Sunday, January 31, 2010

that song has lyrics, and those lyrics suck.

On a whirlwind of a road trip yesterday, in the Central Interior, on a road covered in snow and ice, in a truck with 4wd, at night, I couldn't change the CD without risking life & limb. It was the last hour of the trip, so I opted to listen to the radio. Normally, the radio I listen to is monumentally amazing; brilliant artists, sweet musicality, original and genuine and lovely. Not so on a dark night mid-Province.

FM: Talk radio, crappy pop music, french station, talk radio, music from the 40's. AM: did you know that, up North, there's an AM station on almost every numbered dial? Ya, and they are all talk radio. Back to FM: settled (reluctantly) on the A-T-40 with Mr Ryan Seacrest. It was the beginning of the show, which means that I was fortunate enough to listen to the songs at the bottom of the list...

You must understand that at the best of times I can usually only tolerate the songs at the top of the list. So it was an interesting experience, having to listen to the ones at the end.

Song 40, I tune in here: " Elvis. Why am I wearing your class ring? Don't call your mother...." At this point, my face is involuntarily doing one of these:

Reason number one: this particular artist makes me want to give up on popular music altogether. She's the proof in the "All you need to do is abandon your morals" pudding that our current Pop/Top 40 industry has concocted. She also fits nicely into the "Biproduct" category (alternate category name: "I really, really, really want to be popular....I can sing that.").

Reason number two: ...I should interject here, shouldn't I, that I'm a bit of a lyrical snob. If the lyrics to a song aren't good, the musical quality of the song had better be damn good. Otherwise, I am losing interest in you  pretty darn quickly. Obvious lyrics* are bad enough, but obvious lyrics paired with cheesy 'made-to-be-catchy-to-14-year-olds' melodies bother me even more. *An example of an obvious lyric: "I looked away, and then I looked back again." ...really Avril? You don't say. Obvious (and therefore annoying) Lyrics can also include Lyrics that are there for the sake of filling up space. Perfect example is Fergie singing about a childhood blanket. Think of something else, that line sucks.

Song 40 happened to have both qualities (stupid lyrics, kitchy musicality). Thankfully, songs like this have endings.

Song 39:  We weren't born to Follow, by Sir Bon Jovi. The biggest dropper on the charts that week ("...down 17!"), and it wasn't very hard to hear why. Bon Jovi, one small request: please don't write songs just for the sake of writing songs. Maybe read over that little poem on the napkin, or better yet have someone else read your poem. Someone who will be able to tell you: BJ, this song doesn't make any sense and sounds like a horrible remake of all your other songs. Don't even bother.

Song 38: Thankfully, after this song was over (and the preceeding non important interview with a non important celeb), I had arrived at my destination and could therefore, turn the keys in the ignition to the "off" position. Song 38 reminded me of one of these:

Miley, here's a tip: Putting "like yeah" into your song does not make your lyrics (or the song itself) "cool". You sound like a brainless teenybopper. Nor does it sound good to yell JayZ's name three times in a row ...The rest of the song is just as rediculous, but those are the parts that had me giggling in horror most prominently.

It makes me sad, really. I think one of the only reasons I'm inspired to procreate one day is so that I can teach my kids to be musically critical; thereby giving hope to future generations. Specifically, I will teach them how to listen to lyrics. Yes, to the lyrics.

LYRICS: This may suprise you, but lyrics make up a pretty important part of many songs. And whether or not you realize it, you're listening to the lyrics and your brain is absorbing that information. Okay, so mindnumbingly stupid lyrics (such as examples 40, 39, and 38 above) aren't the worst offenders. Even nonsensical lyrics (such as "I bought a one way ticket to hell...and back!" from a few years ago) aren't necessarily the worst (although they are quite awful and make me die inside just a little bit). The worst examples can all be found on public airwaves. You go ahead, you turn on pop radio, and you start listening critically to what these people are actually saying.

I'm trying to find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful....Damn, what a sexy b*.

Catchy song, I admit. But...wait a minute David. You're trying to be respectful? Really?? Hm. I've never been respected like that before.  And if I have, I mostly likely practiced and succeeded with my "unavailable vibe."

I won't pretend every song I listen to comes straight from Biblical inspiration, but lets be honest: how many of us actually know what our favorite songs are saying? Do we know that lyrics actually matter? That essentially, each song has an overall message, and that message is being communicated? Sure, some of us are wise enough to know that respect doesn't look like being sidled up to in a club. But my worry is that eventually, less and less of us will get that message, because we won't be hearing it all too often.


Sharelle said...

I agree buddy. I still listen to the ol' "Top 40" now and then, but its with a pretty heavy dose of irony, and I actually listen to the lyrics.

The part I find funny/disturbing is when you point out the lyrics (as I did with David Guetta a couple weeks back) and people go "oh yeah - that is kind of weird". Like they have listened to it 1000 times, and never noticed. I'm pretty keen on lyrics too, and listen to them quite closely. They are the "poetry" of the song after all,and let's face it, a lot of times that poetry sucks a lot.

Thanks for this reminder to "be listening" buddy.

And also - I'm glad you're home safe. That really was quick!

Sharelle said...

and also - that face from above the "what's going on here" JUST happened to me whilst listening to Top 40.

It was for Justin & Timbaland's new song. Its heavy on the "food" and "body" metaphors. Just so so ridiculous. Take a listen (ironically of course) when you can feel like you can stomach it.


ashleyalvina said...

Sharelle! You inspire me & I love that we have this in common :)

I haven't listened to that song yet (I'm trying to mentally prepare...haha) but thanks for the tip :)

Ryan André said...

I could *not* agree more.

I lead music at our church a bunch, and this is a particular pet peeve of mine in the "church music genre". There are a ton of terrible lyrics out there.

But I very much agree for most other music too.

Fantastic post! Love it! Keep blogging forcever, I love your well articulated thoughts!