The six types of insane song lyrics

music video meme sound of music

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.

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.

Here’s a beautiful breakdown of the song, using Don McLean’s history to help decipher the thing.

Yes, this man’s website looks like it was created in 1992. Yet his interpretation of the lyrics is spot-on. Well played, sir. Now go talk to Justin Timberlake about making MySpace look exactly like your site, going for the retro demographic.

4) Storytime

The band Cake does this better than anyone. Most songs tell a straight-up story, start to finish.

SHORT SKIRT, LONG JACKET is my favorite for this, and some of the lyrics in here are poetry.

Here are the lyrics:

I want a girl with a mind like a diamond
I want a girl who knows what’s best
I want a girl with shoes that cut
And eyes that burn like cigarettes

I want a girl with the right allocations
Who’s fast and thorough
And sharp as a tack
She’s playing with her jewelry
She’s putting up her hair
She’s touring the facility
And picking up slack

I want a girl with a short skirt and a lonnnng jacket……

I want a girl who gets up early
I want a girl who stays up late
I want a girl with uninterrupted prosperity
Who uses a machete to cut through red tape
With fingernails that shine like justice
And a voice that is dark like tinted glass

She is fast and thorough
And sharp as a tack
She’s touring the facility
And picking up slack

I want a girl with a short skirt and a lonnnnng…. lonnng jacket

I want a girl with a smooth liquidation
I want a girl with good dividends
At Citibank we will meet accidentally
We’ll start to talk when she borrows my pen

She wants a car with a cupholder arm rest
She wants a car that will get her there
She’s changing her name from Kitty to Karen
She’s trading her MG for a white Chrysler La Baron

I want a girl with a short skirt and a lonnnnggggggggg jacket

How can you improve on that? IT IS IMPOSSIBLE.

5) Gibberish Because Hey, It Rhymes

Train’s DRIVE BY is the pinnacle of this trend. I like Train, a talented band. The melody and musicianship of this song is spot on.

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

The lyrics, though, are a train wreck. I need a Hefty bag to contain my love? No. That’s not exactly romantic, kids.

How did this happen? Train didn’t write the song or the lyrics. Swedish songwriting gods did, and though I am a Swede, proud of our musical prowess, we sometimes get a little crazy with Word 2013.

6) Slinging the Slang

Rappers have the most inventive lyrics on the planet, period, and they pack far more lyrics into every song vs. the standard pop shebang, upping the difficulty even more.

There are 6.3 bazillion blogs and site devoted to dissecting rap songs, with academic studs actually specializing in unpacking the lyrics. Number of websites necessary to interpret One Direction lyrics? Zero.

Even something light and fun like ICE, ICE BABY actually has amazing lyrics, once you look at them line by line.

For the lyrics, line by line: ICE, ICE BABY as interpreted by the Red Pen of Doom

And one of the first songs I ever saw on MTV, back when it played music videos instead of reality shows involving teenage moms and beaches in New Jersey, was ELECTRIC AVENUE, a shockingly fun song to dissect.

Is there a music video you’d love to have dissected by the Red Pen of Doom? Hit me in the comments or on the Twitter.

4 thoughts on “The six types of insane song lyrics

  1. Congratulations. I have nominated you for The Very Inspirational Blogger Award. Your combination of wit, sharp analysis, and entertaining style make this blog such a pleasure to read.


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