Just last week, my sister and I drove a neighbor to school. After thanking us several times for the lift and throwing himself in the front seat, he decided to turn the radio up.
Music is a funny thing. Sometimes there’s a song so overwhelmingly beautiful, with heartbreaking lyrics and cascading melodies, you can’t help but break down in tears mid-chorus.
I’m not sure what began blasting from our stereo was one of those songs. Though I admired this Weezy fellow for his daring rhyming of ‘truth’ with ‘oohf’ (from “500 Degreez”), his lyrics seemed to be lacking in substance.
Maybe I’m just not cool enough, but I don’t quite get this sort of thing. Really, they’re not even coherent phrases! Take for example, the line “hahhhh, catch your breath, now shhhhh, catch a slug” from Mr. Weezy’s “Tha Block is Hot”. Am I unaware of some new gastropod-themed lingo, or was that pure mumbo jumbo? Even flipping feverishly through my slang dictionary in time with the radio, I could barely decode such cryptic libretto.
Weezy’s not alone on this illiterate music movement. It was just a couple years ago that 50 Cent dropped the whopping sentiment, “I love you like a fat kid loves cake”. Because nothing screams affection like a heavy youngster’s sweet tooth.
Rappers aren’t the only musicians defying the laws of basic speech patterns: every genre seems to be bending the rules nowadays. No matter what station you tune into on your satellite radio, terrible lyrics and idiosyncratic musings are inevitable. “Are wehuman/ Or are we dancer?” asks the Killers’ singer Brandon Flowers, leaving beings of both species scratching their heads.
Singer/songwriter Kate Nash couldn’t help joining in on the merriment, brilliantly declaring “If I want to think/ I’ll think in my head”. Thank you, Kate, master of neuroscience.
I wonder, who writes these lyrics? Perhaps there’s a Department of Words for Songs and Y’know, Stuff (a title as ill written as the lyrics they produce) where a massive game of Madlibs decides what we’re going to hear next blasting out of our stereo systems. Or perhaps these lyrically challenged songs were once great sonnets, translated into a more appealing dialect by disgruntled record producers.
To me, this is a mind-bogglingly gargantuan problem. Pushing mindless (as well as obscene, racist, sexist and generally degrading) music upon youths doesn’t seem be a particularly wise choice. Maybe we should start addressing this problem. We could start by putting the vowels back in song titles and using the letter ‘z’ only where it rightfully belongs.
Oh, and I nearly forgot – thank you, Ne-Yo, for your input, “I won’t attend your pity party/ I’d rather go have calamari”. My faith in man has been restored…