The “millennial whoop”: the simple, “wa-oh”–ing melodic sequence showing up all over pop.

This article  primitively appeared at the Patterning .
This workweek, the Lonely Island released a music television for a song that was cut from their new movie, Popstar. The erase setting for the song, “ Fuck Off, ” shows Conner4Real ( Andy Samberg ’ s Bieber-esque adolescent idol character ) gleefully belting out the most extraordinary saying of adolescent angst possible .

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The sung is an incredible parody, not least because Samberg and company have caught onto a melodic phenomenon that has plagued the airwaves for the past several years, which they use to big effect at the song ’ sulfur 40-second mark .
I like to call this melodious snip the “ Millennial Whoop. ” It ’ s a sequence of notes that alternates between the one-fifth and one-third notes of a major plate, typically starting on the fifth. The rhythm method of birth control is normally straight eighth-notes, but it may start on the downbeat or on the cheerful in different songs. A singer normally belts these notes with an “ Oh ” phoneme, frequently in a “ Wa-oh-wa-oh ” model. And it is in indeed many pop songs it ’ sulfur criminal .
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The musical trope is probably best exemplified by Katy Perry ’ second 2010 song “ California Gurls ” ( featuring Snoop Dogg ) :

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This song comes right at the begin of “ Peak Millennial Whoop, ” when on the spur of the moment every artist ( consciously or subconsciously ) jumped on board to replicate this earworm. In “ California Gurls, ” we first hear it at 0:51 as a kind of foreshadowing to its more memorable custom within the refrain at 1:05 ( and multiple times in every choir thereafter ) .
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The beauty of such a short melodic succession ( just the repetition of two notes over and over ) is that no one can own it. final class, after Robin Thicke was taken to court by Marvin Gaye ’ s family for violating the copyright of “ Got to Give It Up ” with his song “ Blurred Lines, ” Reggie Ugwu at BuzzFeed wrote a capital drumhead of how the legal system determines whether something very is “ a rip-off. ” While it would be slowly to claim “ substantial similarity ” between songs that use the Millennial Whoop, in order to convince a jury that person was ripped off, an artist would have to prove that this “ Wa-oh-wa-oh ” theme was his or her original estimate. That would put him or her on thin ice indeed due to the scènes à faire department of defense, which basically says certain musical elements are precisely besides park to be owned by any one entity .
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Ally Burnett found herself in this very situation when she sued Carly Rae Jepsen and Adam Young ( aka Owl City ), saying their 2012 song “ full Time ” ( used in the movie Wreck It Ralph ) had infringed on the copyright of her 2010 sung “ Ah, It ’ s a Love Song ” ( which starts with a Millennial Whoop ). Burnett got an out-of-court settlement from Jepsen, but Young fought the case and was awarded royalties after “ thoroughly Time ” was deemed an original work .

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For comparison, here ’ s “ good Time ” ( Millennial Whoop at 0:04 ) :

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If it wasn ’ t written by Ally Burnett or Carly Rae Jepson or anyone else, where does the Millennial Whoop come from ? I would argue it has antecedents in teasing songs like “ Nanny nanny boo boo ” and “ I know something you don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate know ” that, as Leonard Bernstein pointed out in his call on the carpet series the Unanswered Question, seem to transcend cultures across the earth. It ’ s the kind of musical give voice that we seem to know instinctively and that has a relationship to the overtone series embedded in every unmarried note we hear .
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besides, although the melodious intervals are different, the “ Wa-oh-wa-oh ” syllables surely have more holocene roots in the Buggles sung “ Video Killed the Radio Star ” :
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It is, possibly, no wonder that in the like class that “ California Gurls ” came out, Nicki Minaj was sampling “ Video Killed the Radio Star ” in her song “ Check It Out ” :
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Humans crave patterns. The reason crop up music is successful to begin with is because about every song is immediately familiar before you get more than 10 seconds into a foremost listen. Between the recipe of european classical music scales and chord progressions that have gelled over hundreds of years and the drive heartbeat cycle that stimulate our home organs at the right decibels, listeners are immediately hooked in by familiar structure and themes that have likely been ringing in their ears since they were in the uterus. And with the permeant nature of crop up music, where everything is a remix, a feedback loop has been created in which songs are successful because they are familiar, so in order to be successful, songs are created that fun on our sense of casualness .
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So it is that the Millennial Whoop evokes a kind of aboriginal sense that everything will be okay. You know these notes. You ’ ve hear this ahead. There ’ randomness nothing out of the average or chilling here. You don ’ t need to learn the words or know a particular lyric or think deeply about meaning. You ’ rhenium dependable. In the age of climate change and economic injustice and racial violence, you can take a few moments to forget everything and shout with exuberance at the acme of your lungs. Just dance and feel how amazing it is to be alert right now. Wa-oh-wa-oh .
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* * *
here are some more examples of the Millennial Whoop. Let me know in the comments if you find any others !
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fall Out Boy – “ She ’ sulfur My Winona ” ( 2008, modified Millennial Whoop at 0:14 )
BOY – “ Little Numbers ” ( 2011, Millennial Whoop at 1:04 )
Stonefox – “ All I Want ” ( 2013, Millennial Whoop at 2:02 )
Demi Lovato – “ I truly Don ’ metric ton Care ” ( 2013, Millennial Whoop at 1:00 )
* * *
[ update : One reader pointed out that infant-directed speech ( i.e. “ Baby Talk ” ) frequently uses this like interval. And a ring penis from Cymbals Eat Guitars ( one of their songs is listed below ) noted on Twitter that Jesse Lacey from Brand New calls this the “ ma calling you inside from the porch interval ”. ]
[ update : The come songs have been identified by readers since I published this post. ]
Frank Ocean – “ Ivy ” ( 2016, Millennial Whoop at 2:53 )
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Dagny – “ Backbeat ” ( 2016, Millennial Whoop at 0:00 as part of longer melodic phrase )
AURORA – “ Running With the Wolves ” ( 2016, Millennial Whoop at 1:11 )
Berlin After Midnight – “ All Night Long ” ( 2016, Millennial Whoop at 0:52 )
twenty one pilots – Ride ( 2015, Millennial Whoop at 0:48 )
Tove Lo – “ Habits ( Stay High ) ” ( 2014, Millennial Whoop at 0:48 )
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Of Monsters and Men – “ Mountain Sound ” ( 2014, Millennial Whoop at 2:15 )
Andy Grammer – “ Forever ” ( 2014, Millennial Whoop at 3:15 at the begin of a longer melodious phrase )
Fifth Harmony – “ Anything Is possible ” ( 2014, Millennial Whoop at 0:20 )
Chvrches – “ The Mother We Share ” ( 2013, fragmented millennial Whoop at 0:00, standard Millennial Whoop at 0:33 )
Filter – “ Burn It ” ( 2013, Millennial Whoop at 1:10 )
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One Direction – “ Heart Attack ” ( 2012, Millennial Whoop at 0:37 )
One Direction – “ Live While We ’ ra Young ” ( 2012, Millennial Whoop at 0:53 )
The Lumineers – “ Ho Hey ” ( 2012, Millennial Whoop on the word “ heart ” at 0:58 )
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Rebecca Black – “ Sing It ” ( 2012, Millennial Whoop at 0:03 )
Chris Brown – “ Turn Up the Music ” ( 2012, Millennial Whoop at 1:30 )
big Tree – “ Storm King ” ( 2011, Millennial Whoop at 2:24 )
Outasight – “ Tonight Is the Night ” ( 2011, Millennial Whoop at 0:52 )
The Head and the Heart – “ Down in the Valley ” ( 2011, Millennial Whoop at 1:48 )
Justin Bieber – “ Baby ( featuring Ludacris ) ” ( 2010, Millennial Whoop at 0:46 )
Michou – “ Growing Younger ” ( 2010, Millennial Whoop at 0:37 )
Alejandro Sanz – “ Looking for Paradise ( featuring Alicia Keys ) ” ( 2010, Millennial Whoop at 0:14
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Kings of Leon – “ Use Somebody ” ( 2009, Millennial Whoop faintly at 0:02, louder 1:28 )
Cymbals Eat Guitars – “ And The Hazy Sea ” ( 2009, elongated Millennial Whoop at 0:00 )
Mates of State – “ Goods ” ( 2007, Millennial Whoop at 0:20 )
greens Day – “ Are We the Waiting ” ( 2004, Millennial Whoop at 0:34 )
Death Cab for Cutie – “ Lightness ” ( 2003, Millennial Whoop at 0:32 )
The Rasmus – “ In the Shadows ” ( 2003, Millennial Whoop at 0:12 )

The KLF – “ concluding Train to Trancentral ” ( 1991, Millennial Whoop at 1:00 )
Baltimora – “ Tarzan Boy ” ( 1985, Millennial Whoop at 1:11 )
Morris Day and the Time – “ Jungle Love ” ( 1984, Millennial Whoop at 0:38 )

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