2

Teddy Pendergrass' 1980 "quiet storm" R&B hit ballad "Love T.K.O." is one of the most unusual songs in the entire pop music canon. Why?

The verses are in a major tonality, while the chorus is in a minor tonality. In pop music, the verse and chorus are typically in the same tonality, usually major. When one of the two is in a different tonality, it's almost exclusively the verse in minor (for example, "Break My Stride" or "Land Down Under"). That's because the chorus is typically a emotional release from the verse. The reversal in this case leads to the song's mood of bittersweet nostalgia and regret.

I can't think of single other pop song with this reversed tonality. Can you? Accepted answer will be the highest US charting pop song (if any), but I'm open to hearing about other songs that meet the criteria.

2
  • Suggested clarification: You are being specific about "chorus", as opposed to "bridge" or "middle 8" and such?
    – Aaron
    Jan 8 at 4:50
  • Another clarification: Which US chart(s)?
    – Aaron
    Jan 8 at 5:26
3

"Under the Boardwalk"; The Drifters (#4); G major/E minor

It charted at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on August 22, 1964 (Wikipedia)

"The Fool on the Hill"; The Beatles (#6/#1); D major/D minor

the song reached number 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100[83] and topped Billboard's Easy Listening chart for six weeks (Wikipedia)

"I'm Still Standing"; Elton John/Bernie Taupin (#12); B major/B minor

#12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 (Wikipedia)

2
  • 1
    Three very strong contenders. :) Jan 8 at 13:22
  • What's interesting is these all do real work in the song. In "Under the Boardwalk," the minor chorus is the sensual secret hiding under the public carnival. In "Fool on the Hill," the unusual tonality reflects the alienation of the title character. And "I'm Still Standing" reflects the theme of resolute endurance over challenges. Jan 20 at 18:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.