Editorial: The Little Songs That Could

2009 for gaming is a bit of a mystery so far.
Will we find out about Team ICO’s next project? We’re promised to NOT get ready for Final Fantasy XIII this year. Nintendo is even more quiet than usual which makes me both excited and nervous for their E3 presentation.
So while I catch up on all the 360 games I wasn’t able to play since I just bought the console recently, I’m going to instead rant briefly about music.

Specifically I’m going to rant about music that is so close to being fantastic but makes minor, but crucial, errors.

In fact, today I’m going to be even more specific and rant about two songs that fade out.

Fading out is possibly the most lazy technique used in modern music save for changing keys to make the last chorus “more interesting”.
I can’t possibly imagine a scenario in which fading out actually benefits a song. I just can’t picture a band really sitting down and deciding “well yes, the way to end this song in the best way possible is to fade out”.
It’s lazy.
It makes me so pissed off, in fact, that some songs that would otherwise be among my favourites have become a source of severe bitterness. Here are the two examples:

1. So Long Mrs. SmithMatthew Good Band (Raygun)
This is a hidden gem on Matt Good’s most available EP. It’s simple and powerful; really the stuff that defines the guy. It’s not very long, but that’s okay, it’s far more frustrating that the song goes into a beautiful acoustic solo and then decides to fade out
…right in the middle of it
…while the solo is still going strong.
Matt’s usually so good with never, ever fading out, that this just confuses me. Perhaps because it was on an EP, he didn’t think the song was actually as good as it is? Either way: no excuse.

2. Perfect Symmetry – Keane (Perfect Symmetry)
So you kids are more likely able to relate to this song just they’re just not popular in Canada. Keane’s newest album has some hits and some misses, but the biggest mix of both is the title track. It’s a powerful, sprawling epic that I may have labelled their best song in their three album career; except they decided that they wrote enough different parts of the song, and so they just fade it out at the end.
This song has been called Keane’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which isn’t exactly true in its own right, but it would be a lot more understandable if Keane had thought of a way to tie up their song in the same thoughtful and emotional weighted way that Queen did. But Queen didn’t fade out Bohemian Rhapsody.
“Just wanna get out, just wanna get right out of here”, and then the song slowly fades out during the instrumental that follows. It didn’t happen because Queen wouldn’t make such a musically retarded decision for such an important song.
What a bloody waste, Keane.

So that’s my rant.
What do you think? Do you not mind when a song fades out? Do you know/like/hate any of Keane, Matthew Good, or Queen?
That’s what the comments are for.

Ethan’s Link of the Week (Music): Listen to Lorene


  1. It’s worth pointing out that a lot of Enya songs end with repetition and fade-out (and her choruses often have a key change). Of course, this is her style, and her music is often repetitive/meditative in and of itself, so that an end to it would seem out of place. It feels as if it should go on forever, indeed that is has been going on forever, and so a concrete stop would be jarring.

    That said, most modern music–indeed, most music of any sort–is not written in such a style, and therefore a conclusion is desireable. One of the classical pieces I was listening to on WRCJ this afternoon was amusing in that it abruptly ended in the middle of a phrase! Of course, I am not advocating that such hard stops are necessary in every piece, but when one has said all they wish to say musically, it is time to pen the conclusion.

    This is especially so given the balladeer quality of today’s, frankly whiny, music. Insult intended.

  2. Good point about Enya and Enya-esque music.
    There is a lot of whiny music out nowadays, although the songs I talked about are, comparitively, not so.
    And, really, music has been whiny since lyrics entered the mix.

  3. Many of my favorite songs involve fadeouts, though I will agree it’s a lazy tactic. I think video game ost’s can be wholly forgiven this tresspass however given their tendency to loop rather than end.

  4. Good point, Silicon. I should have mentioned video game OSTs. It is an entirely valid exception.