Here’s a thought to consider: all band names are terrible. Every single one. U2, Coldplay, Radiohead, The Beatles, Pink Floyd – regardless of how great they may be musically and commercially the reality remains that they all are garbage. Franz Ferdinand are no exception, but there’s something about naming a band after the Austrian duke whose assassination triggered the outbreak of World War 1 that’s particularly awful.
(If any readers can think of a genuinely excellent band name then PLEASE email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will arrange a suitable prize).
Anyway, enough of my personal grievances; back in 2004 Scottish indie darlings Franz Ferdinand were achieving chart success and critical acclaim thanks to their debut album (imaginatively titled Franz Ferdinand), which won them the Mercury Music Prize, a Brit Award, a Grammy nomination and has shifted almost 4 million copies to date.
The lead single from the album and perhaps the band’s best-known track, ‘Take Me Out’ was Franz Ferdinand’s international breakthrough hit, combining punchy guitar hooks and a shout-along chorus with influences taken from dance music.
The song’s intro actually shows an interesting musical device that seldom appears in commercial rock and pop songs – counterpoint. The bass and guitar both have independent parts that move in different directions, creating a series of different harmonic intervals as the intro progresses. Bassist Bob Hardy shows that he isn’t afraid of utilizing the ‘dusty end’ of the fretboard, frequently playing in the same register as the guitars.
This notion of having two (or more) melodies which simultaneously move in different directions was the staple of the Baroque era, with J.S. Bach being the undisputed heavyweight champion of weaving multiple melodic lines in contrary motion (those who are curious about counterpoint should read ‘Evening In The Palace Of Reason’ by James Gaines or – if you’re feeling brave – Douglas Hofstadder’s brain-melting ‘Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid’ for more on the subject).
As the intro comes to an end, the tempo slows as the band signposts the main event of ‘Take Me Out’ – the repeated guitar melody that is underpinned by solid crotchets from the bass, locking with the four-to-the-floor drumbeat.
In the bridge section, Bob abandons crotchet root notes in favour of a melodic sub hook that outlines the A Dorian mode – notice how the 2-bar pattern alternates between descending and ascending lines to create interest.