Anatomy of a hit: Chemical Brothers - Go

This recent cut from the Chems strikes the perfect blend of EDM stylings and mainstream song arrangement

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO2RPDZkY88

Go was the first single to be released on the Chemical Brothers' eighth studio album Born in the Echoes.

Featuring the pitched up guest vocals from Kamaal Ibn John Fareed, AKA Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest fame. Go is one the poppier tracks on the album and with Q-Tip's vocal, one of the more memorable.

Here, we get into the guts of the song to work out how Ed and Tom stitched all the elements together.


0:00 - Intro

A solid beat, heavily reverbed percussion and analogue filter sweeps make up the first eight bars of this tune, after which we're more than set up for eight bars of monotonic bassline playing a string of 16th-notes on D, with an ear-bending Bb - G - Ab motif every fourth bar. Meanwhile, Q-tip cues up the verse rap vocal with "Can't think/sleep/breathe" over the last four bars.

0:32 - Verse 1

The drums and bassline continue unchanged as Q-Tip gets into his flow, his rap doubling the rhythm of the bassline and accompanied by a high-pitched synth sound that bends upwards in pitch as each line is delivered. The vocal creeps up in intensity over the 16 bars, building up tension before the chorus hits.

1:04 - Chorus 1

Heralded by a sung "O-oh" vocal on the downbeat, a flurry of stabby synth parts and an unforgettable lead synth hook, Q-Tip's laconic delivery continues over the chorus, which is technically eight bars long. After the eight bars, however, we find the same delayed resolution technique found in the second chorus of Back In The USSR, repeating the "We're only here to make you…" line four times before the payoff of "Go!" on the downbeat of the next section. This makes for an extra three-bar 'tag' at the end of the chorus, totalling 11 bars.

1:26 - Verse 2

The 27 bars from this point on are musically the same as the last 27, save a tambourine loop and a few extra synth noises for variety. We get another 16-bar rap verse followed by an identical eight-bar chorus and three-bar tag, except this time round…

2:20 - Middle 8

…the "Go!" leads into a new section that feels like a middle 8, but is actually four bars of repeated "Go!"s, the intro percussion and some synth noise. This leads to the middle 8 proper, at which point the drums drop out, replaced by Q-Tip's "Can't think/sleep/breathe" refrain from the intro, and the bassline now played higher up.

2:44 - Build-up

In this eight-bar section, the high bass synth continues pedalling on D, and Q-Tip quotes some lines from the first verse, while a sonorous synth note rises in pitch and frequency, ramping up the tension.

3:00 - Drop

An eight-bar instrumental verse with the drums back in full effect and the bassline played by a new, more analogue, reverberant synth sound.

3:16 - Outro

The song finishes with just a regular chorus plus three-bar tag, with all instrumentation switched back to that of the first two choruses.

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