The Literal Lyricist

Most of the time I’m listening to music I try not to think too hard about it. If the song was just a solid beat over someone singing a recipe for good Pad Thai, I’d be fine with it.

The musicians would probably be fine with it, too, given that a lot of their writing really doesn’t hold up to even casual scrutiny.

Music Vomit.jpg

Songs with bad lyrics are a dime a dozen. It’s the reason we have so many different ways to change the radio station in our cars. But this column isn’t about those. (I’ll likely come back to those at a future date.) No, this is about a very particular kind of lyric – the sort that, if taken literally, sounds like the ravings of a crazy person as they try in desperation to defend their street corner from invisible monsters.

As with any list of stupid lyrics, the only rule is that I can only include Pitbull once.

And speaking of which…

Pitbull – “Give Me Everything (Tonight)”

Grab somebody sexy, tell ’em, “Hey! Give me everything tonight!” (Repeat 3x)

Okay. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here and assume this is an attempt to get in some woman’s pants. As opposed to what it sounds like – armed robbery.

Of course, as a pick-up line, it’s not much better. I’m sure somebody out there would appreciate your forwardness. The majority, however, would be put off by the random stranger grabbing them and screaming demands at them.

A small but very painful minority would immediately hit you with the bear mace, putting you on the ground long before you were able to repeat it three times.

Kings of Leon – “Sex on Fire”

Youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu, your sex is on fire.

I’ll give it credit. This was pretty much what I should have expected from the title.

I realize that sex talk is filled with euphemisms, but this isn’t one of the better ones. Imagine the confusion you’d cause yelling this mid-coitus. I don’t care what’s going on, if someone yells that your sex has reached the point of auto-ignition, you’re probably going to stop and make sure everything is okay. Maybe do a precautionary “stop, drop and roll” or two.

When it comes to spontaneous genital fire, you can never be too safe.

Nirvana – “Smells like Teen Spirit”

With the lights out it’s less dangerous. Here we are now, entertain us.

It’s hard to pick a specific set of lyrics out of this song because it’s almost impossible to even understand. I never knew what the hell he was singing about until I had to do vocals during a game of “Rock Band 2” almost twenty years later.  And this is one of those odd cases where I think I understood the song a bit less once I knew the words to it.

Is there anything you can do with the lights off that’s less dangerous? I mean, whenever I don’t understand something in a song I usually just assume it’s a reference to sex that neither twelve-year-old or thirty-year-old me understood. But that makes the inclusion of a mulatto, an albino, a mosquito and his libido all the creepier.

Unless it’s, like, the most specific fetish of all time. And even then…

Harvey Danger – “Flag Pole Sitta” (a.k.a. that song you thought Green Day did, but didn’t)

I had visions, I was in them. I was looking into the mirror.

The mirror seems to be working as intended then.

Nickelback – “Figured you Out”

I love your lack of self-respect, while you’re passed out on the deck. I love my hands around your neck.

Well, I’ll say one thing for those lyrics – they very nearly all rhyme, at least.

Wow. I won’t say this one takes an ugly turn, because it starts out pretty rough. Nickelback sees a hole and just keeps digging. It’s basically a metaphor for…well, being Nickelback.

I sort of don’t get it, though. You’re choking people after they passed out at barbecues and you’re saying they have a lack of self-respect. I believe there’s an old saying about the pot calling the kettle black. And there’s an even older but less known saying about the pot choking the kettle because it doesn’t have any self-respect.

Perhaps Nickelback is the one who should be looking in the mirror, hmmm?

 

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