Rick Beato's Exegesis of Max Martin (Video)

TigerTheFrog

Froganthropist
I'm not a huge pop music fan, and if I thought about producer Max Martin, it was just about the catchy hooks in his songs, the singers, the simple chord progressions, and the often banal lyrics. I realized he couldn't have so many hits without having skills, but I never really gave it much thought.

But this video by Rick Beato, an intensive study of the stems in Ariana Grande's "Into You," intrigues me. I never had any idea about the complexity and density of the tracks Martin puts together.

Regardless of what you think about pop music, I think you might find it interesting.


This is an old video, so if somebody has already put it up, please let me know.
 
Last edited:

David Cuny

Summer, we hardly knew ye.
I always feel like I've hit clickbait when I watch one of Rick's "What Makes This Song Great" videos.

He's got access to the stems, which is cool. But it's sort of like listening to a video of someone who's describing the elements ("long tail", "really great articulation", "pumping"), as if a train were passing by ("here's a red car with cows", "look at the cool graffitti on that green car").

Most of his insights are pretty much Mixing/Arranging 101:
  • Track is built in layers
  • Leave space for the vocals
  • Have an excellent vocalist
  • Have a killer groove
  • Use interlocking parts
  • Keep each instrument in it's own frequency
  • Layering sound using different instruments in different frequencies
  • Be willing to experiment
Yes, he's also talking about the elements of the mix, and even some in-depth details of how to achieve similar effects. But how is this particular "great" song different from many other songs that have exactly the same elements?

For example, I suspect the answer to what makes the song "great" is an obsessive focus on groove, groove, groove, to the exclusion of many other elements. It's not just what the song has, but what it hasn't got. It's a pop song, and apparently Max likes to get the to the chorus in a hurry. He doesn't like a lot of melodic variety, preferring to recycle and re-use elements.

I guess with a title of "What Makes This Song Great", I'd like to come away with a more useful understanding - not so general that it applies to everything, or so specific that it's just another part of the elephant.

Hear that Rick? Yet another ungrateful person on the internet is complaining about something you worked hard on and made available for free. :laugh:
 
OP
TigerTheFrog

TigerTheFrog

Froganthropist
Max Martin's productions have a lot of common elements, but they are not identical.

I really like some of these songs a lot, particularly "I Want it That Way." It's very hard to resist a melody as catchy as that, well sung and produced.

Just like I like a lot of the pop music from my youth. There's room for all kinds of music.
Sometimes you want Lutece and sometimes you just want a burger or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So sue me.

Criticize Rick Beato for this particular video if you want, but I think his open-hearted love of all kinds of music is inspiring. I don't like a lot of the music he likes, but I like him and always learn from him.


To me this is a very lame video, but pop gold.

 

R. Soul

Senior Member
I love Rick's videos.

I wish there was more Max Martin-ish songs though. The whole 'what makes this song great' is heavily skewed in the favour of Rock.
If memory serves me well, the only current non-Rock tracks that he have dissected are Areana Grande and Chainsmokers.
Meanwhile we've had 30+ Rock songs. Oh well.
 

YaniDee

Active Member
Didn't know that Rick was a Bible scholar..
Exegesis = "critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture. "
 

Polkasound

Senior Member
My gut says that Rick Beato's intention was not so much to single out this particular song, but rather to throw some light on Max Martin's skills and this entire genre of music, because it's one that's often quickly discredited by our generation as being soulless and uncreative. Rick could have easily singled out any number of songs like "Into You" and come up with the same results.
 
OP
TigerTheFrog

TigerTheFrog

Froganthropist
Didn't know that Rick was a Bible scholar..
Exegesis = "critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture. "
Ummm... Dude, you can do an exegesis of anything: "Finnegans Wake"or "2001: A Space Odyssey" or Beethoven's 9th. As long as you study every bit in painstaking detail. It's a funny word for Rick Beato talking about Max Martin but it's still a perfectly good use of it.


From the Merriam Webster Dictionary Definition of "exegesis"

exposition, explanation
… politicians accustomed to speaking in 20-second sound bites suddenly began regaling (empty) galleries with windy, tendentious exegeses of the Founding Fathers' thoughts on the role of the Senate in confirming judges.— Jacob Weisberg

Especially: an explanation or critical interpretation of a text
As an exegesis, though, it's nicely done, and Kennedy traces Sontag's main themes deftly along tortuous paths through both essays and fiction. — Larissa MacFarquhar​

Synonyms for exegesis:

clarification, construction, elucidation, explanation, explication, exposition, illumination, illustration, interpretation, road map.


English speakers have used the word exegesis - a descendant of the Greek term exegeisthai, meaning "to explain" or "to interpret" - to refer to explanations of Scripture since the early 17th century. Nowadays, however, academic writers interpret all sorts of texts, and "exegesis" is no longer associated mainly with the Bible.






 

Jeremy Gillam

Active Member
Max is one of my favorite composers and one of a small handful of people whose work inspired me to pursue music. I once spent the last $2500 in my bank account to fly from LA to Stockholm to see him make a rare public appearance giving a masterclass talk. It was amazing.

The contrapuntal final choruses in this oldie are incredible:
 

Polkasound

Senior Member
The popularity and monetary success garnered by a song like Into You has nothing to do with its quality as a song.
Image and marketing almost always play a key role in a song's rise in popularity, but even the best-marketed song will fail if it doesn't resonate with listeners. Max Martin knows how to write and produce contemporary songs that resonate, and that is sheer talent.
 

robgb

I was young once
I guess with a title of "What Makes This Song Great", I'd like to come away with a more useful understanding - not so general that it applies to everything, or so specific that it's just another part of the elephant.
The ones I've watched (admittedly not many) were far more than mixing. They talked about chord progressions and changes and lyrical content and vocal style. Very informative stuff.
 

Soundhound

Senior Member
Fast food pop music is always around. Max Martin stuff reminds me of the Monkees. I remember hearing Last Train To Clarksville on the radio as a kid, loving that guitar lick and the tight groove, and being embarrassed that I liked a Monkees song. Not cool! :)

But even though the band sounded great, there was something just empty and lightweight about it, especially next to the gold rush of amazing music that was everywhere you turned at the time, the Stones, the Beatles, The Who, The Band, Sly etc etc, it was an amazing time.

Only later did I learn that what caught my ear with Last Train To Clarksville, I'm A Believer, etc. was killer production and those incredible session players, wrecking crew etc. Max Martin seems the same. Really clever, inspired production and craft. But no there there.

btw I'm a big Beato fan, one of these days I'm gonna buy a mug!
 

robgb

I was young once
As for Max Martin, every song of his I've heard sounds the same as the last. I'm not really a fan.
 

ed buller

Senior Member
MAX MARTIN is ace......I'm sure he will live on in History as a fantastic POP songwriter. Yeah it's cheesy but it's so well crafted ...


How blissful is that third in the bass at the end of the chorus ?

I think Cathy Dennis is right up there too !



A fantastic track full of snakey Chromaticism...this is SMART pop music...to be enjoyed....sure it's a guilty pleasure...It ain't steely Dan.....but it's classy nuntheless.............


Best

Ed
 
Last edited: