This week in pop song reviews it’s Theme Week, the theme being “Pop Songs I Didn’t Really Want to Review But There’s So Little Else in the Charts to Talk About I Kinda Have To”. Today’s entry is the Robin Schulz remix of “Prayer in C” by Lilly Wood & The Prick & Robin Schulz, which–wait, so Schulz gets an equal artist credit and a mention that it’s his remix? Yeesh, guy, why don’t you just rename the song “Robin Schulz in RS” while you’re at it?
First impressions: Well, I like the lady’s voice – Lilly Wood, you said her name was? I like her. It’s quite a nice melody, too, so she’s winning as far as I’m concerned. Everything else feels a little too relaxed for my liking – I feel like something’s going to go wrong at any second.
The music: To make this a little easier for myself, here’s the original:
Now I realise we’re not here to talk about the original folk version, which is a pleasant if unremarkable acoustic ballad (but it has a flute line!). However, given that the core musical elements of the original “Prayer in C” are effectively the same as those in the remix, I think it’s a good idea to use it as a base point for my analysis. The song itself is a very simple arrangement, as is common in folk music: Lilly Wood warbles a sweet, emotional melody set to a clear, simple guitar line with an occasional dash of flute… and that’s about it. No chorus, just verse after verse until it trundles to a halt. While that might be unthinkable in pop music, it’s a structure that lends itself to the casual, anything-goes attitude of folk quite nicely.
With the remix, Robin Schulz takes the song and asks, “wouldn’t this simple, homely, wistful acoustic ballad work better with processed beats and clomping, fizzing synths? Then drunk people could enjoy it too!” So inevitably “Prayer in C” is turned into another generic, blissed-out club jam to dance and get your drink on to. Admittedly it’s a lot gentler than most club-pop with a crisp yet soft production that I find quite lovely, and I like that it leaves what worked about the original largely intact (though I notice the flute is gone – shame on you, Schulz), but it still hits all the same beats as any of its contemporaries. Is the remix successful? Yeah, I guess it’s all right. Was it necessary? Nope.
As for that name: now, usually composers indicate the key of their piece in the title because… well, I guess to give anyone wanting to conduct and perform it a head start, but also because it just sounds impressive, if a little brag-y. Symphony in D Minor – classy stuff. “Prayer in C”, though? “C”? What’s the point in mentioning that you wrote your song in the simplest and most commonly-used scale to work in, particularly in pop music? Can we even call that a brag? It’s like me boasting that I’ve got two eyes and can spell my own name.
The lyrics: From my understanding of the lyrics it seems to be a condemnation of God (or whatever higher power the artists are directing their frustration at) for supposedly abandoning the Earth and its people, not believing that anyone could forgive Him. “See the children are starving / And their houses were destroyed / Don’t think they could forgive you.” Obviously here Wood is alluding to famine and natural disasters, even positing that God couldn’t even forgive Himself: “don’t think you could forgive you.” It’s powerful stuff, if a little shallow – really? You don’t think the disenfranchised can forgive God for their Earthly suffering? You really don’t get faith, do you? Also, some of it’s a little too vague and confusing to really hit home: “you never said a word / you never sent me no letter.” Was God ever one for sending letters in the Bible? Anybody want to find that verse for me? Mighty appreciate it.
So yeah, as far as theological discussion goes it’s pretty lame, but it’s certainly more interesting stuff than the usual club-pop bangers you hear on the radio – probably because it wasn’t written as a club-pop banger. How much of that powerful spiritual message do you reckon will make its way through to the drunken punters on the night club dance-floor while the DJ waits for the right moment to segue into “Boom Clap”? Again, disconnect between the music and the lyrics is a seriously jarring… I’m the only one who cares about this, aren’t I? Screw my life.
Verdict: Er… well, I guess it’s a more pleasant and amicable listen than most club bangers, but most of that charm comes from the original music: all Schulz does it Euro-popify it for duh clerb. That said, I think I can find it in myself to give it a 3 out of 5. High praise indeed.
Today’s double-up is “God Am” by Alice in Chains, written by a man who was pretty much dying when he wrote it. Take that, “Prayer in C”.
On a serious note (or as serious as it gets around here), with this review and the next I’m kinda wiped for relevant pop singles I can review. I only really focus on the top twenty of both the Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart – y’know, the big hitters – and I try not to cover pop songs that have already been reviewed by critics I follow so I don’t subconsciously steal any of their jokes or observations. I also try and avoid writing about pop songs that I can tell are going to peak in popularity early on, only to drop out of the charts completely within a fortnight or so (of course, sometimes I fail – thanks a lot, Duke Dumont). These little rules have done me well so far but it means I’ve pretty much run out of songs to talk about for the time being. I’m sure more will come in as the charts change, but I still think I’d better cut these reviews down to one per week so I don’t run out of material. Also, I think I’m done with reviewing club-pop songs: there’s just nothing to say about them anymore that I haven’t already said and I’m worried that I’m going to start repeating myself if I carry on trying to review them. So that’s that – bye for now.