S-s-s-singin’ that blah, blah, blah

So, there I was, mindlessly singing along to the radio on my mundane, road construction-filled drive from one job to another, when I realized: “What the heck am I singing?”
A. Top 40.
B. A song I don’t necessarily like but, nonetheless, know all the words to.
C. Idiotic lyrics.
D. All of the above.

Guilty. And I've given up caring who sees me.

D., of course. Unless it’s the LSAT or my nutrition class, where they throw in options like “A and C only,” or pose questions like “Which could be, but need not be, true,” just to make you second-guess yourself.

But, really, as someone who oftentimes likes songs solely for their lyrics, I felt like I was betraying myself. When I really think about how little a song contributes lyrically and how much depends on a catchy tune or the name of the person singing, it kind of makes me want to just turn off the radio.

Metal has nothing to do with the Top 40 pop music I'm discussing, but this was too good.

Not to be all pretentious and obnoxious. I’ll listen to Top 40 radio as much as the next guy. But we don’t always pay attention to the lyrics; that’s the beauty of music — if the tune is catchy, it doesn’t really matter how stupid the words that go along with it are.  But once you start to think about them (if you’re like me, at least), you realize how much you would make fun of the lyrics if, say, a local band (or someone like Rebecca Black, whose song I will not even include in this post because it’s glaringly obvious) were singing them.

This is the advertisement for an actual band. It came from MySpace, so it has to be true.

Allow me to illustrate:

“Right There” by Nicole Scherzinger featuring 50 Cent
Would we love it if 50 Cent didn’t proclaim, “It’s just another one / Another number one,” at the beginning of the song? Probably, because the radio tells us to.
Here are some gems:
“Me like the way that you hold my body / Me like the way that you touch my body / Me like the way that you kiss my / Yeah yeah yeah me like it.”

See, it’s a little different when you see it in writing. Come on, Nicole, use your big girl words!


“Look at Me Now” by Chris Brown
“Better cuff your chick if you with her / I can get her / And she accidentally slip and fall on my d*** / Oops, I said on my d*** / I ain’t really mean to say on my d*** / But since we’re talking about my d*** / All of you haters say hi to it / I’m done.”

Um … so are we supposed to be impressed when we “look at you now,” because I literally giggled at how ridiculous those lines are when I read them for the first time. I had no idea he was saying that, probably because I’ve only ever heard the radio edit.


“What’s my Name” by Rihanna featuring Drake
I feel like Rihanna’s gotten a lot of play on my blog. I really don’t dislike her music, she just gives me a lot of things to write about.
“The square root of 69 is eight-something, right? / ‘Cause I’ve been tryna work it out, oh.”

Is that supposed to be a pickup line? Smooth …

“I can get you through a mighty long day / Soon as you go, the text that I write is gon’ say / Oh na na, what’s my name? / Oh na na, what’s my name? / Oh na na, what’s my name? / What’s my name? / What’s my name?”

You know how I would feel if I got a text message like that. Most people would probably be like, uh, what the heck? That’s obnoxious.


“Peacock” by Katy Perry
Heard this one on the radio for the first time yesterday. It provides some lovely new inappropriate lyrics for small children nationwide to unwittingly belt out. Katy Perry pesters some guy the whole song to let her see his “peacock,” and then this is her reaction:
“Oh my God, no exaggeration / Boy, all this time was worth the waiting / I just shed a tear / I am so unprepared / You’ve got the finest architecture / End of the rainbow looking treasure / Such a sight for me to see / And it’s all for me.”

1. Why are there so many shlong songs lately? Can we sing about something substantial please? Plus, the day I hear my 10 year-old sister singing, “Are you brave enough to let me see your peacock? / Don’t be a chicken, boy, stop acting like a beeyotch,” I say I’ll drop over dead, but I’ll probably just blog furiously about it again. If I don’t even realize how often I’m senselessly singing about wieners and random girls’ luscious booties in the club, how are they supposed to?
2. Is shedding a tear a good reaction? That seems a little over-the-top.


“I Know You Want Me” by Pit Bull
This song has to contain one of my favorite ridiculous lines ever:

“Mami got an a** like a donkey with a monkey that looks like King Kong.”

Uh, is that a good thing? This line was brought to my attention by this video segment from The Current news channel a few years ago.

And this screenshot from it always runs through my head when I hear that line:

And Sergio saying, "Oh, yeah. That's hot." Or whatever he says with it. The video's worth watching just for that clip.

(I realize I didn’t embed the actual video. It was disabled by request. 😦 Mer.)


“The Call” by the Backstreet Boys
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a BSB fan and, yes, it’s a guilty pleasure. “The Call” is the tale of how the Backstreet Boys cheated on their apparently collective girlfriend and made up a lie to her about it over a cell phone conversation. My friend Jessie and I share feelings on how awesomely terrible the lyrics to this song are. Pretty sure we sang karaoke to this song at our high school graduation party … And that probably won’t be the last time.
Chorus: “Listen baby I’m sorry / Just wanna tell you don’t worry / I will be late, don’t stay up and wait for me / I’ll say again you’re dropping out / My battery is low / Just so you know we’re going to a place nearby / Gotta go.” (Yes, I recited these lines from memory.)


“Summer Girls” by LFO
It’s not new. It’s rarely on the radio anymore. But it takes the award for the song with the worst lyrics ever. (Well, maybe now it ties with “Friday.”) But “Summer Girls” moves completely into the realm of “so bad, it’s good.”

The way they jump completely from one subject to another for the sake of rhyme and rhythm alone is hilarious. If you looked up none of the other lyrics, this one is worth clicking the link for solely because it’s so bad it’s funny. (It’s okay, I still know all the words to it from when nine year old Kaitlin found it on her “Totally Hits” CD and listened to it on her boombox while playing Barbies. Yeah. Either it’s that old, or I’m that young. Whichever way you want to look at it.

–The chorus, of course: “New Kids on the Block had a bunch of hits / Chinese food makes me sick / And I think it’s fly when girls stop by for the summer / For the summer / I like girls who wear Abercrombie and Fitch / I’d take her if I had one wish / But she’s been gone since that summer / Since that summer.”
–“You’re the best girl that I ever did see / The great Larry Byrd: jersey 33 / When you take a sip you buzz like a hornet / Willy Shakespeare wrote a whole bunch of sonnets.”


Next time you find yourself mumbling that catchy song you don’t really care much about, aside from the fact that it’s on the radio every 20 minutes, listen to the words you’re actually mumbling. It’s pretty good for a laugh and a hopeless head-shaking at the demise of lyrical quality in pop music.


Lyrically Awesome: Updated

I know a lot of people don’t share my wordy-weirdness, but the deciding factor on whether I love a song or not is usually how good its lyrics are. I’m definitely one of those people who almost always has lyrics from a song as my Facebook status, but never arbitrarily. It’s always a cryptic message toward some event in my life or how I’m feeling. And if you decode it and/or identify what song it’s from, that’s how I decide we should probably be best friends.

Music is so important to most people in the world — I don’t know if it ever was unique to say, “Music is my life.” So many people have it on in the background while studying, in the car, while exercising — Our iTunes libraries have basically become the soundtracks to our lives. Its second nature to have music on even just as background noise to keep us company. And, no matter how much you want to try, you’re never going to convince someone that your taste in music is superior to someone else’s. It’s like religion and politics — Everyone’s got their own views and beliefs, and most people don’t want others’ shoved down their throats.

Along the same vein, some people are really open-minded when it comes to music. They can listen to and appreciate almost any musical genre. Others are strictly grounded in a specific one. For example, I oftentimes add new songs and bands to my personal arsenal after hearing them a lot hanging out with Chris or my friends — or even if I don’t particularly like the song itself, but it triggers a fond memory. Chris, on the other hand, regularly tells me my music “makes him want to kill himself.” (Direct quote — I hear it often.) The only time he ever really listens to it is if we’re going on a trip somewhere, and I’m driving (hence, I’m in control of the radio, in accordance with the rules of the road). Usually, he combats the situation by promptly falling asleep, putting in his own headphones, or making sure we have a conversation that places the music in the background. You can’t win them all.

But I know my taste in music isn’t outlandish or offensive, and for you word weirdos out there who love lyrics, too, here are some of my top picks for lyrically amazing songs. My full list is huge, so I’ll list my overall favorites here and break the others down into situation later (bad day, breakup/argument, feel-good songs, etc.).

You can find the full lyrics to each song at the link on its title.

In no particular order:

“Mr. Larkin” – State Radio: I don’t know how I could have forgotten this one on the first publish, but if you don’t look up any other song listed here, look up this one. It’s so touching. Plus, State Radio is my favorite band that Chris has introduced to me. They get a little political once in a while and are pretty darn liberal, but Chris is a solid conservative and still loves them. We saw them in Minneapolis this spring, and I can easily say it was the best live show I’ve seen. State Radio is fronted by Chad Stokes, former lead singer of Dispatch.

Favorite Lines: “I know she knows who I am / Every now and then / Yeah she’ll squeeze my hand / It’s what I live for / And it’s why she don’t die / So Mr. Larkin won’t you / Won’t you give me this try.”
Other notable State Radio songs are “Camilo,” “Arsenic and Clover,” “Democracy in Kind,” and “Indian Moon.”

Hard to Concentrate” – Red Hot Chili Peppers:
I don’t care what anyone says — This will undeniably be the first-dance song at my wedding. My favorite lines are the chorus: “All I want is for you to be happy and / Take this moment to make you my family and / Finally you have found someone perfect and / Finally you have found … yourself.” Swoon.

<iframe src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/21439349?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&#8243; width=”400″ height=”300″ frameborder=”0″></iframe><p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/21439349″>RHCP + hard to concentrate + lyrics</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user5412477″>tanja schirmer</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Me vs. Maradona vs. Elvis” – Brand New: In my opinion, Brand New consistently has some of the best lyrics of any band. I admit, my brother is right when he says Brand New is rarely musically exciting, but lyrics are my primary factor when loving a song. By no means is this the only song by Brand New that has lyrics that can make me melt, but it’s got the most personal significance. I’m probably revealing a little more than I’d care to here, but I’ll just say I think this song gets into the head of what my ex-boyfriend was thinking toward the end of our relationship, minus the conscious that shines through.

Favorite lines: “You can sin or spend the night all alone.”
“I will lie awake / And lie for fun and fake the way I hold you / Let you fall for every empty word I say.”

Measuring Cups” – Andrew Bird: Andrew Bird’s music is undeniably musically entertaining. What more could you expect from a singer/songwriter/professional whistler with a degree from Northwestern in violin performance? He’s  such a fascinating guy. He claims his lyrics aren’t meant to be anything profound; Bird says he simply chooses which words sound best together in the song. Most of the time, they’re extremely complex and in elevated language, but they’re always awesome — even if you don’t fully understand them. (Honorable mention goes to “Anonanimal,” which possibly has some of the most fun lyrics ever: “I see a sea anemone / The enemy / See a sea anemone / And that’ll be the end of me.”)

Favorite Lines: “Get out your measuring cups / And we’ll play a new game / To the front of the class and we’ll measure your brain / We’ll give you a complex and we’ll give it a name.”
“Can’t have the cream when the crop and the cream are the same.”


No Rain“/”Change” – Blind Melon: If you know me, you know these were bound to appear.

Favorite Lines from “No Rain”: “I just want someone to say to me / I’ll always be there when you wake / You know I’d like to keep my cheeks dry today / So stay with me and I’ll have it made.”

Favorite Lines from “Change”: “I know we can’t all stay here forever / So I want to write my words on the face of today.” (Love it so much the last half is permanently inked into me.)
“Keep on dreamin’ boy ’cause when you stop dreamin’ it’s time to die.”
“When life is hard / You have to change.”

Fall Out Boy: In general. I’m serious. Sure, I loved them most at the peak of my high school angsty stage, but looking back, that’s still when they were the best. From Under the Cork Tree is still my favorite album by them. (You know, “Sugar We’re Going Down?” Yeah, that album.) Scoff if you will — haters’ gon’ hate — But I think they’re actually quite clever.

Favorite Lines: “I left my conscious pressed / Between the pages of the Bible in the drawer / What did it ever do for me, I say?” – From “XO
“These words are all I have so I write them / I need them just to get by.”
“Why don’t you show me the little bit of spine you’ve been saving for his mattress, love?” – Both from “Dance, Dance
“Someone old / No one new / Feeling borrowed / Always blue.” (Come on, that’s clever.) – From “I Slept with Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got was this Stupid Song Written About Me
“I’m alright in bed / But I’m better with the pen.” – From “Fame < Infamy
“It’s just past eight and I’m feeling young and reckless / The ribbon on my wrist says ‘Do not open before Christmas.'” – From “Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued” (Ah, yes. Remember the days of sentence-long song titles? Panic! at the Disco was notorious for it in their album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out.
“I need to take a pill to make this town feel okay.” (Describes my hometown)
“The best part of ‘believe’ is the ‘lie.'” – Both from “Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year

“You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket” – The White Stripes: My dad found this song. I think about him every time I hear it. It’s simple and sad, and I’m sure it shares feelings of many.

Favorite Lines: “Grab hold of her fast before her feet leave the floor / And she’s out the door / ‘Cause you want / To keep her in your pocket / Where there’s no way out / Put it in the safe and lock it / ‘Cause it’s home sweet home.”
“In your own mind you know you’re lucky just to know her.”

 Know any awesome lyrics that strike you? Do we share the same taste in music? Talk to me.