SONG CLUB REVIEW: “High School Dropout” by Neon Dreams
(This post is based on the script Mark David Stallard wrotefor The Invisible Song Club live show.)
Buy the song https://music.apple.com/ca/album/high-school-dropout-remix-single/1454317425
“High school Dropout” is an upbeat dance number with apositive message and a great hook.
It starts with a few slow dreamy chords from a synthesizer.After about 8 bars, the Tempo instantly increases. The beat is solid and theelectronic instrumentation grip us in a head-nodding hypnotic way.
The vocals come in strong and joyful, with a fast syncopateddelivery. This works well with the lyrics, which quickly sets the scene of someonenot fitting in.
The verse changes into what I’m going to call the Middle bit(I’m not sure if this is the second part of the verse or what. So for want of abetter noun, I’ll call it the middle even though it’s not really in the middle).
The middle bit slows right down, with the dreamy synthplaying chords while the beat backs off slightly. The vocal also pulls back alittle, putting more emphasis into the melody rather than the words. And again, it fits well with the lyric, which talks about getting “your head up in the clouds” and “keep on dreaming”.
The chorus comes in hard and fast, resuming the energy ofthe verse. It’s catchy and tuneful. The melody climbs and falls, coming back tothe root where we might expect it, in an easy unassuming way. The lyric brings the message of the song together. The “not fitting-in” of the verse. The “it’s ok to dream” of the middle bit. And then, no surprise here, we have the story of a successfully high school drop out. Which is very nicely done.
The verse, middle, and chorus repeat with little change to theinstrumentation and vocals. This makes for a comfortable listen and, no doubt, maximizesthe danceability of the song.
The final chorus repeats, but for the last bar theinstrumentation backs right off leaving the reverb laden vocals to sing thelast few words of the chorus. And then it just ends.
But the ending is a bit too sudden and unexpected for mytaste. When I first listened to the song, I wasn’t sure if they were justtaking a dramatic pause before continuing. I think an easy fix would be to start this conclusion one bar earlier, at beginning of the last line of the chorus instead of in the middle of the last line. That would have given it time to register the change with the listener, and the ending would have been less jarring.
Having said all that, I don’t feel this is a major issue.And it didn’t take away at all from my enjoyment of the song.
I did like the message of the song, but I’m sure it will rubsome people the wrong way. But high school just doesn’t know what to do withcreative kids. I can tell you that from first-hand experience.
And this point is actually stated in the lyrics, using shoesize as a metaphor.
“I was tripping trying to fill those shoes
Let’s be honest
One size don’t fit all that’s the truth”
“High School Drop Out” is a fun song, easy to listen to, hasa message, and is really catchy.
And finally, if I can quote Marty McFly from Back To TheFuture 3, “It has a beat, and you can dance to it.”
--Mark David Stallard