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TC-1: Harry Styles Invites Us to the Party
Deconstruction and Exploration of
Music For a Sushi Restaurant
Written By: Tyler.Dogteeth
This is not a music review or a breakdown of the lyrics - I’ll leave that to the professionals. What I’m setting out to do here is to listen to the song’s verticality - all of the instruments and layers - and speak to how I’m digesting all of that. I listen to small phrases of the song on a loop to really hear it out and get to know all of the characters, breaking it down into percussive, harmonic, melodic, and atmospheric properties.
For a better understanding about the Tune Cactus series, check out Episode 0.
I encourage you to listen along for context.
Intro, 0:00 - 0:19
We’re dropped into a whole vibe. A sweet, minimal impact beat with a synthesized arpeggio. The four-on-the-floor from the kick isn’t so much thumping as it is pulsing. The offbeat clicks give the beat some life and spontaneity. The backbeat clap is inviting, but not the thunderous synchronized crowd clap that is typical in dance music and hip hop. It’s like one dude clapping. You’re right there in the studio with him - or, more appropriately, right there in the restaurant.
The first acoustic sound we hear - a syncopated hi-hat - calls in the hair-raising vocal lead-in. This vocal acts more like an instrument than a part of the lyrics by foreshadowing the upcoming beat switch. The listener knows something is coming. The tune grows with anticipation not unlike a hungry customer eagerly awaiting the first wave of spicy salmon rolls. The bass riff at the very end of this rising vocal acts like the server placing the first dish on the table.
Side note: I unintentionally heard this song on the radio once - my phone hadn’t synced up to the car yet, so I was left with whatever the pop station had to offer - and they skipped this intro part. I was appalled. The nuance and intrigue in some of the electronic sounds in this phrase is what sets this song apart from other pop music, and I love that the entire Harry’s House album starts with this. The listener is primed from the start for a new experience.
Summarize in 1 word or less: anticipation
Verse, 0:19 - 1:05
Boom. An angelic arrival. Harry uses his voice as an instrument again here with lightly processed layered harmonies. The mix of the voices with the sweet, slight flanger effect takes full focus like a display of sushi with various colorful ingredients. We bask in the moment with the dish on the table - maybe to capture the illustrious arrangement for the ‘gram. A drum fill pans from left to right paired with a subtle, down-to-earth adlib to usher us into the verse. It’s time to eat.
The verse uses the same understated, minimal beat from the intro. In a way, this is mirrored in Harry’s tone of voice - very chill, very endearing. He’s using his inside voice. Instead of the repeating synthesizer melody from before, we have this grooving bass line. And I mean it is GROOVING. Without overshadowing the vocals, the bass line alone puts this song into dancing-at-a-wedding territory. It fits right into a sweet spot in the mix to make itself known without distracting from the main dish. Perhaps like wasabi? The references write themselves.
The same foreboding vocals from earlier creep in at the 0:57 mark, except now we know that whatever is coming should be anticipated with a creeping smile. The appetizer was delicious. Time for the main course.
Summarize in 1 word or less: yum
Chorus, 1:05 - 1:23
Party time. The vocal harmonies from before unlock their true potential now that they’re wrapped up in a blanket of sound. The same laid back drum beat from the verse takes new life when supporting a new melodic celebration. A new pumping bass line hits you right in the chest and is fortified by a higher-pitched synth layer playing the same notes. A distant processed voice chimes in “you know I love you babe” and is cut off by another, more up front vocal shout. All the sounds and flavors have come together for the main course.
This is the first time we hear the rockin’ brass section. The tune lays out like a nice invitation to join in. I find myself singing along in kind of a scat style: ba-doo-bee-doo-bee-doo-bee ba-ta-ba. It’s hard not to immerse yourself when Harry Styles invites you to the party.
Breakdown, 2:15 - 2:41
A righteous lead guitar line brings us back down to earth and helps us settle back into the smooth, fine dining experience from the verse
Side note: This chorus might get overplayed through YouTube ads and Tik Tok, but don’t let it lose its magic.
Summarize in 1 word or less: party
A moment of reflection. This is the time we get to lean back, away from the table, and take a breath. All of the grooving instruments drop out. The vocal harmonies we’ve heard throughout stand on their own to support a new line of lyrics. We’re left to appreciate what we’ve just experienced and have a moment to decide if we want more.
At 2:32 a climbing, driving drum pulse creeps in. The highly processed, distant vocals take less of the foreground as our focus is pulled from reflection back to the party. A rising vocal shout, another sweet guitar line, and the crescendo of the drums tag-team to push us over the edge. We’re not full yet.
The party resumes to the end.
Summarize in 1 word or less: clarity
From Deconstruction to Exploration
When breaking down and processing my thoughts about Music For a Sushi Restaurant, I had to live inside the song for a few weeks. I really explored the landscape, walked through its rooms, met the characters, etc. The tune really came alive in its own way for me. There’s a story to be told on its own even aside from the dinner party at the sushi restaurant. So, for the Exploration part of this project, I’ll use that landscape and the aesthetic and those characters to shape a story set in the land of Pearth - a fictional world ruled by music with walking/talking animals, a cactus full of wisdom, and a central belief that life was created by the band Rush. (Read more about Pearth here in Tune Cactus Episode 0)
Sample Count - 10
(kick, kick echo, brush sound, shaker, clap, off-beat lowkey clicks, toms, guitar slide, spiraly fill, drippy sound)
Synth Layers - 3
(intro arpeggio, chorus bass, vocal layer)
Live Instruments - 6
(hi-hat, bass guitar, guitar, trumpet, snare drum, vocals)
Influence on Story
Other Characters - 10
Beb + (Slugwort, Locklemure, King Flamjamaram, Greckomon, Oak E. Doke, Myrtle, Velcro Jones, Clog, Yakaroni, Tune Cactus the Wise)
Tasks - 3
(count the chairs, find the drumset, invite Tune Cactus)
Dollars to his name - 6
(Beb needs this job)
Tune Cactus Episode 1
The entryway to the King’s throne room was buzzing with anticipation for the big annual celebration. Beb caught a vase rolling off the receptionist desk without breaking eye contact with his assistant.
“So what time will they get here tomorrow?” Beb asked his assistant, Slugwort. He quickly sat the vase back down on the desk. It wobbled for a moment before settling in. Slugwort wished Beb would settle in a bit.
“Wow,” Slugwort responded. “Great catch!”
“We don’t have time for that,” Beb snapped. “When will the caterers get here? Will they even have enough time to set up?” Beb looked at the receptionist and tapped his watch. The receptionist held up one finger and smiled at Beb.
“Yes. Sorry.” Slugwort replied. “I cleared up the miscommunication with them earlier. They will get here at noon.”
“Then what were you on about?” Beb’s eyes widened. “We can’t mess this up! This is the party of the year. I need this job.”
“Nothing. Don’t worry about it.” Slugwort looked away. “They almost weren’t going to make it, but it’s fine.”
Slugwort didn’t want to clarify. The caterers nearly backed out because Beb called them names on the phone.
“Well can we go in yet?” Beb asked the receptionist.
“Not quite,” the receptionist responded, politely. “He will let me know. It should be any moment.”
Beb looked at his watch and scowled. “What is your name?” He asked the receptionist.
“Locklemur,” he responded. Locklemur had held this position for fifteen years, yet he remained patient with the young, anxious antelope standing in front of him named Beb.
“We don’t have enough time to wait around!” Beb raised his voice. “The party is tomorrow, and we still have stuff to do!”
“I have been around for fifteen years worth of royal Rush Day parties,” Locklemur responded. “I assure you it will be great. You should relax and just enjoy the opportunity. The party isn’t even until tomorrow, anyways. Just breathe.”
“But I haven’t ever been to the King’s Rush Day party,” Beb pleaded. “And I need this job.”
A phone rang on Locklemur’s desk. He picked it up, held it to his ear for one or two seconds, sat it down, then looked up at Beb.
“King Flamjamaram will see you now,” he said.
The large double doors opened to the throne room: a gold-carpeted room big enough for parties with paintings of Neil Peart hanging on the walls and King Flamjamaram sitting at the far end behind his royal drum set. The floor area was already set for the party with decorated tables and chairs. Slugwort began filming with his phone as he and Beb approached the King.
“What are you doing?” Beb asked him. “Put that away.”
“I’ve never been in here before,” Slugwort said while he continued to film.
King Flamjamaram - a golden retriever wearing royal blue robes, a gold crown, and a diamond drum set necklace - held one paw up in the air. The two party planners stopped walking, and the golden retriever King of the Drum Kingdom played a drum solo: four-on-the-floor kick with some offbeat clicks.
Click, Snare, Click
The royal guard joined in and clapped with the snare backbeat. Beb elbowed Slugwort, and they joined in as well.
Click, Clap, Click
King Flamjamaram stopped suddenly and smiled. The royal guard, Beb, and Slugwort clapped.
“Beb the antelope, my boy,” the King spoke then sneezed. “Who is your friend?”
“This is my assistant, Slugwort.” Beb motioned towards Slugwort.
“Hm. Yes,” said the King. “I see.”
The King sneezed three more times. “Please don’t touch anything, Slugwort. I’d hate for your sluggish slime to muck up the royal throne room the day before the big party. Beb, let’s hear an update.”
Beb perked up to respond. “Well, sir. The decorators are set to finish this evening, the caterers will arrive with plenty of time, and everyone that was invited has RSVPed yes.”
“Hmm. Excellent,” the King went on. “Even Tune Cactus?”
“Of course he will be there,” Beb replied.
“But did he RSVP?” the King questioned.
“He didn’t actually receive an invite,” Beb said. “He goes every year, right?”
“Well you have to invite him!” the King raised his voice. “You didn’t even invite Tune Cactus the Wise?”
Beb cleared his throat. “I am so sorry, sir. I just assumed-”
King Flamjamaram cut him off. “Make this right, Beb! I know it’s your first year on the job, but there are protocols in place. You have to fill out the proper paperwork to formally invite Tune Cactus the Wise.”
“Yes sir,” Beb said. “Absolutely. Is there anything else, sir?”
“Two more things,” the King said. “You need to go to Velcro Jones and get my custom Rush Day snare drum. It never arrived.”
“Yes sir. Done.” Beb said.
“And,” the King looked around the room. “There are too many chairs. There needs to be sixty-five chairs. There are sixty-six.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” Beb inquired. “Too many chairs?”
“Yes,” the King straightened up, sneezed, snapped at the royal guard for a handkerchief, wiped his nose, then continued speaking. “If there are too many chairs, it looks like someone rejected my invitation. No one rejects my invitation.”
“Understood,” Beb replied. Slugwort nodded in agreement.
The King held up three fingers. “One, get rid of the chair. Two, get my custom snare drum. Three, get ahold of Tune Cactus’ agent and make sure he’ll be at the party.”
Beb grabbed one of the chairs, and he and Slugwort left the throne room.
Beb and Slugwort approached the dumpsters behind the royal palace with the extra chair. Before they could toss the chair, the dumpster lid burst open, and a dirty tree man jumped out. He yelled “ka-booky-booky boo!” and threw a banana that busted open all over Beb’s feet. Slugwort erupted with laughter, as did the tree man.
Beb screamed “what in the name of Neil Peart?”
The tree man revealed a phone camera that he had been recording the interaction with. Slugwort, still laughing, gave him a fist bump.
Beb yelled again “I’ll have you arrested! Get out of here!”
“That was a good one,” Slugwort said. “Relax, Beb. You don’t know about the banana challenge?”
“Banana challenge?” Beb asked, wiping the banana off his feet.
“Yea man,” the tree man said. “It’s Greckomon’s new challenge. The banana challenge! Everyone is doing it. Greckomon said he’ll give his followers that submit the ten best videos a tour of his mansion!”
“Oh, it’s a stupid Greckomon thing,” Beb said. “I don’t pay attention to that dumb lizard and I don’t have time for any of this.”
Beb picked up the chair and walked it over to the dumpster.
“Whoa now!” the tree man yelled while holding Beb back. “You can’t throw that away here without a permit.”
“What permit?” Beb asked.
“You need a permit to use the royal dumpsters,” tree man responded.
“Says who?” Beb questioned, furrowing his brow.
“Well says me,” tree man smiled. “I’m the garbage manager.” The tree man pulled a badge out of his pocket. It had a basic drum fill written out with a flare at the end that roughly translates to:
Happy Rush Day! We’ll be back on Tuesday!
Oak E. Doke - ROYAL DUMPSTER GARBAGE MANAGER.
“Where can I get a permit?” Beb asked.
“You can get one at the office on Tuesday,” Oak E. Doke responded. “They’re closed for the holiday.”
Beb grunted, picked up the chair, and walked off. Slugwort got Oak E. Doke’s information, sent him a friend request on HeadBang, then jogged after Beb.
Beb called for one of the palace drivers to escort them into town. A black van with tinted windows pulled up. The license plate read SW33T B3ATS.
Slugwort hopped into the back row of seats while Beb opened the back door to load in the chair. It was too tall to sit upright. He laid it down on its side, but it was longer than the width of the van. The only way it would fit was to lay down long ways on top of the back seat with the legs sticking out of the window. Beb grunted and slammed the back door shut. He opened the front passenger door of the van and sat down with a splat. He quickly leaned over and looked down at his seat to find a squashed banana.
“Ka-booky-booky boo!” the van driver yelled.
The van driver and Slugwort exploded into laughter. Beb looked at the driver and saw she had a camera fixed on him.
“Flams!” Beb yelled. “What is with you Greckomon idiots?”
Slugwort reached up and gave the van driver a fist bump. Beb threw the banana goo out through the window.
“Drive,” Beb said.
“Where to, boss?” the driver asked.
“The landfill,” Beb said, firmly.
“Sounds good,” the van driver said. “The name’s Myrtle, by the way.”
“Shut up and drive, Myrtle,” Beb said through his teeth.
“Sheesh okay,” Myrtle replied. “You should relax a little, man.”
“Where to now?” Myrtle asked.
“Try a pawn shop,” Slugwort chimed in. Beb nodded.
Myrtle drove them to pawn shops, thrift stores, and a storage facility. All of them had already closed up for the holiday.
Beb sighed. “Okay. Let’s get to Velcro Jones’ Drum Emporium.”
It only took a few minutes to drive to the Drum Emporium. Beb asked Slugwort to call Tune Cactus’ agent while he took care of the custom drum.
Beb got out of the van and entered the Emporium. The storefront room had drums lining the walls, drums arranged neatly on the floor, drums stacked to the ceiling, drums hanging on wires from the ceiling - all of them different colors and styles, all of them hand-crafted by Velcro Jones, and all of them priced in the hundreds of thousands.
Beb walked up to the counter and crashed a little cymbal to get someone’s attention. A very short goat man stood up off the ground, stepped onto a stool to make himself tall enough to see over the counter, and put a pair of green, oval-shaped glasses onto his nose. He wore a nametag on his polo that read: Clog - MANAGER.
“How can I be of service to you, kind sir?” Clog asked.
“I’m here to meet Velcro Jones,” Beb replied.
“My humblest apologies,” Clog tugged the long white hairs on his chin. “Mr. Jones is away from the office today. I, however, am the Storefront Manager and can assist with all things. Drum-related or otherwise.”
“Okay, Clog.” Beb said with sassy emphasis on the word ‘clog’. “I’m here on behalf of King Flamjamaram to pick up a drum.”
“Ah, yes of course,” Clog responded. “I began to worry when you hadn’t arrived and actually delivered the Rush Day drum to the palace myself during my lunch break.”
Beb grunted, hit himself in the head several times, then thanked Clog and left the store.
To Beb’s anguish and Slugwort’s amusement, Myrtle did not take the fastest route to the landfill. After exiting the palace grounds, she drove into the city instead of taking the highway. Myrtle and Slugwort took turns rolling down the window and filming themselves pelting pedestrians with bananas. Some of them threw bananas back. Everyone shouted “ka-booky-booky boo.” Everyone laughed, except for Beb. Beb crossed his arms and flared his nostrils more and more with each banana.
When they finally arrived at the landfill, the gate was locked with a sign. The sign was a sketch of a clunky, haphazard drum beat that translates to:
“Where’s the drum?” Slugwort asked as Beb got in the car. Beb inspected the seat carefully for a banana before he sat down.
“It’s already at the palace,” Beb mumbled. “How about Tune Cactus?”
“We have to drive there,” Slugwort replied. Myrtle started the van and left the Drum Emporium parking lot.
“What do you mean?” Beb raised his voice. “Did you not get a hold of the agent?”
“Oh I did,” Slugwort said with a soft smile. “Nice fella’. His name is Yakaroni. I like that name.”
“Okay, and?” Beb began lightly hitting himself in the head again.
“Oh,” Slugwort said. “Yakaroni told me we have to meet Tune Cactus in person. He’s much too busy today for a phone call.”
“In person?” Beb yelled.
“I know!” Slugwort cheered. “Isn’t that great? We get to meet Tune Cactus in person!”
“That is a three hour drive!” Beb cried. “ We don’t have that kind of time.”
“Sure we do!” Slugwort yelled back. “The party isn’t until tomorrow, and just about everything is taken care of. Just relax!”
Beb saw a fresh, full bag of bananas on the floorboard by Slugwort’s feet.
“You have to be kidding me,” Beb grunted. “We do not have time for that.”
Beb didn’t speak for the next two hours and forty-five minutes. He stared out the window and tapped on his head. He mumbled things to himself like “I need this job” and “I can’t mess this up” and “I’ll show them some real ka-booky-booky boo if they don’t shut up.”
They arrived at Tune Cactus’ Temple as the sun began to set.
“Stay in the van where you can’t do anything stupid to embarass me,” Beb told Slugwort before slamming the door. Slugwort slumped over in his seat and clenched his slimy fists.
The Temple security team stopped Beb for not having an appointment. Beb explained his situation, but the security team still didn’t let him in. Beb mentioned he had contacted someone named Yakaroni. Yakaroni came out to see Beb, then asked for Slugwort. Beb got Slugwort from the van to confirm, then told Slugwort to get back to the van. The security team had Beb remove his shoes, give a DNA sample, take a lie-detector test, kneel at a statue of Neil Peart, and recite the Tom Sawyer Drum Solo Prayer. The security process took over an hour, then Beb was allowed to see Tune Cactus.
Tune Cactus’ office was adorned with gold vinyl records, gold guitars and drums and microphones, a grand piano in the front corner of the room, a library that would take twenty minutes just to walk through, sandy floors that warmed the bottom of Beb’s bare hooves, and a glass window overlooking the Great YYZ Waterfall. Tune Cactus looked up from a magniscope behind his desk and swiveled his chair toward Beb. He was wearing his famous golden headphones on his head and his coveted golden harmonica around his neck. He looked at Beb and smiled. Their conversation lasted fifteen seconds.
“Hello, sir,” Beb said. “It is an honor to meet you.”
“Hello there, young antelope,” Tune Cactus the Wise responded.
“I am very sorry for bothering you and for the late notice,” Beb croaked. “I have been sent by King Flamjamaram to extend an invitation to the Drum Kingdom’s Annual Rush Day party tomorrow evening.”
“Oh. I’ll be there,” Tune Cactus replied, then swiveled his chair back to his magniscope.
“Really? That’s it?” Beb asked.
“Yep. Of course,” Tune Cactus replied while looking into the magniscope. “I go every year. Now, scram.”
After exiting the Temple, Beb couldn’t find the van anywhere. He called Slugwort, but it went to voicemail. He began a text message with an angry, hair-raising drum beat, but the van sped around the corner before he finished composing.
Beb hopped in. “Where were you?”
“We explored the park a little bit,” Myrtle responded. “Saw the YYZ Waterfall.”
“Was it great?” Slugwort asked. He was staring at the floor and still clenching his fists. “Hope you didn’t embarrass yourself in front of Tune Cactus.”
“It was fine,” Beb said. “I barely talked to him. Now take us back to the palace.”
Myrte drove off toward the highway and spoke up. “You should apologize.”
“Are you talking to me?” Beb raised his eyebrow.
“Yes,” Myrtle said. “You’ve been very rude to Slugwort, and he wanted to meet Tune Cactus.”
Beb looked back at Slugwort. Slugwort wouldn’t make eye contact. Beb turned back around.
“No,” Beb said. “He hasn’t taken anything seriously all day. He knows I need this job, and I’m the only one doing the work. All he and you and everyone else cares about today is the dumb banana challenge.”
“You really didn’t need to treat him that way. Or me or anyone really,” Myrtle said. “We got everything accomplished despite you being rude. Not because of it.”
At that exact moment, the van stopped accelerating. Myrtle rolled off the highway and stopped on the service road. Beb turned to Myrtle with flared nostrils.
“Well,” Myrtle said. “We ran out of gas. I’ll go ahead and give another driver a call to come pick us up.”
Beb screamed. “Ran out of gas? How did we run out of gas? No. I’ll tell you how! You two morons drove around throwing bananas at people all day, insisted we drive all the way to Tune Cactus Temple, then drove off to enjoy the park while I was working. Now we’re stuck . We do not have time for this-”
Slugwort stiffened up and interrupted him. “Don’t have time? You keep saying that! All day long with you. It’s like you’re a robot.”
Slugwort made a robot voice “Beep boop. Robot. Don’t have time. Beep Boop.”
He continued in his normal, slug voice. “We got the drum, got Tune Cactus, the caterers are taken care of, the decorators are set. What else is there to even do!”
Beb yelled again. “What is there to do? We still have this stupid chair!”
Beb pointed at the chair still in the back. Myrtle stepped out of the van to make a phone call.
“The chair?” Slugwort said. “Are you kidding me? Do anything with the chair. Take it home. Eat it. Who cares?”
“Shut up!” Myrtle yelled. “I’m on the phone.”
Beb grunted, punched himself in the head, grabbed the bag of bananas on the floorboard, and got out of the van. He punched himself again, opened the back door, pulled the chair out, and walked twenty feet into the grass away from the service road. He set the bag of bananas down, lifted the chair above his head, and yelled as loud as he could “KA-BOOKY-BOOKY BOO!”
Beb used the chair to pummel the bag of bananas.
Smack, Smack, Smack
He smashed the chair into a thousand pieces and then stomped on the rubble. He pulled a match from his pocket, screamed “KA-BOOKY-BOOKY BOO” again, and lit the pile of wood and banana mush on fire. He continued to yell “KA-BOOKY-BOOKY BOO” over and over again while dancing around the fire.
Myrtle and Slugwort tried to get his attention when someone arrived with gas for the van, but they couldn’t break him away from the fire. “KA-BOOKY-BOOKY BOO” he yelled at them while lobbing a flaming banana at the van. Myrtle and Slugwort left him there.
It was deep into the night when the fire had died down. Beb covered his body with the ashes and mumbled “ka-booky-booky boo” as he walked the rest of the way back to the palace.
The night turned to morning.
“Ka-booky-booky boo,” Beb whispered.
By midday he reached the city.
“Ka-booky-booky boo,” he whispered.
The evening came. Beb made it to the palace. The party had already started. Beb walked into the throneroom covered in ash and banana, smelling like a bonfire, and spiritually broken. No one noticed him enter. The guests were all enjoying their dinners and listening to King Flamjamaram play a drum solo: four-on-the-floor kick with some offbeat clicks.
Click, Snare, Click
The crowd of famous partygoers joined in. Tune Cactus the Wise, Velcro Jones, Greckomon, and sixty-two others all clapped in unison with the sound of the custom snare drum.
Click, Clap, Click
King Flamjamaram stopped suddenly and smiled. Everyone applauded.
“Ka-booky-booky boo!” The King yelled and threw a banana at Greckomon. Everyone laughed, including Beb.
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