Post by contributor Alex Vikmanis
Part of my addiction to pop music is my longing for the bridge, that moment two-thirds of the way through a song when the beat slows down and the melody changes. The singer takes a moment to warm up and then they belt out their impressive final thoughts on love or pain or dancing. It’s the climax of the song. The bit that we keep coming back to.
Some pop songs, despite their insanely catchy hooks, fail to do this. Instead, that earth-shattering bridge is replaced with a bizarre skit or other kind of spoken interlude. The music takes a back burner for a second and the singer (and often a friend) have a little talk with each other. The listener is ripped out of the song and left to wonder, did the songwriter get lazy and give up on the bridge, were they not paid enough to write one? Did the singer have a bad day recording the track and their vocals failed them? Having a dialogue in the middle of the song (or at the beginning) is a really odd choice and has mostly been replaced by a rap cameo these days, but here are my favorites, which transcend their silliness and become iconic.
9. Christina Aguilera - “Beautiful” (0:01)
Christina only says four words at the beginning of this ballad, but it’s the most intimate moment I’ve had with a pop song: “Don’t look at me.” She is at once speaking to those people who are hating on her and she is also speaking to the listener, or rather speaking on behalf of the listener who feels the way she does. I also think the phrase is completely off the cuff. I think Christina says it before she is about to record the song. Like she doesn’t want anyone to watch her while she sings. Like she needs to be alone to access the emotion she needs for that kind of song.
8. Mandy Moore - “Candy” (3:00)
Even the first time I heard this song, I couldn’t have imagined it not having a million cheesy rhymes with the word candy. The fact that the writers squeezed in the singer’s name as one of those rhymes (in the form of a letter no less) is so sweet that my teeth fall out, but so satisfying as well. Only fifteen year old pop singers can get away with that.