Top 10 Songs With The “Quirky 2-Count”

Top 10 Odd Timing PhrasesOne of my favorite little musical things in a song is the occasional odd measure thrown in somewhere. It happens in music all the time, and yet the majority of us never even realize it. So many of your favorite songs, even if they might seems “simple”, might contain unusual timing, irregular beat placements, or more.

So who cares, right?  Well this is just to get you hearing songs in a new way, and hopefully appreciating the little things in music more.  And if you write songs, this is a great device to use in your phrasing, so give it a shot.

A measure (or “bar”) is just simply a unit that contains a number of beats.  The majority of popular music is in 4/4 – we usually just count 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 throughout the entire song, and it works.

But there are times when the beats don’t work out to be so nice and neat – and that’s where a measure is thrown in with a different count to it.  To keep it simple, all the songs on this list add a bar of 2.  Throughout the song, you count 1+2+3+4, but every now and then there will be a bar of only “1+2”. It’s extremely subtle.

Don’t worry if you know absolutely zilch about time-signatures or measures or anything of the sort.  This will be easy (and fun) – all you have to do is count.  You’ll be surprised how many songs you know that contain extra measures – making you count differently – but that never feel odd, or off, or strange at all.

Picture 75Below each video you’ll find the specific time to start counting, and an easy guide to the measures – if it says 4, count “1, 2, 3, 4”; and if it says 2, count “1,2”.  And if you get lost, well that’s the beauty of it – maybe it will drive you to figure out the music, dig a little deeper, and appreciate it all the more!

10.) The Cars – Just What I Needed

(*1:39)

| . . 4 . . | . . 4 . . | . . 4 . . | . 2 . | . . 4 . . | . . 4 . . |

9.) Belinda Carlisle – Heaven is a Place on Earth

Like many on this list, this 2/4 bar is implemented at the end of a phrase, telling the subconscious that it’s, well…the end of the phrase (profound, I know…)

(*0:13)

| . . 4 . . | . . 4 . . | . . 4 . . | . 2 . |

8.) The Beatles – I Want You

Perhaps the most “unnoticeable” on on the list – it just works so well, and it’s so singable…

(*0:27)

| . . 4 . . | . . 4 . . |  . 2 . |  . . 4 . . |  . . 4 . . |

7.)  Silverchair – After All These Years

The beauty of the chords adds even more to the effect of the 2/4 bar here.

(*0:26) – VERSE

| . . 4 . . | . . 4 . . | . . 4 . . | . 2 . |  . . 4 . . |

(*0:39) – PRE-CHORUS

| . . 4 . . | . . 4 . . | . . 4 . . | . 2 . |  . . 4 . . |

6.) Laura Marling – Night Terror

This song was also featured in our Tambourine Top 10, and it’s probably the only one on the list you may not know. I like how it works with a slower tempo and direct phrasing.

(*0:32)

| . . 4 . . | . . 4 . . | . 2 . |  . . 4 . . |

5.) Johnny Cash – Ring of Fire

There are some other little nifty time signature stuff in this song, and the added 2 bars are also in the verse, but the clearest part you can find it is in every chorus:

(*0:38)

| . . 4 . . | . . 4 . . | . 2 . |  . . 4 . . |

4.) Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – I Love Rock N Roll

This is a clear example of how seamless the added 2/4 bar works.  Most people realize when they listen to this song (and try to clap to it) that something’s off.  That’s because in the Chorus (and intro), there is a bar of 3/4 at the end – which kinda throws you for a loop – I actually think of it like they’re taking out 1 beat (from the normal 4/4), which is why it has that “sudden, jerky” feeling.  What most people don’t realize, though, is that in the verses, there’s a bar of 2/4.  Just goes to show how great of a tool it is.

(*0:51)

| . . 4 . . | . 2 . | . . 4 . . |   . . 4 . . |

3.) Foreigner – I Want to Know What Love Is

This is probably my personal favorite as far as the melodic phrasing.  It just has such a cool feel to it.  And, kudos for using it in a verse…

| . . 4 . . |  . . 4 . . |  . 2 . |  . . 4 . . |  . . 4 . . |

2.) OutKast – Hey Ya!

One of the biggest reasons why I think this is one of the greatest hip-hop productions (not necessarily songs, but productions) ever.  Almost no one realizes that there’s an odd bar snuck in throughout the entire song.  How many hip-hop artists can do that – get people dancing without even realizing that the bars are a little unorthodox?

(*Throughout entire song)

| . . 4 . . |. . 4 . . | . . 4 . . |  . 2 . |  . . 4 . . |  . . 4 . . |

1.) Regina Spektor – Samson

Miss Spektor puts the 2/4 to good use in this song, showing many different placements of it, all very calculated and still organic in its feel.

(*0:14) VERSE

|  . . 4 . . |  . 2 . |  . . 4 . . |

(0:51) CHORUS

|  . . 4 . . |  . . 4 . . |  . . 4 . . |  . 2 . | . . 4 . . |

| . . 4 . . |  . . 4 . . |  . 2 . |  . . 4 . . |  . . 4 . . |  . . 4 . . |

We want to hear from you!  Did you learn something new?  Or want to share one of your favorites? Tell us your thoughts below…

About My Song Alive

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4 comments

  1. Elaine E Robinson

    I loved.this! Im new at learning to compose,hearing music in the time signature Im studing is a tremendous help. My favorite is Foriegner, “I want to go where love is”.,really did it for me. It was perfect . Thank you so much . I write Sacred Songs,now Im learning to compose Sacred Music the videos were a great help,I listened to all of them.

  2. Johnny Rodgers

    Interesting, the different timing makes all the difference i find without these extra measures it would not sound nearly as good.

  3. nice, thanks for the article.

  4. How did I know Belinda Carlisle would make a list of yours at some point?

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