Monday, 9 February 2009

Don’t Forget the (Rubbish) Lyrics

There was a news story a while back here, that aimed to find the worst ever lyric in pop music. From a list that included Oasis’s Champagne Supernova and Razorlight’s Somewhere Else, Des’ree’s Life came out top:

I don't want to see a ghost
It's the sight that I fear most
I'd rather have a piece of toast
Watch the evening news

It’s rubbish all right, but at least it means something (Des’ree has an understandable aversion to ghosts and would much rather stay in of an evening and watch Huw Edwards on the telly box – this I understand. However, comprehension does not make it any less rubbish). However, when bands stray into the realms of the nonsensical whilst pretending all the while to be profound and/or meaningful, that’s when truly bad lyrics come into their own.

How about this from Risingson, by Massive Attack:

Toy-like people make me boy-like

What the blue blazes does that mean?

Here’s a suggestion – it doesn’t mean anything: it’s a stream of clodhopping meaninglessness that just happens to fit the song. What’s worse, it has the effect of turning an excellent song into something that makes your toes curl up with embarrassment – as a result, I simply can’t listen to it any more. And it gets better (this made me laugh for a full five minutes when I first heard it):

Nicer than the bird up in the tree top
Cheaper than the chip inside my lap top

Massive Attack’s major problem seems to be the fact that the music comes first – most of their lyrics sound as if they’re an afterthought, written and recorded with all the care and craft of a Vengaboys song.

I have much the same problem with Interpol. Great music, supremely rubbish lyrics. This is from Slow Hands:

I submit my incentive is romance
I watched the pole dance of the stars
We rejoice because the hurting is so painless
From the distance of passing cars

Uh, hello? And that’s without the vomit inducing:

You make me want to pick up a guitar
And celebrate the myriad ways that I love you.

Or – Sweet Jesus! – this from Obstacle 1:

Her stories are boring and stuff
She’s always calling my bluff

Even the greats get it wrong. Here’s Nick Drake with Man in a Shed:

Please don’t think I’m not your sort
You’ll find that sheds are nicer than you thought.

To round things off with a truly monstrous cringe, here’s Sting from The Police with Walking in your Footsteps:

Hey Mr. Dinosaur
You really couldn't ask for more
You were God's favourite creature
But you didn't have a future.

Move over, Des’ree – I think we’ve found a new winner.


David Turner said...

You could write a whole book on Sting's appalling lyrics. My personal favourite is rhyming "cough" with "Nabakov" in "Don't Stand So Close To Me"...

Chip Smith said...

When I saw LEON at the cinema, the only thing that spoiled it for me was the Sting song tacked onto the end credits! Then again, it did have a French director - perhaps Sting's lyrics sound better if English is your second language?