The six types of insane song lyrics

If you love music, and music videos, you start seeing patterns.

Here’s what I’ve learned from dissecting lyrics and making fun of music videos: it’s easy to put them into categories, both amazingly awful and insanely great, and there are SIX KINDS, because I say so.

The six types are:

1) Boring Pop Songs

These are trite little pieces of drivel, sung by boy bands, Justin Bieber and Britney Spears, written at a fourth-grade level because they’re meant to be consumed by seventh-graders.

It’s the kind of thing that makes the average Madonna song look deep.

What’s the acid test for Boring Pop Songs? If you do a “find and replace” in word for “oh baby” and half the lyrics disappear.

Related: Music Video Deathmatch: Lady Gaga vs Justin Bieber

2) Pretentious Pop

Vivid imagery that’s poetic, yet confusing. That’s your basic recipe for pretentious pop, which is equally bad whether it’s (a) some boy band trying to get deep or (b) Sting trying to show everybody he went to college, and yes, I adore the Stinger, so that’s said out of love, because he usually hits the mark. Related: Sting nails it with WHY SHOULD I CRY FOR YOU?

Here’s some infamous nonsense from The Decemberists, who specialize in Pretentious Pop:

Fifteen lithesome maidens lay
Along in their bower
Fourteen occupations pay
To pass the idle hour

3) Cryptic Yet Meaningful Goodness

AMERICAN PIE is the best example of this. Are the lyrics deep and confusing? Absolutely. Yet if you dig deep into it, line-by-line, they make sense.

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What do you want? Hit me

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So I’m in the same haunted beach cabin where this blog was born, accidentally, before a silly craigslist ad went viral and all kinds of romance authors and people from Austria to Australia randomly found it.

I am a far, far better writer because of it. Thank you.

So while I make evil plans for the coming year, possibly involving a robot army and sharks with lasers, it’s a good time to ask you: what do you want?

More first pages of novels gutted by a red pen?

More obscure music videos dissected, line by line?

More weird news?

Hit me.

Especially if your a lurker, a shy one.

Tell me your requests. Nominate a book, movie or music video that needs a red pen. Bring it in the comments, the Twitter or my secret emails.

And thank you. It’s been insanely fun.

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How Not to Do Something

Guy Bergstrom:

Loved this, and thanks for the plug. A great and worthy post.

Originally posted on Bearded Bards:

Learning how to write is a long, slow process. There’s the technical bits, there’s the craft part, and there’s the intangibles that come from learning how to communicate not just effectively, but artfully. There is also learning how not to write.

It’s as important as anything else to learn what not to do in your writing. A good way to make sure you’re not going to end up writing crap is to read crap, and understand why it is, well, crap. Here’s a couple resources that will give you a quick and dirty lesson in things not to do.

Awful Fantasy

I don’t know who manages this Twitter account, and I don’t care. All I…

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Photo of the Day: The otter abides

This sea otter has style. Completely at ease and comfortable in his own fur. Well played, sea otter. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

This sea otter has style. Completely at ease and comfortable in his own fur. Well played, sea otter. Carry on. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

There’s something about otters that’s inherently interesting. They’re like water-cats, but as playful as dogs.

If you’ve visited aquariums or zoos with a glass shebang that lets you see them, they’ll do games with you, racing from side to side. And there’s all kinds of footage of otters playing in the wild, sliding down mud hills or snow. I used to love monkeys as a kid, and hey, they’re still fun to watch, but the otters are the one animal who seem to just have a surplus of joy.

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DOWN ON MY LUCK by Vic Mensa is different and special

Typically, I usually dive into the lyrics of a song, dissecting the true meaning of ELECTRIC AVENUE or parsing every line of Vanilla Ice’s unappreciated classic, ICE, ICE BABY, which was tarnished only by his lame followup song about ninja turtles and his habit of trashing sets and terrorizing TV journalists, though now Vanilla is all grown up and remodeling houses on television or whatever.

This music video by Vic the Mensa is the rare beast where the visuals are more worthy of dissecting. Check it out.

Vic does something unusual here, turning a music video into a short film where his character repeats the same scene in a nightclub again and again, with different choices and results.

If you’re a screenwriter, you’ll start throwing out RASHOMON references and point out how this is nothing like MEMENTO, since that movie reversed the order of all scenes. To get technical, this music video is more like GROUNDHOG DAY or THE EDGE OF TOMORROW, which the studios are renaming LIVE, DIE REPEAT instead of the original comic title, which is far more superior – ALL YOU NEED IS KILL.

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Commencement time at WWU

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My wife is about to give the commencement speech at Western.

Why? BECAUSE SHE’S AWESOME.

Will post video and text of speech later.

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Why this video is intentionally bad and tremendously good

Those two things seem contradictory, don’t they?

No.

A book, movie or TV show can be technically good and awesomely boring at the same time. Example: every CGI-crazed “blockbuster” in the last 10 years that cost $250 million to produce and generated $50 in ticket sales at theaters. Stuff like JOHN CARTER OF MARS and AVATAR (the cartoon, not the blue monkey saga) and five zillion other movies you don’t remember and didn’t see because they stank up the place.

So take a look at this, the Best Ad for a Restaurant in History:

The ad does a number of things badly on purpose.

  • The special effects look like they were put together by a 7th grader who started teaching himself Adobe After Effects yesterday.
  • The script itself put 1,792 grammar teachers in treatment.
  • This actor’s body language could not be more awkward.
  • Casting aside his accent, which I loved, the actor’s inflections keep going astray.
  • The editing and production values, let’s be honest, stink.

If the individual parts of this ad are so horrible, why is the whole thing so great? Continue reading

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