The Flat 2 Chord Starring the Misfits and Foo Fighters

Every great song has some special musical ingredient that takes what could otherwise be a run-of-the-mill to something that really sticks out and helps makes the song great. In this post we’ll cover how the flat 2 chord can be used to give a song that certain extra something.

The flat 2 chord is a highly atypical chord to use in a major key rock song. Good examples are few and far between, but the Misfits in “Hybrid Moments” and Foo Fighters in “Monkey Wrench” give us two slightly different ways to use it that give both songs a unique feel.

The Theory

The flat 2 chord is an “outside of the key” chord built on the note that is one half-step above the root note of the key. For the key of C, the flat 2 chord is built on D♭ (or C#). In a typical major-key punk song, unless used very carefully, this chord is going to just sound wrong. But if used a certain way, it will work. For the heavy-duty theory nerds: if you’re using it as something more than a power chord, the flat 2 is typically either a 7 chord (as a replacement for the dominant V7 chord) or a major 7 chord (borrowed from the phrygian [Edited – Corrected from “locrian” – pointed out by commenters!]).

The Misfits – “Hybrid Moments”

While most people wouldn’t think of the Misfits as doing anything musically sophisticated, the use of the flat 2 chord in “Hybrid Moments” is definitely outside-the-box. Besides, I couldn’t go and name this site after it without covering this song, right?!

Other than the flat 2 chord, this song is very simple. The song is in the key of D and the flat 2 chord is E♭ and shows up as follows:

Chords names:

D                                                                            B-

If you’re going to scream, scream with me

…..                                           G    E♭ D

Moments like this never end

Chord numbers:

I                                                                              vi

If you’re going to scream, scream with me

….                                             IV ♭II   I

Moments like this never end

This chord works here for a few reasons. First, it’s other-worldly sound fits in with the Misfit’s horror/surreal vibe, but doesn’t destroy the simple punk sound they have. Second, used this way in a major key it is almost necessary for this chord to resolve to the “I” or tonic chord of the key (here, it’s D), which it does in this song.

In addition to the flat 2 chord, I also like how the chorus chords do not always move at the same meter. Where most punk songs will change chords at the same rate throughout a specific section, typically every measure, the second chord of the chorus of “Hybrid Moments” repeats a measure before moving on (vi – V – V – IV over top of “ooh baby, when you cry). This small touch gives the chorus just a little more sophistication to take it from a good song to a great one. Finally, while it’s all well and good to focus on the chord usage on this song, I think we can all agree that it’s actually Danzig’s vocals and lyrics that really make this song stand out.

Foo Fighters – “Monkey Wrench”

While the first Foo Fighters record was popular, I really think it was the release of The Colour and Shape and its first single “Monkey Wrench” (and megahits “Everlong” and “My Hero”) that made everyone realize that the Foo Fighters were for real and let the band break out of the “drummer from Nirvana” stigma that plagued them.

Here, the use of the flat 2 chord is more of a spice than a true chord in the progression as it used in “Hybrid Moments.” Instead, it is used within a riff and only for a quarter note. However, its use here does have some major similarities to its use in “Hybrid Moments.”

“Monkey Wrench” is in the key of B and the flat 2 chord is C. It shows up in the chorus at the end of each phrase, resolving, again, to the “I” or tonic chord, which is, of course, B.

Chord names:

B                           G#-                          F# E (alternating riff) C

Don’t want to be your monkey wrench

B                         G#-                F#E (alternating riff) C

One more indecent accident

Chord numbers:

I                           vi                             V IV (alternating riff) ♭2

Don’t want to be your monkey wrench

I                          vi                  V IV (alternating riff) ♭2

One more indecent accident

Other than the addition of the riff with the V and IV chords, this looks almost identical to how it is used in “Hybrid Moments.” In fact, if you just replace that riff with a IV chord into the flat 2 chord, these songs end up sounding VERY similar. However, with a different key, different tempo, the extra riff in “Monkey Wrench,” and the totally different vibe of the bands, in the end I don’t think most people would ever even notice the similarity in these songs.

Next time you’re working on a song and you want a bit of other-wordly vibe, you might want to throw this chord in and if you want to use it like it’s used in these songs, you’ll want to use it and resolve to the “I” or tonic chord.

Now, did I miss anything?

Latest Comments
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