Posted by: Matt | January 5, 2009

Dodgy lyrics…

I get annoyed by the strangest of things. It’s minor insignificant annoyances that really irk me. My current pet peeve – bad analogies. People who know me know that I’m no music snob. I do enjoy all types of music, including the cheesiest of pop music. (I’ll not have a word said against Britney’s music!). But why, oh why do otherwise great pop songs have to be ruined by such horrible lyrics. Some recent pop hits just have lines that stick out a mile due to their awfulness.

Example Number 1 – Katy Perry – Hot and Cold

Now I like Katy Perry. “I kissed a girl” is a great tune with some nice pop/rock production and a catchy hook. Here latest tune “Hot and Cold” is in a similar vein but suffers from the following horrible analogy.

“You change your mind
Like a girl changes clothes”

Reinforcing gender stereotypes is of course not the worst offence committed by this line of course, but the sheer clunkiness of this opening line is just grating. I know pop music is not high art, and we’ll likely not see extended metaphor on a par with Paradise Lost in a three minute ditty but for a song that’s clearly written to a wonderful pop/rock formula and produced to within an inch of its life couldn’t they come up with a line that has at least a hint of lyricism, one that has a bit of flow to it.

I’m going to be wholly unfair now and compare Katy Perry’s pop piece with the original princes of pop, the Beatles and a John Lennon classic. A song with wonderfully lyrical analogies is “Across the Universe”.

“Thoughts meander like a
restless wind inside a letter box”

There’s a wonderful flow to these two lines first and foremost but more than this is a startling image which perfectly captures the sentiment. Changing your mind like a girl changes clothes is a purely functional  analogy. The image is bland and uninteresting and the lyric stilted and lacking flow. Thoughts meandering like a restless wind inside a letter box on the other hand has both a lyrical flow and interesting imagery.

Then of course there’s the line that prompted me to write this in the first place. The queen of high art herself Fergie. From “Big Girls Don’t Cry” the following line has prevented me from liking her otherwise very likable tune.

“And I’m gonna miss you like a child misses their blanket”

Now the rest of the song is hardly an exemplar of lyrical mastery, but damn that line sticks in my craw. So I ask you modern day Tin Pan Alley Merchants, a little more effort on the imagery, please!


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