Nick and Chris Endrey are producing a podcast – 32 episodes and counting! – where they rank all ideas in human history. It’s ambitious and silly, a niche both have experience within. They composed the Rank Ideas theme in real time during an episode, immediately performing it acapella. Nick asked if I would like to take a stab at a fully realised version, their intention to eventually get multiple interpretations by some of their fave artists. Of course, I said yes.
The first challenge was figuring out what chords to lay underneath. I toyed with putting it to a minor key or doing a jazz take, with lots of ninths and suspended chords (I love Adam Neeley’s versions). But I realised I was getting ahead of myself. Any subversion first needs something to work against – you need the puntal before the contrapuntal. As the first ‘proper’ version, this had to provide that baseline. Thus I went with some traditional pop, though I was pleased with throwing in that F#m7 on ‘sometimes commotion’.
After the chord progression, I needed to choose a genre or instrumentation. I had been wanting to experiment with a vocoder again and thought I would try it here. But again, I noticed I was taking a contrarian position, opting for something intentionally novel or strange, which – importantly – may not have been in service of the song. From that revelation, it was easy to work backwards to identify what I was opposing. In an effort perhaps to challenge myself, I was dismissing – before I think I had even consciously considered it – doing the most logical version, a take in the style I have played most in the last 20 years.
So I made a lo-fi, crunchy guitar, full-throated vocal take. It was fun – I don’t sing enough like that since Faux Faux Amis! The drums are based on what I would have done if I could record my kit – need to figure that out this year! – and there’s consequently more subtlety and variation in the patterns than I would have programmed pre-drum tutelage.
Nick and Chris begun including it from episode 25 – listen to the show here!