I miss girl groups. And boy bands, too. Why are they called girl groups and boy bands when the boys never play instruments? Anywho, I miss girl groups more than I miss boy bands because girl groups are more vivacious and have more personality than their male counterparts. That is a fact. When was the last time you saw a feisty boy band? For that matter, when was the last time you saw a boy band with any sort of personality at all? Boy bands have to be cute in order to be successful, but that’s about it. Girl groups, on the other hand, have to be more than cute. They need to be some combination of sassy, edgy, independent, playful, and sexy. But not too much of each. Think of a girl group with three Beyoncés. Scary.
If I was in Richgirl
I would now like to introduce you all to Richgirl, the second 21st-century girl group that I’ve liked (the first would be The Saturdays -- check them out.). I am absolutely obsessed with their first single, “He Ain’t Wit Me Now (Tho),” and for quite valid reasons I would like to believe. Remember those essential adjectives I just listed? The four members of Richgirl take turns administering each of them throughout the song in perfect doses. Right when one girl gets too heated, another steps in to cool things off. And then a third starts to sex things up to show the guy what he’s missing out on. Lyrically the song takes us through a break-up that’s happened millions of times before, but the way the story is told makes it feel new and infinitely more human.
In my opinion the song’s production is genius. Every producer knows that it’s his job to create music that complements the vocals, but I’ve never heard a song accomplish this as well as this one. We start off with someone banging some chords on the piano. A girl steps in commanding Rich (Harrison, the song’s producer) to “play the keys,” and then “play the strings.” And so Rich does. The lyrics begin just as the strings abruptly subside, leaving only those jarring piano chords: “First things first, lemme tell ya how I feel” OH SHIT. Girlfriend’s about to TELL IT. And she does. The first half of the first verse is sung aggressively, intensely, and with attitude. At a break between lines the piano drops and a heavy bass note kicks in, emphasizing the repeated “he ain’t with me now tho”s sung throughout the song. When the lyrics resume the piano is gone entirely, and the same saucy girl is accompanied by a funky new hip-hop beat. “Cuz I can be prim and proper standin’ by, and play my position, but tonight I need to shine.” Mmm PREACH!
With the pre-chorus comes another girl with yet another musical theme. The mood has changed; we’re no longer hearing about why the relationship didn’t work, but rather, what the girl thinks she deserves in her next relationship. With this more pensive mood we receive a relaxed R&B-style tune. However, right when things start to get comfortable the high-energy chorus kicks in, which seems to be a combination of all the previous melodical themes. The rest of the song continues in this manner.
We need more songs produced like this. Far too often I hear pop songs sung entirely to the same music, except for maybe a break in the bridge. This would make sense if the emotional level of the song is always constant, but whenever is that the case? You might not like “He Ain’t Wit Me Now (Tho).” I can imagine that its abrupt changes in pace might be too jarring for some, especially for those who, say, just woke up from a nap. Or maybe the song is too R&B-hip hop-ish for your taste. But even so, I hope that you’ll appreciate the outstanding way in which its production complements its vocals. Here’s to hoping that RichGirl gets their break on the US radio and we’re able to hear what else they’ve got up their sleeves.