Wednesday, September 9, 2009

One Song I Heard On the Radio and One Song I Heard on the Radio on a Videogame

Compare and contrast two songs with highly catchy music and lyrics of varying degrees of quality:

"Umbrella," Rihanna:

This song has the dumbest, worst conceived lyrics of any song, maybe ever. They aren't even Jim Steinman-esque Awesomely Bad. They are just terrible, and here is why: Every songwriter and lyricist has to resort to the occasional cliche, just like every songwriter eventually cribs from the Beatles. We understand this. We forgive it.

What we do not forgive is when you have insipid cliched lyric after insipid cliched lyric and don't even bother to make sure they rhyme. Or in some cases have anything to do with each other. Observe the amazing chorus of this masterpiece:

When the sun shines we'll shine together
Told you I'll be here forever
Said I'll always be your friend
Took an oath, I'ma stick it out to the end

Now that it's raining more than ever
Know that we'll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella
You can stand under my umbrella.

I suppose technically "Forever" and "Ever" rhyme. And they did manage to get that highly imaginative "friend/end" combo in there, I'm assuming by accident. But ever/other/umbrella... that's just not even close. The whole thing is compounded by the fact that "umbrella" isn't exactly an easy word to sing, and therefore Rihanna has to add an extra syllable to it just to get it to fit. My favorite part, outside of the use of the word "I'ma", is that they flat out admit they've got nothing and just repeat the last line at the end.

The wonderful thing is it took 4 people to write this work of art. Good work, all.

"One Step Forward," Desert Rose Band:

You know that story about how Paul Simon wrote "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" to teach his kid how to rhyme? I'm thinking Desert Rose Band used this song to teach their kids opposites, because I'll be damned if they don't include every set of antonyms in the Songwriting For Dummies handbook. I would like to make fun of it, but I can't, because they fit them all in such perfect rhythm and rhyme over a catchy melody. I mean, you have to respect their dedication to the theme of the song. "We're using opposites, and we will keep using opposites until we have three and a half minutes worth of music." And just to keep us guessing, they alternate the position of the good and the bad one. They even dug deep and pulled out this combo:

You were my fever and my cure
Made me doubt and you made me sure

I mean, if you had me list about 20 opposites off the top of my head, those two sets wouldn't come up, and they fit so easily together.

So, see, Rihanna's gigantic songwriting committee? You can be cliched and not suck. You just have to do it with a bit of panache. That's all.

No comments: