We begin, as all things do, with building: ambient noise and the revving of a motorcycle engine, before ascending piano notes come up, repeatedly rising up the scale without ever truly resolving. Soon the feedback begins, and the heavy, distorted guitars follow in suit, guided by the steady crash of cymbals and booming snare drum snap. The lead guitar comes in wailing, spilling feedback and harmonics all across the soundscape.
And finally, nearly two minutes later, everything stops. A moment of calm, accompanied by a gentle piano, tapping out a loose and airy I-IV-V progression, as our hero makes the first of his anthemic refrains: “I would do anything for love.” And so he proceeds to describe in detail those very things that he would, to the harmonious twinkle of ivory. “But I won’t do that,” he finally concludes as the electric guitars come ripping back into the song, ringing out their reverb in steady whole notes while the snare drum sets the pace with on every 2nd and 4th beat. The louder instruments temporarily pull back as the song drops down to the relative minor, suggesting a darkness within as our hero articulates the struggles he has faced, the constant challenges he has been forced to overcome in order to do those things — any thing — for love that he claims that he would do.
But then it returns, ever so briefly, to a soft, piano-led plea, returning to a major key, before returning violently once again to the Ionian mode, battling cacophonous feedback as our hero casts aside his hardships and howls out a solemn vow against a painful diminished chord that as long as he lives, he will always make good on that aforementioned:
“I would do anything for love,” he reminds us, returning to the soft lilt of the piano, this time with a slightly more rhythmic weight behind each note and a gentle chorus of angels lifting up his voice. And each phrase is punctuated by a bombastic burst of guitars as the chorus turns around and resolves once more to his oath: “I would do anything for love — but I won’t do that” and we don’t even care what “that” is because we’re him, we believe him, we believe in him. He repeats his mantra more and more as the soft tap of the hi-hat cymbal continues picking up velocity, until the chorus of raucous returns to carry him through that declarative refrain, accompanied by the glowing harmonies of seraphim.
The phrase repeats, and repeats again, until you’ve almost had enough — when suddenly the song returns to the unresolved Ionian buildup that we heard at the beginning, only driven this time by a steady rock n roll pulse. And again, the song pulls back to a quiet accompaniment as our hero returns to the darkened thoughts of his own internal struggles. But his voice carries on, the snare drum gets louder, and louder still, each hit positing an exclamation mark upon his words. Once again we progressive through the familiar patterns of the song, heaping greater and greater upon the reverb of every word, until finally, that diminished chord returns, its dissonant vibrations sending sickening waves through our skin as the drums pull back to slow down the reveal that yes, he would do anything for love! And the chorus cries along, their rich harmonies ripping through the heavy wall of raucous sounds, bursting through the air in halftime as if thrust into a climactic slow-motion moment, a frozen frame against all odds, against the violent volume of sonic chaos shunted into some melodic order, and for just one moment, the world stops spinning and we see true love in its finest form.
As the dust clears away, our hero finds his mate, and she sings along with him, taking in his melody as if her own breathe and returns it, finding affirmation in the sound. Until finally, as the song and the world fall apart around them, he makes it abundantly clear, through all her hesitations, uncertainties and exceptions: No, I will not cheat on you for love.
And that’s the one fucking thing he won’t. He won’t fucking cheat on her love. Which is such a fucking cop-out, because of course you’re not going to cheat on someone. That’s like the basic fucking rule of being in love. You went through 12 minutes of some of the most glorious fucking operatic rock n roll music ever written — just to tell her that you wouldn’t cheat on her to make her love you? How would that even work?
I’ll take the words right out of your fucking mouth: fuck you, Meat Loaf.