Only Anarchists are Pretty – Theoretical Analysis

Don’t know what a Roman numeral is and why it matters in music? Go here

It has been my experience (in other words, this could be completely not the case), that only people who are a little dorky about music listen to the band World Inferno Friendship Society. Now, this doesn’t mean that they’re all crazy music majors, I mean, they’re people who take their music a little more seriously than the average bear.

So it takes an even bigger dork, perhaps an actual music major, or at least someone with competence at an instrument, to sit down and figure out the chord progression to one of the World Inferno’s songs.

But I think it is a completely different dork entirely that uses roman numerals to analyze a World Inferno song.

I am that dork. And I’m going to continue this conversation like you know what I’m talking about from here on in. If you don’t.. well, drop me a line requesting a blog about what the heck a roman numeral analysis is.

You can actually analyze Only Anarchists are Pretty two different ways. I’m going to do the quick and dirty way first.

The verse is in the key of Ab Major:

Ab: I V vi

The pre chorus is in the key of F Major:

F: V V2 IV I vi V/V

Chorus 1 is in C Major:

C: I IV vi V7/V

And Chorus 2 (the second time it comes back) is also in C Major:

C: I IV vi V7/V

Three different keys, but with the majority of the song being in the key of C Major, considering how often you sing the chorus, and also that the solo at the end is also played over the chorus progression.

The funny part about all of this is: the reason why I switch between three different keys in this analysis is I was trying to keep it as clean as possible. Isn’t it shoved down our throats from day one that pretty much all of music is just all about the V – I relationship?

It’s a little rough, but by analyzing this song in the three different keys is the most obvious. But I wasn’t really happy with it, to be quite honest.

So I took another look at it, and analyzed the whole thing in the key of C Major. I’m a little happier with my results. Which are:

bVI bIII iv

Pre chorus:
I I2 bVII IV ii V

Chorus 1:
I IV vi V7/V

Chorus 2:
I IV vi V7/V

I like the use of the V7/V’s to keep the thing moving, I like that the verse which, in my opinion, describes a very tentative and cautious situation, is built over a very tentative (maybe not so shaky) chord progression – sounds like it’s going somewhere, but you’re not sure where, or when, or how.

I’m just a little uncomfortable with the borrowed chords, bVI, bIII and bVII, but that’s just me; I don’t deal with them very often. I like them, and maybe I do play more of them than I realize (I think Jimi Hendrix actually utlizes a few in some of his songs.. aah a smell another post coming on), but I guess I’m looking for a little validation out there. Do people do that? They’re only borrowed from the parallel minor, and I’ve already outlined another way you can analyze this song anyway. I’m just wondering if there’s still another way to wrap it all up with some i’s and v’s or whatever combination one may prefer that’s a little neater than analyzing it all in C.

I’ll have to look more into this whole borrowing chords from the parallel minor thing and get back to ya’ll.