Skip directly to content

"Call Me Crazy" Revisited: Why Sevyn Streeter Is Brilliant

Top
"Call Me Crazy" Revisited: Why Sevyn Streeter Is Brilliant
By Joy Sandford

Sevyn Streeter ain’t new to this, she’s true to this. She has recently released a sexy smooth summer jam with long-time collaborator Chris Brown called “Don’t Kill the Fun”– if you yet haven’t seen the video you can peep it below. 

Sevyn has been writing and performing hits with your favs for a minute now, and as we anticipate the release of her latest EP, On The Verge, it feels appropriate to geek out on a lil' music theory and explore a few technical reasons why Sevyn is a consummate young pro.

An obvious example of Sevyn's songwriting brilliance can be found in the title track of her 2014 EP, Call Me Crazy, But… She never fails to give the pop music theory kids just what they ordered. We’re talking melodic arc and tension and release, among many other important devices. Let’s just jump right into the meal, shall we?

Tension & Release

It’s the reason you get all giddy when your boo’s name comes across your phone screen after you haven’t spoken all day. It’s why we (including those of us who weren’t yet born) lost our whole entire minds when the King of Pop would take the stage and stare off into the crowd for 11 minutes before singing a note. Or perhaps more relevant to this here article, it is when a good hook is accompanied by equally good and gratifying instrumentation. Tension and release is a tool used in music composition, essentially, to give you-the-listener what you need just when you couldn’t take it any longer–and like we said, Sevyn’s good for giving you just that.  

“Call Me Crazy” opens with a tack, or tinny, piano keeping the rhythm atop this frantic beat that is serving all the anticipation of your favorite Phil Collins drum fill, courtesy of producer Dem Jointz. It creates tension because we usually associate that sort of barber-shop piano with all things jolly and innocent. That tension is built when that jolly innocence carries on in the midst of those spazzed out toms and that runaway hi-hat–in other words, it’s the contrast that makes you feel a way. And just when you thought Sevyn’s shameless love lyric could carry you no further in the verse, the release we didn’t see coming sneaks up and snatches you back to the motherland. Yes, in comes the chorus with an old 808/trap-style hi-hat roll combo to make your head bop in sweet satisfaction. And of course, lest we never forget, some classic Sevyn Streeter melodies that get real high, sending you soaring right along side them. Speaking of melody…

Melodic Arc

When a melody is well written, as in “Call Me Crazy”, not only is it married in holy, harmonious union to the instrumentation, but it also captures the emotion of the lyrics being sung. Further, it helps do the work of tension and release, especially in pop music. This is because we depend on the melodic arc to drive us to the other side of the bridge (pun absolutely intended), or in this case, to the chorus.

We hear it when Sevyn and co-writer Taylor Park begin each verse in her lower-mid register and then punctuate the last few bars with a breathless run that descends into the depths of her crazy, crazy love. We hear it again when she belts the chorus in full chest voice with a desperation that causes her to be just the right number of milliseconds off beat so you know she means it. Then she cries the hook, wild and finally free, in a bell voice that rings true blues. The hook, however, is punctuated with a run in the opposite direction as the one heard in the verses–this time it is an ascending run at the end of the. Crazy, right? And as with most melodies that ascend from lower to higher pitches, the catharsis is real and the release is felt. 

These are just glimpses of Ms. Streeter's brilliance as a writer and performer. Go and listen for yourself. See if you can find a few moments of tension and release or some of your favorite melodic arcs in her earlier work. If you’re a pop music theory kid like myself, swear-to-god it’ll make you crazy ;)

Want more Sevyn Streeter? Click here to visit her site and here to stay in the know with everything that's going on at Atlantic Records.

  • As we brace ourselves for the release of her newest EP, 'On The Verge', let's take a moment to get into the meat of Sevyn Streeter's technique.
    All Access
Joy Sandford's picture
on August 15, 2015 - 4:05pm

Sevyn Streeter ain’t new to this, she’s true to this. She has recently released a sexy smooth summer jam with long-time collaborator Chris Brown called “Don’t Kill the Fun”– if you yet haven’t seen the video you can peep it below. 

Sevyn has been writing and performing hits with your favs for a minute now, and as we anticipate the release of her latest EP, On The Verge, it feels appropriate to geek out on a lil' music theory and explore a few technical reasons why Sevyn is a consummate young pro.

An obvious example of Sevyn's songwriting brilliance can be found in the title track of her 2014 EP, Call Me Crazy, But… She never fails to give the pop music theory kids just what they ordered. We’re talking melodic arc and tension and release, among many other important devices. Let’s just jump right into the meal, shall we?

Tension & Release

It’s the reason you get all giddy when your boo’s name comes across your phone screen after you haven’t spoken all day. It’s why we (including those of us who weren’t yet born) lost our whole entire minds when the King of Pop would take the stage and stare off into the crowd for 11 minutes before singing a note. Or perhaps more relevant to this here article, it is when a good hook is accompanied by equally good and gratifying instrumentation. Tension and release is a tool used in music composition, essentially, to give you-the-listener what you need just when you couldn’t take it any longer–and like we said, Sevyn’s good for giving you just that.  

“Call Me Crazy” opens with a tack, or tinny, piano keeping the rhythm atop this frantic beat that is serving all the anticipation of your favorite Phil Collins drum fill, courtesy of producer Dem Jointz. It creates tension because we usually associate that sort of barber-shop piano with all things jolly and innocent. That tension is built when that jolly innocence carries on in the midst of those spazzed out toms and that runaway hi-hat–in other words, it’s the contrast that makes you feel a way. And just when you thought Sevyn’s shameless love lyric could carry you no further in the verse, the release we didn’t see coming sneaks up and snatches you back to the motherland. Yes, in comes the chorus with an old 808/trap-style hi-hat roll combo to make your head bop in sweet satisfaction. And of course, lest we never forget, some classic Sevyn Streeter melodies that get real high, sending you soaring right along side them. Speaking of melody…

Melodic Arc

When a melody is well written, as in “Call Me Crazy”, not only is it married in holy, harmonious union to the instrumentation, but it also captures the emotion of the lyrics being sung. Further, it helps do the work of tension and release, especially in pop music. This is because we depend on the melodic arc to drive us to the other side of the bridge (pun absolutely intended), or in this case, to the chorus.

We hear it when Sevyn and co-writer Taylor Park begin each verse in her lower-mid register and then punctuate the last few bars with a breathless run that descends into the depths of her crazy, crazy love. We hear it again when she belts the chorus in full chest voice with a desperation that causes her to be just the right number of milliseconds off beat so you know she means it. Then she cries the hook, wild and finally free, in a bell voice that rings true blues. The hook, however, is punctuated with a run in the opposite direction as the one heard in the verses–this time it is an ascending run at the end of the. Crazy, right? And as with most melodies that ascend from lower to higher pitches, the catharsis is real and the release is felt. 

These are just glimpses of Ms. Streeter's brilliance as a writer and performer. Go and listen for yourself. See if you can find a few moments of tension and release or some of your favorite melodic arcs in her earlier work. If you’re a pop music theory kid like myself, swear-to-god it’ll make you crazy ;)

Want more Sevyn Streeter? Click here to visit her site and here to stay in the know with everything that's going on at Atlantic Records.

Post Media: 
Artist: 
Sevyn Streeter
Short Title: 
"Call Me Crazy" Revisited
List in home page: 
1

More From This Series