Music education always & always looking forward.

Spinning Circles in 5/4 Time: Asymmetrical Simple Meter in Juliana Hatfield's "Spin the Bottle"

I first heard this song when I was about 11 years old and I bought the Reality Bites soundtrack (on the strength of Lisa Loeb's "Stay").  Profanity & sexual themes aside, the song captures teenage anxiety fairly well and is an excellent example of 5/4 time.  

"Spin the Bottle" – Juliana Hatfield Three

Intro: Having played with the Blake Babies in the mid-to-late eighties, a band that was formed while Hatfield was studying at Berklee College of Music, the 1990s led to a successful solo career for Juliana Hatfield. Prior to performing entirely as a soloist, she released the album Become Who You Are with a band, known as the Juliana Hatfield Three. The album featured her biggest charting hit, “My Sister”, which reached #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks in 1994. “Spin the Bottle” reached #39 on the Billboard Top 40 Mainstream charts and was also featured on the soundtrack to the 1994 film Reality Bites. Hatfield continues to record albums and tour, with her latest album being released in 2013.

Analysis: This song is entirely in 5/4 time and reinforces the lyrical imagery of a spinning bottle, especially at the end of the song, as the phrase "spin it round again" is repeated several times.

Considerations for Teaching: The subject matter of this song is exactly as the title indicates, and takes a childish perspective on the story. However, there are two major problems with the song's lyrics. The first appears in the first verse, in the line "met him in a bar," which obviously makes reference to alcohol, although this is not quite such an egregiously offensive line. In the third verse, some major profanity is used, inappropriate for a classroom setting. The first minute of the song can be played, free of profanity, and get the point of the 5/4 meter across.

The Strangest Waltz Ever: Asymmetrical Compound Meter in The Stranglers' "Golden Brown"

Time (Signatures), They Are A'Changin': Changing Meter in Ben Folds's "Bas**rd"