I recently watched this video from DJTechTools.com about how to mix pop music here. As someone who plays a lot of pop and Top 40 music, this got me interested . Though this video focuses on the actual mixing of two pops songs, I wanted to take it back a level and discuss playing pop sets and how you should be choosing your tracks and keeping the crowd interested.
Keeping People Interested
If you want to play a catchy song and have everyone sing along, it’s important to examine which parts of the song people actually know the words to! Of course most people will know the chorus, since it’s repeated multiple times throughout the song and is usually pretty catchy. But what other parts will people know? Let’s talk about the other parts of the song in order of how well people know them.
The first part of any song that people hear is of course the intro, which tends to hold a different feel in terms of pacing from the rest of the song, making it more memorable. After this, each verse follows in turn. When people listen to music nowadays, they tend to not listen to the full song. Instead, they’ll probably listen to the first thirty seconds to a minute, then flip to the next song. Because of this, people normally know the intro well, but will be less and less familiar with the words as the verses progress. So to re-iterate, in order of which part is most memorable, a pop song would be structured as follows: chorus, intro, verse one, verse two, and so on.
What does this mean for you? Well, it’s important to watch (and listen to!) your crowd on this one. If people aren’t singing along anymore, it’s time to start thinking about getting out. There are a lot of pop songs that the whole crowd will know through and through, but many people will start to lose interest when they no longer know a part of the song. This is when you can spark more energy by mixing into another song that people will know the words to.
Building on this idea of which parts of songs people know and recognize, we can also use this method to help us choose where to place songs in a set. If you’re in a primetime slot, you’ll want to choose songs with choruses that have a lot of energy, and maybe save the tracks that have long vocal breaks before or during the chorus for later on in the night.
Also, when you’re mixing pop style music, be mindful of sections of tracks that don’t have any words. If you’re going to keep your crowd singing along all night, be mindful of what you’re about to play. That being said, heavier tracks with no words can create a lot of energy in the room so don’t be afraid to play with these types of tracks as well.
With any rule, there will always be exceptions, and the same is the case when it comes to which parts of a song people remember. An easy example is Be Faithful by Crooklyn Clan – the break in the middle of the song is the part that people know the best. With songs like this one, make sure to play out that important part for the crowd. Even though it goes against the formula noted above, this will ensure that your crowd stays interested.
Keeping people singing can have a great effect on your crowd, both during and after your set. Keep in mind what we discussed about knowing which parts of a song people will recognize, and using this knowledge to keep the energy up in your set.
Next time in this series we’ll talk more about mixing and song selection with pop style music.