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What's Happened to Lyrics in Today’s Music?

Ke$ha performs in Europe--all that glitters... Ke$ha performs in Europe--all that glitters...

Surely I’m not the only one who remembers what real music used to sound like. Before electronically-enhanced tracks came along, music actually had melody, rhythm, and above all - meaningful lyrics. What's happened to lyrics in today’s music? Many of the popular songs currently topping the charts have lyrics that rhyme...but that’s about it. Of course you can argue that many songs of the past were somewhat lyrically lacking, but they were usually the exception - not the rule. Today, it’s the real, soulful songs that are the exception.


It’s obvious music today is dictated more and more by making a profit. I'm not oblivious to the fact that money has always been a factor in the music business, but current pop stars seem to place considerable more importance on the bottom line than lyrical lines. You can listen to the radio for a solid hour and not hear one song with true, emotion-evoking passion. Was Don Mclean giving a real prediction when he sang about the death of music?

Lyrics are the heart and soul of a song. Without good, meaningful lyrics, a song is completely lifeless. Some musicians try to make up for the loss with pulsating beats and sex appeal, but will they really be remembered like The Beatles, Elvis, The Rolling Stones – and other music legends?

Let’s look at a few examples of current songs and their lyrics. While some are just plain stupid, others are real head-scratchers – like the confusing lines from “Drops of Jupiter” by Train. “Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken/Your best friend always sticking up for you/Even when I know you're wrong? Can you imagine no first dance, freeze-dried romance/Five-hour phone conversation, the best soy latte that you ever had, and me?” Huh? Are these lyrics supposed to mean something to anyone besides their author?

I assume the lines from “Whenever, wherever” by Shakira lost something in the translation when she croons, “Lucky that my breasts are small and humble/So you don't confuse them with mountains." Has anyone ever confused breasts with mountains?

I have nothing against any of these artists, including my next example Ke$ha. But I do have to point out that when I put “dumbest lyrics” into Google’s search engine, a link to “Top Ten Dumbest Ke$ha Lyrics” popped up (ranked eight out of 250,000 hits). Obviously I am not the only one who has noticed the – shall we say, interesting lyrical choices in Ke$ha’s songs.

In “We Are Who We Are,” Ke$ha sings, “If you’re one of us, then roll with us/‘Cause we make the hipsters fall in love/And we’ve got hot-pants on and up/And yes of course we does, we’re running this town just like a club/And no, you don’t wanna mess with us/Got Jesus on my necklace.” In an ironically-named hit, “Blah Blah Blah,” Ke$ha chose these lyrics: “Stop, talk, talk, talking that blah, blah, blah/Think you'll be getting this? Nah, nah, nah/Not in the back of my car, ah, ah/If you keep talking that blah, blah, blah/Boy, come on, get your rocks off, come put a little love in my glove box/I wanna dance with no pants on, meet me in the back with the jack and the jukebox.” How sweet.

While songs like these might be popular in clubs today, will they be remembered as classics tomorrow? Perhaps tomorrow is a long way off for these stars who are simply enjoying their moment in the spotlight. Since they’re the ones raking in the big bucks, maybe it’s not for me to judge. I guess all that’s left for the listeners like me who long for the days of real music is just changing the station. Or putting in my Bon Jovi album.

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Rita Coolidge and Kris Kristofferson--lyrics that pass the test of time
Last modified on Thursday, 20 September 2012 17:47

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