Available as a download and also on the 2005
reissue of the Peachtree Road album, Electricity was considered
the emotional high point from the musical Billy Elliot. With
lyrics by the show's writer Lee Hall and music by Elton,
the musical was an instant hit since its opening in May 2005.
Electricity is a song that explains the feelings of the
young star when he's dancing. With the staging and choreography,
the piece reportedly brings the audience to a standing ovation
on a regular basis.
Since it was intended for the stage, Electricity cannot
exactly be judged as a regular pop song. We can certainly
hear the difference between Lee Hall's lyrics and Bernie
Taupin's usual work with Elton. Hall's lyrics are much more
direct with their expressions of personal feelings. Let's
take a look at the music.
The actual piano work is pretty simple. Elton plays chords
on the quarter note, and in the pre-chorus does some simple
arpeggios. Harmonically though, the song is quite complex.
For one thing, its got a number of modulations, some of which
I haven't figured out quite how they work.
The intro uses a descending bassline pattern starting from
the relative minor of A, F#m. I've also written in roman
numeral format because it does a better job of showing the
relationship to the tonic.
|| F#m - C#m/E - | D - A/C# - | Dm7 -
Esus E ||
|| vi - iii - | IV - I - | iv (?) - V
Alright now: SOMEBODY HELP ME WITH THIS ONE! A circle
of 4ths progression is played over the descending bassline
for the 1st 2 bars. It's the Dm7 that's the mystery. Is
it some type of rootless B-diminished chord which serves
as the V-of-V? It certainly resolves to the E chord in
a wonderful way.
The verse starts off in A and again finds a way to use the
Dm7 to E progression.
|| A - - - | A/G - - - | F#m - - - | B7sus4
- B - |
| Bm7 - - - | F#m/A - - - | Dm7 - - -
| Esus - E - |
The 4th bar uses a true V-of-V. In the key of A, a B7 chord
is used to modulate to the key of E. Since the B7 is the
V-chord in E, and E is the V-chord of A, the B7 is called
the V-of-V. But Elton trips us up by going from the B to
the B-minor chord.
Our first modulation happens in the transition to a short
pre-chorus section, shown below. Here Elton resolves the
E from the verse not into A as one would expect, but into
an A-minor. This is usually called modulating to the parallel
|| Am - Em/G - | F - C/E - | Am - Em/G
- | F - E7sus4 E||
Of course, you might expect the E7 above to resolve back
again to the A or A-minor. But instead, it modulates to C,
the relative major.
|| C - - - | Am - - - | Dm7 - C/E - |
D/F# - G - |
| C - - - | C/Bb - - - | F/A - - - | Fm/Ab
- - - |
| Am7/G - Dm7/G G | C - - - ||
Well anyway, like I said, this song's got some stuff going
on that's a little more than my brain wants to take on. If
you're a student of musical analysis, write me and tell me
what you think is going on with these progressions.
My bottomline, this is a great song with some pretty sophisticated
chord progressions. It's a massive hit in the UK and a highlight
of Elton's hit musical Billy Elliot. Enjoy!