One of the top contenders for 2018’s informal “song of the summer” wasn’t actually one song — it was three. Rapper Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode” is a five-minute voyage through three sections, each with a distinct beat and hook; the parts swerve and crash into each other, creating a distractible but thrilling whole.
When you listen to Scott and guest artist Drake taking turns yelling “like a light,” you probably won’t think of Paul McCartney, however. It’s not likely that Scott was thinking about the former Beatle, either, when he penned lyrics about cognac and infinity pools.
But “Sicko Mode’s” sprawling structure owes a debt to McCartney, who has helped popularize the medley format — in the process elevating it into an art form of its own. Recognized publicly or not, McCartney’s use of the medley has not only led to some of his best work, but also has informed the songwriting of countless other songwriters of the past and present. Indeed, the 76-year-old icon has been stringing together morsels of ingenuity for 50 years — a trend that continues on his newest album, “Egypt Station,” which arrived last week and contains two six-plus-minute voyages.