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Archive for the ‘Lyrics’ Category

A Sexy Fish

I’m trying to find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful

Akon is struggling to find a respectful way to describe a woman. After this mighty internal struggle, the word he comes up with is: “bitch”. “Sexy bitch”.

The first thing to note is that perhaps it shouldn’t be that hard a task. The second thing to note is that this song is not about a fish.

I had a heated argument with a friend about this. I swore black and blue that in the chorus, Akon sings “a sexy fish.” Listen to it. I challenge you. Tell me you don’t hear it. This made me kind of excited about the song. Much like a song about bees, it was unprecedented – a pop song about a fish. It created an image in my mind with which I was loath to part.

Picture it. It’s a stormy night. Rain clouds light up as thunder booms. There’s a small wooden boat being tossed about on the waves. In the boat, Akon struggles against a monster of the deep. Sweat beads his brow. His knuckles are white, the fishing rod held in an iron grip. The waves are exploding around him, slapping against each other and shooting spray up into the air. Akon sits still, all his concentration on the rod in his hands, like a meditating Buddha. The silent battle rages. You know what comes next. With a final heave, Akon wrenches the fish out of the ocean, up over his head, and slams it down onto the wooden slats of his rickety fishing boat. His eyes widen in surprise.

The fish. It’s . . . sexy.

Damn. A sexy fish.

Mmmm

What was it about this fish that Akon found so sexy? I don’t know. I didn’t write the song. What drives any man to write an ode to a fish? Nothing, normally. It’s a fish. But Akon saw something – something that no-one else could see. Perhaps it was the sensual, puckered lips. Perhaps it was the soft, delicate gills, opening and closing seductively in the lashing wind and rain. Sometimes, on a boat, a man gets lonely. There are plenty of fish in the sea. Perhaps it was just the right time at the right place. In the end, all we know is that the fish was sexy. This was the sexiest fish anyone had ever seen. There was a tuna that was pretty attractive once, but it didn’t have that same je-ne-sais-quoi. Akon stands in his little boat, in awe of the glistening body before him. Waves collide and foam rushes up over the side of the boat and covers the fish, leaving it glimmering. Akon falls to his knees, mesmerized. He lifts his head. And he begins to sing.

And that’s how I thought this song was written.

Thanks for nothing, Akon.

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I’m a bee, motherfucker

I HAVE MADE THE DEVASTATING DISCOVERY that I have had the lyrics for most pop songs completely wrong.

The discovery came when I was singing along to the Black Eyed Pea’s hit about animal rights, “I’m a Bee.” The song is catchy and it’s about being a bee – a theme that evokes delightful images of floating to and fro from flower to flower, wafting on the breeze, and performing lazy figure eights in fragrant clouds of pollen. “How nice,” I thought. “A song about bees.” When do bees ever get songs about them? NEVER. And here’s an award-winning, popular musical group doing something nice for them.

I was particularly pleased to have caught the subtle subtext. The song is written, of course, in the context of the current crisis known as colony collapse disorder: the dramatic collapse of bee populations in North America and Europe over the last decade. The collapse might be due to the use of pesticides, so there’s an implicit environmental message here too – a warning. Every bee has the right to a pesticide-free life. This introduces a dark underside to the image of the light, frivolous bee, hovering in fields of bright butter-yellow flowers. The shadow of death reinforces the transient, ephemeral nature of our own small, short lives – a transience that makes them poignant and beautiful. In the end, we are all bees. What a great song.

EXCEPT THAT THE SONG IS NOT ABOUT BEES.

It’s about will.i.am loaning semen. He sings: “Imma be ya bank, I be loaning out semen.”

Loaning? Do you want it back?

Is there interest?

“Want to make a deposit?”

You might think that will.i.am only wants to loan semen to one or two close friends. But no. This is in fact a broader business plan: “Imma be brilliant with my millions / Loan out a billion get back a trillion.” will.i.am has so much semen that he’s a one-man semen bank and intends to turn this fact into a lucrative business. The rest of the song is about how awesome it is to be will.i.am or Fergie, and how we’re all going to party forever thanks to will.i.am’s entrepreneurialism. But these are all elaborations on the main message of the song, which is about will.i.am having a lot of semen. A LOT.

This song had so much potential – so much potential for love. The love for animals great and small, from the largest elephant to the smallest bee. Or for some even smaller animal, like a dwarf bee. A dwarf bee that’s been shrunken by some mad scientist’s shrink-ray. Or the baby of this bee, so tiny that you can hardly even see it. Even this tiny, shrunken dwarf baby bee could have received love. Instead, the bees continue to huddle in their dying hives, warming their small tarsal claws at a flickering fire, passing around a cup of fermented honey and dreaming about the day when someone somewhere will write a real song about them. It will be a song about flowers and sweetness, and the nobility of the hive, where everyone works in unison to serve the greater good, humming all day long, and of the great sacrifices made by those warrior bees who die in order to sting the oblivious and cumbersome humans who trample them underfoot, humans like will.i.am, walking factories of semen, full to bursting with it, veritable banks of seed, shooting it out in unbearable plenitude, just stomping and ejaculating all over everything.

I admit that the actual theme of the song is novel.

But it should have been about bees.

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SOMETIMES IT’S NICE to think about a song that’s relatively straightforward. A good example is Ray Lavender’s “My Girl Got a Girlfriend.”

Ray Lavender: kind of hungry.

“Ooh. I know what you like,” he croons. “Convict.” Ray Lavender knows what a woman likes: someone who has been to prison. Women love convicts. This is a little-known fact. Studies have shown that single women have three main priorities in searching for a potential life-mate: looks, income, and jail-time. This has led some online dating sites to add a new advanced search option: “amount of time spent in prison.”

The song continues: “I just got off work. It’s one thirty. I’m kinda hungry.” Ray Lavender tells us what he’s been doing, what the time is, and that he wants to eat something. This isn’t a song. It’s a conversation set to music. But that’s the genius of it. It’s like he’s sitting right there in the room with you, just telling you what the time is. Also: “My girl got a girlfriend it really is not a problem.” Ray Lavender pulls his chair closer to you and warms his hands in front of the fire. Adding: “I’m about to give you both the business.”

Here is the only real ambiguity in the song. At first, you think he means “sex”. And you’re not sure you’re down for that. Ray Lavender has a certain attractive, debonair charm, but you thought you were just sitting down and talking by the fire. But then you think: wait. Why would Ray Lavender use this strangely coy euphemism for sex in a song about an MFF threesome? What he really means is “the business section of the newspaper.” “Hey, I’m about to finish with this section of the paper, would you like to read it? The business?” In the end, Ray Lavender is a nice guy.

He can give me the business anytime.

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I LOVE SONGS that tell it like it is. I far prefer them to songs by more disingenuous artists. Artists who are less genuous. Take Lady Gaga. Now, Lady Gaga claims to have been “born this way”. But I’m pretty sure she didn’t come out of the womb wearing a dress made out of meat. This is just not realistic. Who made the meat dress? How did they get it into the womb? What about the nature vs. nurture debate?

Fortunately, Bruno Mars has written a song about realism. “Grenade” is about making realistic promises.

He starts off with some unrealistic promises to create a contrast. “I would catch a grenade for you,” he sings. Now, these are dangerous times but I personally have never been lobbed live ordnance. It’s easy to make promises like this, which you’ll never be called out on. It’s like promising: “I would hold enriched uranium from Iran without a hazard suit on.” Or: “I would hold ten of the world’s most dangerous snakes at the same time.” Or: “I would wrestle a shark riding on the back of a tiger riding on the back of an elephant.” A bit empty. Bruno also pledges: “I’d jump in front of a train for you.” This seems more plausible at first, until you ask: “In what sort of scenario would a woman benefit from having a man who loves her run over by a train?” I can think of two: if she needed the insurance money. And: Inception. The point is that it’s going to have to be pretty exceptional circumstances. Why not something that might actually happen? Like, “I would make fondue for your mother’s 60th birthday party.” Or just, “I would stop leaving my dirty laundry on the floor, because I know you hate that.” Or, “I would make dinner tonight, maybe pasta carbonara.” Start small and work your way up to grenades, man.

And ultimately, this is Bruno Mars’ point. He’s drawing out the unrealistic nature of such promises through exaggeration.

On a side-note, the line I love most from this song is: “You’ll smile in my face then rip the brakes out my car.” I assume she’s doing this with her bare hands. That’s fucking awesome. Marry that girl. Either she has super strength or she’s a robot. Either way, win.

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What’s better than one dog tag? TWO DOG TAGS.

A GREAT SONG WITH A MESSAGE is “Whatever You Like” by T.I. This is my favourite part:

My chick can have what she want

And go in any store for any bag she want

The message of the song is basically this: “I will buy you handbags if you have sex with me.” T.I. explains:

Yeah I want’cho body, I need yo body

Long as you got me you won’t need nobody

You want it I got it, go get it I buy it

Tell ’em other broke niggas be quiet

I like this message because it courts controversy. T.I. is basically saying that deep down, gender relations are still based on the ability of a man to provide resource advantages to a woman. The relationship, for all our talk, is simple: sex in exchange for consumer goods, in particular handbags. In the end, T.I. is suggesting, we are all animals, built with evolutionarily programmed imperatives. It’s like Lord of the Flies, but in four minutes.

Bitches love handbags

The music video should show T.I. buying hundreds, no thousands, of handbags, and just throwing them out onto the street and boning bitches left right and centre. But it’s still a good video. In the opening, T.I. establishes himself as an individual of wealth and class, placing an exorbitant order in a fast food restaurant: hot wings and fries. He hits on the cashier, deploying Cary Grant charm: “She like pickles.”

The music video reinforces the idea that a relationship is about women surrendering their bodies in exchange for riches. That night, the awed cashier calls T.I., whereupon he buys her shoes, a diamond necklace and a car. . . . But it was all a dream. She snaps out of her reverie and finds herself still serving chicken wings. The message is clear: without T.I., we cannot have shoes, diamond necklaces, or cars. We will have to serve chicken wings for the rest of our lives. He is our only hope.

Even though a lot has changed, it is still a man’s world. More specifically, T.I.’s world.

My favourite line is this: “Brain so good (good) / School you went to college”. This has helped me in my conversations with women. “You brain good. School, you go college?”

Keep it simple, stupid.

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I LOVE SONGS that make you think.

I hate it when girls arrive at a social outing without glitter. “UM. Aren’t you forgetting something?”

Take Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R”. In this song Ke$ha has her “hot pants on enough”. It seems puzzling until you think about it. You wouldn’t want to have hot pants on insufficiently. For example, just one leg. That would lead to tripping. The chorus: “I’ve got that glitter on my eyes / Stockings ripped up the side / Looking sick and sexified / So let’s go.” There are two things to admire here. First, Ke$ha had time to put glitter on her face but not to write out the words in her title. This suggests a meticulous attention to appearance that I appreciate. Second, Ke$ha is telling a story. This narrative becomes obvious in the line: “We’re selling our clothes, sleeping in cars.” Ke$ha’s song appears to be about young teenage girls letting go of inhibitions during a wild night of exuberant drinking. But at a deeper level, it’s really about young women living on the streets. Women who are forced to sell their clothes and sleep in cars. The glitter and torn stockings suggest that these women have been forced to do whatever it takes in order to sustain themselves. In another song with similar themes, they can’t even afford a toothbrush: they must brush their teeth with whatever is around, such as empty bottles of Jack Daniels. In this messed up world, everyone is playing the same game: “we’re dancing like we’re dumb.” The dumb-dancing game. Ke$ha doesn’t mean it literally. It’s a metaphor: we dance through life, closing our eyes to social and political realities, such as strippers and prostitutes sleeping in our cars. Ke$ha’s song, far from being a trivial pop song, asks an important question. Yes, we are who we are . . . But who are we?

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