This article provides a structural and musical analysis of ‘Hola Hola’ and aims to highlight and discuss interesting aspects of the song’s composition. ‘Hola Hola’ was written by Nassun, Dalgui & Bigtone and was released on 19/07/17 as the title track of the mini-album ‘Hola Hola’ as performed by K.A.R.D.
Although I aim to justify any opinions raised in this article, please respect that the views expressed are subjective. For more information, please click here
Song Structure and Track Info:
(fig A – Bar, Timecode & Structural Diagram for ‘Hola Hola’)
- Duration of the song = 3:22.964s [source: Audacity, using m4a. file purchased from iTunes]
- Consists of 87 bars in 4/4 time signature
- Tempo – approximately crotchet = 105 (Allegretto)
- Key Signature: G# Minor
- Form: Intro, AABC(hook)DAABCDDB, Outro
‘Hola Hola’ is an interesting song, which makes various subtle references to K.A.R.D’s earlier tracks ‘Oh NaNa’ and ‘Rumor’. The majority of ‘Hola Hola’ is made up of an embellished and recurring chord progression which can easily be played on a keyboard instrument in the following way: E-Major, F#-Major and G#-Minor (all in second inversion – for reference, see the backing keys line of ‘fig B’) with an occasional B-Major inflection to set up the repetition. The song also features a distinctive, isolated and very functional vocal ‘hook’ which I have isolated as two separate sections of the bar structure diagram (see fig A above). There are also two different types of Bridge section, both of which will be discussed in detail as part of my analysis below.
(fig B – Annotation of the introduction to ‘Hola Hola’)
The upper synth makes an immediate reference to ‘Oh NaNa’, opening with the notes ‘B-C#-D#’ which serve as the first three notes of an ascending major scale. Although ‘Hola Hola’ is not in the same key signature as ‘Oh NaNa’, the use of the major scale between the two songs is identical. There is also a reference to ‘Rumor’ in the synth bass line in fig B, which uses an identical rhythm to the bass line during ‘Rumor’s opening. The composers have merged and evolved these references into something ‘new’ by incorporating and manipulating the playback of vocal samples before introducing natural and unaltered vocals. The backing keys (keyboard/synth) eventually fade in with the previously discussed recurring E-F#-G#m-B progression.
The First Verse:
(fig C – Annotation of Verse 1 – set 1 – first 4 bars)
The first verse features two sets of 8 bar passages. The first set of 8 bars (annotated in fig C and fig D) feature female vocals, the second set features a cross between singing and rap from the male vocals. Both sets feature the previously discussed repeating E-F#-G#m-B syncopated chord progressions. One of the most interesting aspects of verse 1 concerns the composers’ use of rhythm: a regular simple crotchet (quarter note) beat underlies the verse whilst the synth bass and backing keys are playing matching dotted quaver to quaver (dotted 8th to regular 8th) note patterns ontop. Essentially, it is possible to hear two rhythms at once during this passage. What is the point of such a writing technique? It effectively provides continuity and variety to a passage which needs to repeat many times throughout the song.
(fig D – Annotation of Verse 1 – set 1 – last 4 bars)
I have not annotated the second 8-bar set from verse 1 (featuring the male vocals), as the backing line essentially repeats what was played during set 1, with the most prominent difference between the two sets being the pitch register between the vocalists and, of course, the rhythm of the lyrics being sung.
(fig E – Annotation of Bridge ‘A’ – first 4 bars)
‘Hola Hola’ features two contrasting types of bridge section, which are shown on the structural diagram (fig A) as “Bridge” (which is played twice) and “Bridge B” (which is played only once). The first Bridge section (Bridge A) makes further reference to an old K.A.R.D song, with all vocalists singing the words “Oh Na Na Na” in bar 4 of fig E. The percussion rhythm has become more intense in comparison to the simplistic rhythm of verse 1 and the composers have opted to use triplet rhythms in the vocal melody and backing keys to provide further syncopation (as illustrated in fig F below). What is the overall effect? The composers are essentially developing rhythmic patterns as a way of building tension to help lead towards the chorus section.
(fig F – Annotation of Bridge ‘A’ – final 4 bars)
(fig G – Annotation of the vocal ‘hook’ passage)
I have deliberately labeled the vocal hook as a separate passage on my structural diagram (fig A) for two reasons: firstly, because the hook functions as an isolated prelude to the chorus/refrain section, and secondly, because it does not necessarily act as a vital characteristic of either the chorus or bridge sections. It is therefore more appropriate to think of the hook as a useful transition between different sections. Despite there being 4 members of K.A.R.D, I am only able to hear three separate notes for each chord in fig G, which suggests that one of the band members may be doubling another line to give it greater presence.
(fig H – Annotation of the synth and vocal lines of the first chorus/refrain passage)
A key aspect of any K.A.R.D song is the presence of an isolated synth solo (they feature on each of K.A.R.D’s previous 3 project singles) and this is also one of the key elements of the chorus/refrain section in ‘Hola Hola’. The synth solo fluctuates between low and high notes on every crotchet (quarter-note) beat. If we observe the highlighted lower notes which feature on the 1st and 3rd beats of each bar in fig H, we can see that they ascend as G#, A#, B and also a D#. Not only is this progression representative of the beginning of a G#-Minor scale (with the exception of the D#, which is the odd-one out) but they are all the major 3rd degrees of the backing chords (E, F#,G# and B respectively). Essentially, the composers of ‘Hola Hola’ have developed the concept of how a synth solo actually works in a K.A.R.D song by introducing a very subtle inflection between both major and minor harmonies. A very interesting musical touch!
The Second Verse:
I have not annotated either 8-bar set for verse two as these sections are predominantly vocal rap passages. Although the first set represents a new and previously unheard passage of music, the backing to the female vocal rap is essentially a pedal (held/sustained) note with embellished percussion underlying the vocals and the second set is similar to that of the second set of verse 1. It is worth noting though that despite many repetitive elements, variety achieved through the contrasting pitch ranges of the different vocal lines and rhythmic variety is achieved due to the use of different lyrics.
The Second Chorus/Refrain
The second chorus/refrain is in many parts similar to that which is illustrated in fig H, above. However, it is worth noting that the chorus/refrain repeats for a further 4 bars in order to set up an entirely new section, Bridge B.
(fig I – Annotation of Bridge B)
Bridge B is a short 4-bar passage, in contrast to the 8 bars of Bridge A. However, it provides the most contrasting passage in the whole song. One of the features in Bridge B (as shown in fig I above) is a shift in the use of background chords, which now gravitate from C#m7 to D#m7 to E to F# to G#. There is a sense (albeit artificial) that the tempo has slowed down in this passage – this is not actually the case… the ‘effect’ (or sensation) is artificially achieved by the composers, who have doubled the rhythms of the synth bass and backing keys and thereby eliminated the diversity of rhythmic pulse taking place in the passage.
(fig J – Annotation of the Outro – first 4 bars)
The outro sees a return to the same rhythms, harmony and bass line as was previously used during the Bridge A passage (see fig E). However, this time the passage is used as a part-instrumental solo and part-vocal interjection before the song’s ultimate conclusion. Fig J demonstrates that there are two aspects to the synth solo: primarily, a pronounced and mid-range melodic line, which closely resembles the sound of a plastic tube/pipe being struck by a mallet. This solo synth line is accompanied by brief interjections from an ‘upper synth’ line which largely gravitates around notes from the B-Major scale, as can be seen in bars 2 and 4 of the above passage.
(fig K – Annotation of the Outro – final 4 bars)
The song concludes much in a similar way to Bridge A. The exceptions to this are found in the vocal line (which does not end with artifically manipulated vocal samples) and a more flowing synth solo line.
I enjoyed listening to ‘Hola Hola’. There are 7 aspects of the composition which I personally find interesting from a musical perspective: The composers’ ability to add variety to short and frequently recurring chord progressions, a highly functional and isolated vocal ‘hook’ which stands out as a contrasting element which can be used to transition between sections, The inclusion of rap and naturally sung vocals for both the female and male voices at least once in the song, the very clever and subtle references to K.A.R.D’s previous songs ‘Oh Na Na’ and ‘Rumor’, a harmonically intricate synth solo passage, the manipulation of voice samples (a seemingly new element to K.A.R.D songs) and the enormous level of contrast between the two bridge sections.
‘Hola Hola’ is a fitting title track for K.A.R.D’s 1st mini-album and is a natural progression from the group’s previous 3 project singles. I look forward to listening to the rest of the album and would thoroughly recommend paying for the download on iTunes or just watching the MV on Youtube.
However, I am left with two unanswered questions… Where does the group go from here musically and is there longevity to the K.A.R.D composition formula? I optimistically believe that both of these questions will answer themselves as more people discover the mini-album and when K.A.R.D’s core audience has the opportunity to see the group perform live (conveniently, the band are about to embark on another international tour, making this obstacle significantly easier!).
For my part, I hope my article helps to raise awareness and discussion of ‘Hola Hola’ from the perspective of the song’s musical composition and furthermore, I hope that it serves as a useful starting point for any fans or musicians who are interested in writing and recording their own cover version in the future.