Tag Archives: Lyrics

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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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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The poetry of TEAM by Lorde

We live in an age when “Boom! Crash!” passes as a good foundation for the lyrics of a hit song. So this young upstart from NZ, Lorde, is quite refreshing in how she treats lyrics as a chance for some poetry set to music.

Maybe she gets it from her mother, a famous poet. I don’t even care if her mom helps write the lyrics, since just about every band these days hires songwriters, choreographers and engineers at the mixboard. You can buy everything and simply show up, if you want.

Here’s the music video, which is interesting:

And below are the lyrics. What do you think? Continue reading

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Deconstructing the classic ROUND HERE by Counting Crows

Not because of the lead singer’s epic dreadlocks and facial hair, which I’d argue are less of an Epic Win and more of an Achy Breaky Big Mistakey.

There is no mistaking the genius of this song, though.

The music video may be nothing insanely special, but the actual song and lyrics are haunting and well-done.

Also, do not confuse Counting Crows with the Black Crows, a completely different band. The Black Crows singer dated or married that blonde actress from ALMOST FAMOUS, while the Counting Crows singer dated the blonde actress who was married to Brad Pitt.

Here’s the video in all of it’s ancient, low-res glory:

Now let’s dive into the words. Continue reading

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BriWi nails RAPPER’S DELIGHT

One of the best things about late night on the Glowing Tube is this man named Jimmy Fallon, who recently took over the Tonight Show from Captain Lantern Jaw (hey, the ’70s called, and they want their hair back, then the ’50s called, asking for their jokes back).

In all seriousness about men paid millions to be silly on the teevee, it did feel like Jay Leno was a cartoon from the ’50s, telling jokes that were stale when my grandfather heard them. Nice guy and all. Just boring.

Jimmy the Fallon, on the other hand, is an innovation machine.

Slow-jamming the news was one thing. Now he’s got BriWi (Brian Williams) doing classic rap songs, and the results keep getting better. Check it out.

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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SAY SOMETHING by A Great Big World and Christina the Aguilera

Listen: I loved this song on the radio and played the video five straight times. However, it’s my job, my sacred duty and my Bobby Brown prerogative to (a) look for flaws, (b) make fun of things and (c) find serious ways to fix those silly flaws.

Great song and artsy vid, right?

Let’s break it down.

First, for about three seconds I thought Malcolm Gladwell put in his 10,000 hours of hard practice at the piano and formed a band. But no, this singer simply has the same epic hair, which I love. And he rocks that piano.

Second, I salute Christina the Aguilera, who always had more talent than her Mousketeer mate Britney Spears, closer to Tonya Harding than Tori Amos and an even bet to one day go bankrupt and wind up living in a trailer park in Texas, singing karaoke on weekends at the honky tonk. Christina has pipes, common sense and the brains to hook up with new indie bands like Great Big World. So: RECOGNIZE.

Third, the other guy is clearly the other member of the band, and he’s got nothing to do in this video. Zero. Zip. Nada. I suspect he is to the piano stud as Ryan Lewis is to Macklemore, so hey, he’s required to be in the music video, but he’s got nothing to do. And that’s the number one flaw to fix, right off. The solution is easy: Mr. Director, hand that man a violin, a tambourine or a bottle of bourbon so he can properly emote. Give him something to do beside lean on the piano or sit on the piano. The guy looks bored because he MUST be bored out of his skull, and that’s crazy boring for us to watch. The dude must have gobs of talent. Let him show off a little.

The next two problems to fix: a heavy dose of Overly Dramatic Squirrel and on-the-nose imagery, two great problems that don’t go great together.

When we first see Christina the Aguilera, she does a slow-mo version of a model fiercely crosslegging down the catwalk.

beyonce catwalking

The next ten times we see her, she’s dramatically touching her face and such. Listen, the lyrics are dramatic enough. You don’t have to sell it to the people in the back rows of the theater, because this isn’t a Broadway play. It’s a video. The camera is close enough to show off your clean pores, in 1080p or 4k or whatever video format Samsung invented yesterday.

The on-the-nose imagery is the visual twin of dialogue that Hollywood screenwriters, director and actors would say are on-the-nose.

Nobody says what they really mean, and no video should beat you over the head with a sledgehammer with its message. If you want to sing about being sad, sing it. If you want to show sadness while a guitar wails, show it. But don’t sing sadly while a piano tinkles sadly and the actor on screen does exactly what you’re singing about, like hiding her head under the covers. Because that’s on-the-nose overkill.

Subtext is stronger than text. John Waite understands this.

Also, in the climax of the song, the singer / piano master goes completely crazy leg on us, and yeah, we get that you’re really into it, and this is the big finish, but there’s a weird contrast going on between you, your slow-motion Genie in a Bottle, your completely comatose buddy. This part didn’t fly. Maybe they don’t have choreographers for piano guys, and maybe they should.

But these are minor flaws. Nitpicking, really. It’s a beautiful song and an impressive video.

Verdict: Love this song. The video, while flawed, is still 100 times more watchable than whatever nonsense Justin Bieber is putting out in between getting arrested in LA, Miami, Toronto or whatever city he’s being arrested in today.

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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Sting nails it with WHY SHOULD I CRY FOR YOU?

Sting is the opposite of a one-hit wonder. And this little song shows off that he can write, too.

Here’s the video, which is a nice little black-and-white piece that doesn’t feature a single shot of Sting wailing into a microphone while the band plucks at guitars. I appreciate that.

And here are the lyrics, which is why I’m posting about this song. My favorite bit: “Dark angels follow me / Over a godless sea.” It’s a damn sight better than Justin “Dragracing to Deportation” Beiber’s “Baby, baby, baby.”

WHY SHOULD I CRY FOR YOU by Sting

Under the dog star sail
Over the reefs of moonshine
Under the skies of fall
North, north west, the Stones of Faroe

Under the Arctic fire
Over the seas of silence
Hauling on frozen ropes
For all my days remaining
But would north be true?

All colours bleed to red
Asleep on the ocean’s bed
Drifting on empty seas
For all my days remaining

But would north be true?
Why should I?
Why should I cry for you?
Dark angels follow me
Over a godless sea
Mountains of endless fog,
For all my days remaining,

What would be true?

Sometimes I see your face,
The stars seem to lose their place
Why must I think of you?
Why must I?
Why should I?
Why should I cry for you?
Why would you want me to?
And what would it mean to say,
That, “I loved you in my fashion”?

What would be true?
Why should I?
Why should I cry for you?

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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