Released: March 2006
So good it was released twice – and it was voted single of the year back in 2006 by NME staffers. “The single seemed to have a strange life of its own where people kept returning to it,” Alexis Taylor said of the track. And from student unions to clubs across the globe, you simply couldn’t escape this overly repetitive, so-annoying-it-couldn’t-leave-your-head song. Which is probably why it stuck with us for so long and earned a spot in the top ten. (RS)
How We Wrote 'Over And Over'
This song was voted song of the year back in 2006 by NME - how does it feel to now have it be in the Top Ten of this list?
"It feels great. It’s really nice that people at NME are still into that track. It was great when it was picked before, and I guess, I haven’t really thought about whether people were still paying it attention. But it’s nice that the song’s lasted and still has an impact. I feel really pleased."
Do you agree that this was your best song of the past 15 years? Or would you have picked another one?
"I feel like I know that that’s the song that’s had the most impact for a lot of people. For whatever reason, that’s the one that’s really caught people’s imagination, so that makes sense to me. But I think something like ‘One Life Stand’ from our last record, I’m a bit more, currently, proud of as a song. But I feel like ‘Over And Over’ is something we were really excited about when we were making it, but we didn’t have any expectations that it would also go on to have a life of its own and keep getting played."
How would you sum up the meaning of the song?
"It’s just simple. It’s about the joy of repetition. It’s about minimalism and repetitive grooves, and trying to sing something that makes sense of why something as simple as repetition can be really powerful. The music was the first thing, then the lyrics came afterwards, to try and explain what was going on and what was exciting with the groove we’d come up with."
Talk us through the process of writing and recording the song.
"Joe was quite influenced by listening to some DFA productions around that time, and he started making a percussion groove and played that to me and Felix, and this was quite a rare occasion at the time where a track was made by me, Felix and Joe together, rather than just me and Joe, because that’s how we used to do things.
"Felix came up with the bassline for the track, which is a sort of distortion on it. And I came up with the keyboard parts and words for the song. I was feeling that the music was very powerful sounding, and I wanted to get down in lyrics that some of the previous things we had done had been described as chilled out, and chill-out music is something that I really hate."
"I was trying to say something a bit more confident in the words, and this explained that that wasn’t what we were about. It just came together from playing over this groove that Joe had begun, and then we kind of went into the funny chanting section, with all the different countdowns of lyrics – that was because I wanted to do something like a Devo track, that might have a strange time signature, but still works. There’s one of their tracks called ‘Timing X’, and it has a really odd time signature that’s really exciting to play at a club. So we wanted to do something like that, where we just shift rhythm of the track, and people don’t really know what’s going on. It’s disorientating."
What do you think it is about 'Over And Over' that makes it so good?
"I think it’s the fact that it’s quite simple. Just saying “over and over”, it seems to be a catchy chorus. And at the same time, it’s got those lyrics about a monkey with a miniature cymbal, which to me, I was just mis-remebering a Royal Trax credit on one of their albums, where said they had musicians playing, but there was also this toy monkey with a miniature drum or something with one of the percussion tracks. And that, to me, summed up something that was enjoying repetition without having to do any kind of variation, because it’s just a machine doing it. So, based on how that line stands out, I guess it’s quite unusual. It’s the simplicity of the main chorus and the strength of the groove, plus maybe that unusual line is what makes it stand out for people."
Are you sick of playing it live, or do you still love it?
"I really like playing it live. It’s taken on a different shape over the years – we always play it differently. It’s fun to play. I’m always into playing that one. I think a few years back, we got a bit fed up with it from doing it all the time. But I really, really like it now. It’s very different from some of our other music. It’s accidentally got this kind of anthemic quality, and we don’t really like things like that. So the fact that it goes down so well with audiences makes it fun to keep playing it."
If you could go back and tweak the song at all, would you?
"There’s one bit where I’m singing two different lines over the top of each other, because we were too lazy to go back and fix it. I might change that. But I don’t think I would really be bothered to change it. You kind of get used to the things that you’ve made, and they feel like they were made by a different person. It just feels like a young group that made it. It’s a good song to me."
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