I am sure by now that you have noticed my unnatural sensitivity to the general use and abuse of the English language. You know that guy who corrects everyone when they say something incorrectly? I correct him. Don’t get me wrong, I freely admit that I am not always correct, it’s just that sometimes I feel like I am the only person who gives a shit about things like the difference between “you’re” and “your”.
NOTE: Incidentally, it’s quite simple folks; “you’re” is a contraction of “you” and “are”, as in “you’re a fucking idiot”, and “your” is the possessive form of “you”, as in “your IQ is too small to calculate”.
So, right or wrong, I will continue to fight the good fight as the Sheriff of Englishtown. And, just in case you thought my jurisdiction only covered written and conversational English, rest assured my friends that it extends well beyond that.
Have you ever listened to songs on the radio and had their lyrics just… rub you the wrong way? Well I sincerely doubt that any songs have bothered you as much as they have bothered me. The problem is that, unlike most people who probably just listen to the music without even trying to hear the words, my brain seems to need to understand the words to every song I hear… even if I hate them.
Most of the time, this is ok. I don’t listen to the radio often but, when I do, I listen to a station that plays “popular” music which tends to follow simple, predictable patterns that lull the brain into a state of catatonia. Every once in a while, however, I hear lyrics that make me question if the person that wrote them speaks English as their primary language (or at all, for that matter).
I think, for me, it started with Alanis Morissette, when she asked her fans “isn’t it ironic?” and for many of the situations, which she presented in her lovely voice, I was forced to respond “No Alanis… no, it’s not”. By my reckoning, “Ten thousand spoons, when all you need is a knife” doesn’t qualify as irony… it just sucks. If you had asked me “doesn’t it suck?” then I would have readily agreed.
Yeah, I know, 15 years too late on that one.
But, lucky for you, I have some more current material. Here are three more examples of fairly current songs with lyrics that make me yell at the radio…
Let’s start with “Tattoo” by Jordin Sparks:
Jordin:”Don’t look back, got a new direction”
Me: Good for you.
Jordin: “I loved you once, needed protection”
Me: Whoa… sounds like you have an STD problem there.
Jordin: “You’re still a part of everything I do”
Me: Chlamydia will do that.
Jordin: “You’re on my heart just like a tattoo”
Me: Sure, that’s another way to put it.
To me, this is a classic lyrical mistake; Jordin got cornered by the word “direction”, desperately needing a word to rhyme with it, and ultimately choosing the word “protection”. Not a word, I would argue, that is the best choice here. I am sure, for instance that she could easily have worked affection, connection or erection seamlessly into this song without too much trouble.
There are plenty of good rhyming dictionaries online Jordin. Google it.
Oh, and emphasizing the wrong syllable of the word “tattoo” just so that it works for your crappy song makes me want to run you over with a farm tractor.
Up next, “Already Gone” by Kelly Clarkson:
Kelly: “I want you to know, that it doesn’t matter where we take this road, someone’s gotta go.”
Me: Yeah, ok. I vote for you.
Kelly: “And I want you to know, you couldn’t have loved me better. But I want you to move on, so I’m already gone.”
Me: That was fast.
Kelly: “I’m already gone, already gone.”
Me: Ok ok… I got it.
Kelly: “You can’t make it feel right when you know that it’s wrong”
Me: You know, for someone that’s gone, you sure are noisy.
Kelly: “I’m already gone, already gone”
Kelly: “There’s no moving on, so I’m already gone”
Me: How can you be “already gone” if there’s no “moving on”?
It’s like the songwriter has short-term memory loss. First she wants this man to “move on”, which is apparently why she’s “already gone”. And then, 30 seconds later, she claims that there is no “moving on”… which is NOW why she’s “already gone”. Fascinating.
Speaking of memory loss, the final song for today is “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt:
James: “I saw her on the subway, she was with another man”
James: “I won’t lose sleep on that, because I’ve got a plan”
Me: Brilliant, let’s hear it!
James: “You’re beautiful…”
Me: Ok, good start, what’s next?
James: “You’re beautiful…”
Me: Um, ok, I think we covered that.
James: “You’re beautiful…”
Me: I’m losing faith in this “plan”.
James: “It’s true…”
Me: Ok, now you’re just fucking with me.
James: “I saw your face in a crowded place… and I don’t know what to do”
Me: What happened to the plan!?
If your plan was to be a whiny bitch, then mission accomplished James! This is a lyrical train-wreck. I cannot even make up a funny reaction to this worthless word-salad other than to say that I am confident that I could write more coherent lyrics while under the influence of a rhino tranquilizer.
You may think I am being extra picky here, but I respectfully disagree. These people get paid an awful lot of money to work with these words, and it’s really ALL they do. I am pretty sure that if all I had to do as a job was to make sure that the words of a small collection of 3-minute songs were not retarded, I would be able to do that without fail.
But, then again, they get paid millions of dollars to croon their atrocious songs to crowds of adoring cretins while I write a blog that only a half-dozen people read… for free.
So, I guess they must be doing something right.