It's a fact: Take lyrics out of their musical context, and you're often left with the ramblings of a braindead "artist" who happens to own a rhyming dictionary. Simply put, without the guitars, bass, and drums, it ain't always poetry.
We've covered this harsh musical truth before when we advised you to "Please Pay No Attention To The Lyrics."
Judging by your comments on that post (123 and counting), this issue needs revisiting.
This time around, we're breaking it down into categories of lyrics FAILs:
Some bands have based multi-platinum careers on terrible lyrics. Others fall into what we call the "not even trying" category. We're not dissing these acts themselves, but come on Pat Monahan (Train), Bono (U2), Dave Matthews, and Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers), stop being so lazy with the verbiage! It embarrasses us all.
Sample lyric FAILs:
"Some things you shouldn't get too good at
Like smiling, crying
- U2, "Original of the Species"
"Well she wants to live her life
Then she thinks about her life
Pulls her hair back, as she screams
'I don't really wanna live this life'"
- Train, "Meet Virginia"
Note that Train couldn't find another word to rhyme with life besides...life. Come on. Right off the top of our heads, we've got wife, knife, and strife. Where's our record deal?
TOO CHEESY FOR WORDS
This is a tricky category, because sometimes the more cheese, the better (see: Britney Spears, Shonen Knife, the entire 1980s). But when the lyrical cheese is spread an inch thick without a trace of irony, we must protest.
Sample cheesy lyric FAILs:
"Now I've tried to talk to you and make you understand
All you have to do is close your eyes
And just reach out your hands and touch me
Hold me close don't ever let me go
More than words is all I ever needed you to show
Then you wouldn't have to say that you love me
Cause I'd already know"
- from the undisputed cheesiest song of all time, "More Than Words," by Extreme
"One mile to every inch of
Your skin like porcelain
One pair of candy lips and
Your bubblegum tongue"
- "Your Body Is A Wonderland," by John Mayer
SO CATCHY IT DOESN'T MATTER
These are lyrics that make absolutely no sense, and often defy grammar and syntax—and yet are so mysteriously powerful that you not only love the song, you can't help but sing the nonsense words, with pride!
Sample lyrics from this category:
"You don't know me
I am an introvert an excavator
I'm duckin' out for now
a face in dodgy elevators
Creep up and suddenly
I found myself
- Santagold, "L.E.S. Artistes" (bonus so-catchy-it-doesn't-matter points: The video makes even less sense!)
"This is a concept
this is a bracelet
this isn't no intervention"
- "Interpol, "Say Hello To The Angels"
Here's where the problem isn't necessarily with the artist, but with you! Well, not you specifically, but with some people who hear what they want to hear in the pop music lyrics. Of course, that's part of the fun of music listening, and most songwriters wouldn't begrudge their audience creating its own bizarre meanings from hardly subtle material. However, when certain songs are misappropriated for, say, a wedding, hilarity ensues.
Three classic examples: "Every Breath You Take," The Police (um, it's about STALKING), "Losing My Religion," R.E.M. (the them is OBSESSION—and not in a good way), and "One," U2, again (even Bono calls this the greatest BREAKUP song ever written. Not exactly wedding material).
Sample lyric from this category:
"Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
Ill be watching you"
- The Police, "Every Breath You Take"
What are some of your favorite lyrics fails?