Mon, Dec 29, 2014 - Page 11 News List

Why do pop tunes sound so similar?

Singer Claire Kuo, right, poses with show host Sam Tseng on the set of SET TV’s Super Idol series.
「超級偶像Super idol 8」主持人曾國城與來賓歌手郭靜。

Photo courtesy of SET TV

If you often listen to pop music, do you sometimes wonder why so many songs sound so much alike? Pianist Wiwi Kuan tracked down a particular chord sequence that is used all over the place in pop music and made a medley out of 29 familiar pop songs that use it. Kuan hopes that people will think long and hard about whether our pop music could do with some new chords.

Kuan posted a video titled “Why do pop songs all sound so much alike?” on YouTube. The video makes the point that the reason why Taiwanese pop songs often sound very familiar is that so many of them use the same chord progression — C G/B Am (A minor) Em/G F C/E Dm G, which is known as a descending bass line. Because this sequence is very easy on the ear, it has been used repeatedly in many pop songs.

In Kuan’s opinion there is nothing wrong with this chord progression except that it has been used over and over again. That is what prompted him to find 29 pop songs from the Chinese-language music charts, set them in the same key and make a medley out of them. The series of tunes includes Jay Chou’s Faraway, Sky Wu’s Share, David Tao’s The Moment, Fish Leong’s Happy Break-up, A-Lin’s Breaking Up Takes Practice, Claire Kuo’s I Don’t Want to Forget You and other hits that on first hearing sound like the same song.

The video got 4,000 views in the first day after it was uploaded. One viewer commented, “Many songwriters choose to use this chord progression not because they are lacking in creativity, but to meet the demands of the popular music market.” Another viewer said, “When you have heard a lot of Western and Japanese music and you go back to listening to Chinese-language music this becomes all the more obvious. All I can say is there is no going back for me now. Taiwanese music really needs more diversity.



1. medley n.

混合曲 (hun4 he2 qu3)

例: If the tunes in a medley are not well matched it will sound terrible.


2. think long and hard v. phr.

深思 (shen1 si1)

例: You should think long and hard before choosing your college major.


3. could do with phr.

需要 (xu1 yao4)

例: Your bicycle chain sounds like it could do with a spot of oil.



官大為在YouTube上傳了名為「為什麼流行歌聽起來都這麼像?」影片,指出台灣流行樂聽起來常常感覺耳熟能詳,是因為都使用了相同的和弦「C G/B Am Em/G F C/E Dm G」進行,也就是「下行低音」,即低音會一直往下走,讓大家聽起來感覺很順,導致許多流行歌都會重複使用。




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