Easter Eggs In Music--don't know what else to call them!

Hi SD,

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, trying to come up with examples.

Ok. Has anyone else thought about what I call easter eggs in music? I don’t know what else to call them. They are those vocal moments or instrumental moments when the artist does something a tiny bit differently from all the other times he or she has done it…it adds to the joy of listening to the piece because it subconsciously denotes mastery of the material. In effect, the musician playing around.

I’m not talking about huge improvisations. I’m just talking about a phrase that’s different, or even a word that’s sung differently. Usually, the note goes higher than usual, or bends a little. Something different, and cool, that makes you think “Why did the artist do it when he or she did?” Are they deliberately saving the vocal acrobatics till the end? I basically want to know if this is actually a thing or if I’m just making shit up.

Here are my examples:

Frozen-Let It Go. Idina Menzel sings Let It Go always the second time Eb C C Bb.
Until 3:15 when she sings it Eb C C Bb C Bb. Just a small thing, but effective. Why then?

Journey: Separate Ways. Steve Perry sings for the verses G G A G A B…A…G…(confusion and pain…etc.) But at 2:20 he sings G G A G A B…B D C B A G A G. That high D is high in his range. What made him decide to do it differently there?

Aerosmith: Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing. 3:50 he goes nuts and hits a high D.

Aerosmith: Dream On: at 3:30 Tyler hits his high A for the first time in the song.

Kansas: Dust in the Wind: At 2:15 he sings “forever” a little differently, which he never did before. The next fifteen seconds are him going awesomely nuts, compared to what he’s done for the first two minutes.

Adele, Hello: at 5:30, after doing a million normal "Hello from the outside"s she does one with a little more mustard on it. This one in particular got me thinking, because that was when I really got into the piece, when she just “went off on it”.

My questions are: Is this a real phenomenon? And if it is, do artists save their “best” stuff for the end on purpose? Do we as listeners get more excited the higher an artist can sing? I mean, when someone “hits the high notes” and it comes through “perfectly” we love it! Maybe because we feel like they’re taking a risk and we rejoice that it worked out for them during performance.

Thanks, SD.


That’s like in Morrrissey’s song “Every Day Is Like Sunday”. During the whole song, at the start of the chorus, he sings “Ev-ry day is like Sunday.” Then at the end, the last time he sings it, he sings “Ev-er-ry day is like Sunday.” The extra syllable. It’s beautiful.

On Steely Dan’s “My Old School”, the line “And I’m never goin’ back to my old school” is sung differently in the third and final chorus. No real high notes though.

I always loved John Bonham’s drumming (Led Zepplin). He was a master at emphasizing slight differences at key moments.

Keith Moon was good at that, also.

I think it’s very common for musicians to throw in variations like this, both to add variety in general and specifically to create a buildup of energy as the song goes on.

The first thing I thought of was “Hey Jude” – McCartney sings the opening line of each verse differently.

As a general rule, probably the jazzier a singer’s vocal style is, the more they will do this. An example would be the final chorus in “And It Stoned Me” by Van Morrison. Or just about all of “Tupelo Honey” – he hardly sings anything the same way twice in that song.

In one of the new Fall Out Boy songs (I think it’s “Uma Thurman”), the guitar riff that plays right after each chorus includes the opening notes of “The Munsters.”

The obscure late 80s/early 90s hair band Trixter had a song (“Ride the Whip,” maybe? Dunno…not home to look it up) that, as it’s fading out, features a little bit of the “Woody Woodpecker” theme.

In a live performance on French TV, annoyed with the audience clapping on 1 and 3, Harry Connick Jr throws in a 5/4 bar, the audience doesn’t notice and end up clapping on 2 and 4. In the background you can see the drummer raise his arms in celebration.

Original album recording of BS&T “Spinning Wheel”; song ends with ragged carnival music and spoken in distant background, “That wouldn’t (sic) too good…” + laughing.

I remembered a favorite of mine: In “Lola” by the Kinks, in the next-to-last verse (“Well that’s the way that I want it to stay…”), Ray Davies takes what had up to that point been the high harmony and uses it as the melody.

On the third verse of Eagles “Take it Easy,” the first line ends on A minor as Frey sings “world of trouble on my mind,” as opposed to the verses before the solo where the first line ends on C.

The Dream Theater album Once in a LiveTime is kind of fun for the little tributes from other songs. In fact, looking it up for the Wikipedia link made me aware of more “Easter Eggs” than I had caught on my own. Some stand out as a big difference from the rest of the song; others blend in unless you know what you’re looking for.

This doesn’t qualify as an Easter Egg, but Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz went through periods where he didn’t like the crowd singing Mr. Jones along with his performance, so they’d speed up or slow down the tempo so that the crowd couldn’t follow along.

Haven’t your lips, hungered for mine?
Please don’t ‘expline’, show me, show me!

While the above is the official (and only) recording, it might qualify.

Not exactly what the OP was asking for, but the Genesis song “Abacab” always made me wonder what “Abacab” meant.
Then a musician friend of mine pointed out the chord progression of the song was A-B-A-C-A-B :smack:

Your friend was wrong, or you’re misremembering. The chord progression is all over the place. An early version of the song had the song structure A-B-A-C-A-B, but the final version changed.

That’s been one of my favorite musical moments for a number of years now. :slight_smile: As for songs with subtle variations and builds as they go on, I kind of think that’s the majority of good music, but it seems the OP might be looking for something more specific.

Being a non-musical person, I cannot verify if I was lied to or am using the wrong terms.

Just to clarify, an example of an A-B-A-C-A-B song structure would be:

A: Verse 1
B: Chorus
A: Verse 2
C: Bridge
A: Verse 3
B: Chorus

Just add one more A for ABACABA and you have a rondo form!

Thank you, this I understand :slight_smile: