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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Kassel

"I'm So Excited" has a lot going on under its surface

The Pointer Sisters' eternally catchy hit is more than meets the ear.

Did someone say "emotional whiplash?"

...Yeah, this song gives off quite a different mood from the past few, but it makes sense considering the day I've had.

I am currently riding quite an emotional high as I write this after spending my Saturday watching two big wins for Cal teams: first a nail-biting win for our top-ranked rugby squad against BYU that was secured on a try with no more than 75 seconds remaining, then a resounding Senior Night win for men's basketball against Stanford. Both results are definitely cathartic, especially for a senior class and a larger fan base that has waited to see such outcomes — and in many cases attend games in the first place — for over two years.

In the moment, I'm simply elated about today's events here in Berkeley, and that's the emotion I want to capture and share with all of you. Considering a) the nighttime setting for these reflections; b) the fact that I heard this selection as I walked through campus this afternoon; and c) the group in question being from Oakland, there's no better song to soundtrack the end of my day than the Pointer Sisters' "I'm So Excited."

Throughout their illustrious career that peaked in the early to mid-80s, the Pointer Sisters have straddled genres up and down the popular landscape, resulting in a sound that cuts across audience barriers to widespread acclaim. With its amalgamation of a driving pop beat right in line with other 80s hits, the sisters' R&B vocals, and post-disco sensibilities like the infectious guitar, "I'm So Excited" is a prime example of this genre mixing integral to the group's success.

Much credit is owed to producer Richard Perry not only for mediating these various influences, but for doing so en route to creating a comprehensive, seamless whole of a track. His combination of those various elements is what makes the song's groove so fun and danceable. Sure, the keyboards and drums may have been enough on their own to create a nice groove, but the brightness of the guitar between the chords makes everything just pop a bit more. The same goes for the piano solo after the second chorus, which is also thanks to co-songwriter Trevor Lawrence deviating just enough from the main melody to add a little bit of spice.

Admittedly, there isn't much lyrical substance on "I'm So Excited"; Anita Pointer is excited to really get to know and love someone, and her sisters Ruth and June accents her emotions with tight three-part harmonies. What the song doesn't have in deep meaning, though, it has in catchiness. Let's just say I certainly wasn't alone in singing along to the chorus as I walked down from the rugby field and back through campus. I think what really makes the chorus stick in people's minds is a combination of a simple melody — primarily just three notes — and its contrast in phrase lengths. Whereas the verse had consistently long vocal phrasings, the chorus starts with two short, punchy statements ("I'm so excited / And I just can't hide it") before a longer third one, then repeats that pattern. This kind of contrast is one that I don't think gets enough attention in popular music, because the push and pull it creates does worlds to make a song stand out.

Looking at a song like "I'm So Excited" helps me appreciate the craft that goes into creating popular music. Composition, writing, and production all require a careful balance of influences and the right amount of internal contrast to catch people's ears, and the Pointer Sisters and their team certainly managed that with their most enduring hit.


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