The Anatomy of THE Groove 7/11/14 Andre’s Pick : “Touch” by Omarion

Never ceases to amaze me how much Pharrell Williams was involved in so many of what I feel are the most instrumentally exciting funk of the past decade or so. As one half of The Neptunes with Chad Hugo,Pharrell helped spin musical gold for everyone from Kelis,Justin Timberlake,Jay Z,Snoog Dogg and even Britney Spears. And by 2004 Pharrell on his own was already being singled out as a pie in the sky artist/producer whom,like Quincy Jones before him was able to showcase the connectivity of soul/funk through the post millennial hip-hop era. Then in 2005,Pharrell turned his magic to Omarian,lead singer of the hip-hop/dance boy band B2K,as he released his debut solo album ‘O’ and,most impressively on the song “Touch”.

Follow a soft “huh” by Omarian,the song kicks right into gear at full power. The drum machine kicks out a very percussive Afro-Latin uptempo groove. Layered carefully within this rhythmic bed are two powerful synthesizer lines. One is a higher,almost digitized clavinet style effect playing a complex three chord sequence in very syncopated time. Below that is a very rubbery and flamboyant Moog bass line that has a lot of jazz/blues oriented “blue notes” and is almost played in fast paced be-bop style. As Omarian asks us to get comfortable,he begins to illustrate how he has “visions and fantasies”,and lyrically stays on the one with them throughout the song-illustrating both lyrically along with The Neptunes instrumentation the seductive energy of the song itself.

It was actually my blog-mate here Henrique who first introduced me to this songs several years ago. Having had a musical education that was equal parts Stevie Wonder,Prince,Teena Marie,Steve Winwood and Todd Rundgren? I always had the utmost admiration for musically eloquent multi instrumentalists. This song simply gave me goosebumps when I first heard it. So much so I totally forgot it even had any lyrics to it. The instrumental futurism and complexity of the drum machines and harmonizing lead/bass synthesizer was simply amazing. Especially with the tremendous physical energy and vigor with which it was played. This song revealed itself to me as an outstanding template for modern day,electronically derived instrumental funk. And forever had me digging deep to see what this apparently musically ingenius Pharrell Williams was up to.

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3 Comments

Filed under Funk, Hip-Hop, Omarion, Pharrell Willaims, Quincy Jones, Radio, Stevie Wonder, The Neptunes

3 responses to “The Anatomy of THE Groove 7/11/14 Andre’s Pick : “Touch” by Omarion

  1. You do a great job here of capturing the sheer awe Pharrell and Chad Hugo created here in conjunction with Omarion. This particular synth led beat, when I listened to it, I heard traces of Stevie Wonder, Prince, Michael Jackson and Herbie Hanocock all on ONE song! It really blew my mind wide open. It became sort of a template for the Neptunes for a while, they had a very James Brown approach to groove development, once they came up with a good groove, they’d re work it accross several songs. For that reason, Diddy had a song called “Partners for Life” which is basically a slowed down “Touch.” I recall the weekend i went to see the final installment in the prequel trilogy to Star Wars in 2005, and all these teenage girls running around the mall saying “TOUCH”, because they’d just seen the video on BET 106th and Park. Again, I don’t think it actually charted as well as the music and the iconic video demanded, but I think it will be seen as a touchstone of the modern groove in the future.

  2. Here are a couple covers I found on YouTube that illustrate the deep musicality of this joint

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