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.