Subtle tonal shifts in style and content, between two points in time—bear with us here—can produce some of the most cathartic, gratifying, and moving moments in art. Rather than playing the dilettante and trying to list classical pieces of music, theatre, or visual art that exemplify this, we’ll give you a recent example: The Bamboos (ft. Megan Washington) cover of the James Blake’s “The Wilhelm Scream” (which, in turn, is a reimagining of Blake’s father’s song, “Where to Turn”).
In the Bamboos version, as in the James Blake version, the two simple verses are repeated over the same chords, several times, with new instrumentation gradually filling out the sound. UNTIL. The verse starts again, but the chords underneath change into a perfectly resolved, open, celebratory progression that makes your heart leap and your throat choke up. Subtle. Perfect. It's gratifying in the same way Steve’s character development in Stranger Things is— growth into something larger while holding onto a residuum of its former self.
This list, however, is full of songs that change in ways not so subtle—songs within songs shedding their cacophonous forms and bursting forth with new wings. If “The Wilhelm Scream” is a man carving an Emily Dickinson poem into the head of a pin, then these songs are V blowing up the Old Bailey. We're talking BIG shifts in sound. Act changes. Both kinds of shifts are beautiful, and intricate; these are just a little bit more obvious. This collection is all about the pageantry.
These songs fall within the tradition of Bohemian Rhapsody, Happiness is a Warm Gun, and their spiritual grandchild, Paranoid Android. Roll with these changes, ya’ll.
- Nights - Frank Ocean
- Let It Happen - Tame Impala
- Happiness Is a Warm Gun - The Beatles
- Here Comes The Night Time - Arcade Fire
- War Pigs/ Luke's Wall - Black Sabbath
- Paranoid Android - Radiohead
- The Bad Arts - Destroyer
- Collective Dreamwish of Upperclass Elegance - Grandaddy
- Welcome to the Black Parade - My Chemical Romance
- It Was There That I Saw You - ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead
- Impossible Soul - Sufjan
- Empire Ants (feat. Little Dragon) - Gorillaz
- Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand
- Limousine - Brand New
- The Island: Come and See/The Landlord's Daughter/You'll Not Feel the Drowning (Medley) - The Decemberists
- Pyramids - Frank Ocean
- The Planets, Op. 32: Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity - Gustav Holst