Tag Archives: Lyrics

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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Insane music video + lyrics – EXCELLENT HORSE-LIKE LADY

OK, this is a first for me. I am pritnear speechless, despite the fact that I spelled “pritnear” PERFECTLY.

I found a music video from North Korea that is not a joke or an Onion parody. It’s a hit song from 2005, and yes, we now have the actual lyrics to this pop music masterpiece.

Why do we care?

Because the new dictator of North Korea used to be her boyfriend, years ago, but his daddy forbade him from seeing her. She is was married to a soldier and had a kid. HOWEVER: Now that junior runs the country, she’s by his side all the time. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. There are stories in respected papers of news and such. Here’s one:

Lil’ Kim and the married pop star: North Korean leader’s mystery girl

Update: And now it’s official. News reports say she is married to the young Dear Leader, though there’s no mention of what happened to the old husband and such.

As a special bonus, NPR figured out the lyrics to the song.

Our factory comrades say in jest
Why they tell me I am a virgin on a stallion
After a full day’s work i still have energy left
My skills are truly like lightening they say
They say I am a virgin on a stallion
Yet again today I was the first to leave for work
Apparently my name was in the paper
In a (?) time
An award given to youth who live in flight
They say I am a virgin on a stallion
The party era is teeming with creation
A new name they present to youth
Mounting a stallion the dear leader gave me
All my life I will live to uphold his name
They say I am a virgin on a stallion
Mounting a stallion my dear leader gave me
All my life I will live to uphold his name

Also: her other big hit, SHE IS A DISCHARGED SOLDIER.

Finally: the classic, NORTH KOREA PARTY ROCKING.

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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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The Red Pen of Doom analyzes I WANT YOU TO WANT ME by Cheap Trick

As part of my ongoing mission to explore all music, and go where MTV no longer goes anymore, here’s another video: I WANT YOU TO WANT ME by Cheap Trick.

Why show this old thing from 1879 or whatever, when they had to plug their guitars into steam engines?

Three reasons why:

IT.

IS.

AWESOME.

This is a case where simple and repetitive works, because there’s a nice little pattern here with the words: “I want you to want me. I need you to need me.” And so forth. Nothing fancy. Nothing  complicated. But it is inspired, and it’s the kind of song a moderately talented punk band could learn to play, you know, the kind of band that knows four chords and forgets two of them in the middle of the show after they finish off two bottles of cheap vodka.

So in that way, this thing is genius. You don’t need a degree in music to play it. You don’t need a great voice to sing it. It’s the perfect cover song, which is why so many other bands have covered it.

Also, it’s one of the few songs that sounds good live versus all auto-tuned and cleaned up in the studio. A gritty garage band can play it and fudge notes without ruining the thing.

You — yes, you — could probably do a decent job singing this thing at a karaoke bar, even if you are TOO DRUNK TO SPELL KARAOKE.

Bottom line: a simple, study, lovable song. A punk-rock tank with interesting word twists in the lyrics. I like it, I love it, I want some more of it.

Special bonus: my favorite cover of I WANT YOU TO WANT ME by Letters to Cleo. (This cover doesn’t have a music video. Somebody made one with scenes from the show CHUCK, and they did alright. Here you go.)

The lyrics are way, way below, just for fun. Straight-forward stuff – no need to dissect or interpret these.

I WANT YOU TO WANT ME

Written by Rick Nielsen
Performed by Cheap Trick

I want you to want me.
I need you to need me.
I’d love you to love me.
I’m beggin’ you to beg me.
I want you to want me.
I need you to need me.
I’d love you to love me.

I’ll shine up my old brown shoes.
I’ll put on a brand new shirt
I’ll get home early from work
if you say that you love me.

Didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I,
see you cryin’ (cryin, cryin’).
Oh, Didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I,
see you cryin’ (cryin, cryin’)
Feelin’ all alone without a friend
you know you feel like dyin’ (dyin’, dyin’).
Oh, didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I,
see you cryin’ (cryin’, cryin’).

I want you to want me.
I need you to need me.
I’d love you to love me.
I’m beggin’ you to beg me.
I’ll shine up my old brown shoes.
I’ll put on a brand new shirt
I’ll get home early from work
if you say that you love me.

Didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I,
see you cryin’ (cryin, cryin’).
Oh, Didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I,
see you cryin’ (cryin, cryin’)
Feelin’ all alone without a friend
you know you feel like dyin’ (dyin’, dyin’).
Oh, didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I,
see you cryin’ (cryin’, cryin’).
Feelin’ all alone without a friend
you know you feel like dyin’ (dyin’, dyin’).
Oh, didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I,
see you cryin’ (cryin’, cryin’).
Feelin’ all alone without a friend
you know you feel like dyin’ (dyin’, dyin’).
Oh, didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I,
see you cryin’ (cryin’, cryin’).

I want you to want me.
I need you to need me.
I’d love you to love me.
I’m beggin’ you to beg me.

Related posts:

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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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The Red Pen of Doom shoots up Train’s DRIVE BY

Here is an interesting song, and I mean “interesting” in a tragic, train-wreck sort of way.

Because it’s a decent melody by a good band with some of the WORST LYRICS EVER.

And the music video itself isn’t horrible at all. It’s fine. The words, though, they hurt me.

And I say this as a fan of Train, a man who has some of their songs and believes MEET VIRGINIA has creative lyrics for a pop song. Continue reading

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Music Video Monday: SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW by Gotye

As part of my campaign to play more videos than MTV, I bring you Gotye’s latest bit of ear wormery: SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW.

Beautiful song, interesting video. Watch and listen.

I salute you, Strangely Named Band Called Gotye, Which Apparently Only Has One Member Plus a Guest Vocalist.

The lyrics are below. I don’t have even the beginning of Itchy Pencil — no inclination to bleed on the lyrics at all. This is very, very rare. It never happens. I ALWAYS HAVE ITCHY PENCIL.

Good job, Gotye and Kimbra — well done.

P.S. I will say this: his voice is fine, but I was left wanting more of hers. More more MORE.

SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW
Gotye, featuring Kimbra

Now and then I think of when we were together
Like when you said you felt so happy you could die
Told myself that you were right for me
But felt so lonely in your company
But that was love and it’s an ache I still rememberYou can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I’ll admit that I was glad that it was overBut you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
No you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

Now you’re just somebody that I used to know
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

[Kimbra:]
Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
But had me believing it was always something that I’d done
But I don’t wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say
You said that you could let it go
And I wouldn’t catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know

[Gotye:]
But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
And you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

[x2]
Somebody
(I used to know)
Somebody
(Now you’re just somebody that I used to know)

(I used to know)
(That I used to know)
(I used to know)
Somebody

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Music Video Monday: Treasure vs Trash

Let’s talk, you and I, about the difference between treasure and trash.

The same principles that apply to silly music videos work across media, whether it’s movies, novels or paintings.

  • Is it creative and unique — or the same thing I’ve seen 3.93 gazillion times?
  • Would I recommend it to my friends and family — or would I suggest it to people I don’t like, hoping it puts them in therapy?
  • Finally, the acid test: would I hand over pieces of paper decorated with dead presidents to get more — or would you have to pay me to suffer through the stupid thing?

So on this Music Video Monday, let’s look at two vids that could not be more different.

In this corner, we have a classic Bollywood contender. Big budget. Big star. Big concept — shoot the video on a moving train through the lush countryside.

Clearly, it’s part of a movie, and I’ve seen this actor in a bunch of films. They know how to do music numbers in Bollywood, where the attitude is, “Go big or go home.”

I appreciate music videos like this one.

Let’s put it to the Three-Part Test of Treasure or Trash, which could use about six more T’s, but I ran out of coffee:

  • Is it creative and unique? Yes. Haven’t seen one like this before. Well done.
  • Would I recommend it to friends and family? Yes. And they watch Bollywood stuff all the time, so whatever I suggest would have to be damn good.
  • If this is part of a two-hour movie, would I invest two hours of my life and time to see it? Yes, and I’d munch some masala dosa during intermission.

In the other corner, we have a prototypical American video of bubble-gum pop.

It would be easy to pick something obscure and terrible. I picked something quite popular, a viral YouTube hit that you couldn’t claim some record company executive shoved down America’s throat.

Here’s the video. Watch it with a shot of bourbon.

We  — and I use the royal we, meaning you all, and not me, because I am NOT RESPONSIBLE for this nonsense — made this video insanely popular. This singer now has more money in her change purse than you will ever make in your life. Even worse: all this success and money will only encourage Rebecca Black to produce more “hits” like this.

  • Creative and unique? Only if you consider lyrics written in crayon to be unique, and a production budget that costs less than a 16-ounce soy latte at Starbucks.
  • Recommend to friends or punish enemies with it? Oh, punish all the way. The CIA doesn’t need waterboarding. Strap somebody to a chair and play this video for 10 hours straight. They’ll tell you anything.
  • Two hour movie? You can’t make a tw0-hour movie out of this. I already sent Arnold back in time to hunt down the video’s director, who is drinking Bud Light Lime in a sketchy biker bar.

As further proof that this is, indeed, the trashiest of trash, let’s look at the lyrics and cringe together, in harmony.

(Yeah, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ark)
Oo-ooh-ooh, hoo yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah, yeah, yeah

[Rebecca Black - Verse 1]

7am, waking up in the morning
Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs
Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal
Seein’ everything, the time is goin’
Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin’
Gotta get down to the bus stop
Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends (My friends)

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

[Rebecca Black - Verse 2]

7:45, we’re drivin’ on the highway
Cruisin’ so fast, I want time to fly
Fun, fun, think about fun
You know what it is
I got this, you got this
My friend is by my right
I got this, you got this
Now you know it

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

[Chorus]

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday

Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

[Bridge]

Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday
Today i-is Friday, Friday (Partyin’)
We-we-we so excited
We so excited
We gonna have a ball today

Tomorrow is Saturday
And Sunday comes after…wards
I don’t want this weekend to end

[Rap Verse]

R-B, Rebecca Black
So chillin’ in the front seat (In the front seat)
In the back seat (In the back seat)
I’m drivin’, cruisin’ (Yeah, yeah)
Fast lanes, switchin’ lanes
Wit’ a car up on my side (Woo!)
(C’mon) Passin’ by is a school bus in front of me
Makes tick tock, tick tock, wanna scream
Check my time, it’s Friday, it’s a weekend
We gonna have fun, c’mon, c’mon, y’all

[Chorus]

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

I have no words for how awful those lyrics are. It’s like they were taken straight from the diary of a 14-year-old girl who’s deepest, darkest thoughts are about teddy bears.

HOWEVER: as a special bonus, here is proof that stupid Bon Jovi songs can be redeemed, if you add the right instruments and attitude.

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.

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