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the next best thing (reciprocate) // Sept - Jan

Updated: Mar 27, 2020

- For my final year I wanted to re-work a few of my older songs that I feel no longer resonate with who I am as a person or as an artist. For The Next Best Thing (working title), I chose to 'steal' the main hook from a song I wrote when I was 14 called 'Our Beautiful December'. Obviously the song was very predicable and cringe, but I knew the main hook was strong.

- When writing, I ditched the 2nd half of the melodic phrasing of the chorus (i.e. the part that specifies that it's DECEMBER) so I could start the narrative from scratch. I was really interested in the idea of someone being in a seemingly healthy, happy relationship but still pining after an ex. I feel it's more often told from the perspective of the partner who knows about it and wishes they could just have the whole person and not part of them, but I wanted to flip the narrative. I thought it was more interesting to explore the woman's guilt about it all and how she does care about her current partner and that's what makes it harder for her.  

- It wasn't something either myself or my friends had experienced but I tried to imagine how I might feel in the situation myself. It was a bit of a 'what if' kind of exercise.

- When writing the verses, I used a lot of the same chords for the sake of coherence in the melody. I ended up writing a really nice (or I think so anyway), fluid melody with a lot of active notes and leaps which added some emotional charge to the song. Initially, whilst playing around with the arrangement, I often swapped chords for their relatives because I hadn't settled on the ones I wanted to use. I found I actually enjoyed the changes and chose to make the progressions in verse 1 slightly different to the progressions in verse 2.

- In my 1 on 1 class, I presented the song and Zack suggested that the use of the E major in the chorus didn't quite work with the new melody - after some experimenting we settled on a G#. It isn't usually the kind of harmony I gravitate towards but I think it sounds pretty cool and it's given me more scope to play around with the arrangement of backing vocals and vocal harmony. In addition to what I usually do, I've been experimenting with some call and response elements.  

- I had been sitting on the idea of a reharmonised verse to use as the middle 8 of the song but it wasn't doing much for me - it didn't feel like a satisfying end or a climax to the song. Using the same reharmonised chords, I started to play around with the phrase 'you're only the next best thing' - initially I was going to change some of the lyrics but I really enjoyed the repetition and I think the phrase really sums up the heart of the song. I was quite inspired by the break downs in Alt-J's Breezeblocks and Fleetwood Mac's Everywhere; I want a similar interwoven and choppy vocal arrangement. I think I might experiment with panning and play around with where and when things are positioned within the mix.

- The next stage of this track will definitely be the guitar - I'm kind of feeling a half-finger-picked-half-strummed melodic style where the instrument moves with the existing melody. At this moment in time, I don't know if I'm wanting and acoustic or an electric tone.

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