What is the functional explanation of the chord progression in the Doja Cat song Paint the Town Red?

I think it's in G minor and is an alternating Gm7 Am7 progression.

Where does the Am7 come from?

G minor would have an Adim, right?

Is it actually a ii iii from F major?

Edit: There's a blog post here discussing this very topic.

  • 2
    I remember asking a similar question on here many years ago. As a beginner, I found it difficult to end the confusion I had around a progression containing a chord in different key from the others. Music is complicated and I was rigidly trying to hold onto anything to keep things as simple as possible. Now I'll play a progression which includes chords which I don't think are even documented. I just like the sound of it. Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 15:55
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    @JamieButterworth - oh, that everyone had that mindset...
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 9:47
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    @JamieButterworth I appreciate your comment. When we first learn about diatonic harmony and harmony in general the skies part and the choir sings a beautiful major chord and we think: “This is It!”, only to discover later that it’s just a guide and explanation of how some chord progressions work and not a set of rules to live by. ;) Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 18:16

3 Answers 3


This progression is sampled from a Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By” written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David in the early 1960’s.

It is not uncommon to use a ii chord with a natural 5th in pop music in a minor key. “Moondance” by Van Morrison is another well known example (Am-Bm on the verses). It can be justified with the melodic minor scale like @Aaron mentioned or it can also be justified by thinking of it as G Dorian.

The bottom line is there is not nearly as much concern for harmonic function in pop music as there is in more traditional styles.

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    +1 for the last para. alone!
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 9:46

Here we go again! Songs do not have to only possess chords that are diatonic!! Who spreads this misinformation?!

Playing an F chord after shows that the key would indeed be F major, not that that is ever reached - but it sounds like home more than any other.

So, yes, it's ii and iii of key F, possibly attributable to being in G Dorian. Which of course, is made up from the parent key F major.

Just dug out a version, written in key C, but that ends on the aforementioned F! It's by Bacharach and David, so will be a 'good song' anyway! Just taking that line doesn't really help find a key - far more of the chord sequence would be needed, and it's not available in the version quoted.


Although the key of G minor has Eb (so, yes, Adim or Amin7b5), in practice, G minor can also include E natural and F#. F# is the leading tone, so often inserted into minor to create stronger cadences, and E is then used to smooth the path from D to F# — D-E-F# being considered "smoother" than D-Eb-F#. The resulting scale is referred to as "melodic minor" (ascending only, descending one reverts to F natural and Eb, which is discussed elsewhere on this site).

  • "Classical melodic minor" as opposed to "Jazz melodic minor"...
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 8:37
  • Sometimes E natural is used not to "smooth the path to F sharp" but to provide a perfect fifth above D. It can also be used because the piece supposedly in a minor key is in the Dorian mode.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 11:10

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