A chameleon, a parrot, a stray hairpin and a butt-load of outfit changes. Not to mention a drop that had us all very, very confused the first time we heard it. We’ve had a few days to really listen to Michela Pace’s new song Chameleon, and we have some thoughts. So grab yourself a snack and settle in; we’re about to go on a journey together.
Pop music is a genre that emerged in the 1950s in Britain following the rise of Illuminati-founded group The Beatles, and is often considered to be synonymous with the term ‘popular’ music. It basically covers a genre of music that appeals to the widest audience possible.
Interestingly enough, the first ever edition of the Eurovision Song Contest was held in the year 1957, tying the existence of pop music and the Eurovision together for the rest of eternity in some alternate cosmic plane of reality.
But we are not here to talk about music history and theorise about whether or not the Eurovision was organised by alien overlords.
We’re here to talk about the absolutely monumental track that is Michela Pace‘s Chameleon; Malta’s entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
A pop song that subverts expectations while also being exactly what you thought it would be
What is a pop song?
Pop music, much like a chameleon, changes and adapts to its surroundings. In the 50s and 60s, pop music literally just meant music that was popular. But from the 70s onwards, ‘pop music’ was understood to be anything that wasn’t rock or classical music, especially when it made use of electronic instruments. Or, in the more savage words of musicologist Simon Frith; music that doesn’t come from a place of taste and is made as a matter of enterprise, not art.
Chameleon is definitely a ‘pop song’, but if anyone tries to tell me that it isn’t art, I’m ready to fight you. Because this song is a masterpiece that deserves only the most detailed of analyses.
First of all, we all thought Michela was going to release a ballad, right? So when she hit us with a song that sounds like a Demi Lovato and Cheat Codes collab, we were the definition of shook
A reggae style intro reminiscent of something Kelsey Bellante would release with a trap style “drop” replacing the chorus. Very forward looking for the Eurovision. Very 2016 for the rest of the pop music world.
The general structure of a pop song is: verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus.
The structure of Chameleon is kind of the same, but not. It goes something like this:
verse/’pre-chorus’/drop/verse/’pre-chorus’/drop/bridge/verse/bridge and verse combo
And this is were we get into the nitty gritty of what this song is really about.
The style of the song cannot be easily defined, or put in a box as part of a singular genre. It also goes against all of the public’s expectations for what Michela’s song would sound like. And she tells us this in the lyrics;
“And when they try to hold me down
Inside a box, I’ll find my way out
I’m keeping it in motion, hmm-hmm”
And then, we get the hook: chama-chameleon x6
Chameleons are a distinctive and highly specialised type of Old World lizards (not be confused with Old World wizards) with 203 species identified as of June 2015. They come in a range of colours, and many even have the ability to change colour. When a human is described as a ‘chameleon’, it simply means that they tend to change and adapt based on their situation and environment.
With this song, Michela is telling us that she’s ready for whatever life throws her way
If you give her water, she’s a swimmer. If you give her fire, she’s a fighter. Love? She’s a lover. If you make her cry, she’ll be a river, and if you take her heart, she’ll be a giver. Society might be changing around us, but Michela is ready to adapt. She can, as she says in her own words, change like weather.
You know what also changes like the weather? Pop music.
Obviously, colours feature very heavily in the song, with the iconic Maltese reference to both blue and red making an appearance in the first verse. Is this a comment on the island’s partisan mentality? Perhaps.
And then, in the video (which we will discuss soon), the first image we see is Michela camouflaged against a yellow wall. And the last sound of the song is Michela saying ‘yeah-la-la-la’, which sounds an awful lot like the word ‘yellow’. Is this a reference to how things always come full circle in life? I think so.
Let’s take a closer look at the music used to support these lyrics
The first two bars of the song of any song are instrumental (hehe) to the listener’s perception of it. In ‘Chameleon’, the first two bars feature a Reggae-style horn melody that had me worried that my ears might be met with a female take on a Travellers track.
But then, the horn is replaced by a guitar, and we’re confused for a few seconds. Until the beat kicks in and Michela’s iconic rasp makes an appearance. And we realise Michela has gifted us all with a pop song for the decades.
The verse builds up to a chorus as we hear some synth progressions layered under a steady base of clapping at 4/4 beat to really get your adrenaline going. And theeeeeeen…
It drops. With heavy, trap-ish beats stepping in and confusing you because now you don’t know what you’re listening to. The song, like a chameleon, is changing before your very eyes. Or ears. You get it.
So, what about that video?
That blessed video. A montage of bright colours and eccentric outfits that embodies society’s current obsession with high fashion and a return images from throughout history such as wide-brimmed hats and bright colours from the 1970s, chiffon and beads from the 1870s and floral print dresses from the 1770s.
The locations also hint at Michela’s ability to adapt and change; she looks powerful no matter what her surroundings are. In a palace, a bedroom, a garden, alone, or surrounded by dancers and models; she owns the room. And she cannot be pinned down to one place or style.
Hey, speaking of pins, let’s discuss the moment in the video that seems to have shaken the nation more than the fact that Michela didn’t release a ballad
The way I see it, that loose hairpin symbolises one of two things:
1. The style-team may have Michela looking a certain way for that scene, but the hairpin is there to remind us that if you put her in a box, she’ll find her way out. Michela, like her hair, is ready to break any mould.
2. No matter how high-value a local production is there’s still going to be at least one (1) mistake in the final product, because we can never really get anything perfectly right.
I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one it really is. But let’s be honest; that’s not what really matters.
What matters is that Chameleon is actually going to be a very strong contender at this year’s Eurovision, and we may finally have a chance of placing in the top for the first time since Gianluca Bezzina smiled lovingly at the cameras for three whole minutes. And we fully stand behind Michela and her team this year.
You go, girl. Chama-chameleon all the way to the top.