A new song! Or maybe it’s my grocery list
Hey, I’m hip (or think I am) but lyrics from some of today’s songs leave a lot to be desired
I was in the car the other day listening to a pop music radio station. I say this without embarrassment. I do this when I’ve had enough Trump news or when the best thing on CBC is a fullhour on what exact fungus is killing your rubber plant and how to fix it. (I thought rubber plants were fungus.)
Usually, I tune into a station called “Virgin Radio” but judging by the songs they play, I think they may want to rethink the name. This is the kind of radio you grew up on. You know, they play the same 20 songs over and over again all day long and then they give money to listeners who call in when they hear the “Song of the Day.” It’s pretty hard to lose since the “Song of the Day” is played about 400 times.
Anyway, a very popular song came on by a Canadian artist I’ll call “The Weekday” to avoid a lawsuit, or worse, a Twitter hate campaign.
The new song has a very catchy tune, but I couldn’t help but notice something odd about the lyrics. The Weekday had decided, it seemed, that actually trying to make lyrics rhyme was just “too much work” so he simply put “ah” at the end of every line. If you think I’m kidding, here’s a sample of it: I’m tryna put you in the worst mood, ah P1 cleaner than your church shoes, ah Milli point two just to hurt you, ah All red Lamb’ just to tease you, ah None of these toys on lease too, ah Made your whole year in a week too, yah Main bitch out your league too, ah Side bitch out of your league too, ah
Now, you may say, that’s not true, there’s rhyming in the song and you would be right if you think that ending every line with “too” is poetry.
I don’t want to be grumpy (my wife tells me I’m doing a pretty good job of that at home) but I can’t believe how bad some song lyrics are today. Not only are they pretty much impossible to understand (I mean what exactly is the Weekday on about in the song anyway?) but they’re so lazy and so clunky, they make Barry Manilow sound like Shakespeare.
You can’t write a song by just jotting down whatever you’re thinking and slapping a drum beat on it. Or maybe you can. And this latest trick — adding the same word at the end of every line — is what I call the “Rocky Balboa School of Songwriting.” Here is an example: Adrian, I love you, Yo! You’re nicer than my turtle, Yo! Wow, my head hurts, Yo! Let’s go out on a date, Yo! I forgot what I was saying, Yo!
Look, I get that rap and hip hop are a dif- ferent art form and don’t have to stick to old songwriting rules — and I actually like some hip hop — but what about mainstream singers who write songs that have all the grace of a 3 a.m. phone call made after the two-forone tequila Night at Jack Astor’s?
Take Adele, (please). Here’s a sample of her song, “Hello”: Hello from the other side I must have called a thousand times To tell you I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done But when I call you never seem to be home Hello from the outside At least I can say that I’ve tried
It’s hard to imagine the time and care it took to craft these lines. Like imagining zero.
I wrote a similar song this morning, while shaving: I think of you all the time Especially when I’m vacuuming I think I left something in the oven And someone’s at the door I will try to call you later Right now, my phone is broken
Some song lyrics are simple and great. Think The Beatles. Some are complicated and wonderful. Think Cole Porter or Elvis Costello.
And some are just plain bad and sad. And they make me mad.
Ah, ah, ah.