There may be no more darkly romantic song in jazz than “You Don’t Know What Love Is.”
It was written for a minor Laurel and Hardy film called, “Keep ‘Em Flying” but ended up on the cutting room floor.
Pop Music vs Jazz
The popular music of the last few decades — rock, rap or bedroom R&B — tends to be harmonically and melodically simpler than music of the American songbook and mid-century jazz composers.
Even the greatest songwriters of the rock era have mostly resisted jazz treatment. Herbie Hancock made a record in 1996 called “The New Standard,” with songs by Kurt Cobain, Peter Gabriel, Sade, Stevie Wonder and others. It’s instantly forgettable.
“Sarah Vaughan is my favorite singer of all time,” Giddins says. “She made a record of Beatles songs, and it’s just awful.”
J. Bryan Lowder of Browbeat:
Since the ’50s, there has been a decrease not only in the diversity of chords in a given song, but also in the number of novel transitions, or musical pathways, between them.
In other words, while it’s true that pop songs have always been far more limited in their harmonic vocabularies than, say, a classical symphony … past decades saw more inventive ways of linking their harmonies together than we hear now.
It’s the difference between Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” (2012), which contains four simple chords presented one after another almost as blocks, and Alex North’s “Unchained Melody” (1955), which, though also relatively harmonically simple (it employs about six or seven chords, depending on the version), transitions smoothly from chord to chord due to more subtle orchestration.