Weekly Billboard Theory — Mi Gente
Remember when I wrote about “Despacito” and I said that I wasn’t able to properly do enough research on South American music because I was on the road and my service wasn’t great? Well, we have another South American hit and I am currently driving through Iowa. Since I can’t really do research this will definitely be on the shorter side but I will try to figure out why this song is so popular. Anyways, let’s get into it.
J Balvin, Willy William (feat. Beyonce)
Key: E Minor
Tempo: 106 BPM
I’m going to start with the accompaniment because it repeats the entirety of the song. Look below and you’ll see the one measure of pitch that we hear over and over again. It’s definitely a sampled voice that has been adjusted to sound closer to a synthesizer. This is nothing new but is especially common in top songs right now. But like, that’s it. The whole song is just that. I’ve kind of given other rapped songs a pass for using the same accompaniment over and over again but those typically have at least four bars, not one. We do get some slight changes with percussion throughout the song, sure. Yes, there is a bassline that comes and goes but it’s pitched so low that it’s very difficult to distinguish the pitches. This bassline is only one measure as well so really we’re still only getting a slight variation of that one measure.
Let me go back for a second and compare this to some other songs. Its super hot right now for choruses/post-choruses to consist of chopped up vocal samples. I GUESS “Mi Gente” kind of does this too but in the worst way? Other songs create new melodies to extend the chorus and create a sort of “drop” that one would find in EDM. “Mi Gente” doesn’t do this. It just goes back to the start with that same measure of music over and over again. I think it’s possible for a song to go back to the start in a scenario like this and create something interesting but it’s pretty hard to do that if you never went anywhere new. Despite all of my feelings on this, the use of this measure is a smart move. Originally from Willy William’s “Voodoo Song”, making a song that covers three different cultures is sure to get some attention
I often talk about how a song develops in these write-ups. However, “Mi Gente” sort of doesn’t. Obviously, nothing happens harmonically. The percussion ebbs and flows throughout that song but we don’t really get any new kick-snare patterns to mix up that one measure. We DO in fact get new melodies throughout the song but it’s hardly a development. Each verse shares practically nothing with those that came before until the very end of the song. Yes there is a development of energy as the second verse is more complex than the first but you could completely omit the first minute of the song without losing any musical value. Keep in mind; I’m not looking at the lyrical content at all because that’s not what this is about. But hey, since I don’t really have anything else to talk about musically maybe we should just take a quick peep at the lyrics?
Grab your translations because I think the timing of this song has a lot to do with its popularity. Just skimming through, “Mi Gente” is about partying and enjoying music. Pretty easy message to get behind, right? However, there is a unifying message to be found here. In a time when our world is particularly divided (especially because the president of the U.S. is a garbage person) it is important to remember that there are some things that we actually do all share in common: partying and enjoying music. Obviously there are discrepancies as to what kind of parties and what genres of music we enjoy. But you know what I’m saying. It’s important that people are trying to create art that unifies us all despite how repetitive it may be. Is it a song I’ll ever listen to again? Probably not because 3 and a half minutes of one measure is too much. However, I think there is value to be found in the message of the song and it’s a reminder that if you get huge stars from around the world you’re almost guaranteed to get a hit.
Let’s look at those dang charts. Mr. Malone moved to number one which is for sure a shocker. Cardi B is number two and Taylor is in third. We have a new contender at lucky number seven with Sam Smith’s “Too Good At Goodbyes.” I low key can’t stand Sam Smith’s music so I’m excited to finally gather my opinion and bring it to court. Anyways, I’ll see ya next week!