Almost all classic songs are about love. Since ancient times, artists have endeavored to write songs of love to stir the heart. Their works have ranged from the saccharine and sappy to the truly moving. In spite of the artists’ varied levels of accomplishment and artistic merits, each of these songs relies on certain tropes and exhibits certain qualities that are endemic to the “love song” genre. In all quintessential love songs, three tenets (common qualities) have stood out; simple lyrics delivered with sincerity, use of a saxophone and they are sung in moderately slow tempos.
Quintessential love songs are marked by simple and easy to understand lyrics that are delivered with utmost sincerity. This tenet is necessary to the definition of Quintessential Love Songs because love is very much dependent on the verbal expression of feelings, intentions and emotions. The songs sound as if the artist is having a conversation with the subject of their love. In most cases, the entertainment value of the song takes a back seat and all the artist seems to care about is the expression of love. Through simple lyrics, the artist bares out his/her soul to the entire listening world. In almost all the songs, the artist’s focus is trained on the object of their love and if that person was the only one in the performance theatre or hall, the artist would still perform as s/he ought. As such, quintessential love songs present more than artistic qualities; they present the human and emotional side of the artist. They present the artist as unpretentious and genuine. Though an artist may not be popular, the sheer talent, emotions and simple lyrics delivered with sincerity sets him/her apart and make their name legendary and the song classic.
Quintessential love songs make use of the saxophone. The use of the saxophone aids to heighten the emotions of love thereby enhancing the impact the song has on the subject of love. The variations of the saxophone are the trombone, the piano, the guitar, the violin and the trumpet. All Quintessential Love Songs are marked by minimalism in the usage of musical instruments and the lyrics are the centre of the song. The songs feature at most two instruments. The use of the saxophone or its variations and one other instrument makes sure that the lyrics and not the instruments are conspicuous in the song. Instruments act as mere enhancements to the song which would sound as equally great and moving were it to be sung without the instruments.
Quintessential Love Songs are sung in moderately slow tempos. It is important that the songs are sung in slow tempos so that they retain clarity in the delivery of the message. This tenet is important in the definition of the Quintessential Love Song because the song must show deep emotions. An artist best enhances emotions in a song when they sing it in a moderately slow tempo. Notably, many people refer to some songs are classic or quintessential because they were able to hear word-by-word what the artist sung. The people are also able to cram the words, memorize the song, internalize it and later sing it to someone they love. It is worth noting that majority of quintessential love songs are sung each year in thousands of weddings, birthday parties, wedding celebrations among other “love-centered” events because they could be easily understood, memorized and later sung. As such, the moderately slow tempo in which Quintessential Love Songs are delivered is a cardinal aspect of their definition.
My quintessential love song is Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are." This song perfectly meets the three tenets of a quintessential love song discussed above. Billy Joel currently aged 64 is an American song-writer, pianist and composer. The song gained massive popularity as a love song and it won Grammy Awards and Record of the Year Awards in the 1980s and 1990s.
The song "Just The Way You Are" satisfied the tenet of bearing simple lyrics that Billy Joel composed himself and delivered perfectly. Joel wrote the song in and sung it for his first wife Elizabeth Weber in 1979. The song bears lyrics that are simple yet quite moving, “Don't go changing, to try and please me” “I would not leave you in times of trouble” “I just want someone that I can talk to”. The entire composition is made up of such phrases that Billy Joel delivers with impressive simplicity and genuineness. The video of the song also shows the artist seated playing the piano singing his heart out to someone he loves, his first wife Elizabeth Weber in this case. At the beginning, Billy Jean speaks to some people declaring the song he was about to sing “it is called Just the way you are”. In this case, he is seated behind a piano dressed simply in a cream coat, a black shirt and a flowered tie. With the declaration of the song he was about to sing and his demeanor, Billy Jean cuts the image of simplicity with a carefree attitude that only seems bent on delivering a love message contained in his song.
Billy Jeans "Just The Way You Are" prominently features a saxophone. While Billy Jean sings as he plays the piano, a backup artist plays the saxophone. At the beginning of the song, especially in the first stanza, the only discernible instrument is the piano which Billy plays. The sound of the saxophone comes much later. The focus of having Billy play the piano while introducing the song is to capture the attention of the listeners of viewers and train them on the love message that the artist is about to unleash to the object of their love.. The vocals are clearly audible and the point at which the saxophone comes in is to enhance to make the song more pleasant to listen. The sound of the saxophone is high in between the stanza breaks and becomes subdued when the artist is singing. This is so because lyrics have to take much preeminence in quintessential love songs as compared to instruments. When the saxophone plays together with the piano, the combination sounds like the song is an instrumental. This musical aspect keeps the listeners attentive to the song and medicate on a previous stanza or line before the artist continues to deliver his/her message.
The song "Just The Way You Are" is sung in a moderately slow tempo. The artist starts the first line of the song “Don’t go changing to try and please me” on a high note. This is to enable him gain his listeners’ attention. He then slows down and in between the stanzas he keeps varying his pitch while the tempo of the song remains moderately slow. The slow pace, at which the song is sung, is so convenient that one can easily learn and later sing that song.
Love songs have existed for as long as man has lived. In order for a song to be considered truly classic and quintessential, it bears some tenets or common features to several other love songs. These include; simple lyrics delivered with sincerity, use of a saxophone or at most two instruments and they are sung in moderately slow tempos. Quintessential love songs are marked by simple and easy to understand lyrics that are delivered with utmost sincerity. The songs are also sung using one instrument played by the artist and the other played by a back up artist. The saxophone features in many quintessential loves songs. In some cases there are variations which include the trombone, the piano, the guitar, the violin and the trumpet. Slow-moderate tempo characterizes Quintessential Love Songs. This is so because the messages contained in the song can be applied to other love settings and people need to learn the song in simple ways. The song "Just The Way You Are" clearly demonstrates perfection in the production of quintessential love songs. The song is sung in a simple yet passionate and appealing manner. He also uses a saxophone and a piano in his song. Thirdly, the artist sings in a very slow and relaxed tempo at which the listeners/viewers can understand the sing can understand that song. In all the song "Just The Way You Are" is a perfect gift for someone to express love in the best way that a person can.
Billy Jean, “Just The Way You Are". 1979.