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Inside Miley Cyrus' 'Flowers': A Music Producer's Analysis and 6 Key Insights

Miley Cyrus has recently been making waves again with her new persona and tracks to boot. Following pop hits like Midnight Sky and Prisoner featuring Dua Lipa, she's out with a brand new song, 'Flowers', which has been popping off on social media. Although I'm a little late to the party (in the USA, lol), I figured I'd share my own thoughts on the song and what stood out to me, in the hopes that you may learn a thing or two. But more importantly, to have an open discussion about all things music production and arrangement going on in this song.

Here are 6 key takeaways from the song that caught my attention. I'm sure to use these concepts in my own production and hope that you do too!

1. Creating Space in Your Music: How to Use Frequencies Effectively

In the first verse, the bass and Rhodes parts do not have a lot of high-frequency information. I believe this is done intentionally to create space for the vocal. It allows the vocal to shine in the first verse while also giving the music room to grow. Therefore, it's important to keep an eye out for what instruments or sounds are using what frequencies. Maybe the cymbals are overpowering the vocals in the high frequencies, or the guitars are taking up too much of the mid-range. These kinds of decisions during both arrangement and mixing play a huge role in adding impact with fewer elements in your song.

2. Make Your Sections Stand Out: Using Contrast to Create Contrast in Your Music

One of the smartest things in this song is the use of space to make the chorus feel bigger. That space on the first downbeat of the chorus where most people would expect a huge drop or crash is substituted for silence. Apart from adding interest to the song by going against what the listener expects, it makes the return of the same elements feel that much bigger when in reality, no other instruments, apart from the strings, have been added.

3. Creating a Groove: How to Use Complimentary Parts to Enhance Your Sound

What really strikes me is the intelligent use of timing between the guitar, Rhodes, and bass in this song. The bass is primarily on the down-beats, the Rhodes on the up-beats (the and of 4), and the guitar is doing something between the two. These three parts, along with the steady 4-on-the-floor pop drums, really create a ton of movement and groove. Try to mix and match timings between instruments to come up with your own grooves. Use syncopation to your advantage.

4. Building a Better Song: Using Contrast to Define New Sections

Contrast is key in this song, and one very interesting way of using contrast is in the vocal arrangement. The chorus is being sung by Miley alone. The temptation to add backing vocals is so easy to fall prey to, but in this instance, it is preserved for what would become the hook of the song. ("Can love me better! I can love me better, baby!") Moreover, this is made prominent by the fact that Miley does not sing the hook at all. So you have one vocal texture - solo vocal - being completely substituted for a completely new texture - group backing vocals - all while the band plays through the same progression.

5. Mastering Drum Fills: How to Have Intent Behind Every Beat

The drums in this song have very little frills but it's this very same simplicity that provides the most value to the song. They are simple, impactful and sound huge. A key point in the song that best demonstrates this style of drumming is in the second pre-chorus where the drummer does a simple eighth-note fill that matches the rhodes build-up perfectly. Neither instrument is conflicting with each other. Later on, just before the last chorus, the drummer ornaments the fill a little bit just to add a bit more dynamic.

6. Breaking Down Your Song: Using Movement to Define New Sections

On the topic of contrast, another way in which it is used is actually in the movement of the bass. The bass is the most steady driving force of this song - as in most pop songs - and only resorts to whole note phrases in the first pre-chorus and the bridge (which is also the pre-chorus melody). It's interesting to see how the chord progression stays the same as the bridge but stripping it of movement creates a new section entirely before the chorus re-enters with a tambourine for that extra spice at the end!

In Conclusion...

Thanks for reading and I hope you found these music production insights helpful. If you want to see more content like this, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow me on Instagram, where I share tips, tutorials, and behind-the-scenes looks at my music production process. Also, I would love to hear your thoughts on 'Flowers' by Miley Cyrus and any other songs you're digging right now. Leave a comment below and let's keep the discussion going. Thanks again for your support, and I'll see you in the next one!

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