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.


“I’ll have what she’s having.”

Have we no minds or imaginations anymore?!? I’m not one to talk — I’ve been suffering from a major lack of ideas of what to write about lately. I find it a little ironic that this is what I came up with.

But if anyone can respect a good movie or song reference, it’s me. A ton of my type of humor relies on pop culture references. But there’s a fine line between a witty reference or an inventive use of “sampling,” and becoming a mindless pop culture spewing drone.

Two birds with one stone: A Futurama reference and an illustration depicting mindless drones

Summer has long been known as the season of the sequel at the movie theater. And with the list of sequels getting longer each season, the lack of original movies becomes pretty apparent. If you’ve clamored to 12 a.m. sneak preview showings to see Transformers 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Hangover 2, and already are the proud owner of tickets to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, you’re not alone. (I haven’t seen the first two, but I admit, I enjoyed The Hangover 2 … Even more than the original, which stressed me out a lot. Yeah, that’s how neurotic I am.)

But at least movie sequels make it obvious what the original is they’re referencing. Sampling is a practice that’s becoming increasingly popular in mainstream music. I’m not knocking it — It can be a real art. I think it’s usually a great way for an artist to repurpose a song that inspired them and make it their own. The thing I have beef with is when songs I liked months or years ago are sampled and the resulting song becomes more popular. Top 40 lovers know every word to the new song, but in my experience, an alarming amount have no idea that there was an original song behind it.

If you like any of the songs on the left, you may want to have a listen to the songs on the right. Click the links to hear the songs.

“The Show Goes On” by Lupe Fiasco ——- “Float On” by Modest Mouse (I recently heard a local DJ try to credit the original song, but mis-identified the band as Muse. It took all I had not to call in to the radio station and start screeching.)

“Paper Planes” by M.I.A. ——- “Straight to Hell” by The Clash – My dad is a fan of The Clash and would play them a lot when I was younger, which is probably the reason I like “Paper Planes” so much. “It ain’t Coca-Cola, it’s rice.

“Whatcha Say” by Jason Derulo —— “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap (If you have some trouble recognizing it, skip to 2:51 in the video)

“Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys ——- “Love on a Two Way Street” by The Moments

“S & M” by Rihanna ——- “Let’s Go to Bed” by The Cure (As you may know, I already discussed my thoughts on “S & M.” The song not the — uh … practice.)

Is the practice of sampling and referencing burrowing its way into everyday life? I can almost never get through a conversation without making or hearing a reference to something. I know I do it all the time. Is that okay?

Well, Houston, we may have a problem. It seems what we have here is a failure to communicate. Then again, perhaps frankly, my dears, we shouldn’t give a damn. After all, if all we do is make sequels, sample songs, and quote movies in conversations, our brains will have so much more room for activities. Maybe we can’t handle the truth that we’re just running out of original thoughts. Maybe the sun will come out tomorrow, and we’ll think up some stuff on our own for a change. Until then, hasta la vista, baby.

I’ll be back.