What happens when you cross pop music and trance icons? Not trance, that’s for sure but you do end up with a guilty pleasure of mine. Back in 2006 Paul Oakenfold graced us with this lovely little edm/pop mashup featuring Brittany Murphy (remember Clueless?). Many folks may not remember this track now, but recently I was created a ‘classic dance’ playlist on rdio and for whatever reason this song popped into my head as something to include. After listening to it a million times I started to wonder if perhaps this simple 3 minute pop tune was worthy of an analysis. Add in Friday afternoon procrastination at work and well… here it is…
Analysis: Paul Oakenfold – Faster Kill Pussycat featuring Brittany Murphy
First, get yourself familiar. Here’s the video:
Now this song isn’t terribly complicated. At 3:13 it really gets to the point quickly and doesn’t waste any time getting to the point. Despite its lack of looming complexity, I can’t help but bob my head to it over and over. I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed writing this review (maybe its that mental image of Brittany, yum!). Throughout the song the main riff plays constantly and with subtle variation and clever application of a couple of layers the backing track maintains interest the whole three minutes. Topped with some killer vocals, this track is definitely did what it set out to do.
Structure and Instrumentation
The structure is fairly straight forward for a pop track. The numbers in parens represent the bars for the section:
On the track we have: Vocals, drums (kick, snare, 2 different hands, claps, crash, reverse crash), Pad, a light sawtooth synth, lead synth, guitar, bass, and various effects (used mostly for transitions).
Brittany sings her own backups. In the song Paul uses double tracking vs single tracking to create an interesting ‘back and forth’ texture (listen to the chorus or the third verse).
The bass seems like a fairly straight forward sine bass. The guitar has a varied level of distortion used to bring up the intensity. The effects are used in all the expected places for transitions (along with the reverse cymbal and crashes).
Intro through first Chorus
The first 8 bars of the intro fade in the guitar while the farty sawtooth synth plays the main riff (which is the same as the guitar). If you listen closely the synth plays an extra note every 4 bars. The beat for the first 8 bars of the song is a standard breakbeat without much going on in the hats.
After 8 bars we have some effects for the transition, the guitar turns on its distortion, the bass comes in, the hats come in, and we go 4 on the floor. This goes on for four bars but for the last bar the kick drops out.
Enter first verse. You’ll notice that the energy drops a bit. This is due to a few things. Notably the guitar drops out entirely. The hats have also changed to something less ringy and more clicky. Britney does her thing for 8 bars.
As we approach the first chorus we’re lead into it with a reverse crash and then a regular crash. The hats have picked up the energy again with the more bright and ringy sound. Every four bars in the chorus there’s a crash. Remember that texture thing I mentioned about the vocals above? Yea, that’s happening in here. It sounds like Paul double tracked Brittany for the call, and single tracked her for the response. That is the “you turn me on” in the back, with the ‘yea you turn me, yea you turn me on‘ being a little thinner and sitting on top.
Oh yea, and the lead synth comes in for the chorus.
Verse 2 and Chorus 2
Now first off the verse is twice as long as the previous. We lost the big hat that was in the chorus but we have a little bit of guitar going on no that helps keep the pace. Also, remember that crash from the first chorus? It keeps going. As we get to the second half of the verse if you listen carefully there’s a synth in the background with some effects going on it, its helping build the intensity. Then we have some more effects that are a little bigger that help bring us into the second chorus.
The second chorus is a lot like the first. The big difference is its twice as long. Once we get halfway through the chorus some pads come in the top that bring it up just a touch more.
Break, Verse 3, Chorus 3, and Out
As we enter the break we switch back to the breakbeat used in the intro. The pads from the second half of the chorus carry into the break and fade out. While the pads are fading out the guitars are fading in like they did in the intro. There’s also some giggles from Britney here and there. Then we enter verse 3 after 8 bars.
Verse 3 has many of the things verse 2 had but the vocal melody is different, the guitars are a little more intense too. Brittany is sort of dueling with herself like crazy now, really bringing things up. There’s more of that call and response texture Paul used in the chorus but its all over this verse. This goes on for a few bars and we end up in the third chorus. Paul continues to use the light high-hat for this verse to help keep the energy slightly down versus the incoming chorus.
The third chorus has all the layers we’ve heard before. In this case we’ve got Brittany really singing a huge line on top of the primary chorus. The backing vocals feel thicker and larger here. I can even detect some sprinkles of additional backing vocals here.
And then in the outro is sort of the reverse of the intro. Its the break beat but everything is fading out although it feels like there’s some more revert going on here.
This song is a great example of less is more. Hey, maybe not everyone likes everything Paul Oakenfold has done over the years, but this song is a great example of keeping it simple. And yea, it really helps if Brittany Murphy will sing on your track. She really carries this tune. Clearly, this tune was designed around her. But things are simple in a number of regards, particularly in how the main riff is literally played throughout the entire song. Way to work an core concept, that’s for sure.
I got some good production insight, hopefully you got something out of this too. Until next time…