Popular songs with unusual time signatures

Simple enough; can anyone cite popular songs/tunes in a time signature other than the ubiquitous 4/4, 3/4, 6/8 etc. beat? “Popular” is a key term here; Gustav Holtz’s “Mars” is in 5/4 time, but I doubt most here would recognize it.

The ones I’ve discovered:

Dave Brubeck “Take Five” (5/4)
Lalo Schifrin “‘Mission: Impossible’ Theme” (5/4)
Led Zeppelin “Four Sticks” (5/4; perhaps not really that ‘popular’…)
Pink Floyd “Money” (7/8; never realized until I mentioned this thread to a friend and “counted out” the song’s opening phrase)

Any others?

Pink Floyd’s “Mother” is a little notable in that most of the verse is 4/4, the chorus is 6/8 (or 3/4 depending on who’s transcribed the music), and there is one bar in each line of the verse that is 5/4.

Not quite as well known as “Take Five,” but I just heard Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo a la Turk” (9/8) in a coffee shop the other day.

Jethro Tull “Living in the Past” (5/4)
Mike Oldfield “Tubular Bells” (theme from The Exorcist) (30-beat cycle divided 7+7+7+9/8)

I’ve always felt that Rush were the kings of writing in 7/8(4) or other odd signatures and making it sound totally normal. Limelight is a great example.

The Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out”, is written mostly in 4/4 time except for the parts that go “fussing and fighting my friend” and “ask you once again” which change to 3/4 time. It also ends in 3/4 time. Granted 3/4 and 4/4 time aren’t that uncommon but it’s kind of rare to have both in one song.

Now that I think of it, 3/4 time is pretty rare in rock music. Some that come to mind are:
"Manic Depression" Jimi Hendrix
“Go Now” Moody Blues
“How Can I Be Sure” by the Rascals

There aren’t that many others are there? (Then again, I’m thinking with a 1960’s mentality).

The Pretenders used several odd time signatures in their early stuff at least. Tattooed Love Boys was in 15/16 time.

“Loan Me a Dime” by Boz Scaggs starts out in 3/4 time, and finishes (with a blistering Duane Allman guitar solo!) in 4/4/ time.

Even better is “Unsquare Dance” which is in 7/4 time.

Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill is in 7.

And post-Gabriel Genesis’s “Turn it on Again” is 13/4 in places.

Frank Zappa liked changing time signatures all the time. His “Dancin’ Fool” – which reached #45, his second most successful single – keeps changing so that, though ostensibly a dance song, it is impossible to dance to.

"Hey Ya" by Outkast is 6+8.

Tool does some odd time, though not quite as much as Rush. Rush does odd time signatures, and they change the time frequently and add in extra beats. Freewill is 6+7+6+8 in during the verses. Most of their songs that I can think of have odd time at some point. Primus uses some odd time signatures, inlcuding their song Eleven which is in 11/8, but I don’t think any of their hits are odd. I think System of a Down may have an odd-time hit or two but I’m not sure.

As a slight digresssion, are there many pop songs that have polyrythyms any more odd than 3 against 4? I think Paul Simon was known for that but I didn’t hear it myself and I can’t think of any others except maybe some rappers.

The Grateful Dead’s “Estimated Prophet” is in 7/4.

“Hashpipe” by Weezer has an unusual signature of some sort. Counting out the beats it seems to be in 4/4, but I always always want to hum the hook in 15/16: it’s so driving that I always assume it’s missing the last note. Would probably sound better that way (unless it really is 15/16: I can’t tell.)

You really think so? It’s certainly well known over here.
I think Golden Brown by The Stranglers was in something odd but I can’t find anything to back me up.
I know it’s not exactly a pop tune but Discipline by King Crimson probably takes the biscuit. I’ve never seen it written down but at times there are simultaneous guitar parts in 15 and 14, I don’t know how that would be notated. Anyone ever seen a score for this? (Tab does not count).

Sweet Pain by Blues Traveler is in 7/4.

I can see why you might think that because of the quarter note triplets going on there, but the song stays in 4/4 throughout.

In the Eagles’ “Take it Easy”, in measure number 8, it goes into 9/8 for just that one measure. Odd, but it works!

I have some Polynesian music that is in…well, I don’t KNOW what time it is in, I can’t even identify the (whatever-you-call-it) tonal scale.

But it is good music.

And peri-Gabriel Genesis had examples of this as well… Supper’s Ready from Foxtrot has a portion named Apocalype in 9/8/ It’s divided into 3+2+4 at that. The first post-Gabriel Genesis album, Trick of the Tail, is chock full of this stuff: Dance on a Volcano is in 7/8. **Robbery, Assault & Battery ** has a keyboard solo which alternates between 7/8 and 6/8.

ELP’s Tarkus (the song/suite) is in many times: Eruption is in 10/8, Iconoclast is in 10/8, Manticore is in 9/8.

Kansas did some of this - the title track to Song for America has an extended instrumental passage in 9/8.

Frank Zappa had loads of this stuff, as RealityChuck notes: Other examples include Don’t Eat The Yellow Show (7/8), Echidna’s Arf (portions in 5/8), and Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing ([2+5rest]+[3+5rest]+[5+5rest]+ [2+5rest]+[3+5rest]+[5+5rest]+[6+10rest]…) :rolleyes:

You got that right. I’ve never seen any King Crimson music in other than tab, because Fripp won’t publish it. They use odd time signatures more often than not. For a treat :slight_smile: , try figuring out what the time signature of Starless from Red is, especially the rocking part about 90 seconds before the end, prior to the restatement of the opening theme. Yikes.

Cat Steven’s “Rubylove” is in 7/8.

“Skimbleshanks” from Cats has the chorus in 13/8.