Verse 2 Variation
The verse 2 melody is identical to verse 1, save for concluding on scale degree 3 as opposed to 6.

Line 7

Part e1: But I’m still gon’ wake up
Part a3: Want-in’ you and me

Line 7 is composed of subparts e1 and a3. While it maintains cohesion with the preceding lines through its mainly eighth-note rhythm, it differs in terms of its specific melodic patterns. After beginning with the familiar 6-3 leap, the e1 melody further climbs to scale degree 4, followed by a descending, stepwise pattern down to the root. Part a3 concludes the line with a shape that’s similar to the other part a melodies, but resides a third higher on scale degree 2. The line concludes with a downward leap at the end that once again features the tension-heightening sixth scale degree.

Together, the comparatively higher register of these lines concludes the section on an engaging note while accentuating the protagonist’s continued desire for his love interest.

Verse 2 Variation
Verse 2 features a subtle variation from its verse 1 counterpart by omitting the 6-3 leap in the e subpart, instead starting the segment off with a stagnant melody on scale degree 3. 

Vocal Breaks

Overview

The vocal breaks span a sixth and are mainly comprised of stagnant and stepwise motion along with relatively small intervallic leaps. Both lines reinforce the song title hook, with line 1 being most reminiscent of the opening line of the verse, and line 2 recycling the higher-register, varied melody from line 7 of the verse, which heightens its emotional impact and prevents cookie-cutter redundancy. 

Melodic Structure Overview & Detail

Vocal Break Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Last Night Vocal Break

Chorus Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Last Night Chorus 1 Vocal Melody Graph

Verse 1 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Last Night Verse 1 Vocal Melody Graph

Verse 2 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Last Night Vocal Melody Graph Verse 2

Vocal Break Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Last Night Vocal Break Vocal Melody Table
Last Night Vocal Break Vocal Melody Sheet Music

Melodic Structure Detail

Lines 1 & 2

Last Night Vocal Break Lines 1 and 2 Vocal Melody Graph
Line 1

Part a1: No way it was our
Part b: Last night

Line 1 is composed of subparts a1 and b. Both are repetitions of melodies featured in the verse and chorus sections which, along with the lyrics, further reinforce the song title hook with the listener.

Line 2

Part a2: No way it was our
Part b: Last night

Line 2 is composed of subparts a2 and b. Subpart a2 recycles the e1 melody from the verses with an eighth note-driven rhythm (i.e., “I’m still gon’ wake up” in verse 1). Subpart b is identical to its line 1 counterpart save for the fall to scale degree 6. Together, they achieve a few key things, including:

  • Heightening the song’s cross-section cohesion and memorability factors
  • Rhythmically reinforcing the line 1 song title hook, while the melodic variation heightens interest and prevents redundancy.
  • Heightening the song title hook’s emotional impact through its higher register.

Outro

Overview

The outro spans an octave and recycles melodic content from both the chorus and vocal break post-chorus. 

Melodic Structure Overview & Detail

Outro Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Last Night Outro Vocal Melody Graph

Vocal Break Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Last Night Vocal Break Vocal Melody Graph

Chorus Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Last Night Chorus 1 Vocal Melody Graph

Verse 1 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Last Night Vocal Melody Graph Verse 1

Verse 2 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Last Night Verse 2 Vocal Melody Graph

Outro Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Last Night Outro Vocal Melody Table
Last Night Vocal Melody Outro Sheet Music

Melodic Structure Detail

Lines 1 & 2

Last Night Outro Vocal Melody Graph Lines 1 and 2
Last Night Vocal Melody Sheet Music Outro Lines 1 and 2
Line 1

Part a1: I know you said this
Part b1: Time you real-ly weren’t
Part a2: Com-in’ back a-gain

Line 1 is composed of subparts a1, b1 and a2. As a whole it is nearly identical to line 3 from the chorus, heightening melodic memorability while the new lyrics keep things interesting.

Line 2

Part a1: But ba-by, ba-by
Part b2: Some-thin’s tell-in’ me
Part a3: This ain’t o-ver yet

Similar to line 1, line 2 is identical to line 4 in the chorus, along with the lyrics this time around.

Lines 3 & 4

Last Night Outro Vocal Melody Graph Lines 3 and 4
Last Night Vocal Melody Outro Lines 3 and 4 Sheet Music
Line 3

Part c1: No way it was our
Part d: Last night

Line 3 is composed of subparts c1 and d, and is nearly identical to line 1 in the vocal break post-chorus, save for the 1-6 fall on the lyric “night.”

Line 4

Part c2: No way it was our
Part d: Last night

Line 4 is identical to line 2 in the vocal break post-chorus, concluding the song on a familiar and memorable note.

Lyrics & Rhymes


Rhyme Schemes

Overview

Last Night features an abundance of expertly crafted rhymes and other connection accentuators that bolster the song’s ability to get firmly ingrained in the listener’s head. 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. In addition, mirroring between the end-of-line rhyme scheme, melodic structure and syllabic structure in certain sections further heightens cohesion and connection value.

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

Key

A, B & C: End-of-line Rhymes
X: Non-rhymes
Lyrics: The primary rhyme at the end of each line
Colors and rhyme schemes are unique to each section

Last Night Rhymes Overview Table

Rhymes: Section-By-Section

Key

A, B & C: End-of-line rhymes
X: Non-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.

Choruses 1 & 2

Last Night Rhymes Choruses 1 and 2

End-Of-Line Rhymes

Chorus 1 is composed of one, four-line stanza that follows an AABB rhyme scheme. The A scheme features the “AH”-sounding commonality in the lyrics “talk” and “all,” and the B scheme features the “EH”-sounding commonality in the lyrics “met” and “yet.”

Internal Rhymes, Alliteration & Other Connection Accentuators

In addition to its end-of-line rhymes, chorus 1 features a host of other connection accentuators, with some of the most notable being:

  • The “EE”-sounding rhyme (shown in yellow), which is present in each line in the lyrics “we,” “me,” “some-bod-Y,” and ba-BY.”
  • The “IH”-sounding rhyme (shown in pink), which appears at nearly the same spot into lines 1, 3 and 4 (six to seven syllables in).
  • The “ER”-sounding rhyme (shown in green), which both creates a double rhyme at the end of lines 3 and 4 (“nev-ER met,” “o-VER yet”) and provides additional connection with lines 1 and 2.
  • Lyrical repetition in the lyrics “we said” in line 2 and “baby, baby” in line 4.
  • The use of alliteration, most notably in the super-alliterative “but ba-by, ba-by."

Chorus 2 Variation

Chorus 2 features the same lyrics as chorus 1 save for the addition of the pickup lyric “I know that.” The additional “EYE” commonality heightens the connection value of lines 1 and 2.

Chorus 3

Last Night Rhymes Chorus 3

Chorus 3, which uniquely consists of two lyrical stanzas as opposed to one, also features some unique lyrical changeups that affect the rhyme scheme:

  • Line 1 begins with the lyric “oh ba-by,” a commonality shared with the beginning of lines 4 and 8. 
  • The lyrical changeups in line 5 create additional alliteration while maintaining familiarity with its line 1 counterpart (“we said” / “we let”).
  • The lyrical changeup from “all” at the end of line 2 to “much” at the end of line 6 creates the new, interest-heightening C end-of-line rhyme with “e-NOUGH” in the line that precedes it while maintaining the same paired line flow throughout the section (i.e., AA-BB-CC-BB).
  • Line 7, which is the most lyrically varied line in the section, features both in-line and cross-line rhymes and two instances of alliteration. 

Verse 1

Last Night Verse 1 Rhymes

End-Of-Line Rhymes
Verse 1 is composed of two stanzas that follow an AAAA/XBB end-of-line rhyme scheme. The A scheme features the “IH”-sounding commonality in the lyrics “lips,” “fin-ger-TIPS,” “fifth,” and “sip,” and the B scheme features the “EE”-sounding commonality in the lyrics “mean” and “me.”

Line 5 at the top of the second stanza is unique in that it does not share an end-of-line rhyme with the other lines in the section. This, along with the shift to the B scheme in the lines that follow, correlates with the stanza’s melodic shift to notably heighten interest.

Internal Rhymes, Alliteration & Other Connection Accentuators
In addition to its end-of-line rhymes, verse 1 features a host of other connection accentuators, including:

  • The “IH”-sounding rhyme (shown in red), which in addition to serving as an end-of-line rhyme in stanza 1 is also featured internally in every line save for line 5. Note that the “IH” rhyme is also featured in three of the four lines in the preceding chorus, further bolstering cross-section cohesion.
  • The “EYE”-sounding rhyme (shown in orange) in lines 1, 4, 5, 6, and 7, which heightens the connectability of stanza 2 and rhymingly reinforces a fragment of the line 1 song title, “night.”
  • The similarly placed “OH”-sounding rhymes (shown in green), which further reinforces stanza 2 against the melodic changeups along with bridging the two stanzas together in conjunction with the “EYE” rhyme (lines 4 and 5).
  • The altered pronunciation of the lyrics “your,” “you,” “to,” “fin-ger” and “for” (shown in pink) as “UH” (i.e., “yUH,” "fUH,” etc.) to bolster connection value and cohesion along with the “of” and “a” lyrics. 
  • The double and triple lines that bolster end-of-line connection value in the first stanza (“kiss your lips,” “-ger tips,” “split a fifth,” “sip for sip”).
  • Alliteration and repetitive lyrics in the second stanza, which are most notable in line 5 to bolster connectivity despite the lack of an end-of-line rhyme. Furthermore, the alliteration in line 1 makes the song title hook easier to connect with and remember (“no way it was”), while the repetition of the lyric “last” in line 3 further reinforces the first lyric in the song title. 

Verse 2

Last Night Verse 2 Rhymes

End-Of-Line Rhymes
Similar to its verse 1 occurrence counterpart, verse 2 is composed of two stanzas that follow an AAAA/XBB end-of-line rhyme scheme, which creates structural familiarity between the two like-sections.

However, the sound of the end-of-line rhyme is changed to keep things interesting as the song progresses. Instead of the “IH” and “EE”-sounding rhymes in verse 1, verse 2 features the “UH” and “EHL”-sounding rhymes in the lyrics “up,” “dust,” “bluff,” “hell” and “else.”

Internal Rhymes, Alliteration & Other Connection Accentuators
In addition to the end-of-line rhymes, the second verse also features a number of other connection accentuators, including:

  • The “UH”-sounding rhyme (shown in red), which in addition to serving as an end-of-line rhyme in stanza 1 is featured internally in every line save for line 5 and creates back-to-back double and triple rhymes in lines 2, 3 and 7. Furthermore, note that the “UH” rhyme was featured as the second-to-last syllable in the first stanza of verse 1, where it created a double end-of-line rhyme with the “IH” rhyme that followed, subtly heightening like-section cohesion.
  • The similarly placed “EYE” sounding rhyme (shown in yellow) across the first stanza (“nights,” “light,” “I,” “lights”). Also like verse 1, this rhyme commonality between lines 4 and 5 serves to bridge the two diverse stanzas. 
  • The use of alliteration and repetitive lyrics in lines 1, 3, 5 and 6. 

Vocal Break Post-Choruses 1 & 2

Last Night Vocal Break Rhymes

The vocal break post-chorus features the repetition of the song title hook. Further bolstering its connection value is the alliteration in “way it was,” as well as the exact mirroring between the rhyme scheme, main melodic structure and syllable structure, which makes the section even easier to connect with and remember.

Outro

Last Night Outro Rhymes

Save for line 1, the outro recycles lyrical content from the chorus (line 2) and post-chorus and verses (lines 3 and 4). It is composed of one, four-line stanza that follows an AABB rhyme scheme, with the A scheme featuring the “EH”-sounding commonality in the lyrics “a-GAIN” and “yet,” and the B scheme featuring the “EYE”-sounding commonality through the repeated lyric “night.”

As is the case elsewhere in the song, the ample use of internal rhymes, alliteration and repetitive lyrics, along with the exact mirroring between the rhyme scheme, main melodic structure and syllable structure, helps to ensure that the song firmly sticks in the listener’s head as it draws to a close. 

Narrative

Overview

Last Night is a love/relationships-themed song about a toxic, on-again/off-again relationship and the main character’s feeling, and hope, that it won’t end. The relatable, mainly universal subject matter is conveyed in an easy-to-grasp manner using an effective combination of A.I.D.E. principle components (action, imagery, detail devices, emotion) and a balance of common and clever lyricism. The story unfolds logically within and across sections, with all developments relating to one another while providing the story with additional depth and engagement value.

Among the song’s atypical and clever aspects that bolster its impact are the atypical kickoff chorus, which provides the summation before the backstory and further piques the listener’s curiosity to find out more; the song title hook that simultaneously concludes and begins sections; and conveying sexual content in a PG manner that foregoes the need for an airplay edit.

In addition, the overarching relationship/drinking scenario jibes with Wallen’s overall body of work, defining the narratives of notable hits such as You Proof, One Thing At A Time and others. 

Lyrical Theme Trends

Love/relationships has consistently been the most popular lyrical theme among non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 hits, accounting for three-quarters of songs or more over the past five years.

Love/Relationships Lyrical Theme in Hot 100 Top 10 (Non-Hip Hop Hits): 2018 – 2022

Last Night Lyrical Theme Trends

Narrative Flow: At-A-Glance

Last Night Narrative Flow
  • Chorus 1: Establishes a problematic relationship between the two main characters and the protagonist’s (Wallen’s) inclination that it isn’t the end.
  • Verse 1: Stanza 1 focuses on the positive romantic and platonic qualities of the relationship; stanza 2 focuses on the negative qualities of the relationship and Wallen’s continued desire for his love interest.
  • Chorus 2: Reiteration of chorus 1 in a summative manner.
  • Vocal Break Post-Chorus 1: Reiterates the summative song title hook
  • Verse 2: Stanza 1 focuses on the breakup and the implied reconciliation between the two characters; stanza 2 introduces a third party’s (friends) negative take on the relationship, and Wallen’s continued desire for his love interest.
  • Chorus 3: Stanza 1 repeats the chorus 1 and 2 lyrics; stanza 2 reiterates the main summation while further summarizing the verse 2 developments.
  • Vocal Break Post-Chorus 2: Repetition of the song title hook summation.
  • Outro: Combines the summative statements from the chorus and post-chorus.

Key

Pers. (Perspective): The character whose perspective is reflected in each line (him, her, both)
Tone: The tone of the line, either positive (P) or negative (N)
Parentheses: The tone or A.I.D.E. component is implied and/or relates to the preceding line
A.I.D.E. Table: Reflects the type of lyricism being used in each line (action, imagery, detail devices, emotion) and whether the lyric is common or clever. 

  • Action: Describes a past, present or future physical action.
  • Imagery: Describing something or someone that conjures up an image.
  • Detail Devices: Enhancing the lyrics through notable descriptive adjectives, adverbs, idioms, metaphors and similes.
  • Emotion: Lyrics that describe the way someone feels or elicit a feeling

Choruses

Chorus 1

Last Night Chorus 1 Narrative Table
Last Night Chorus AIDE  Table

Narrative Overview
Last Night atypically kicks off with the chorus, which both establishes and summarizes a toxic, love/hate, on again/off again relationship between the two main characters.

Structurally, the section unfolds in a logical, easy-to-follow manner. The first two lines set the scene of a past negative event (last night) between the two characters. Lines 3 and 4 then get more specific, providing insight into each character’s negative and positive outlook on the situation and overall relationship.

Bolstering the narrative’s impact is its lyricism. Each line is rooted in emotion (both implied and direct), with the incorporation of action and a combination of common and clever lyricism helping to deliver the story in a compelling and engaging manner.

Narrative Detail
Lines 1 & 2

  • The song’s opening line draws the listener in with the intriguing, generalized statement, “last night we let the liquor talk.” Along with hitting the listener with the song title right from the get-go, it piques their curiosity to find out what happened between the two characters. While the line isn’t inherently positive or negative at face value, it has an implied negative connotation within the context of the story that is bolstered by Wallen’s vocal performance. 
  • Line 2 develops over line 1, detailing that both characters said what was on their minds after a night of drinking. Note that the lyric “I can’t remember everything we said” is a notably more impactful way to communicate the scenario as opposed to outright telling the listener that they got drunk. 

Lines 3 & 4

  • Line 3 heightens interest by delving deeper into the situation, expressing the negative sentiment of Wallen’s love interest that she likely wants nothing to do with him anymore.
  • Line 4 follows with a shift to Wallen’s perspective, detailing his hopeful, positive outlook on the situation with the “down below” summative standout lyrical statement, “but baby, baby somethin’s tellin’ me this ain’t over yet.” Along with setting up the song title hook that follows in the ensuing verse, this statement also piques the listener’s curiosity to find out WHY the protagonist has this hopeful view despite his love interest’s negative outlook conveyed in the preceding line. 

Chorus 2 Development
Chorus 2 is lyrically the same as chorus 1 save for the additional pickup lyric, “I know that.” Its addition was necessary to help bridge the section with the preceding verse and provide a seamless transition between sections. Furthermore, as opposed to piquing the listener’s curiosity to find out more, here the lyrics summarize why his love interest doesn’t want to be with him and why he thinks that the relationship isn’t over despite this.

Chorus 3 Development
Chorus 3 uniquely features two stanzas as opposed to one. Stanza 1 is the same as the other choruses save for the pickup, allowing the listener to easily connect through the familiarity imparted while bolstering the memorability of the song’s main “hook center.” Stanza 2, however, introduces new lyrical content alongside recycled content from stanza 1, which further heightens interest and prevents redundancy. While this is quite atypical for a hit song (most hit song choruses feature the same lyrics between iterations), these new lyrics remain in line with the overarching story and summarizing the developments brought to light in the preceding verse.

  • Line 1: A unique pickup for the same reasons as the pickup added to chorus 2
  • Line 5: The lyrics “we said we had enough” replace the stanza 1 lyrics “we let the liquor talk.” Note that this ties in with and summarizes the breakup development that precedes it in the second verse. 
  • Line 6: The lyrics “but we said too much” replace the stanza 1 lyrics “but we said it all.” This adds heightened dimension to the lyric’s stanza 1 counterpart while remaining in line with the overarching connotation.
  • Line 7: This unique line functions to further accentuate the breakup development that transpired in the preceding verse while setting up the definitive statement “but baby somethin’s tellin’ me this ain’t over yet” that follows.

Yellow highlight: New lyrics featured in chorus 3

Vocal Break Post-Choruses

Last Night Vocal Break Narrative Table
Last Night Vocal Break AIDE Table

Following choruses 2 and 3, the ensuing vocal break post-choruses reiterate the song title hook featured at the top of both verse sections, minus any additional information (i.e., “I kiss your lips,” “we break up”). Note that the statement has two different emotional implications, depending on the interpretation by the listener:

  • The protagonist’s optimism that it was not their last night together.
  • The protagonist’s fear and disbelief that it was their last night together.

Verse 1

Last Night Verse 1 Narrative
Last Night Verse 1 AIDE Table

Narrative Overview
With the listener’s curiosity now piqued following the kickoff chorus, verse 1 provides additional detail both into the evening at hand and the overarching relationship between the two characters.

Stanza 1 provides narrative continuity coming out of the chorus by further elaborating on the events that transpired “last night” between the two characters. However, the tone is now positive, building off and substantiating Wallen’s hopeful outlook as conveyed at the end of the chorus. Stanza 2 then shifts back into negative territory, detailing the problematic qualities of each individual character before concluding with the protagonist’s continued desire for his love interest.

In terms of the section’s lyricism, it is mainly conveyed in a common, easy-to-grasp manner along with a clever, “under-the-radar” allusion to sex in line 2 (see below for details). Like the chorus, each line centers on emotion – direct or implied, and includes the use of action and the first instances of imagery to further bolster the narrative’s impact.

Narrative Detail
Stanza 1
Stanza 1 provides insight into the night’s, and the relationship’s, positive qualities. Note that this development is important to establish why the protagonist assumes, and hopes, that this wasn’t their “last night” together.

  • Lines 1 and 2 illustrate the passion between the two characters. Line 1 begins with the song title hook, “no way it was our last night,” which essentially pulls double duty by reiterating the closing statement at the end of the preceding chorus, “but baby, baby somethin’s tellin’ me this ain’t over yet,” and conveying the protagonist’s conviction that it won’t be their last night together. Note that line 2’s “make you grip the sheets with your fingertips” is a clever, impactful, and PG way of communicating that it’s a sexual relationship, which does away with the need for an airplay edit. This was similarly done in The Chainsmokers’ hit, Closer, which features the lyric “pull the sheets right off the corner of that mattress that you stole.”
  • Lines 3 and 4 illustrate the platonic, friendship side of the relationship, depicting the characters hanging out and talking about life while they drink. However, note that while the tone of these lines is seemingly positive, it also sets the scene for the impending negative outcome in the ensuing lines, likely a result of them drinking too much. Furthermore, line 3 features the only specific lyric in the song, “bottle of Jack [Daniels].” Note that this is a commonality shared with Wallen’s other Hot 100 Top 10 hit, You Proof, which features the clever lyric, “I’ve been throwin’ down the whiskey…but it ain’t doing jack.

Stanza 2
Stanza 2 heightens interest by shifting into the problematic dynamic between the two characters. Bridging both disparate stanzas is the line 4 lyric, “goin’ sip for sip.” While its connotation is positive in the first stanza, it also serves as the likely catalyst for things going south between the two characters in stanza 2.

  • Line 5 brings the focus back to Wallen’s love interest, depicting her “loving to fight,” which is followed by Wallen’s declaration in line 6, “and I say sh*t I don’t mean.” His line is particularly important because it both illustrates that whatever “sh*t” he says is not the true way he feels (leading to why he still wants to be with her), and that it is a likely reason for why they fight in the first place. 
  • Closing out the section is Wallen’s line 7 statement “but I’m still gon’ wake up wantin’ you and me,” which logically flows out of the line 6 development. This echoes, and further reinforces, his positive, hopeful sentiment expressed at the end of the chorus and at the top of the verse.

Verse 2

Last Night Verse 2 Narrative Table
Last Night Verse 2 AIDE Table

Narrative Overview
Verse 2 logically develops over its verse 1 counterpart by expounding on “last night’s” scene – namely the breakup, and the return, of Wallen’s love interest, as well as their friends’ negative views on the relationship.

Stanza 1 depicts the breakup and implied reconciliation, focusing on both characters. Note that while the lyrics pertain to “last night’s” events, it also alludes to the fact that this scenario has transpired before. This further lends credence to why Wallen thinks that the relationship will likely continue.

Stanza 2 initially shifts focus to each character’s friends and their respective disapproval of the relationship. This both provides the story with heightened dimension and prevents the him/her dynamic from becoming overly redundant. The section then concludes in a similar manner as the other sections, with a positive outlook on the part of the protagonist.

Narrative Detail
Stanza 1

  • As previously mentioned, line 1 introduces the idea that “last night’s” breakup has occurred before. Lines 2, 3 and 4 go on to detail the scenario of the love interest driving away and returning shortly thereafter back to Wallen. Note that the groundwork for Wallen’s “calling her bluff” was established in the stanza’s opening line. Together, these lines confirm the on again/off again dynamic between the two characters, and the reason for Wallen’s hopeful view. Furthermore, note that the lyric “I see your taillights in the dust” is a much more impactful way of stating “you’re leaving me,” and further paints the picture of the scene at hand. 

Stanza 2

  • Lines 5 and 6 provide insight into the negative views of each character’s friends, adding interest and emotional dimension through the introduction of outside characters. Furthermore, this bolsters the story’s relatability, since most people who have been in a relationship have had a friend’s input, which they either valued or disavowed.
  • Line 7 concludes the section on a positive note similar to the other sections, despite the negatives that precede it. However, in contrast, here we get further insight into the awareness Wallen has towards the toxicity of the relationship, emphasizing the idea that this type of fighting has occurred before and will occur again while the two stay together. 

Outro

Last Night Outro Narrative Table
Last Night Outro AIDE Table

The outro recycles lyrical content from the chorus and vocal break post-chorus sections, save for line 1’s additional insight into the relationship. “I know you said this time you really weren’t comin’ back again” further expounds on the idea that their relationship is tumultuous, and gives additional merit to Wallen’s claims that “somethin’s tellin’ me this ain’t over yet.” The section then concludes with a repetition of the ambiguous song title hook, leaving the listener wondering if their story is truly over, or if the cycle of loving and fighting will continue.

Song Title

Clever/Powerful or Universal/Generic

Song titles fall on a spectrum ranging from unique, clever, attention-grabbing and/or powerful (e.g., Karma, Kill Bill, and Rock and A Hard Place) to those that possess more of a universal/generic quality (e.g., Hold Me Closer, Like Crazy, Thinkin’ Bout Me).

While Last Night lyrically falls on the universal/generic end of the spectrum, its past-tense, open-ended connotation piques the listener’s curiosity to find out just what happened
“last night.”

Song Title Word Count

Two-worded song titles have consistently been among the top 3 most popular over the past five years, accounting for just over one-quarter of songs in 2022. Other notable, diverse recent #1s that contain two words in their title are Taylor Swift’s Anti-Hero, Glass Animals’ Heat Waves, and Steve Lacy’s Bad Habit, among others.

Song Title Word Count: Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits (2018 – 2022)

Last Night-Song Title Word Count

Song Title Appearances and Placement

The title “last night” is featured 12 times in the song, appearing in the choruses, verses, vocal break post-choruses and outro. The 11-15 song title appearance range has varied in popularity over the past five years, trailing behind the 1-5 and 6-10 appearance ranges at 17% of non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 hits in 2022.

Song Title Appearances: Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits (2018 – 2022)

Last Night-Song Title Appearances

Song Title Placement: Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits (2018 – 2022)

Last Night-Song Title Placement

Song Title Connotation & Accentuation

The song title Last Night is featured in a multitude of contexts throughout the song, ensuring that it gets firmly ingrained in the listener’s head without becoming overly redundant. Furthermore, its “up top” and “down below” placement bolsters its visibility and ability to connect:

  • Choruses 1 and 2: Featured in the impactful opening line, “(I know that) last night we let the liquor talk.”
  • Chorus 3: Featured both at the top of both stanzas: “oh baby last night we let the liquor talk” and as part of the lyrically developed song title hook, “no way it was our last night (we said we had enough).”
  • Vocal break post-choruses and outro: Featured 2x back-to-back as part of the proper song title hook, “no way it was our last night.”
  • Verses 1 & 2: Featured as part of the lyrically developed song title hooks, “no way it was our last night (I kiss your lips) / (that we break up),” respectively. 

Word Cloud

Benchmark


This section spotlights Last Night’s familiarity and standout factors relative to the Hot 100 Top 10, both as a whole and independently of the hip hop genre specifically, in the quarter before the song entered the Hot 100 Top 10 (Q4 2022). The familiarity factors enable Last Night to connect with a mainstream audience more easily, while the more atypical factors help it to stand out from the pack.

Of the categories benchmarked in the table below, Last Night is in line with 67% of the top characteristics in the overall Hot 100 Top 10 and 58% in non-hip hop hits specifically.  

Last Night Benchmark

“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 Last Night’s ability to easily connect with mainstream audiences include its K.I.S.S. ME melodies (Keep It Simple, Singable and Memorable), catchy hooks, plethora of strategically placed rhymes, and relatable subject matter.

Conversely, a few notable places where the song stood out is its country primary genre (relative to the overall Hot 100 Top 10), lack of prominent drums, having its chorus precede the first verse, the inclusion of a double-length third chorus “D” section with unique lyrics, and its clever lyrical transitions between the chorus and verse (see the narrative section for details).  

Back to Top

Flowers Deconstructed

Yael Template Test
Flowers Deconstructed

Miley Cyrus

Flowers is the lead single from Miley Cyrus’s eighth album, Endless Summer Vacation (2023). Co-written by Cyrus, ALDAE and Michael Pollack and produced by Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson, the song is the second Hot 100 number one of Cyrus’ career, preceded by Wrecking Ball a decade earlier.

Flowers’ overarching strength is that each component effectively serves the song, the artist and the marketplace, otherwise known as Hit Songs Deconstructed’s S.A.M. principle. In terms of the song, it possesses all the qualities that one would expect to find in a massive hit. Among them are K.I.S.S. ME melodies (keep it simple, singable and memorable), catchy hooks, familiar, easy-to-follow structure, relatable love-lost and empowerment-themed lyrics, and effective prosody between the elements to create a unified vibe and elicit a strong emotional bond with the listener.

Equally important is that all elements personally serve Cyrus while contributing to her overall body of work. Lyrically, the song alludes to Cyrus’ failed marriage to Liam Hemsworth and her ability to emerge self-loving and self-empowered. Along with creating intrigue for her fans, her personal connection with the subject matter heightens her ability to deliver the song in a compelling and believable manner. Furthermore, the song’s blend of pop, dance and subtle rock influences create familiarity within her overall body of work, while its overt 1970s disco influence keeps things fresh and engaging.

While songs with a 1970s disco influence have been few and far between in the top 10, generally heard in under 10% of songs over the past decade, there have been some recent notable hits that featured the influence and helped pave the way for Flowers, including Lizzo’s #1 smash About Damn Time and Elton John’s collaborations with Britney Spears and Dua Lipa on Hold Me Closer and Cold Heart (PNAU Remix), respectively. Also helping Flowers stand out from the pack is its atypical underlying early/mid-1970s soft rock influence, which is mainly put into effect by the flange timbres of the keys and guitars.

All in all, Flowers’ ability to connect on such a wide and profound scale is a testament to the song’s writers and producers. Since its release, the song has hit the Top 10 on over 75 charts throughout the world and peaked at #1 on close to 50.

In this report, we take a deep dive into the song’s structure, dynamics, influences, instrumentation, harmony, rhyme schemes, vocal production, vocal melody, hooks, narrative, and more.

At-A-Glance


Artist: Miley Cyrus
Song: Flowers
Songwriters: ALDAE, Michael Pollack, Miley Cyrus
Producers: Kid Harpoon, Tyler Johnson
Mastering Engineer: Randy Merrill
Mixer: Mark "Spike" Stent
Record Label: Columbia
Primary Genre: Pop
Influences: Retro (1970s), Dance/Club, Disco, Funk, Pop, Rock
Length: 3:15
Form: I-A-PC-B-VB-A-PC-B-VB-PC-B-O
Key: A Minor
Tempo: 118 BPM
First Chorus: 0:33 / 17% of the way into the song
Intro Length: 0:14
Electronic vs. Acoustic Instrumentation: Electronic/Acoustic Combo
Prominent Instruments: Bass (Electric), Drums/Percussion (Acoustic/Electronic Combo), Guitar (Electric), Piano (Electric), Sound Effects, Strings (String Section)
Primary Lyrical Themes: Inspiration/Empowerment, Love/Relationships
Title Appearances: Flowers appears 3 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.

Overview, Highlights & Takeaways


Hooks

I = Intro | A = Verse | PC = Pre-Chorus | B = Chorus | VB = Vocal Break | PST = Post-Chorus | “D” = Departure | = Outro
Number: Denotes the number of times that a particular hook/motif appears within a section

Vocal Hooks

“Up Top” Song Title Hook & Melodic Reinforcement

“I can buy myself flowers” is introduced right at the top of the chorus and is melodically, lyrically and instrumentally set up in the pre-chorus that precedes it. The hook is mainly comprised of a steady eighth-note rhythm that descends from scale degree 5 to 3 before leaping back up to 5-6 on the song title, “flowers.” This leap, along with Cyrus’ sustained delivery on the “-ers” syllable, enables the hook to further stand out while heightening its empowering emotional impact with the listener.

The full hook is then subsequently reinforced in line 3 of the chorus with the lyric, “talk to myself for hou-rs” (note that “hours” is delivered in a two-syllable manner to bolster the rhyme connection with “flow-ers”).

Flowers-Up Top Hook
Flowers-Up Top Hook Reinforcement

“Down Below” Standout Statement

While the song title hook, “I can buy myself flowers,” puts the self-love and empowerment theme of the chorus into effect, it’s the down below standout statement, “yeah, I can love me better than you can,” that serves as the definitive summative payoff at the end of the section, tying it all together.

Note that while there is a melodic leap from the 1st to the 5th scale degree on the empowering lyric “me,” the hook generally features a downward trajectory that cleverly conveys Cyrus’ dismay, despite the self-empowerment that she feels. The syncopated rhythms further compliment this, calling attention to the empowering statement and melodically setting up the more vibrant vocal break post-chorus melody that follows.

Flowers-Down Below Hook

“Say It Again” Standout Statement

Following the descent down to the root on the “yeah, I can love me better than you can” summative standout statement at the end of the chorus, the vocal break post-chorus initially leaps back up to the fifth scale degree on the lyric, “can love me better, I can love me better, baby.” Slightly modified from the chorus, most notably with the omission of the lyric “you,” this empowering hook, which is delivered in a focused, resolute manner, drives home the additional summative statement in a compelling manner.

Further bolstering its impact is the climb up to the all-important lyric, “I,” which is segmented from the surrounding melodies by two eighth-rests that call further attention to it, as well as its “say it again” repetition.

Flowers-Say It Again Hook

Instrumental Hooks

Bass Foundational Hook

Flowers’ sole instrumental hook is a foundational hook delivered by the bass. While it is featured in some degree of prominence in every section of the song save for the pre-chorus 3 “D” section, it is most notable in the choruses. Here, it’s featured most prominently in the mix and possesses its tightest, funkiest qualities. Further bolstering its ability to stand out is the doubling by the electric guitar, which punctuates its presence in the mix.

Call & Response Nano Hook

Verse 2 features a unique call-and-response between the descending 3-2-1 vocal pattern on the lyrics “no remorse, no regret” and bright lead synth that follows. While subtle, this nano hook provides the second verse with a catchy embellishment while providing like-section contrast against its verse 1 counterpart.

Motifs

Subtly bolstering memorability and familiarity throughout the song are two highly similar stepwise, descending vocal motifs, one following a 3-2-1 pattern, and the other following a 5-4-3 pattern. These motifs are almost always heard in groups of eighth notes, which further heightens familiarity.

The 3-2-1 motif is initially heard in the first verse, pulling the listener into the negatively reminiscent lyrics with a minor descending pattern. It is then reinforced in the second verse, heightening like-section cohesion.

The 5-4-3 motif is first heard in the chorus and is present in a variety of melodies to heighten cohesion across the melodically varied section. It is further reinforced at the tail end of the vocal break post-chorus sections, subtly heightening cross-section melodic familiarity. Furthermore, it is present in each of the main vocal hooks, providing a subtly cohesive thread across each of these highly recognizable melodies.

3-2-1 Motif: Verses

Flowers-3-2-1 Motif

5-4-3 Motif: Chorus

Flowers-Chorus 5-4-3 Motif

5-4-3 Motif: Vocal Break 1

Structure: Overview

Genres & Influences: Overview

Flowers features an engaging blend of retro 1970s, pop, dance/disco, soft rock and funk influences that shape its sound and vibe. Together, they create a throwback-inspired hit that is still relevant to modern ears.

Key

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

Flowers-Genres-Influences-Table

Instrumentation & Arrangement: Overview

Flowers features an expertly crafted instrumental arrangement that keeps the listener engaged from start to finish. Among its most notable qualities are its effective fusion of current and classic 1970s-influenced timbres, balance of like-section and cross-section continuity and developments, and an infectious disco/funk-influenced groove that keeps the listener locked in and dancing throughout much of the song.

In addition, all of the mix elements work in perfect tandem with the vocals and lyrics to achieve prosody and bolster the song’s emotional connection with the listener, while also balancing familiarity and pushing the boundaries within Cyrus’ Hot 100 Top 10 body of work. 

Flowers-Arrangement

Energy: Overview

Flowers’ energy flow features both commonalities and differences compared to many of its mainstream contemporaries. On the common side is its progression through three energy level “waves,” with each progressing from low to high with peaks in the choruses and post-choruses, subsequent waves featuring a higher overall energy than the preceding waves, and notable energy lulls in both the intro and pre-chorus 3 “D” sections.

 
However, Flowers also goes against the grain in terms of its cross-section S.I.A.s (sectional impact accentuator) techniques, specifically leading into each chorus. While they all begin in a commonplace manner with a partial accompaniment pull at the end of the pre-chorus along with an accompanying riser or fill, each chorus features an additional full accompaniment pull in its first beat, creating a notable off-kilter moment. While highly atypical, this technique effectively serves to heighten the listener’s engagement at the transition point and further bolster the impact of the dense, driving groove that follows.

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
Upward Green S.I.A.:
The accompaniment creates a brief rise in energy

Flowers-Energy Graph

Harmony: Overview

Flowers uses one main chord progression with 5 subtle variations.

Progression 1

Progression 1: Variation 1a (Verses, Outro)

Am – Dm – G7 – C

Progression 1: Variation 1b (Choruses, Outro)

Am – Dm – G – C – G/B

Progression 1: Variation 2 (Pre-Choruses)

Am – Dm – E7

Progression 1: Variation 3a (Choruses 1 and 2)

Am – Dm – G – C – G/B – F – E

Progression 1: Variation 3b (Chorus 3)

Am – Dm – G – C – G/B – F – E – F – E

Vocal Production: Overview

Lead Vocal Gender

Flowers features a solo female lead vocal from Miley Cyrus. In 2022, solo female leads among non-hip hop hits skyrocketed to their highest level in over a decade, accounting for 40% of songs.

Lead Vocal Gender in Hot 100 Top 10 (Non-Hip Hop Hits): 2018 – 2022

Lead Vocal Gender 2018-2022

Lead Vocal Delivery

Flowers features an entirely sung lead vocal delivery from Cyrus. Not surprisingly, this has consistently been the most popular lead vocal quality among non-hip hop hits year over year.

Lead Vocal Delivery in Hot 100 Top 10 (Non-Hip Hop Hits): 2018 – 2022

Lead Vocal Delivery 2018-2022

Background Vocals

In addition to Cyrus’ lead, Flowers features an assortment of background vocals that serve to heighten interest, catchiness and vibe over the course of the song. Among them are lead-complimenting unisons, harmonies and octave doubles, as well as engaging independent of the lead background vocals.

Effects & Processing

Flowers features common hit song vocal processing, employing reverb, compression, autotune, saturation and background vocal chorus-like processing to heighten the effectiveness of the vocal performances while contributing to the song’s vibe.

Vocal Delivery Arrangement Overview

Lead: Female (Miley Cyrus): Miley Cyrus’ 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 above the lead
BGV 3: Female (Lead High Harmony): Background vocals that harmonize above the lead on different pitches
BGV 4: Female (Lead Low Harmony): Background vocals that harmonize with the lead on different pitches
BGV 5: Female (Independent): Background vocals featured independently from the lead

Key

S: Sung
BGV: Background vocal

Flowers-Vocal Production-Overview

Vocal Melody: Overview

Flowers possesses all of the melodic qualities that one would expect to find in a chart-topping pop hit. At its core is the K.I.S.S. ME principle (keep it simple, singable and memorable), with logically unfolding melodic patterns, easy-to-lock into rhythms, short phrases, and an effective balance between stepwise/stagnant motion and intervallic leaps.

The song unfolds in an engaging manner, varying the range, direction and rhythms across sections to heighten interest and enhance the listener’s emotional connection with the lyrics. Balancing this are like-section melodic commonalities and recurring motifs, the latter making the song more cohesive and memorable in an under-the-radar manner that the listener most likely will not even realize.

Sectional Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

VERSE 1

Flowers-Vocal Melody Table-Verse 1

VERSE 2

Flowers-Vocal Melody Table-Verse 2

PRE-CHORUS 1

Flowers-Vocal Melody Table-Pre Chorus 1

CHORUS 1

Flowers-Vocal Melody Table-Chorus 1

VOCAL BREAK POST-CHORUS 1

Flowers-Vocal Melody Table-Vocal Break Post Chorus 1

Sectional Melodic Flow: At-A-Glance

VERSE 1

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Verse 1

VERSE 2

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Verse 2

PRE-CHORUS 1

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Pre Chorus 1

CHORUS 1

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Chorus 1

VOCAL BREAK POST-CHORUS 1

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Vocal Break Post Chorus 1

OUTRO

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Outro

Rhymes: Overview

Flowers features an abundance of expertly crafted rhymes and other connection accentuators to ensure the song gets firmly ingrained in the listener’s head. Among them are logically unfolding end-of-line rhyme schemes, and a plethora of strategically placed internal rhymes, double rhymes, alliterations, and lyrical repetitions. In addition, the end-of-line rhyme scheme mirrors the main melodic structure in certain sections to heighten connection value, and serves as a cohesive thread in others to balance cross-line melodic variation.

Key

A & B: End-of-line rhymes
X:
Non-rhymes
Lyrics:
The primary rhyme at the end of each line
Colors and rhyme schemes are unique to each section

"EYE" Rhyme Focus

Flowers’ lyrical focus is not on the song title, but on the “EYE”-sounding singular pronouns “I” and “my.” They are strategically woven into the fabric of the song in the following sections:

  • Verse 1: The rhyme is present in the lyrics, “kind” and “right,” with no mention of the “I” and “my” pronouns. Note that this is warranted since the focus of the story is still on “we” (i.e., documenting the relationship’s backstory) and not yet exclusively on the protagonist.
  • Pre-Chorus: The “I” pronoun is now included alongside the negative “EYE”-rhyming lyrics, “lie” and “eye.” Note that this is the only section in the song where “I” is surrounded by negative lyrics. 
  • Chorus: Save for the lyrics “buy” and “write,” the entire “EYE”-scheme is focused on the pronouns “I” and “my.” Furthermore, they are now presented in an entirely positive context.
  • Post-Chorus: The only “EYE”-sounding rhyme is the singular pronoun, “I.”
  • Verse 2: Now that the protagonist has emerged self-loving and empowered following the first chorus and vocal break post-chorus, here the “EYE” rhyme is focused entirely on the pronouns “I” and “my” in a positive context. 

Note that by not including other “EYE”-sounding rhymes in the song, it keeps the main focus on the important “I” and “my” pronouns and bolsters their impact in the process. Furthermore, note that the lyric “I” is strategically placed and emphasized throughout the song, with a few of the most notable being:

  • Placement at the end of the pre-chorus along with its sustained delivery
  • Placement at the beginning of the chorus
  • Placement at the end of the strategically shortened vocal break post-chorus 2 and outro
  • Heightened emphasis by the surrounding eighth-rests in the vocal break post-choruses and outro
Narrative: Overview

Flowers is a love/relationships and empowerment-themed song about emerging from a failed relationship in a positive, self-loving manner. The story unfolds in an engaging manner, utilizing tried-and-true lyrical techniques to bolster its impact. Among them are utilization of the A.I.D.E. principle (action, imagery, detail devices, emotion); a combination of common and clever lyricism to create an intriguing, yet easy-to-grasp, story; effective use of tone and points-of-view; minimal specifics and relatable subject matter that primes the song to connect with a wide audience on a deep level.

Furthermore, they lyrics are based on Cyrus’ real-life relationship with Liam Hemsworth, which bolsters its connection with both Cyrus and her fans.

Key

P.O.V. (Point of View): The point of view from which the narrative is being communicated (1st, 2nd, 3rd)
Tone: The tone of the line, either positive (P) or negative (N)
Parentheses: P.O.V., Tone or A.I.D.E. (Action, Imagery, Detail Device, Emotion) component is implied and/or relates to the preceding line

VERSE 1

PRE-CHORUS 1

CHORUS

VOCAL BREAK POST-CHORUS 1

VERSE 2

Song Structure


Overview

Flowers possesses structural qualities that are both in line with, and depart from, recent mainstream pop trends. Notable commonalities include its easy-to-follow form, similar section arrival times, beginning with an intro and concluding with an outro, including a “D” (departure) section right where one would expect to find it, and its relatively short length and vibrant tempo.

Where Flowers most notably goes against the grain is with its use of a pre-chorus. Pre-chorus popularity in non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 hits dropped to its lowest level in over a decade in 2022, being used in just 37% of songs. Furthermore, the use of a diversified pre-chorus as the song’s main “D” section was even more atypical, being used in just 2%. However, these decisions served the song perfectly, despite their lack of popularity.

Song Sections

Flowers contains 12 sections in its framework:

  • One intro section
  • Two verse sections
  • Three pre-chorus sections (pre-chorus 3 also functions as the song’s main “D” [departure] section)
  • Three chorus sections
  • Two vocal break post-chorus sections
  • One outro section (functions as an additional post-chorus)

Song Section Classifications

Post-Chorus Section Classification

Flowers’ post-choruses are the vocal breaks following choruses 1 and 2 and the outro following chorus 3. All three feature the repetition of the empowering “can love me better, I can love me better, baby” vocal hook over the continuation of the grooving disco beat from the preceding chorus.

Post-chorus popularity among non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 hits has varied over the past five years, most recently rising to 60% of songs in 2022 following a significant drop in popularity in 2021.

Post-Chorus Sections in Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – 2022

"D" (Departure) Section Classification

Flowers’ “D” section is its third pre-chorus, appearing 70% of the way into the song, which is right where one would expect to find it (most “D” sections occur between two-thirds and three-quarters of the way in). While it features the same lyrics and melody as the other pre-choruses, it breaks down to a notably sparser arrangement. Together, these characteristics serve a few key purposes, including heightening lyrical and melodic familiarity and memorability; providing engaging arrangement, energy, and groove contrast against the other sections in the song; and setting up the ensuing high-energy chorus for maximum impact, among others.

While the use of a “D” section has been highly popular among non-hip hop hits over the past five years, bridge surrogate pre-chorus “D” sections have been few and far between. In fact, only 3% of non-hip hop hits (six songs) over the past five years featured a pre-chorus “D” section. They include Don’t Start Now, Filthy, God Is A Woman, High Hopes, Permission To Dance and Sunroof.

Use of a “D” Section in Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – 2022

Bridge Surrogate “D” Sections in Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – 2022

Form

Time and Percent into the Song When Core Sections Occur

Flowers

Hot 100 Top 10 Average: 2022

Save for Flowers’ earlier arriving verses due to the generally shorter-than-average sections that precede them (reference section length below), the song’s choruses, “D” section and outro occur within a percentage point of the 2022 non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 average. These similar arrival times subconsciously satisfies the listener’s likely expectations, which in turn makes it easier for them to connect with the song.

Song & Section Length

Song Length

Flowers clocks in at 3:15, just one second shorter than the 2022 non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 average of 3:16. Over the past five years, the 3:00-3:29 song length range was by far most popular up until 2021, when its prominence was cut nearly in half in favor of the under three-minute range, which remained most popular in 2022.

Song Length Ranges of Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – 2022

Section Length

Section lengths in Flowers widely vary. The shortest sections in the song are the intro, pre-choruses and first vocal break post-chorus, all landing at eight seconds/four bars in length. In addition to their typical functions, their short lengths achieve the following:

  • The intro quickly grabs the listener’s attention and ushers them into the song.
  • The pre-choruses briefly heighten engagement leading into the ensuing choruses.
  • The first vocal break post-chorus gives the listener a taste of the empowering “can love me better, I can love me better, baby” vocal hook, which is reinforced further in vocal break post-chorus 2.

The verses, vocal break 2 and outro are double the length at 16 seconds/eight bars. The additional time spent within these sections is used to communicate and develop the story (verses) and give the listener a double dose of the catchy vocal break post-chorus 1 hook.

The longest sections in the song are the choruses, with choruses 1 and 2 landing at 28 seconds/14 bars and chorus 3 landing at 32 seconds/16 bars. Note that the 14-bar length of choruses 1 and 2 is an anomaly compared to most other Top 10 hits, which favor more symmetrical bar counts of 4, 8 and 16. However, there is a rhyme and reason to it, which becomes apparent when the listener hears the 16-bar third chorus.

In terms of trends, sections in Flowers are both shorter and longer than the Hot 100 Top 10 non-hip hop average in 2022:

Shorter than the average:

  • The intro is six seconds shorter.
  • The verse sections are 11 seconds shorter.
  • The pre-chorus sections are 5 seconds shorter.
  • Vocal break post-chorus 1 is 6 seconds shorter.
  • The outro is 3 seconds shorter.

Longer than the average:

  • Vocal break post-chorus 2 is 2 seconds longer.
  • Choruses 1 and 2 are 4 seconds longer.
  • Chorus 3 is 8 seconds longer.

*Note: Section lengths are rounded.

Total Section Breakdown

Flowers-Section Percentage of Songs Total Composition

*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 Flowers is spent in its three choruses, comprising 45% of its total composition. The verses, pre-choruses and vocal breaks trail far behind, accounting for 16%, 14% and 12% of the song, respectively. The least amount of time is spent in the song’s bookending outro and intro sections, comprising just 8% and 4%, respectively.

Nearly two-thirds of the song is spent in the song’s two main “hook centers” – the choruses and post-choruses. The latter includes both vocal breaks and the outro, all of which feature and reinforce the empowering “can love me better, I can love me better, baby” hook.

In terms of trends, Flowers spends less time in the intro and verse, more time in the chorus, and a near equal amount of time in the vocal break and outro compared to the non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 average in 2022.

Flowers / 2022 Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Average Time Allocation

  • Intro: 4% / 7%
  • Verse: 16% / 31%
  • Pre-Chorus: 14% / 15%
  • Chorus: 45% / 35%
  • Vocal Break: 12% / 13%
  • Outro: 8% / 10%

Tempo and Key

Tempo

Flowers sits at 118 BPM, 15 BPM faster than the 2022 non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 average of 103 BPM. Note that this is in line with the Top 10’s recent gravitation toward faster songs, which notably increased to 103 BPM in 2022, the fastest it’s been in a decade.

Similar to Flowers, other dance-influenced, non-hip hop songs that fall within the 110-119 BPM range include Beyoncé’s #1 hit Break My Soul, Bad Bunny’s Latin smash Tití Me Preguntó, and the Elton John/Dua Lipa duet Cold Heart (PNAU Remix).

Tempo Range in Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: Q1 – Q2 2022

Key

Flowers is in the key of A minor. Minor tonalities have been in the minority among non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 hits for the past four years, accounting for 42% of songs in 2022.

Major vs. Minor Keys in Non-Hip Hop Hot 100 Top 10 Hits: 2018 – 2022

Genres & Influences


Overview

Flowers features an engaging blend of retro 1970s, pop, dance/disco, soft rock and funk influences that shape its sound and vibe. Together, they create a throwback-inspired hit that is still relevant to modern ears.

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

Flowers’ most prominent influences are retro 1970s, pop and dance/disco.

The song’s 1970s influence is featured throughout, put into effect by the classic qualities of the guitars, keys and strings along with the processing on the post-chorus vocals and low-level vinyl crackle effect.

These throwback qualities also play a role in some of the song’s other influences. The use of strings, in conjunction with the driving kick and upbeat hats, provides the song with a classic 1970s disco vibe a la Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive in the first chorus onward save for the pre-chorus 3 “D” section. Complimenting this is the electric bass pattern, which provides a subtle funk influence most notably in song’s chorus and post-chorus “hook centers.” In addition, the mellow, flange timbre of the keys and guitar provides a subtle, underlying early to mid-1970s soft-rock sound in the spirit of Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, Carol King and Hall & Oates, along with Cyrus’s at times husky, raspy vocal performance.

Independent of the song’s classic qualities is its overarching pop influence. Characteristics including K.I.S.S. ME melodies (Keep It Simple, Singable and Memorable), catchy vocal hooks, easy-to-follow pop structure (including the use of post-choruses), approachable lyrics and modern production qualities keeps the song in a familiar space and ensures that it easily and profoundly connects with modern ears.

Blending In & Standing Out in the Hot 100 Top 10

Flowers’ meticulous blend of influences enabled it to effectively blend in and stand out in the Hot 100 Top 10 when it first entered in Q1 of 2023.

On the familiar side is the song’s pop influence, which was unsurprisingly present in every single non-hip hop Hot 100 Top 10 hit leading up to the song’s release. The song’s other influences, however, have been far less popular. Save for a brief but notable rise in popularity in 2020, retro 1970s influences generally accounted for 10% or less of the Top 10 over the past decade. The same is the case with classic disco. However, there were some notable disco-influenced Top 10s in 2022 that helped pave the way for Flowers, including Lizzo’s #1 smash About Damn Time and Elton John’s collaborations with Britney Spears and Dua Lipa on Hold Me Closer and Cold Heart (PNAU Remix), respectively. As for rock, while it played a role in around one-quarter to one-third of Top 10s over the past five years, soft rock in particular has been a rare commodity.

Influences in the Hot 100 Top 10: 2018 – 2022 (Outside the Hip Hop/Rap Primary Genre)

Key
Orange: Pop | Blue: Rock | Yellow: Dance/Club | Green: Disco | Red: Funk | Pink: Retro (1970s)

Energy & Dynamics


Overview

Flowers’ energy flow features both commonalities and differences compared to many of its mainstream contemporaries. On the common side is its progression through three energy level “waves,” with each progressing from low to high with peaks in the choruses and post-choruses, subsequent waves featuring a higher overall energy than the preceding waves, and notable energy lulls in both the intro and pre-chorus 3 “D” sections.

 
However, Flowers also goes against the grain in terms of its cross-section S.I.A.s (sectional impact accentuator) techniques, specifically leading into each chorus. While they all begin in a commonplace manner with a partial accompaniment pull at the end of the pre-chorus along with an accompanying riser or fill, each chorus features an additional full accompaniment pull in its first beat, creating a notable off-kilter moment. While highly atypical, this technique effectively serves to heighten the listener’s engagement at the transition point and further bolster the impact of the dense, driving groove that follows.

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
Upward Green S.I.A.: The accompaniment creates a brief rise in energy

Flowers' Energy Arrangement

Loudness

Flowers' Loudness Graph

Flowers’ loudness levels remain relatively constant throughout much of the song, generally residing between -8.5 and -7 LUFS, with peaks in the song’s “hook center” choruses and vocal break post-choruses.

The exceptions are the lower-level intro, verse 1 and pre-chorus 1 sections, which grow in loudness to help maximize the impact of the first chorus “payoff,” and the notable shift in the pre-chorus 3 “D” section, which provides engaging contrast against the surrounding high-energy chorus, vocal break and outro sections. 

Energy & Loudness: Section-By-Section

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

Intro (I)
Flowers’ intro features the lowest overall energy in the song. This is due to its sparse, reverb-laden arrangement, with only the eighth-note arpeggiation of the electric guitar providing a subtle rhythmic pulse. Note that this low-energy quality is highly common in hit song intros, as it leaves room for growth in subsequent sections.

Flowers Intro Waveform

Verse 1 (A1)
Flowers’ energy is notably kicked up in verse 1. This is due to the addition of Cyrus’ subdued, low-register lead vocal into the mix, which is supported by an eighth-note bass line and electric piano, both of which heighten density and provide a sense of forward motion in lieu of drums.

Flowers Verse 1 Waveform

Pre-Chorus 1 (PC1)
Following the sparse verse, the pre-chorus further raises the song’s energy through changeups in both the accompaniment and Cyrus’ vocal performance. Instrumentally, the temple blocks and acoustic snare further propel the song forward, while the synth pad contributes to density and harmonic tension. Vocally, Cyrus’ lead resides in a higher register compared to the verse and features a more animated delivery. Together, these elements effectively heighten energy, tension and anticipation for the climactic chorus that follows.

Flowers Pre-Chorus 1 Waveform

S.I.A. #1

In the last bar of the pre-chorus, a partial accompaniment pull S.I.A. (section impact accentuator) is put into effect, removing the bass and drums/percussion from the mix while leaving a rhythmic, accented eighth-note electric piano pattern that ramps up tension and energy leading into the chorus. However, the downbeat of the ensuing chorus subverts listener expectations by employing a one-beat full accompaniment pull S.I.A. before hitting the listener with the dense, full groove.

Chorus 1 (B1) Bars 1-8
Following the full accompaniment pull S.I.A. at the beginning of the chorus, the first stanza notably kicks up the song’s energy through a shift to a denser and more driving dance/funk/rock-influenced groove (see the Music & Instruments section of the report for further details). Complimenting this is Cyrus’ vocal performance, which features a combination of punchy and soaring deliveries to convey the empowering lyrics in a compelling manner.

Bars 9-14
Stanza 2 subtly raises energy over stanza 1 both instrumentally and vocally. Instrumentally, both the shaker and strings contribute to density while they individually contribute to rhythmic motion and harmonic tension, respectively. Vocally, Cyrus’ lead helps bring the section to an emotional climax through its higher register and soaring qualities.

Flowers Chorus 1 Waveform

S.I.A. #2

In the last bar of the chorus, a partial accompaniment pull S.I.A. is implemented to create a transitional lull that heightens tension leading into the post-chorus while spotlighting the empowering lyric, “I can love me better than you can” (see the Music & Instruments section of the report for further details).

Vocal Break 1 (VB1)
Following the partial accompaniment pull S.I.A., the vocal break post-chorus slightly raises the song’s energy to its first peak through the addition of percussive elements, pads and background vocals along with Cyrus’ driving repetition of the empowering hook.

Flowers Vocal Break 1 Waveform

Wave 2: Verse 2 (A2) – Vocal Break 2 (VB2)

Verse 2 (A2)
Following the energy peak in the first vocal break post-chorus, verse 2 brings the song’s energy back down as it enters its second energy level “wave,” which is highly commonplace among pop hits. Putting this shift into effect is Cyrus’ more subdued vocal performance, which is on par with its verse 1 counterpart, and a more restrained instrumental arrangement consisting of vinyl crackle, electric piano, electric bass and kick drum.

However, note that the continuation of the four-on-the-floor kick from the post-chorus keeps the song’s danceable momentum at a high while providing a notable energy and arrangement contrast against its verse 1 counterpart.

Flowers Verse 2 Waveform

Pre-Chorus 2 (PC2)

Pre-chorus 2 provides a slight increase in energy over the preceding verse. This is due to the addition of the march-like snare pattern and foot hi hat backbeat into the continuation of the core verse 2 instrumental arrangement, along with Cyrus’ more vibrant, higher register lead and accompanying background vocals.

Flowers Pre Chorus 2 Waveform

S.I.A. #3

The transitional S.I.A. between pre-chorus 2 and chorus 2 is nearly identical to its first occurrence counterpart, save for an additional tom fill that subtly heightens interest while maintaining transitional familiarity.

Chorus 2 (B2) Bars 1-8

Following the engaging S.I.A., the second chorus raises energy a notch above its first occurrence counterpart through the addition of soaring strings, a more intense, layered groove, punchier drums and additional synths right from the get-go.

Bars 9-14

The second stanza further heightens energy with a shift to the familiar higher-register string pattern from chorus 1, stanza 2, and additional synth and percussion layers. Together, these elements provide stanza 2 with heightened emotional and rhythmic energy underneath Cyrus’ similarly higher-register, emotive lead vocal.

Flowers Chorus 2 Waveform

S.I.A. #4

The S.I.A. between chorus 2 and vocal break post-chorus 2 is nearly identical to its first occurrence counterpart, save for a varied drum fill drum fill and additional sustaining instruments that subtly heighten interest while maintaining transitional familiarity.

Vocal Break 2 (VB2)
Following the S.I.A., the second vocal break post-chorus brings the song’s energy to a new peak both instrumentally and vocally. Instrumentally, the vibrant tambourine pattern, hi hat embellishments, funky electric guitar, and synth layer all provide a heightened degree of rhythmic energy and density, which is bolstered by the additional vocal layers.

Flowers Vocal Break 2 Waveform

Wave 3: Pre-Chorus 3 (PC3) – Outro (O)

Pre-Chorus 3 (PC3)
Following the post-chorus energy peak, the song’s energy is notably brought down to its second-lowest level at the beginning of energy “wave” three in the pre-chorus 3 “D” section. Putting this reduction into effect is the omission of all elements save for vinyl crackle and electric piano underneath Cyrus’ subdued lead vocal performance.

Flowers Pre-Chorus 3 Waveform

S.I.A. #5

The transitional S.I.A. between pre-chorus 3 and chorus 3 is nearly identical to its first two occurrence counterparts, save for the absence of the saw pad or electric bass to create a more intimate, yet engaging, lead-in to the final chorus.

Chorus 3 (B3) Bars 1-8
Following the full accompaniment pull S.I.A., the first stanza of chorus 3 features a notable leap in energy. This is due to the incorporation of the second vocal break’s core instrumental arrangement along with further string, synth and percussion layers.

Bars 9-16
As is the case with the preceding chorus sections, the second stanza subtly raises energy as the strings and vocals move to a more emotionally vibrant higher register. However, this chorus differs from the preceding two in that it features an extra two bars at the end, which further heightens tension leading into the ensuing outro.

Flowers Chorus 3 Waveform

S.I.A. #6

In the last bar of the chorus, a partial accompaniment pull S.I.A. consisting of sustained strings, subtle bass and guitar motion, and a bass and tom fill at the end heightens engagement leading into the climactic outro.

Outro (O)
The outro brings the song’s energy to its grand peak both vocally and instrumentally. Vocally, additional background vocals and high-register, emotive adlibs further heighten the song’s emotional energy, which is complimented by the continuation of the chorus’s dense, high-energy instrumental arrangement along with additional guitars, tom embellishments and synths.

Music & Instruments


Overview

Flowers features an expertly crafted instrumental arrangement that keeps the listener engaged from start to finish. Among its most notable qualities are its effective fusion of current and classic 1970s-influenced timbres, balance of like-section and cross-section continuity and developments, and an infectious disco/funk-influenced groove that keeps the listener locked in and dancing throughout much of the song.

In addition, all of the mix elements work in perfect tandem with the vocals and lyrics to achieve prosody and bolster the song’s emotional connection with the listener, while also balancing familiarity and pushing the boundaries within Cyrus’ Hot 100 Top 10 body of work. 

Primary Instruments

Drums/Percussion

Kick (Acoustic)
The kick drum is initially heard in the first chorus and returns in each subsequent section save for pre-chorus 3. It possesses an acoustic timbre and is processed with compression, subtle reverb and filtering, which enables it to both blend in and cut through the mix. It plays two main patterns throughout the song – one that sounds on beats 1 and 3 and four-on-the floor pattern that contributes to the song’s disco vibe.

Snare (Acoustic-Filtered)
An acoustic snare with a low-pass, filtered timbre is featured exclusively in pre-chorus 1. The automation on the filter varies its brightness across the section, subtly heightening interest.

Snare (Acoustic)
The acoustic snare initially appears in the first chorus and is heard in each subsequent section save for pre-chorus 3. Processed with ample compression to provide punch, it provides a steady backbeat throughout the song save for verse 2 and pre-chorus 2, where it is featured more sparsely and plays more of a transitioning and embellishing role, respectively.

Bright Claps (Acoustic)
Bright, acoustic-timbred claps layer in with the snare to enhance the backbeat in each chorus, vocal break-post chorus and outro.

Chorused Claps (Acoustic)
Solely appearing in the third chorus and outro post-chorus, the chorused acoustic claps provide an additional backbeat layer to these climactic sections, with a notably darker timbre and greater stereo spread than the bright snare and claps.

Closed Hat (Acoustic)
The acoustic closed hi hat appears in the second vocal break and outro post-chorus sections, functioning in an embellishing capacity.

Open Hat (Acoustic)
The acoustic open hi hat provides brief, sparse embellishments in the choruses, vocal break post-choruses and outro.

Foot Hat (Acoustic)
The acoustic foot hi hat is initially heard in the first chorus and vocal break post-chorus, then comes into prominence in the second pre-chorus and in every subsequent section save for the third pre-chorus. Performed by stomping on the hi hat pedal to close the two cymbals in a forceful manner, this hi hat enhances the kick pattern with a bright attack. It is heard exclusively in the center of the stereo field save for vocal break post-chorus 1, where it is panned hard left.

Low Toms (Acoustic) 
Initially heard at the end of the first chorus, the low acoustic toms provide interest-heightening fills both within and across sections. They feature a low, resonant timbre and are panned slightly to the left.

High Toms (Acoustic) 
The high acoustic toms are initially heard at the end of the first vocal break post-chorus, functioning in a similar manner as the low acoustic toms. They feature a high timbre with little resonance – a stark contrast from their low counterparts – and are panned slightly to the right.

Tambourine (Electronic) 
The high-pitched tambourine is featured exclusively in the second vocal break post-chorus, chorus 3 and outro. Its timbre and sixteenth-note groove subtly contribute to the density and higher energy of the song’s final three “hook center” sections.

Temple Blocks (Acoustic) 
The acoustic temple blocks are initially heard in the first pre-chorus and are present in every subsequent section save for pre-choruses 2 and 3. They are featured relatively low in the mix and provide a subtle, syncopated groove along with color and texture reminiscent of Latin music, which classic disco often drew upon as an influence.

Hand Percussion (Acoustic) 
Similar to the acoustic temple blocks, the acoustic hand percussion provides additional rhythmic interest beginning in stanza 2 of the second chorus through the remainder of the song save for the third pre-chorus. Consisting of both bongos and congas, they are heard at a low level in the mix, panned slightly to the left, and blend with the similarly Latin-influenced temple blocks.

Shaker (Acoustic) 
The acoustic shaker initially appears in stanza 2 of the first chorus and returns in each subsequent chorus, vocal break post-chorus and the outro. Its washy timbre and eighth-note groove compliment the hi hats and tambourine to provide the song’s “hook centers” with subtly heightened rhythmic motion and texture. 

Bass

Electric Bass
The electric bass is initially heard in verse 1 and is present throughout the remainder of the song. It possesses a low-end focused tone with a bit of overdrive processing that comes into prominence on accented notes. Some subtle finger noise is heard, giving the instrument an organic, live quality.

Bass Pluck
A single bass pluck is heard on beat one of each measure throughout verse 1. It possesses a brighter timbre and is more present compared to the song’s main electric bass, contributing sonic interest in the sparse section.

Strings

Violins & Violas
Violins and violas are heard in the choruses and vocal break and outro post-choruses performing mostly octave, legato patterns that provide both an underlying melodic and harmonic element to the mix.

Cellos
The cellos are exclusively heard in the third chorus and outro post-chorus sections. They initially accentuate a quarter note rhythm on beats 2 and 3, and then double the bass to create contrary motion against the violins and violas. This unique use of the cello provides an engaging instrumental texture in the song’s densest and most climactic sections.

Synths

Bright Lead
The bright lead synth appears solely in the second verse, echoing the vocal melody with a bright timbre and staccato performance, panned slightly to the left.

Saw Pad
The saw pad appears in pre-choruses 1 and 2 and choruses 1 and 2, providing an additional harmonic layer underneath the electric piano. It is composed of a sawtooth wave oscillator and uses envelope manipulation in each section, save for the first pre-chorus, to provide a burst of brightness at the attack followed by a cutoff filter that reduces to a more subdued, pad-like quality.

Distorted Stabs
The distorted synth stabs are heard in the choruses, first vocal break post-chorus and outro, providing an additional, unique texture. It features a delayed attack with overdrive processing that allows it to cut through during its eighth-note, groove-reinforcing pattern.

Square Pad
Appearing in both vocal break post-chorus sections, choruses 2 and 3 and the outro, the square pad provides an additional harmonic and rhythmic element to the mix. Featuring a delayed attack, the square wave-based synth reinforces beats 2 and 3 with a quarter-note rhythm, blending with the electric piano to heighten the arrangement’s density as the song progresses.

Filtered Pad
The filtered pad appears solely in choruses 2 and 3 and vocal break post-chorus 2. It features a subdued, triangle wave-based tone, blending in with the electric piano to provide further harmonic support.

Bright Saw Pad
Appearing solely in vocal break post-chorus 2 and the outro, the bright saw pad functions similarly to the saw pad, albeit with a more aggressive, interest-piquing timbre.

Guitars

Chorused Electric Guitar
The chorused electric guitar is heard most prominently in the intro, kicking off the song with a unique chorused, reverberant timbre that establishes its retro vibe right from the get-go. It returns once more in the first chorus, providing a subtle embellishment underneath the lead melody.

Funky Electric Guitar
The funky electric guitar is initially heard providing a brief embellishment in chorus 1, followed by a more prominent featuring in vocal break post-chorus 2 and the outro, where it performs an engaging fast-picked melody that locks in with the rhythmic motion of the vocals. It features a twangy, dry tone that helps it to stand out amongst the lush layers of the dense mix.

Overdriven Electric Guitar 1
The overdriven electric guitar is heard in each chorus and vocal break post-chorus, as well as in pre-chorus 3 and the outro post-chorus. Exclusively doubling the bass, it provides a gritty tone to the electric bass’ smooth textures, subtly accentuating its prominence.

Overdriven Electric Guitar 2 (Post-Chorus Vocal)
Overdriven electric guitar 2 both outlines the chord progression and rhythmically and melodically foreshadows the post-chorus vocal melody in the second stanza of the first chorus at a relatively low level in the mix.

Bending Electric Guitar
Appearing solely in the outro, a reverb-drenched electric guitar playing a bending melody provides a catchy embellishment as the song draws to a close.

Keys

Electric Piano
The electric piano is initially heard in the first verse and is present throughout the remainder of the song. Providing harmonic support with a timbre reminiscent of a Wurlitzer, it, along with the chorus and reverb processing, creates a unique texture that harkens back to the 1970s.

Effects

Vinyl Crackle
A vinyl crackle sound effect that subtly bolsters the song’s retro vibe is featured notably at the beginning and end of the song, where it is the sole element in the mix. It is also subtly heard in the sparse verses and third pre-chorus.

Flutter SFX
Occurring in conjunction with the guitar in the intro, this unique textural sound effect heightens interest leading into the first verse with a fluttering, rustling tone that blends with the chorus and reverb processing of the guitar.

Laser Percussion SFX
Heard exclusively in the first vocal break post-chorus and second verse, these unique percussion sound effects possess a distinctly laser-like quality, enhancing the patterns of the temple blocks. They are processed with overdrive, delay and are panned to the left to create an engaging sound throughout the stereo field.

Music & Instruments: Section By Section

Intro (0:00 – 0:08)

Chord Progression: Cmaj7 (A minor: III)

Flowers’ brief 8-second/4-bar intro is the sparsest section in the song, consisting solely of electric guitar and two effects – vinyl crackle and flutter. The section unfolds in a methodical manner, with each element playing an integral role in grabbing the listener’s attention, establishing vibe, and leaving room for growth in subsequent sections.

Vinyl Crackle
The first element heard in Flowers is low-level vinyl crackle. Presented in a solo manner and lasting for three seconds, it gives the impression of a record spinning on a turntable and immediately establishes the song’s overarching retro vibe. Furthermore, these three seconds serve to heighten anticipation for what comes next.

Guitar and Flutter Effect
With the vinyl crackle remaining in effect, an electric guitar lightly picking the individual notes of a Cmaj7 chord is added to the mix. The relaxed quality of the arpeggio, along with its classic lo-fi timbre and copious reverb and chorus processing, further establishes the song’s retro vibe as well as its underlying laid-back quality.

Around midway through the guitar pattern, a fluttery sound effect progresses from low to high pitch before fading back out at the end to put the focus on Cyrus’ “we were good” verse pickup. It possesses a tone that effectively blends with the guitar, provides the intro with additional color and texture, jibes with the retro vibe, and heightens anticipation leading into the subsequent verse section.

Cyrus’ Top 10 Familiarity
Both Flowers and Cyrus’s previous solo Hot 100 Top 10 hit, 2017’s Malibu, feature unaccompanied, classic-timbred electric guitar in their intros (though Flowers’ is notably more effect-processed). Furthermore, both arpeggiate a major chord. Whether this was intentionally done or not, the commonality between the two provides a familiar, cohesive thread across her two most recent solo Top 10s. 

Intro Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Verse 1 (0:08 – 0:24)

Chord Progression: Am – Dm – G7 – C – Am – Dm – G7 – C (A minor: i-iv-V7/III-III-i-iv-V7/III-III)

With the low-level vinyl crackle effect carrying over to provide underlying cross-section retro continuity, verse 1 adds bass and electric piano into the mix. In addition to effectively supporting Cyrus’ first installment of the narrative, the sparseness of the arrangement continues to provide room for growth in subsequent sections.

Electric Piano
The electric piano possesses a vintage Wurlitzer timbre, occupies the mid-frequency spectrum, is spread wide in the mix, and provides the section’s main harmonic support. It plays a simple pattern with interspersed embellishments and tone-altering accents that are indicative of typical electric piano-styled playing. Together, these qualities enhance the song’s retro 1970s vibe in a style reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac (Christine McVie) while effectively serving the “good relationship gone bad” lyrics with its warm, yet melancholic qualities.

Bass
The electric bass features a mainly clean, round tone, occupies the lower-end of the frequency spectrum and is featured up the middle. It plays an active, mainly eighth-note-driven pattern that provides rhythmic motion in lieu of drums and outlines the chord pattern. Complimenting the electric bass is a brighter bass with more of a synth timbre. It sounds exclusively on the downbeat of each measure, emphasizing the chord change and providing the verse with additional, albeit subtle, color and texture.

Verse 1 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Pre-Chorus 1 (0:24 – 0:33)

Chord Progression: Am – Dm – E7 (A minor: i-iv-V7)

With the electric piano, bass and vinyl crackle from the verse providing cross-section continuity, the pre-chorus adds drums, percussion and synth to the mix. These elements further heighten interest, motion, and energy and effectively support Cyrus’ more animated vocals and lyrical development as the song inches closer to the chorus.

Drums/Percussion
Complimenting the forward motion of the bass are snare and temple blocks, which together play an engaging syncopated pattern. The snare is panned slightly to the left and is processed with an automated filter that opens with each pattern repetition. The filtering achieves a few key things, including:

  • Providing the section with additional – albeit subtle – rhythmic motion.
  • Preventing the snare from being too piercing in the mix. This was important to both help maintain the underlying mellow vibe and enable the chorus’ shift in fidelity to further stand out.

In addition to the snare, temple blocks provide the section with additional color, texture and stereo depth, since they are wide-spread and at a relatively low level. Furthermore, considering their rare use in mainstream pop hits (with the main exception being Latin-influenced pop), they subtly provide the song with a unique sound that helps it to further stand out among its contemporaries.

Saw Pad
Providing the section with additional harmonic support is a saw pad with an analog timbre. It features envelope manipulation that alters its prominence and brightness in the mix, providing additional color, texture and interest.

Chorus Set-Up
Along with the more vibrant qualities of Cyrus’ vocal and lyrical development, the pre-chorus’ more energetic instrumental arrangement effectively heightens anticipation for the ensuing chorus. However, instead of providing seamless continuity between sections, as had been the case between the verse and pre-chorus, the following happens in the last bar of the pre-chorus:

  • In the first two beats, the bass and drums/percussion are pulled, which create a transitional lull that both heightens engagement and calls attention to Cyrus’ “but then remembered I” chorus vocal lead-in.
  • In the last two beats, the electric piano plays a highly rhythmic, accented eighth-note pattern on the dominant chord to take tension and anticipation to a climax leading into the chorus.

Pre-Chorus 1 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Chorus 1 (0:33 – 1:01)

Chord Progression:
Stanza 1: Am – Dm – G – C – G/B – Am – Dm – G – C – G/B (A minor: i-iv-V/III-III-V/III/3-i-iv-V/III-III-V/III/3)
Stanza 2: Am – Dm – G – C – G/B – F – E (A minor: i-iv-V/III-III-V/III/3-VI-V)

Chorus 1 begins in a highly engaging and atypical manner. Following the anticipation-heightening electric piano pattern at the end of the pre-chorus, the chorus employs a one-beat full accompaniment pull S.I.A. (section impact accentuator) followed by the full groove hitting on beat 2. This creates an off-kilter moment by going against the listener’s likely expectations of launching into the full, dense groove on beat 1 – which is highly common – and notably bolsters the chorus’ arrival as a result.

Stanza 1
The first stanza of the chorus locks the listener into a driving, steady dance/funk/rock-influenced groove. It retains the electric bass, warm saw pad, electric piano and temple blocks from the pre-chorus to maintain cross-section cohesion and features the following changes to heighten interest:

  • The electric bass plays a tighter, more focused pattern that further defines the groove. Furthermore, it provides a brief – yet notable – octave embellishment in the last two beats of bar 4, which heightens the section’s – and the song’s – underlying funk influence. 
  • The saw pad is a bit lower in the mix and plays chords on beat 2 of every measure as opposed to beat 1, as was the case in the pre-chorus. This results in a slightly changed up feel while the synth’s timbre maintains familiarity.
  • The electric piano and temple blocks are notably lower in the mix compared to the preceding sections, subtly contributing to the sonic landscape. 

Among the chorus’ new elements are the kick, which sounds on beats 1 and 3, and snare/clap layer, which provides the backbeat on 2 and 4. Together, they establish a steady, driving, danceable groove that also contributes to the song’s underlying rock-influenced edge.

Also new to the mix are two electric guitars and an additional synth: an overdriven electric guitar doubles the bass line and provides it with additional texture and definition, a retro-timbred funky guitar subtly embellishes the end of the progression in bar 8, and a distorted synth provides subtle rhythmic stabs in bars 4 and 6, heightening the rhythmic motion of the section.

Stanza 2
Marked by a single open hi hat strike, stanza 2 maintains the stanza 1 elements to provide cross-stanza continuity and keep the listener locked into the groove. However, to help heighten interest and bolster the song’s dance/disco vibe, the following is done:

  • Strings are added to the mix playing a pattern that is reminiscent of Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 disco smash, I Will Survive. Note that the string’s arrival cleverly coincides with the lyric “I can take myself dancing.”
  • The kick pattern shifts to an even more danceable, driving four-on-the floor beat.
  • The claps are more prominently featured on beat 4 of each measure. This helps to further punctuate the backbeat, especially against the four-on-the floor kick.
  • Low-level shaker is added to the mix, providing additional subtle texture and rhythmic motion.
  • The temple blocks become a bit more prominent in the mix. In addition to contributing additional texture and rhythmic motion, it further bolsters the classic disco vibe.
  • The overdriven electric guitar plays a constant pattern that subtly foreshadows the vocal break post-chorus vocal.

Vocal Break Post-Chorus Set-Up
In the last bar of the chorus, a partial S.I.A. is implemented through the pulling of all instrumental elements save for the sustaining strings, bass and electric guitar, subtle electric piano embellishments, and a brief tom fill. The resulting transitional lull heightens engagement leading into the post-chorus, spotlights the transitional lyric, “I can love me better than you can,” and provides separation between sections of similar accompaniment.
 

Chorus 1 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Vocal Break 1 (1:01 – 1:09)

Chord Progression: Am – Dm – G – C – G/B (A minor: i-iv-V/III-III-V/III/3)

Following the transitional lull at the end of the chorus, the vocal break post-chorus locks the listener back into the fully developed disco groove that now supports the empowering “I can love me better” hook.

While the post-chorus maintains most of the chorus’ instrumental qualities to keep the listener locked into the groove, there are a few changeups between sections that serve to further heighten interest:

  • The vintage chorused electric guitar is removed from the mix, allowing the full focus to be on the vocal hook without embellishing distractions.
  • The strings function in a simplified pad capacity, sustaining on a single note. This shift further bolsters the listener’s ability to fully focus on the new vocal hook without distraction while providing the post-chorus with texture and color.
  • The square pad is introduced, providing further harmonic support and rhythmic motion on beats 2 and 3 in a subdued manner.
  • Low-level, percussive laser-sounding effects traverse the stereo field, providing subtle ear candy that compliments the disco vibe.

At the end of the section, a tom fill and open hat subtly heighten engagement as the song transitions into the second verse. 

Vocal Break 1 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Verse 2 (1:09 – 1:25)

Chord Progression: Am – Dm – G7 – C – Am – Dm – G7 – C (A minor: i-iv-V7/III-III-i-iv-V7/III/-III)

Verse 2 enters with a notable shift to a sparser, less intense arrangement compared to the post-chorus and chorus, which is highly commonplace in pop hits. This resulting cross-section variation effectively draws the listener into the next installment of the narrative while providing room for growth in arrangement density and intensity in subsequent sections.

Verse 2 shares the commonality of electric bass, electric piano and vinyl crackle with its verse 1 counterpart, which bolsters like-section familiarity and cohesion. However, to help heighten interest as the song progresses, the following is done:

  • Verse 2 retains the four-on-the-floor kick from the preceding post-chorus, which provides notable contrast against the first verse. In addition to heightening interest, it serves to keep the listener locked in without missing a beat coming out of the post-chorus. 
  • The electric piano plays a more active pattern and is more prominent in the mix than it was in verse 1 (it is more balanced with the bass, which was more of an up-front, driving force in the first verse).
  • A new bright lead synth enters in the second-half of the section, playing a simple descending pattern that provides a subtle – yet engaging – call and response with Cyrus’ lead vocal.
  • The temple blocks, which were previously introduced in the pre-chorus – not the verse – and the laser perc effect from the post-chorus – are featured in the second-half of the section to subtly heighten cross-stanza interest without being overtly distracting to the listener.

Verse 2 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Pre-Chorus 2 (1:25 – 1:34)

Chord Progression: Am – Dm – E7 (A minor: i-iv-V7)

As is commonly the case in pop hits, pre-chorus 2 subtly builds off the preceding verse while subtly heightening interest and energy leading into the subsequent chorus. This also results in like-section variation against its pre-chorus 1 counterpart, achieving similar end results as the verse 1 – verse 2 developments:

  • The four-on-the-floor kick from the verse remains in effect, which keeps the listener locked in and dancing. Complimenting it is the foot hi hat, which further punctuates the kick’s presence and provides the section with additional high-frequency information. 
  • The electric piano continues its more active, prominent pattern, which contrasts its more subtle featuring in pre-chorus 1.
  • The saw pad from pre-chorus 1 is featured more subtly in the mix alongside the more prominent electric piano.
  • The snare, which was also featured in pre-chorus 1, plays a subtle march-like pattern at the top of the section. This serves to further heighten momentum and excitement compared to the more restrained pre-chorus 1 pattern.

In the last bar of the section, a notable breakdown occurs to help heighten engagement leading into the ensuing chorus, similar to pre-chorus 1. However, here the transition is more intense, which jibes with the heightened energy in the verse 2 – pre-chorus 2 progression compared to their first occurrence counterparts. The most notable difference is the inclusion of the quarter-note bass rhythm and eighth-note toms that occur in conjunction with the familiar electric piano pattern to provide a more vibrant lead in to the ensuing chorus. 

Pre-Chorus 2 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Chorus 2 (1:34 – 2:02)

Chord Progression:
Stanza 1: Am – Dm – G – C – G/B – Am – Dm – G – C – G/B (A minor: i-iv-V/III-III-V/III/3-i-iv-V/III-III-V/III/3)
Stanza 2: Am – Dm – G – C – G/B – F – E (A minor: i-iv-V/III-III-V/III/3-VI-V)

Following suit with the verse and pre-chorus, chorus 2 develops over its chorus 1 counterpart to heighten interest and intensity while maintaining like-section familiarity and cohesion.

Stanza 1
Stanza 1 essentially picks up where the second stanza of chorus 2 left off, hitting the listener with soaring strings and a denser, more intense groove right after the beat 1 full accompaniment pull S.I.A. In addition to the familiar elements between like-sections, the following changeups are instituted:

  • The drum/percussion groove is punchier and more present than chorus 1. This is due in part to the high-frequency information provided by the addition of hi hat. 
  • The strings perform a more restrained, subdued pattern than initially heard in chorus 1, leaving room for stanza 2 development.
  • Additional synths are added into the mix. They include the square pad initially heard in the first vocal break post-chorus, which provides harmonic and rhythmic support to beats 2 and 3, as well as more prominent distorted synth stabs that provide additional texture and character to the mix. 

Stanza 2
Stanza 2 maintains the core stanza 1 arrangement to keep the listener locked in, while the following variations serve to heighten cross-stanza interest:

  • The familiar chorus 1 string pattern returns, fulfilling the listener’s likely expectations following the stanza 1 variation.
  • Shaker and hand percussion contribute to the groove and provide heightened forward motion.
  • An additional synth pad is added to the mix, which provides additional texture and blends with the electric piano to provide a denser harmonic arrangement.

Chorus 2 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Vocal Break 2 (2:02 – 2:18)

Chord Progression: Am – Dm – G – C – G/B – Am – Dm – G – C – G (A minor: i-iv-V/III-III-V/III/3-i-iv-V/III-III-V/III)

Following the partial accompaniment pull and drum fill at the end of the chorus, vocal break post-chorus 2 further ramps up intensity and excitement with the following additions and changeups to the familiar chorus arrangement:

  • A tambourine playing a vibrant sixteenth-note pattern provides additional forward momentum, texture, and high-frequency information.
  • Closed and open hi hats alternate every other measure, providing subtle embellishments along with high-end frequency information.
  • A bright saw pad swells in prominence on the downbeat of each measure, contributing color, texture and intensity to the mix.
  • A funky electric guitar plays a sixteenth and eighth-note pattern, serving to heighten excitement and forward motion along with additional mid-range frequency information.

Vocal Break 2 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Pre-Chorus 3 (2:18 – 2:27)

Chord Progression: Am – Dm – E7 (A minor: i-iv-V7)

Following the high-intensity, dense vocal break post-chorus, pre-chorus 3 – which also functions as the song’s main “D” (departure) section in lieu of a bridge – abruptly breaks the instrumental arrangement down to its sparsest level since the intro.

The first two bars consist of a fading guitar tail from the post-chorus, serene electric piano, two bass plucks, and vinyl crackle. This is followed by the section further breaking down in the last two bars to just electric piano and vinyl crackle, with the former playing a more active eighth-note pattern that grows in intensity with a peak in conjunction with the tom fill at the end.

These elements, along with the sparseness of the arrangement, achieves the following:

  • It provides the listener with a well-warranted intensity and momentum respite that notably heightens their engagement in the song. Since the first chorus, save for the brief accompaniment pull S.I.A.s, they have been immersed in dense, energetic sections (i.e., the chorus and vocal break post-chorus), and less-dense but high-momentum sections (i.e., verse 2 and pre-chorus 2). 
  • It puts the listener’s full attention on the pre-chorus vocal and bolsters its emotional impact with the listener.
  • It sets up the song’s most energetic chorus for maximum impact.
  • The vibrant, building electric piano and tom fill at the end serves to heighten energy and anticipation leading into the subsequent chorus. However, their true role is in more of a fake out capacity, as it is followed by one beat of full silence before hitting the listener with the dense, intense chorus 3 arrangement. 

Pre-Chorus 3 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Chorus 3 (2:27 – 2:59)

Chord Progression:
Stanza 1: Am – Dm – G – C – G/B – Am – Dm – G – C – G/B (A minor: i-iv-V/III-III-V/III/3-i-iv-V/III-III-V/III/3)
Stanza 2: Am – Dm – G – C – G/B – F – E – F – E (A minor: i-iv-V/III-III-V/III/3-VI-V-VI-V)

Following the jarring first beat of total silence, the first stanza of chorus 3 hits hard with a reprisal of chorus 2’s elements along with the following new additions to heighten both interest and intensity:

  • An additional clap layer with a notably acoustic timbre is added to the backbeat, further bolstering its presence in mix.
  • Shaker and tambourine are added right from the get-go, providing the section with additional texture, forward motion and high-frequency information. They are joined by the hand percussion in bar 3, which provides additional rhythmic motion and texture.
  • And additional cello-specific string layer is added, bolstering the rhythmic motion on beats 2 and 3 with a pattern that is identical to the square pad while also providing additional color, texture and density to the mix.
  • Additional high-frequency strings are added in the last bar, which along with the drum fill provides an engaging transition into the second stanza.

Stanza 2 maintains the accompaniment of the first stanza along with the return of an additional pad that blends with the electric piano to heighten overall density, as well as string layers that create a soaring, intense emotional climax.

At the end of the section, the arrangement breaks down once again to provide one last lull with sustained strings and subtle bass and guitar motion before jumping into the subsequent climactic outro with a bass and tom fill. 

Chorus 3 Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Outro (2:59 – 3:15)

Chord Progression: Am – Dm – G – C – G/B – Am – Dm – G – C (A minor: i-iv-V/III-III-V/III/3-i-iv-V/III-III)

Following the transitional lull and fill, the outro returns to the high energy arrangement of both the second vocal break post-chorus and third chorus to ride the listener out on an excited high. However, there is one notable addition and one notable changeup to take note of:

  • An overdriven, reverb drenched, vintage-sounding electric guitar panned hard right plays a bending pattern that outlines the chorus vocal melody. This reinforces the melody on a subconscious level that the listener likely will not even realize while serving as an ear candy embellishment as the song draws to a close.
  • The soaring, layered strings that are featured in the second-half of the chorus are now more restrained in the mix. This was a strategic decision to prevent an overcomplicated mix that would mask Cyrus’ additional emotive vocal layers over the familiar vocal break post-chorus vocal.

Following the abrupt ending, vinyl crackle can be heard lingering for a few seconds, bookending the song on the same familiar retro note. 

Outro Arrangement: At-A-Glance

Harmonic Progressions


Flowers uses one main chord progression with 5 subtle variations.

Progression 1

Progression 1: Variation 1a (Verses, Outro)

Am – Dm – G7 – C

Progression 1: Variation 1b (Choruses, Outro)

Am – Dm – G – C – G/B

Progression 1: Variation 2 (Pre-Choruses)

Am – Dm – E7

Progression 1: Variation 3a (Choruses 1 and 2)

Am – Dm – G – C – G/B – F – E

Progression 1: Variation 3b (Chorus 3)

Am – Dm – G – C – G/B – F – E – F – E

Progression Characteristics

Flowers’ sole chord progression is rooted in the key of A minor, following a core Am – Dm – G – C (i-iv-V/III-III) pattern with a number of variations throughout the song:

Intro: A sustained C major seven chord is performed by the guitar, creating an initial impression of a major tonality while ushering in the verse progression.

Verse 1: The first verse begins with the first variation of the core chord progression, following a tonic-subdominant-dominant-tonic motion that oscillates between a minor and major tonality. It ends on a C major chord, creating a false sense of major resolution that propels the verse forward as the cyclical chord progression continues.

Pre-Chorus: Following the verse’s ambiguous use of major and minor, the pre-chorus solidifies the key with variation 2, which features the dominant E7 chord across two full measures. This achieves a few key points, including increasing the harmonic tension leading into the summative chorus, solidifying the key of A minor with the V7 chord resolving to the i chord in the ensuing section, and providing the song with the first instance of a non-cyclical chord progression through this V7-i cadence.

Choruses 1 & 2: The chorus kicks off by resolving the tense V7 chord from the pre-chorus, bolstering the overall impact of the section in a satisfying manner. The harmonic progression then returns to the cyclical motion of the verse, now with an additional bass walk down to the tonic at the end of the cycle (variation 1b). This further solidifies the A minor tonic, breaking away from the ambiguous cycle by ending in a more cadential manner. Following two instances of this motion, the chorus concludes by tacking on additional F major and E major chords in bars 13 and 14, functioning as VI and V (variation 3a). This prolongs the chorus in an engaging manner while creating harmonic tension leading into the subsequent vocal break post-chorus.

Vocal Break Post-Choruses: Following the chorus’ ending V chord, the vocal break post-chorus resolves to the A minor tonic, then continues the variation 1b cyclical chord progression.

Chorus 3: After an identical sectional flow, the third chorus changes things up by introducing progression variation 3b at the end of the section, adding an additional two F major and E major chords to further reinforce the “I can love me better” hook. This additional back and forth between bVI and V create a subdominant-dominant motion that leaves the listener on edge, further heightening tension leading into the climactic last section post-chorus.

Outro: Following the tense subdominant-dominant repeated motion that concludes the final chorus, the outro returns to the familiar core chord progression, ending on the C major chord. This creates an abrupt, false harmonic ending that leaves the listener yearning for resolution.
 

Vocals


Vocal Production

Lead Vocal Gender

Flowers features a solo female lead vocal from Miley Cyrus. In 2022, solo female leads among non-hip hop hits skyrocketed to their highest level in over a decade, accounting for 40% of songs.

Lead Vocal Gender in Hot 100 Top 10 (Non-Hip Hop Hits): 2018 – 2022

Lead Vocal Gender 2018-2022

Lead Vocal Delivery

Flowers features an entirely sung lead vocal delivery from Cyrus. Not surprisingly, this has consistently been the most popular lead vocal quality among non-hip hop hits year over year.

Lead Vocal Delivery in Hot 100 Top 10 (Non-Hip Hop Hits): 2018 – 2022

Lead Vocal Delivery 2018-2022

Background Vocals

In addition to Cyrus’ lead, Flowers features an assortment of background vocals that serve to heighten interest, catchiness and vibe over the course of the song. Among them are lead-complimenting unisons, harmonies and octave doubles, as well as engaging independent of the lead background vocals.

Effects & Processing

Flowers features common hit song vocal processing, employing reverb, compression, autotune, saturation and background vocal chorus-like processing to heighten the effectiveness of the vocal performances while contributing to the song’s vibe.

Vocal Delivery Arrangement Overview

Lead: Female (Miley Cyrus): Miley Cyrus’ 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 above the lead
BGV 3: Female (Lead High Harmony): Background vocals that harmonize above the lead on different pitches
BGV 4: Female (Lead Low Harmony): Background vocals that harmonize with the lead on different pitches
BGV 5: Female (Independent): Background vocals featured independently from the lead

Key

S: Sung
BGV: Background vocal

Flowers-Vocal Production-Overview

Vocal Production: Section-By-Section Detail

Key

Header Markings

LEAD: Miley Cyrus’ lead vocal
BGV 1: UNISON DOUBLE: Background vocal doubles in unison with the lead
BGV 2: OCTAVE DOUBLE (LOW): Background vocal doubles an octave above the lead
BGV 3: HIGH HARM: Background vocals that harmonize above the lead on different pitches
BGV 4: LOW HARM: Background vocals that harmonize with the lead on different pitches
BGV 5: IND: Background vocals featured independently from the lead

Vocal Delivery Markings

S: Sung
Underlined Lyrics: Denotes unison and octave doubles with the lead; one underline denotes unison double(s), and double under-lines denote additional low octave double(s)
Color-Coded Lyrics: Denotes lyrics sung in unison/octaves with the lead (light green), in harmony 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.

Verse 1

Flowers-Vocal Production-Verse 1

Verse 1 features Miley Cyrus’ solo lead. It is panned straight up the middle and minimally processed, with just some slight reverb and compression helping to bring out subtle nuances in her voice. Along with the removal of most of her breaths, these qualities result in a direct vocal performance that effectively supports the troubled relationship-themed lyrics along with the descending melodic patterns.

Pre-Chorus 1

Cyrus’ pre-chorus vocal remains largely in-line with the preceding verse, maintaining the direct and intimate vibe. The most notable changeup is the inclusion of her breaths at the beginning of each vocal phrase and the addition of notable reverb on line 1. This, along with the higher-register and more vibrant melody, effectively supports the tense and urgent nature of the lyrics while heightening anticipation for the chorus that follows.

Chorus 1

Flowers-Vocal Production-Chorus 1

Following the minimally produced verse and pre-chorus, the chorus expands on the vocal production through the inclusion of unison doubles and more notable reverb processing.

The unison doubles, which encompass more of the stereo field compared to the preceding sections, provides Cyrus’ delivery of the empowering lyrics with more prominence and conviction while still maintaining the intimate and direct vibe across sections. In addition, the heightened degree of reverb provides the mix with increased depth and blends the vocal with the more robust instrumental arrangement. 

Vocal Break 1

Flowers-Vocal Production-Vocal Break 1

The post-chorus features the most robust vocal production heard in the song thus far. With Cyrus’ solo lead and unison double remaining in effect to provide cross-section continuity and cohesion, a new low octave double is added to the mix.

Panned wide with a subtle chorused-like quality, its addition achieves a few key things, including:

  • Bolstering the impact of the empowering post-chorus lyric throughout the section
  • Enabling the vocal to further cut through the denser post-chorus arrangement
  • Heightening sonic interest against the preceding sections
  • Subtly bolstering the song’s retro 1970s vibe through the chorus processing

Verse 2

Flowers-Vocal Production-Verse 2

Following the robust vocal production of the preceding post-chorus, verse 2 initially reverts to the more intimate and direct vocal qualities of its verse 1 counterpart. Initially beginning with Cyrus’ solo lead, a low-level harmony is added above the lead midway through line 2. While subtle, it further heightens like-section interest along with the changeups in instrumental arrangement. Also contributing to interest and energy is the inclusion of Cyrus’ inhaled breaths, which had previously been omitted in verse 1.

Additionally, Cyrus’ more restrained delivery and less dense instrumental arrangement provides engaging cross-section contrast, drawing the listener into the next installment of the story and leaves room for growth in subsequent sections.

Pre-Chorus 2

Flowers-Vocal Production-Pre-Chorus 2

Pre-chorus 2 begins with the continuation of the high harmony that was featured throughout much of the preceding verse. However, here it’s more notable in the mix, which serves to both heighten cross-section interest and bolster the lyric’s emotional impact.

In contrast, the harmony is abruptly pulled in line 2. In addition to heightening in-section interest along with the shift in instrumentation, it serves to allow the chorus vocal – which is intensified through additional reverb and quarter-note delay as opposed to a higher register harmony – to further stand out and connect.

Chorus 2

Flowers-Vocal Production-Chorus 2

Chorus 2 features the same vocal production characteristics as its chorus 1 counterpart, further bolstering like-section familiarity and memorability.

Vocal Break 2

In contrast to the chorus, which features essentially the same vocal production across occurrences, the second vocal break post-chorus builds off its first occurrence counterpart by adding low harmony throughout and an independent melismatic background vocal in line 4. Along with the denser instrumental arrangement, these vocals serve to heighten like-section interest and energy while further bolstering the impact of the empowering hook.

Pre-Chorus 3

Flowers-Vocal Production-Pre-Chorus 3

Following the dense and energetic vocal break post-chorus 2 production, pre-chorus 3, which functions as the song’s main “D” (departure) section, notably strips back both in terms of its instrumental arrangement and vocal production.

Vocally, it reverts to the more intimate and direct vocal qualities of its pre-chorus 1 counterpart. In addition to heightening the emotional impact of the lyrics, this shift also helps bolster the impact of the chorus that follows, which features a comparably denser and more energetic production.

Line 2 then returns to its pre-chorus 2 delivery, gradually becoming more vibrant to build tension and anticipation leading into the final chorus section. 

Chorus 3

Flowers-Vocal Production-Chorus 3

The third and final chorus in the song builds on its chorus 2 counterpart through the addition of higher-register harmonies and independent of the lead background vocals, both of which are in effect for the entirety of the first stanza. Together, these qualities serve a few key purposes, including:

  • Providing engaging cross-section contrast against the sparser and more restrained pre-chorus
  • Heightening like-section interest without compromising focus and memorability
  • Bolstering the impact of the empowering lyrics both sonically and emotionally
  • Taking the song’s energy and excitement to a new level along with the denser instrumental arrangement

In contrast, stanza 2 entirely omits the independent background vocals and features only sporadic – albeit strategic – use of harmony.

  • The omission of the independent background vocals was necessary to prevent the section from becoming overtly busy
  • The omission of much of the harmony was necessary to prevent monotony across stanzas and help bolster the impact of key lyrics where it was added back in (“I can hold my own hand” and a lower harmony in “than you can”).

Outro

The outro post-chorus remains in line with the previous post-chorus’s along with a few notable changeups:

  • Cyrus’s vocal from the chorus carries over, shifting from a lead capacity to more of an independent of the lead background role. It begins with the soaring “can,” followed by an “uh” adlib and repetition of the chorus lyric, “than you can.” Along with heightening interest, these vocals also help take the section’s, and the song’s, emotional impact to a climax. 
  • The low harmony layer, which was present in vocal break 2, is omitted this time around to help Cyrus’ soaring vocals further punctuate the mix. Assisting in this is their slightly left panning. 

Vocal Melody

Overview

Flowers possesses all of the melodic qualities that one would expect to find in a chart-topping pop hit. At its core is the K.I.S.S. ME principle (keep it simple, singable and memorable), with logically unfolding melodic patterns, easy-to-lock into rhythms, short phrases, and an effective balance between stepwise/stagnant motion and intervallic leaps.

The song unfolds in an engaging manner, varying the range, direction and rhythms across sections to heighten interest and enhance the listener’s emotional connection with the lyrics. Balancing this are like-section melodic commonalities and recurring motifs, the latter making the song more cohesive and memorable in an under-the-radar manner that the listener most likely will not even realize.

Flowers-Full Song 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. Sub-melodic parts, 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.

Verses

Overview

Both verse sections span a sixth from E3 to C4. However, they are mainly concentrated within a third from A3 to C4, which makes it much easier for the average listener to sing along to. Further bolstering singablility and memorability are each section’s logical, easy-to-follow melodic progressions consisting mainly of stepwise motion and small intervallic leaps, short phrases, simple rhythms and ample repetition.

In terms of motion, each phrase generally follows a descending pattern. This, along with Cyrus’ subdued delivery, effectively jibes with and accentuates the song’s underlying relationship gone bad theme.

Melodic Structure Overview & Detail

Verse 1 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Verse 1

Verse 2 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Verse 2

Verse 1 Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Flowers-Vocal Melody Table-Verse 1
Flowers-Sheet Music-Verse 1

Verse 2 Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Flowers-Vocal Melody Table-Verse 2
Flowers-Sheet Music-Verse 2

Melodic Structure Detail

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

Lines 1 & 2

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Verse 1 Lines 1-2
Flowers-Sheet Music-Verse 1-Lines 1-2
Line 1

Part a1: We were good
Part a1: We were gold

Flower’s opening line is composed of two back-to-back subpart a1 iterations, which are segmented from one another by an eighth rest. The epitome of the K.I.S.S. ME principle (keep it simple, singable and memorable), it features a short, stepwise, descending 3-2-1 pattern delivered with an eighth note rhythm that sustains at the end. These melodies at the top of the song achieve the following:

  • The simplicity of the repetitive melodies, along with the eighth rests in between them, allows the listener to easily connect with, absorb and remember the opening line.
  • The descending patterns, in conjunction with Cyrus’ subdued delivery, jibe with the past-tense lyric, “we were good, we were gold,” in heightening emotion and setting the scene for the troubled relationship lyrics that lay ahead.
  • The conclusion on the root creates a sense of finality regarding the relationship.
Line 2

Part a2: Kind-a dream
Part b1: That can’t be sold

Line 2 is composed of subparts a2 and b1. Highly similar to its a1 counterpart, subpart a2 slightly varies in pattern, most notably by ending on scale degree 2 to heighten interest and tension leading into the subpart b1 that follows. Subpart b1 features an A.M.P. (alternating melodic pattern) melody between scale degrees 2 and 7 before ending on scale degree 5. This, combined with more sustained rhythms than the subpart a melodies, creates interest as the section progresses while the descending nature of the pattern heightens memorability across both lines.

Lines 3 & 4

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Verse 1-Lines 3-4
Flowers-Sheet Music-Verse 1-Lines 3-4
Line 3

Part a1: We were right
Part a1: 'Til we weren't

Line 3 is composed of two iterations of subpart a1 and is identical to its line 1 counterpart.

Line 4

Part a2: Built a home
Part b1: And watched it burn

Line 4 is composed of subparts a2 and b1 and is identical to its line 2 counterpart. 


Verse 2 Variation
Sub-part b in verse 2 is slightly altered from its verse 1 counterpart to accommodate an additional lyric. However, melodic familiarity is notably maintained between the two sections.

Pre-Choruses

Overview

The pre-chorus spans a perfect fourth from A3 to D4, which is generally the same range where the verses are mainly concentrated (A3 to C4). However, in contrast to the verses, the pre-chorus melodies are more stagnant and ascending and are generally faster moving.

In addition to providing engaging cross-section contrast and heightening tension and anticipation for the impending chorus, the pre-chorus melodies effectively bring out the emotion depicted in the lyrics. The faster-moving motion of line 1 accentuates Cyrus’ resistance to the relationship’s negative turn, while the more consistent eighth-note-driven rhythm and ascending pattern at the end enhances the transition to more empowering lyrics in the ensuing chorus.  

Melodic Structure Overview & Detail

Pre-Chorus Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Pre-Chorus 1

Verse 1 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Verse 1

Verse 2 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Verse 2

Pre-Chorus Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Flowers-Vocal Melody Table-Pre-Chorus 1
Flowers-Sheet Music-Pre-Chorus 1

Melodic Structure Detail

*Note that all images and analysis shown below pertains to pre-chorus1 unless otherwise noted. Differences between pre-choruses 1, 2 and 3, if any, are detailed in each line grouping’s analysis.

Lines 1 & 2

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Pre-chorus lines 1 and 2
Line 1

Part a1: Mm, I didn’t wan-na leave yuh
Part a2: I did-n’t wan-na lie

Line 1 is composed of subparts a1 and a2, which are segmented from one another by an eighth rest. Both are centered on scale degree 4 and are delivered with an engagingly varied rhythm, which both heightens interest against the preceding verse and creates tension toward the impending chorus.

The main difference between them is how they begin and end. Part a1 begins with an ascending stepwise slur from scale degree 3 to 4 and concludes with a pronounced leap from scale degree 4 to the root. In contrast, part a2 omits both of these “bookending” qualities, and comes across in a more direct manner as a result.

Line 2

Part b1: Star-ted to cry
Part b2: But then re-mem-bered I

Line 2 is composed of subparts b1 and b2, which are segmented from one another by a full beat on the lyric “cry” against the eighth-notes that surround it. Sub-part b1 initially descends to scale degree 2 and then resides on a 2-1-2-1-2-1 A.M.P. pattern that carries over into subpart b2 with a mainly eighth-note rhythm. The section then concludes with a stepwise ascent to scale degree 4 and more sustained rhythmic flow. Together, these qualities help to focus the listener as they head toward the chorus, setting it up for maximum impact.

Choruses

Overview

The chorus spans an octave from A3 to A4, which is the widest range in the entire song. However, much of it is centered between C4 and F4, which along with the short to moderate length phrases, generally stepwise motion and small intervallic leaps, effective balance of repetition and contrast (most notably in the all-important first stanza), and generally easy-to-lock into rhythms makes it easy for the average listener to sing along to and remember.

In terms of serving the lyrics, the generally higher register of the section, greater degree of ascending motion and sustained leaps, and focused eighth-note-driven rhythms effectively jibe with and accentuate Cyrus’ shift to self-empowerment. Also noteworthy is the general descent of the melodic patterns across lines 5, 6 and 7, which along with the shift in melodic and rhythmic vibrancy effectively transitions from the super-positive “I can take myself dancing and hold my own hand” to the more melancholic, though still empowered “I can love me better than you can” lyric at the end of the section. This descent also helps to set up and bolster the impact of the empowering “I can love me better” hook in the ensuing vocal break post-chorus.

Melodic Structure Overview & Detail

Chorus 1 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Pre-Chorus Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Verse 1 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Verse 1

Verse 2 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Verse 2

Chorus 1 Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Melodic Structure Detail

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

Stanza 1

Lines 1 & 2

Line 1

Part a: I can buy my-self flow-ers

Line 1, which is the song title hook, is composed of subpart a. It is highly simplistic, consisting of stagnant, stepwise and small leaping melodies delivered with a consistent eighth-note rhythm. Together, they achieve a few key things:

  • The consistent rhythm, along with the limited range, provides the empowering song title hook with a direct quality that bolsters its impact.
  • The ascending 3-5-6 motion at the end, along with the sustained ending, highlights the song title portion of the hook (i.e., “flowers”) and jibes with its positive-toned, self-empowerment connotation.
  • The two beats of rests that follow the song title hook provides ample time for it to sink in with the listener before moving onto the next melody.
Line 2

Part b1: Write my name in the sand

Line 2 is composed of subpart b1. While it features a similar melodic shape as line 1, it resides in a slightly lower register and features more frequent leaps and a more varied, syncopated rhythm. Together, these qualities impart familiarity and bolster the chorus’s memorability factor while keeping things interesting and engaging for the listener.

Lines 3 & 4

Line 3

Part a: Talk to my-self for hours

Line 3 is composed of subpart a, and is nearly identical to its line 1 counterpart save for an additional note that accommodates the lyric “talk” at the beginning of the line.

Line 4

Part b2: Say things you don’t un-der-stand

Line 4 is composed of subpart b2. Similar to its subpart b1 counterpart, subpart b2 features additional sixteenth-note syncopation and a more prominent embellishment at the end of the line, further heightening interest as the section progresses.

Stanza 2

Lines 5 – 7

Line 5

Part c: I can take my-self danc-ing

Line 5 is composed of subpart c. It begins with a simple, eighth-note driven intervallic A.M.P. melody that alternates between scale degrees 7 and 5 before concluding in a melismatic manner down to the root on the lyric “dancing.”

In addition to heightening interest and bolstering the section’s empowering emotional impact, this melodic shift also calls attention to the lyrics, which are further bolstered through the addition of disco-styled strings. Furthermore, note that the mainly eighth-note delivery creates rhythmic familiarity with the line 1 song title hook and bolsters the direct quality of both lyrics.

Line 6

Part d: And I can hold my own hand

Line 6 is composed of subpart d. It simplifies the chorus melody following the more vibrant line 5 with a combination of stagnant, stepwise and intervallic motion along with a mainly eighth- note and eighth-note triplet-driven rhythm. Note that the string of eighth-notes on scale degree 4 effectively sets up the leap on the lyric “hold,” which is sustained for a beat and a half. This both heightens interest and calls attention to the impactful, empowering lyric.

Line 7

Part e: Yeah, I can love me bet-ter than
Part f: You can

Line 7 is composed of subparts e and f, which deliver the chorus’s “down below” empowering standout statement. Part e picks up where line 5 left off on scale degree 5, and then continues the downward trajectory to the root before leaping back up to scale degree 5 and descending once again to scale degree 2. The leap both creates familiarity with line 5 and heightens interest, while the conclusion on scale degree 2 heightens tension leading into the conclusion of the hook, “you can,” which descends across scale degrees 3 and 1 to bring the section to a conclusion on a resolved and resolute note.

Note that the general downward motion of the melodies cleverly conveys Cyrus’ dismay, despite the self-empowerment that she feels. Furthermore, the syncopated rhythms compliment this, call further attention to the empowering statement, and melodically set up the more vibrant vocal break post-chorus melody that follows.

Chorus 3 Variation
Chorus 3 features an additional repetition of subpart e, further heightening tension before the final resolution. 

Vocal Breaks & Outro

Overview

The vocal breaks and outro span a perfect fifth from C4 to G4, but are mainly concentrated within a third from D4 to F4. The melodies are the most repetitive, stagnant and rhythmically focused in the scope of the song, which effectively serves the repetition of the self-empowering lyrical hook, “I can love me better.”

Further bolstering this statement is the rhythmic segmentation around the lyric “I.” In addition to breaking each melodic and lyrical phrase into shorter, easier-to-digest segments, it also spotlights what is arguably the most important lyric in the entire song, “I,” which is what the premise of the story revolves around (i.e., Cyrus doesn’t need her ex, all she needs is herself).  

Melodic Structure Overview & Detail

Vocal Break 1 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Outro Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Chorus Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Pre-Chorus Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Verse 1 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Verse 1

Verse 2 Melodic Direction: At-A-Glance

Flowers-Vocal Melody Graph-Verse 2

Vocal Break 1 Melodic Part Structure: At-A-Glance

Melodic Structure Detail

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

Lines 1 & 2

Line 1

Part a1: Can love me bet-ter
Part a2: I can love me bet-ter, ba-by

Line 1 is composed of subparts a1 and a2. Subpart a1 features entirely stagnant motion on scale degree 5, which is then complimented by slightly varied stagnant motion on scale degrees 6 and 4 in subpart a2. Together the two subparts create an engaging, direct repetition of the impactful hook.

Line 2

Part a3: Can love me bet-ter,
Part a4: I can love me bet-ter, ba-by

Line 2 is composed of subparts a3 and a4. The overarching pattern is highly similar to that of line 1, with the main differences being the concentration on scale degrees 4 and 5 as opposed to 5 and 6, and the engaging leap into the lyric “better,” which both heightens interest and bolsters its emotional value.


Vocal Break 2 & Outro Variation
Vocal break 2 and the outro feature an additional repetition of lines 1 and 2, further reinforcing the song-defining hook in the two sections.

Lyrics & Rhymes


Rhyme Schemes

Overview

Flowers features an abundance of expertly crafted rhymes and other connection accentuators to ensure the song gets firmly ingrained in the listener’s head. Among them are logically unfolding end-of-line rhyme schemes, and a plethora of strategically placed internal rhymes, double rhymes, alliterations, and lyrical repetitions. In addition, the end-of-line rhyme scheme mirrors the main melodic structure in certain sections to heighten connection value, and serves as a cohesive thread in others to balance cross-line melodic variation.

"EYE" Rhyme Focus

Flowers’ lyrical focus is not on the song title, but on the “EYE”-sounding singular pronouns “I” and “my.” They are strategically woven into the fabric of the song in the following sections:

  • Verse 1: The rhyme is present in the lyrics, “kind” and “right,” with no mention of the “I” and “my” pronouns. Note that this is warranted since the focus of the story is still on “we” (i.e., documenting the relationship’s backstory) and not yet exclusively on the protagonist.
  • Pre-Chorus: The “I” pronoun is now included alongside the negative “EYE”-rhyming lyrics, “lie” and “eye.” Note that this is the only section in the song where “I” is surrounded by negative lyrics. 
  • Chorus: Save for the lyrics “buy” and “write,” the entire “EYE”-scheme is focused on the pronouns “I” and “my.” Furthermore, they are now presented in an entirely positive context.
  • Post-Chorus: The only “EYE”-sounding rhyme is the singular pronoun, “I.”
  • Verse 2: Now that the protagonist has emerged self-loving and empowered following the first chorus and vocal break post-chorus, here the “EYE” rhyme is focused entirely on the pronouns “I” and “my” in a positive context. 

Note that by not including other “EYE”-sounding rhymes in the song, it keeps the main focus on the important “I” and “my” pronouns and bolsters their impact in the process. Furthermore, note that the lyric “I” is strategically placed and emphasized throughout the song, with a few of the most notable being:

  • Placement at the end of the pre-chorus along with its sustained delivery
  • Placement at the beginning of the chorus
  • Placement at the end of the strategically shortened vocal break post-chorus 2 and outro
  • Heightened emphasis by the surrounding eighth-rests in the vocal break post-choruses and outro

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

Key

A & B: End-of-line rhymes
X: Non-rhymes
Lyrics: The primary rhyme at the end of each line
Colors and rhyme schemes are unique to each section

Flowers-Rhymes-Overview Table

At-A-Glance: Syllable Count Section-By-Section

Key

Numbers: Denotes the total number of syllables in a line
Numbers in parentheses: Denotes the number of syllables in a specific line segment. Segmentation is achieved through melodic or rhythmic contrast within a line or the use of rests between segments. Lines without parentheses have no segmentation. Reference the Vocal Melody section of the report for further details
Colors: Reflect song sections (note that they do not relate to the colors used in the rhyme tables)

Flowers-Rhymes-Syllables

Verse 1

Flowers-Rhymes-Verse 1

End-Of-Line Rhymes
Verse 1 is composed of one, four-line stanza that follows an AABB rhyme scheme. The A scheme features the “OH” commonality in the lyrics “gold” and “sold,” and the B scheme features the “ER” commonality in the lyrics “weren’t” and “burn.”

Note that the AABB structure provides paired line cohesion against the alternating ABAB main melodic structure and 6-7-6-7 syllabic structure.

Internal Rhymes, Alliteration & Other Connection Accentuators
In addition to its end-of-line rhymes, the first verse features other connection accentuators, including:

  • The internal “EE” sounding rhyme in lines 1, 2 and 3 in the lyrics “we,” “dream,” and “be.”
  • Other internal rhymes including the “UH” and “IH” commonalities in lines 2, 3 and 4.
  • The repetition of “we were” and “we weren’t” across lines 1 and 3 along with the resulting alliteration.

Syllables
The verse is comprised of short, almost identical length lines that are further segmented through the use of rests and rhythmic contrast.

Verse 2

End-Of-Line Rhymes
Verse 2 is composed of one, four-line stanza that follows an AAAA rhyme scheme. Each line is connected by Cyrus’ unique pronunciation of the lyrics “red,” “left, "re-GRET” and “said,” which feature an “EH”/ “AY” hybrid-sounding commonality.

Internal Rhymes, Alliteration & Other Connection Accentuators
In addition to its end-of-line rhymes, verse 2 features a host of other connection accentuators, including:

  • The “EE”-sounding rhyme in lines 1, 3 and 4
  • The “EH”-sounding rhyme that appears at the beginning of the second phrase in lines 1, 2 and 4, which also reinforces the end-of-line rhymes.
  • The “AH”-sounding rhyme within line 2
  • The “OH”-sounding rhyme across lines 2 and 3
  • The “no-re” commonality across phrases in line 3

Syllables
Verse 2 features a highly similar syllabic structure as its verse 1 counterpart.

Pre-Chorus

End-Of-Line Rhymes
The pre-chorus is composed of one, two-line stanza that follows an AA rhyme scheme connected by the “EYE” commonality in the lyrics “lie” and “I.” Like the first verse, this provides cohesion against the varied melodic structure.

Internal Rhymes, Alliteration & Other Connection Accentuators
In addition to its end-of-line rhymes, the pre-chorus features a host of other connection accentuators, including:

  • Strategically placed internal “EYE” rhymes, which further bolsters connection value along with the similar end-of-line rhymes.
  • The “UH” commonality in the lyrics “wan-NA,”“yuh,” “to,” and “but.” Note that Cyrus alters her pronunciation of “to” to “tUH” to make the rhyme happen.
  • Repetition of the lyric, “I didn’t wanna” in line 1.

Syllables
Lines in the pre-chorus are longer compared to the preceding verses and following choruses. However, like the verses, they are broken into shorter, easier-to-digest segments through the use of rests and rhythmic contrast.

Chorus

End-Of-Line Rhymes
The chorus follows an ABAB/BBB rhyme scheme across its two stanzas. The A scheme features the “ER” commonality in the lyrics “flow-ERS,” and “houRS,” and the B scheme features the “AN” commonality with the lyrics “sand,” “un-der-STAND,” “DANC-ing,” “hand,” and “can.” Note that while the “danc-ing” rhyme isn’t as strong as the others due to the “-ing” syllable at the end, Cyrus’ emphasis on “DANC” makes the connection happen.

In terms of mirroring, the ABAB commonality between the rhyme scheme and main melodic structure makes the all-important first stanza easier to connect with. In the second stanza, the all-B rhyme scheme heightens cohesion against the diversified CDE melodies.  

Internal Rhymes, Alliteration & Other Connection Accentuators
In addition to the end-of-line rhymes, the chorus also features a number of other connection accentuators, including:

  • The double rhyme between the song title “flow-ers” and “hou-rs,” the latter being creatively pronounced to bolster the connection
  • The “AN” commonality in every line save for line 3.
  • The “EYE” commonality in the lyrics “I,” “buy, and “my.” 
  • The “AY” commonality in the lyrics “name,” “say” and “take.”
  • The repetition of the lyrics “I can” and “my-self,” which accentuates the chorus’s self-love and empowerment lyrical summation.

Syllables
The length of lines in the chorus are on par with the verse sections, without the in-line segmentation save for line 7.

Vocal Break & Outro Post-Choruses