#TakeItToTheBridgeThread: will intros, pre-choruses and bridges come back?
In 2017, I wrote in this blog about pre-choruses and bridges losing space in songwriting, and outlets like The Guardian published analysis of how streaming might have been responsible for how the “intro” section has disappeared from pop songs as well.
Now, it seems like people might be starting to miss the “old” songwriting framework.
In the last week of January 2021, the hashtag #TakeItToTheBridgeThread brought music fans on Twitter to celebrate songs from past years that featured remarkable bridges. It was started by black fans sharing R&B and hip hop songs, but would eventually reach other fans and genres as well.
Could it be that people are starting the miss the “old” songwriting framework?
I’ve been seeing comments from R&B fans complaining that current songs are too short, that the influence of rap / trap is emptying melodies, and that they miss other song sections as well.
Technology has shaped songwriting in many ways in the last years — from the rise of Spotify leading songs to be shorter and place hooks and choruses in its first seconds, to the accessibility of beat making (or beat buying) enabling trap and bedroom pop with little melodic variation, to TikTok influencing songs to have catchy, choreography-suggestive hooks.
Eventually, those who have been here to see trends coming and going can get tired, and eventually, new generations are born with new tastes, for reasons that we can’t always explain.
If for the Gen Z pop side, Olivia Rodrigo’s massive hit “drivers license” show that teenagers can enjoy old school ballad songwriting (even if, as I wrote here, it showcases elements that are symbolic of modern trends), for the Millennial and R&B side, the #TakeItToTheBridgeThread hashtag shows that there is a demand for R&B to go back to how it was in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Of course, this is not to say which songwriting approach is better. Also, not all fans feel the same, and rappers and R&B singers are still charting high and amassing big audiences by going with the current trends.
But since basically all innovations in music start by black music, the nostalgia for intros, pre-choruses and bridges might be something to keep an eye on.