Music education always & always looking forward.

Party in a Minor Key: Aeolian mode in LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem"

In the growing trend of pop hits, this monster chart-topper is in a minor key.

I was actually discussing minor keys and Aeolian with my Beginning Band kids a few weeks ago (#149 in "the Red Book" is essentially in Aeolian mode, so it came up), and so we watched portions of this particular video.  Upon hearing those first strains of the song, my students said, "This was my favorite song in elementary school!"  It reminded me personally of the onslaught of weddings my husband & I attended in 2011.  Either way, the song was everywhere, and only further illustrates the conclusion that more minor key songs are on the charts today than there were 40 years ago.  But obviously, Slate, this song also demonstrates that minor key/Aeolian mode does not necessarily translate to a sad song.

Also seriously WHAT IS GOING ON in this video.

Intro: Descendents of Motown Records Berry Gordon, Jr., Redfoo and SkyBlu (who are also uncle and nephew respectively) of LMFAO began making electro-pop music in the 2006, releasing their first album, the Grammy nominated Party Rock in 2009. “Party Rock Anthem” was the first single released from their 2011 album Sorry for Party Rockin’ and was an unexpectedly massive hit for the duo.  The song reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, remaining there for six weeks. It hit #1 in 16 other countries, including Austria and South Korea. The group has since split up, but the song currently holds the place of Billboard's #1 Best-Selling and Most Played song of the decade (thus far) and the #5 Most Successful Single on the all-time Billboard charts.

Analysis: Published in F minor, this song remains in Aeolian mode, as there are no D or E naturals present to alter the minor key to harmonic or melodic minor. There are few V chords throughout the song, reinforcing the Aeolian mode.

Considerations for Teaching: While this song uses no specific inappropriate language, it makes reference to drugs, alcohol and sexual themes. Teachers should proceed with caution with this song, although the chorus (with its Fm-Eb-Db, or i-VI-VII chord progression) is enough to demonstrate how the song functions in Aeolian mode.


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