Every so often, a song is released that grips me not with its lyrics, but with its music and the way it is performed. I’ve been a big fan of HAIM, an American pop rock band made up of three sisters, for three years for this very reason and with the live release of their newest single, ‘Right Now,’ they do way more than impress.
What’s special about ‘Right Now,’ is that at this moment, the song only exists as a live recording in HAIM’s studio. Along with the music, you’re able to hear footsteps and guitar pedal clicks. Coughs and elated comments. The initial disorientation of the band members at the start of the song. And it is all on purpose. The video seems mixed to the perspective of the viewer. You only hear clicks or footsteps if they’re from someone who’s currently on screen. There’s a moment where the guitar BLARES louder than normal with the song simply because it happens right in front of the camera, but it adds to the experience! Not to mention that throughout the video, you’re able to witness the joy and passion in the sister’s faces, adding to the experience that is ‘Right Now,’ almost as if you, the watcher, were there with them.
Then there’s the song composition. It’s unnatural, almost to the point where a large portion of the song feels “off-beat.” But these are professional artists who absolutely love what they do. Everything has been practiced and is on-purpose. The song’s rhythm is in regular 4:4. At the beginning instrumental there’s a kick that falls on beats 1 and 3, while the high hat and vocals/chords hit different beats to make them clash. The guitar/piano part later on is more complicated because it feels like it’s meant to be a hemiola pattern (3v2 polyrhythm) but the first and third notes fall on the first beat of the measure and the second “off-beat” sounding note falls on the last 16th note before the third beat. Once the rest of the instrumental track falls in, this three-note sequence becomes more obvious as two half notes followed by a whole note.
And that’s when it all comes together. Alana and Este grab their sticks, the drums kick in, and you, as a watcher, are blown away by the sheer excellence of their talent. This has happened to me and I’ve watched it happen with everyone I’ve exposed to this experience. Some may not like the ‘rawness’ of the recording, but HAIM themselves explained on twitter that this is a taste. It’s called a demo. It’s not finished, but even if it was, this is talent and I appreciate the fact that there are still musicians out there who aren’t shamed to show you a raw take of a song BEFORE all the mixing and perfecting goes into it. Art is a collaborative medium and there’s something about seeing the grit behind a work in progress that calls to me.
‘Right Now’ is not a finished product I’m assuming BUT even if it was, my god it’s amazing. I can’t wait for new HAIM music.