I listen to a lot of Taylor Swift

And Katy Perry. And Pitbull. And a lot of other top 40 stuff.

Not just because these songs are catchy, but because they’re produced by some of the best in the business: Max Martin and Dr. Luke. Those guys not only write great songs, they make them sound amazing.

This week I’ve been listening to “Style” over and over again. I’ve been trying to hear all the little details about how the song is put together.

Take a listen to the reverbs, echoes, and delays. Listen to the vocal harmonies. Max Martin’s team has done an amazing job, as always.

In the first few seconds of the song we hear a mostly solo guitar line, and then the bass and drums kick in. The guitar floats over the top. And those are the instruments that carry the entire verse. That’s all that’s needed to fill up the space.

Matt Shadetek, one of my teachers at Dubspot, pointed out that there aren’t secret instruments at low volumes. Great producers use just a few instruments. That’s all they need.

And even though the space feels full, Taylor’s vocals still have room to come over the top and make the song…even bigger.

I know where I’m trying to get to with my own work.

I still think the producers were listening to “Boys of Summer” when they wrote “Style.” There’s even a beach scene at the beginning of the video.


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