If You Can't Beat Them

Composer: John Deacon
Meter: 4/4
Key: D-Major, E-Major
Form:

      Intro (AA') | Verse (AA'AA'AA'AA'-B) | Chorus (CC') | Connector (DDDE) |
                  | Verse                  | Chorus       | Connector        |
                  | Solo (Verse)           | Chorus       | Connector        |
                  | Connector 2 - Solo I (AA'AA'AA'C"C" C"A'AAA) - II (AAAAAAAAA...

This is seemingly a straighthahead rock song as the half of the song is using only the three basic chords and the songform is cyclic. The most interesting aspects are the syncopations and the change of key with a half step interval.


Intro
The intro introduces the backing track of the Verse. Throughout the song the rhythm guitars are double tracked, but in the intro only the guitar on left is played. The song starts on the second beat which is tad disorienting, beacuse one's sense of rhythm tends to interpret the first note to be the downbeat. The harmonic rhythm is syncopated which does not help to get oriented either, just like the drums entering on the eighth after the downbeat:

2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1
DDDA G  G GA  D D DA G    G A ...  : Guitar chords
                       **** *      : drums

The rhythmical difference between the ending of both riff phrases is carried through almost all verses and derived sections.


Verse:
The phrasing is harmony-wise 4+4+4+4+3 A A A A B, melody-wise A B C C' D in the first verse, A B C B' D in the second verse. In the first four phrses we have the three basic chords. In the closing phrase we have a descending progression from B down to E with a halfmeausre closing the section.

D:
/----------- 4x ----------\\
| D A  | G A | D A | G  A |
| I V  |IV V | I V |IV  V |

                2/4
| Bm A | G F#1 | E1 |
| vi V |IV 3rd | 2nd|

The first solo is an instrumental Verse. The bassline is often swithes to step-wise mode putting both A and G chords in first inversion. The solo itself is a chain-solo (see "The End" Beatles) the solo phrases overlap eachother. The last phrase is three part harmonised creating a crossrelation between G and G# notes in the G and E chords respectively.


Chorus
The chorus consists of four two measure phrases ABAC. The first A phrases are unisono sung the second A phrases are sung in three part harmony the lead vocal being on top. In the third chorus both A phrases are harmonized with an additional layer on top, moreover the last phrase modifies both the lead guitar figure and the semi-spoken lead vocal.

E:
| E B E | C#m D  |
| I V I | vi bVII|

| A     | E      | | IV    | I      |

repeat m.1-2

| A1    | -      |
|(4th)  | -      |

The rhythm of the A phrases is similarly syncopated as the the Verse-riff:

1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
**** * *   *

In the closing phrase the lead vocal is doubled by lead guitar (or vica versa). Due to the modal lead (featuring both b3rd and b6th of E) the harmony is departing from E-Major, but it's still uncertain where exactly to.


Connector
We have a predominantly instrumental connector closing each cycles. The phrasing is 2+2+2+2 AAAB. We dont have a clear chord-drive harmony here. The modal center is F# but due to the chromatic content we can't sense the. The
closing scale suggests E-mixolydian.

 /--------- 3x ---------\\
| F#1...A#1 | B1...G#1 |
| 1st   M3rd| 4th  2nd |

| F#1...    | E5       |
| 1st       | m7th     |

If we count out the eighths along the end of the preceding chorus we may conclude that the last measure is only 7/8 long. But it's just a case of a syncopation often referred in the analyses as "pre-downbeat accent", or "push". The beat map of the riff shows:

3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1
   * ****  * ****  *...

In the second cycle there is a lead guitar added playing a single note (F#) until the last phrase.
In the third cycle we have two lead guitar playing the same note antiphonally. The last measure the guitars go into three part harmony.

Connenctor 2 - Solo 2
After the third cycle there is a long section which also serves as an outro. The rhythm guitar work of the verse is carried almost throughout but after some phrases its getting simplified and blurred thus after a while even the rhythmical alternation can't be heard. The bassline is again dominated by the scalar variantm but the beginning and the song-closing phrases are playing the original root-following variant.
In the seventh phrase the rhythm guitars switch to the chorus motif (this tine in D-Major) for three phrases where also some flanging effect is applied. The subtle re-appearing of the chorus motif is a clever application of repetition, which is so characteristic of Queen.
Lead guitar enters for the third phrase, but it's still too simplistic to consider a part of the solo 2. It merely repeats single notes in unisono bend until the chorus motif.
The outro-solo starts after 13 phrases which is tad surprisning (uneven). Mix-wise it replaces the right side rhythm guitar. The solo is typical three-fingered with lots of bent and released notes, but non-pentatonic. It closes with characteristic bent double-stops where brief fade out and flanging is applied.