Assessment of “Wiggle”, by Jason Derulo, ft. Snoop Dogg
In regards to trends in popular music, it is difficult to ignore the prevalence of trends apparent in Top 100 songs, especially in tempo, key, and structure. With a median of 100 bpm tempo-wise to maximize dance track potential, I-V-iv-IV chord progression for a sense of resonance and familiarity, and a sick back beat to be just abrasive enough to the older generation, Wiggle does not quite fit into the formula for a successful pop song, yet has peaked at #5 on the charts and stayed in the Top 100 for three weeks and has continued to be appreciated by music enthusiasts in dark dorm rooms and dance clubs. This piece strives to analyze the success of Wiggle in a lyrical and compositional point of view, and particularly how they blend together to deliver the strange phenomenon that is Wiggle. We will take the lens of both traditional forms of the Aria and the Lied to further explore the importance of the relationship between the singer (Derulo, and at times Snoop Dogg) and the accompaniment.
In E.T.A Hoffman’s review of Riem’s set of 12 Lieder, he puts forth the compelling argument that the difference between an Aria and a Lied is that an Aria “requires only a few words” whereas a Lied takes on the purpose “to enunciate his inner experience purely in words.” In looking at the overall structure of Wiggle, we see a standard Intro — Chorus (truncated) — Verse 1 — Chorus (full) — Verse 2 — Chorus (full) — Rap Interjection — Bridge — Chorus (truncated) — Outro structure, bookended and symmetrical, harking back to Bach’s Crab Canons. In order to fully appreciate the simplicity of this text — and why it is arguably more similar to an Aria, we must take a look at the truncated chorus.
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
Just a little bit of… swing
There are seven words in total, with the word “wiggle” used 50% of the time. While not overly saturated throughout the piece (the word itself is used 61 times throughout the piece as opposed to the word “gimme” used 86 times in Britney Spear’s Gimme More) it implies that there is something crucially significant to the word “wiggle” in conveying the central message of Derulo’s piece. In the same way a traditional Aria is able to take a few words and deliver the true meaning of the singer/composer’s intent and guide the audience through a whirlwind of emotions, Wiggle takes the listener through quite a graphic story and pornographication of a woman’s behind. The repetition lulls us, the delayed laziness of the beat puts us at ease but casually ramps up to a drop, and the very last line in the main chorus leaves us hanging with anticipation for what the upcoming “swing” might be. While there are two full verses of lyrics to analyze, we highlight a few themes. The first is the call back to childhood, something shocking and completely separate from the overarching message of the song. The allusions to patty-cake and bubble baths and ham sammiches are an obvious call to childhood, appropriate after the way the chorus sets up a basic rhythm mirroring the clapping rhythms of childhood games, but there is a very clear divide and contrast between playing patty cake and being famous on Instagram. The more adult themes of the song are interspersed throughout, but are addressed mainly, more explicitly and directly in the middle, featuring Snoop Dogg.
It is in this middle section that we must consider the argument for Wiggle to have more in common with a Lied, as the rapid fire bars delivered by Snoop Dogg purely uses words and lyrics with a very simply backbeat to convey the whole story of seduction with themes of lust, sexualization, violence, infatuation, and self hygiene. Musically, this adds nothing to the piece, but rather is a purely verbose interjection to halt the story and spew out the inner monologue that has been dying to escape. It is very distant from the musical themes present in this piece and in this sense is closer to a Lied, with none of the message in this section possibly conveyed without the words.
We go back after this lyrical interjection to the familiar chorus, but should stop here and analyze what could rightfully be called a “lyric” in and of itself. Unfamiliar to most ears, Wiggle features a toy flute that sings out what might be the most signature melody line of the piece. As most sound effects are incorporated by producers, the origin of this signature line may not be from the artist personally, but significantly contributes a seductive, hypnotic feel to the piece. It is interesting to note that this line is always unaccompanied and never has lyrics overlayed, although certain phrases like “just a little bit” interjected in between, it stands alone as an expressive force, perhaps more compelling towards the listener than the lyrics. With the exception of the rap interjection, it can perhaps be concluded that Wiggle follows more in the vein of an Aria, with the simplicity of the lyrics only enhancing and still restrained by the twanging melody and bold rhythms that shape this song.