Listening to Spotify playlist Today’s Top Hit’s this week, these are my thoughts on the production techniques and trends being used on the following top track:
Song: ‘Rain on Me’ by Lady Gaga featuring Ariana Grande
The track starts with a short swell followed by Lady Gaga’s vocals straight away, a common trick used in current pop music. Her vocals have delay on them with is more audible when she stops singing. The background music consists of a House-inspired chord progression played on a sampled piano, the piano has delay on it creating some extra rhythmic movement.
There are some synths that have been subdued in the background with low pass filtering, around 8 seconds in the percussion starts to become gradually louder as the higher frequencies are revealed gradually with a filter sweep, this is a common technique in dance music to build some energy up and lead you into the next section.
At around the 17 second mark the pre-chorus starts. A classic 808 clap sample enters on beats 2 and 4, creating some rhythmic energy. Synth strings also enter which follow the piano part, the sound of these strings is very obviously a synth, they are not trying to sound realistic. Gaga’s vocals continue to feature heavy delay, prominent on lines such as ‘It’s coming down on me’.
After the short pre-chorus we get the first chorus. The beat has yet to kick in fully, this is helping maintain the tension which will inevitably be released once the beat drops, there is a long snare roll that goes throughout the chorus, this is helping build the energy towards the drop. Gaga’s vocals are now multi-tracked and spread across the stereo spectrum with a minimum of 3 layers but possibly more, this helps thicken out the chorus and separate it from the verses. There is also some subtle guitar and bass layers that enter here to keep the listener engaged.
At the end of the chorus Gaga says the song title as a spoken line, here her vocals are slightly filtered and feature mono reverb and delay, this helps it contrast with the sweet multi-layered vocals of the chorus. When the beat drops, we get some chopped up vocal samples repeating the word ‘me’, these are Gaga’s vocals pitched down to give them a lower tone and are clearly inspired by 80s/90s House music. The drum beat is a pretty standard House beat, with an electronic kick pattern that is four to the floor, there is some hi-hat along with a snare and clap overlaid on beats 2 and 4. There are also some wah-wah effected guitar licks added to the drop.
The beat continues with some subtle changes such as less hi-hat brightness into the second verse, this keeps the energy going but drops it enough to separate it from the previous section. Ariana Grande’s vocals enter here, her vocals also feature prominent delay in between the gaps of her singing.
The second pre-chorus features a trade off between Ariana and Gaga’s lead vocals, the instrumental pretty much stays the same as the verse.
The music returns to same as the previous chorus however this time Ariana and Gaga are now harmonizing their vocals.
The second drop features Ariana doing vocal adlibs and runs over the instrumental, this helps differentiate it from the first drop.
For the middle there is a filtered-out kick drum on every beat, this has the low frequencies filtered out to drop some of the energy, the piano also has a filter sweep running on it. Gaga’s vocals re-enter as spoken word with Ariana singing adlibs over her. At 2:21 the claps, guitar and bass return in a similar manner to the first pre-chorus.
For the last chorus we get the instrumental of the drop with the chorus vocals, this gives the final release of tension of the song. There is a final additional hook in the form of ‘I hear the thunder coming down’, this is a common trick in pop music of providing one final hook before the song finishes to help make the song more memorable.
Do not miss my analysis for Break My Heart by Dua Lipa.