Song Analysis: “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls

Posted: February 9, 2015 in Song Analysis
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goo goo dolls

We gave the criteria on which every song shall be scrutinized. This exercise is not Academic, but more descriptive and analogous than empirical.

However, the Rater, who is experienced as a Studio Recording director, stage performer, String Instruments  player and Ex-Rock OAP may be subjective but not bias. The conclusion herein is therefore “semi-Posteriori”. 



The song can be nearest categorized as : Alternative Rock (symphonic)

Song meaning:

the song was originally written for the Nicholas Cage move; CITY OF ANGELS. Here, a metaphysical Male being fell in love with a mortal being or human lady. It became quite strong that by revealing himself so entirely, he was ready to give up his immortality – just to re
Main in love with the woman.

“Yeah you bleed just to know you’re alive…) Absolute description of mortality.

From Verse 1
“”And I’d give up forever to touch you
‘Cause I know that you feel me somehow
You’re the closest to heaven that I’ll ever be
And I don’t wanna go home right now””

This is the initial desire of the Invisible being – just like a being caught up between heaven and earth, on his journey in Afterlife. Instead of him to proceed, he got held by his Love for a mortal woman…. And he doesn’t want to go home. He was ready to “…give up forever just to touch you (her)”

The illustration ends with – “…I just want you to know who I am”. This desire of an immortal to reveal himself unconditionally takes all his will.
We should remember that AS HUMANS, WE DIE WHEN WE BECOME SPIRITS AND AS SPIRITS, THEY DIE WHEN THEY BECOME HUMAN. Although in Africa, it is seen as an ABOMINATION of some sort to find a Ghost communing with a mortal, it is more telling when they are in love.

However, with the illustration this song depicted, its a perfect, self-visualizing and absolute imaginative compelling art mix of a story and music. And when these two creativity mix well, it becomes evergreen.

(A) simplicity level:  simple arrangement of words, but not really basic in meaning. 3/10

(B) Poetic level: Not very much built around rhymes nor absolute prose. But it is created with high level of DEPT and artistic consciousness. The art can generate at least “300 words” of story meaning.  8.5/10

(C) Abstract level : the abstract level is being heightened in Verse 2. The four verses are intentionally disconnected with lines of different meaning and independent of one another. They are not continuous. 5/10

Conclusion:  since this song is mostly poetic, the “deficient” rating in simplicity level will be added as a positive. That means the song is adjudged NOT TO BE SIMPLISTIC. Therefore it is not a pop dance song nor lyrically naïve. It is meant to be highly technical. So, a low 3/10 simplistic level is a good rating for a technical lyrical song.

Therefore, Mean of 7 + 8.5 + 5 = 6.8


Recording style is Direct.
Though it was both Analogue and digital, the sound quality can be judged by a Sound studio master with an Experienced listening skills.

It is obvious there was a recording session with a semi-sized orchestra.
See details below under Instruments application.
Rating: 9/10

-Mastering and Mixing analysis.
Nothing much to criticize here. Normally, I’ve found many recordings with a huge instruments population being uncontrollably loud. Here, it is systematic. The deeper strings and voicing went together but the former low.  Rating: 8.5/10

3- ::::::SONG TECHNIQUE::::::

Technical content exposes the Genius behind SONG ARRANGEMENT and rendition.

TEMPO/BEAT ADAPTATION TO SONG, the tempo of the song is 3/4 beat. Three heartbeat over four bars. I am amazed at the level of which the lyrics were adapted and laid on the beat per line delivery. A verse line is laid on three bars and the fourth bar left for breath-recovering. This enabled the vocalist to take his breath prior taking his next line.  It would have taken a lot of energy to utilize all four bars in a 3/4 beat though. A RAP would have. The disadvantage of utilizing all four bars in a 3/4 beat is that, the background instruments will surely be rendered invaluable or unnecessary and inaudible.
So, it was important to blend both voicing and instruments as I praised earlier.  Rating: 6.0/10

VOCALIST’s  OCTAVE RANGE USAGE, The vocalist utilized two octaves. He used his default range in the verse and voiced the chorus in the next higher octave. He never exceeded the “soh” of the higher octave he occupied in the chorus. He eventually didn’t go below “doh” of his lower or default range in the verses he took.
Rating: 5.0/10

The drummer was basic but wasn’t flamboyant on a 3/4 beat as many drummer often enjoy. I will concede because the song is more symphonic than usual Alternative rock songs. He utilized a lot of Hi-hat and Splash Cymbals. This atimes/often heightens the TREBLE LEVEL to balance the Bass effect and voicing, thereby magnifying audio-illusion of excessive Pipe instruments eg Trumpets, French horn etc. Cymbals has a closure effect with those pipe instruments.  However, the drum-lines were intermediate functional/complex. It is neither simple nor skills-show off. It suits the song at best.
Rating: 5.0/10

There is a solo instrumentation. The MANDOLIN or Banjo seems to have been used in the verse and solo bridge. The fingering was clear and precise. The intervals prior the chorus fade has many Mandolin/Banjo movements I like. A “spaniard” or may have done better. I wanted more glide play and vibrato on the solo notes – like the skill I use on a spanish guitar or something.  Rating: 5.5/10


I personally didn’t hear much of Cello except during pre-fade alongside The Bass. I heard most of Violin, Bass, and viola in the choruses. The Bass was used appropriately especially during Solo bridges intervals. The quarter-quaver notes played as SACCATO in the solo bridges by the orchestra also brought in flavour and excitement.

As expressed above, the mandolin was accompanied by the orchestra, with the Bass and Cello dominating here.
In addition, Pipe instruments known as Aerophones accompanied the chordophones during the Solo bridge interval at Pre-chorus fade at the crescendo and Saccato.
Rating: 9.5/10

This song is evergreen. Even, some babies listen attentively as I’ve researched. The song is full, well mixed and the Voice and technical instrumentation made a balance. Still so much to write on the song.
Maybe there will be a popular female act to cover the song to have another vocal feel.
But judging the vocal application, drummer’s “safe” play and Mandolin strum,  I will just conclude by RATING THE SONG  8.0/10 amongst all I think it could have potentially become. Great song!!

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