17 December 2010

Wham!: Last Christmas

So Lyrics, Weakly has been silent for a long time—and I can tell you precisely where the blame lies: Kurtis Blow’s favorite sport. Yes, one of my children decided to play basketball this past fall, and it basically sucked away all the time i would have spent bringing joy to you, the reader of this blog.

But this leads to a problem—how are songs going to receive the mockery they so surely deserve? This is a problem, particularly during this time of year, when we get subjected to the same horrible, horrible Christmas songs over and over (and over) again. Well, i hear your pain—and so i’m back, at least until my daughter decides she wants to play lacrosse or something equally time-intensive, and i’m back with a Christmas song that really defies all logic.

The song? “Last Christmas” by Wham! (and many others, most recently Taylor Swift—but Wham! gets all the credit for being first).

(You really need to click on the link to the video and watch it all the way through, by the way. I mean, there’s the 80stastic hair everybody in it has, but i also like to imagine it as a movie, providing dialogue. The dinner scene’s the most fun for that. In other news, i probably need to develop different hobbies.)

Yes, 1984 may not have brought us into a dystopia of thought crimes and memory holes, and it was actually a pretty good year for music, but it still brought us songs like this one.

(I find it somewhat amusing, by the way, that the album this song came from was titled Music from the Edge of Heaven. I suspect that that’s actually correct—it was found there as it was about to be pushed off of that edge so that it would fall into hell, where it more properly belonged. But no, George Michael had to rescue it and bring it to earth, where it gets to torture our ears every. single. year.)

So let’s get on to the lyrics, shall we?

Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away

See, we’ve got an issue with logic already.

Fine, Mr. Michael, you gave her (we’ll go with her, given the video) your heart. Taken literally that’d be disgusting and a bit extreme, though certainly not without precedent. (It’d also be a bit counterproductive, since you’d be dead within a minute of giving the gift, maybe longer if you laid down first. But i digress)

But we know you don’t mean it literally (though, after listening to this song every other hour for the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we might wish you did). You mean it figuratively—you mean that you told her you were in love with her.

Fine. And on Christmas, too. How cute.

But then, on Boxing Day, she gave it away. (Which, given the origins of the holiday, makes sense, at least as long as she gave it away to a commoner.)

But, tell me, how exactly did she give your heart—that is, your expression of love—away? I mean, if i were to say to you something completely random, like, oh, say, “Wang Chung didn’t last nearly as long as Wham!, but their stuff has actually aged better”.

At this point, Mr. Michael, i have given you a metaphorical bit of my mind. However, it’s not actually possible for you to give a bit of my mind, even that particular bit of my mind, to someone else. You could give them a bit of your mind, certainly, and that bit of your mind might have the same content as mine (which would be refreshingly honest of your mind, by the way), but it wouldn’t be mine. My mind isn’t for you to give away.

Same with hearts.

So anyway, we’ve got an impossible situation, but fine, we’ll roll with it—we’ll take your word for it and pretend that it’s possible. So then—now that you’ve gotten into this, how are you going to deal with it?

This year to save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special

Um, doesn’t this just kind of prove my earlier point? If she actually was somehow able to give away your heart after you’d given it to her, you wouldn’t have it to give away to someone else. Since you have it, that means that she didn’t actually give it away—well, unless she gave it back to you. If that’s the case, though, then you should be happy that your circulatory system is whole again, and you should really stop complaining.

Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away (you gave it away)
This year to save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special (special)

Yes, he sang it again.

You know how most pop songs, you might have the chorus three times, maybe with an extra one at the end with some vamping thrown in? This chorus gets repeated six times (with occasional minor variations in the backing vocals)—and it gets repeated more times in the extended mix, if i understand correctly.

There's an extended mix of this song? Why yes, yes there is. It goes by the name of the “Pudding Mix”. I never knew Bill Cosby sang with Wham!, but then again, i don’t know a lot of things about the band, like whether the exclamation point at the end is actually a sound we should all be saying, like with the band !!! or when Xhosa clicks are phonetically transcribed.

Once bitten and twice shy

I am not posting a link to Great White’s cover of “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” here. You should all be in awe of my self-restraint.

I keep my distance but you still catch my eye

Or, in other words, Mr. Michael is now stalking her.

Tell me baby, do you recognize me?

Well, if you’re wearing a good enough disguise, then no, she won’t.

Well, it’s been a year, it doesn’t surprise me

Okay, this is just a bizarre line. I mean, i can’t figure out what it’s supposed to mean. Is it supposed to mean that it’s been a year and so it doesn’t surprise you that she doesn’t recognize you, or does it mean that it’s been a year and so you expect that she recognizes you, what with the anniversary of the day she gave away your heart and all? Either way, i’m managing not to care.

(Happy Christmas)

In the song, this line is whispered almost menacingly. I worry a bit about your mental stability, Mr. Michael.

I wrapped it up and sent it
With a note saying “I love you”, I meant it

Aha! (Or, as we might say if we were talking about a much better 80s hair-band song, a–ha!) All is clear now.

When he talks about giving her his heart, he actually means he gave her a present! (According to the video, it was apparently actually a particularly hideous jeweled brooch.) She seems to have not liked the present, and so she then proceeded to regift it to someone with poor enough taste to want it.

Now I know what a fool I’ve been
But if you kissed me now I know you'd fool me again

So if she’d just kiss you, you’d provide her with more tacky jewelry? Sounds fair to me.

(More seriously, lose the desperation, Mr. Michael. It’s not helping your cause.)

Then we get two more repetitions of the chorus, leading us to the bridge.

Oh, oh my baby

Exciting bridge.

Crowded room, friends with tired eyes
I’m hiding from you and your soul of ice

I’m trying to picture this—a big living room, people hanging around after a long evening of drinks and gossip, Mr. Michael crouching down behind the couch…

Maybe they’re tired because they’ve all spent too much time on the edge of nervousness, waiting for your inevitable snap. Or maybe you’ve already snapped, and you’re keeping everyone around to hide you from this woman with a soul of ice, who, because of that soul of ice, um, doesn’t…really want…to, um…find you.

Yeah, Mr. Michael? I think we’ve found a problem with your logic. I mean, i know this will shock you, but if she doesn’t care about you, then you have absolutely no need to hide from her.

She’s just not that into you.

My god, I thought you were someone to rely on

I’m resisting the urge to take this line and go on a riff about how it’s a statement on the existence of a loving yet distant god in relation to the problem of evil. Not because i think it wouldn’t amuse me, but because this song is starting to bore me, and i still have more than a verse to go.

Me, I guess I was a shoulder to cry on

So you caught her on the rebound and expected it to work out long-term? Dude, even a simple Google search would give you better advice.

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart

Honestly, i have no idea what this means. All i can come up with is images involving fire from zombie movies, and you can thank me now for not inking to any of them.

But whatever it means, it must be important, because Mr. Michael later repeats the whole verse it begins at the end of the song.

A man undercover but you tore him (me) apart

No, Mr. Michael, we’re on to you now—we know that it wasn’t really your heart, it was jewelry. Yeah, we know that means you’re out some cash, but don’t make it out to be some sort of medieval torture.

Ooh hoo, now I’ve found a real love
You’ll never fool me again

Well, unless your old love kisses you—then you’ll be a fool again, and presumably just as unfaithful to your current fling as your previous fling was to you. Yeah, way to promote “real” love, Mr. Michael.

And then we get two more repetitions of the chorus, plus one more repetition of the verse immediately above. I’ll be merciful and omit them, leaving you with the feeling that love is simply a game in which people tread on each other’s feelings with no worry for how the other might feel.

No, that won’t do, we need something more upbeat—Christmas is coming! Therefore, in honor of the phrase “a man undercover” in that last verse, as my Christmas present to you i give you what has to be one of the five best television theme songs ever, complete with Ted Koppel hair and mid-60s dancing white kids in the background.

(p.s. This was post number 50 for this blog. Here’s to hoping i have the time to post number 51 next week!)

08 October 2010

Corey Hart: Sunglasses at Night

So this week Lyrics, Weakly goes back to 1984 and Corey Hart’s top-ten hit “Sunglasses at Night”.

(If you can, you should watch that video wearing headphones. The left-right panning of the opening synthesizer riff is perhaps the most amazingly eightiestastic thing you can legally hear in the United States.)

According to the Wikipedia page for the song (check out the album cover showing the singer in the very act of popping his collar!), by the way, Mr. Hart originally wrote the song about a totalitarian society that forced everyone to wear sunglasses, but his record company pushed him to change the song into something more “romantic”. Given some of the content of the song as it was released, i think that the original version would have scared me into hiding in my closet.

Confused? Don’t be—just follow along:

I wear my sunglasses at night

Let’s all be candid here—all y’all reading this who were teenagers in the 80s, how many of you at least occasionally wore sunglasses at night? Don’t be shy—raise your hands. Mm-hmm, that’s what i though—all of you. Me, too, i must admit. Even wore ’em indoors.

I think it was supposed to make us look like glamorous celebrity cocaine users, back when we thought cocaine was glamorous. Instead, wearing sunglasses at night and indoors made us walk into walls. Such, though, is simply the price of fashion, no?

So I can, so I can
Watch you weave
Then breathe your story lines

She’s into weaving? And her stuff is so bright you need sunglasses to even look at it? I’m thinking she has a future on Etsy.

And I wear my sunglasses at night
So I can, so I can
Keep track of the visions in my eyes

No, Mr. Hart, wearing sunglasses does not allow you to see visions in your eyes. To see visions in your eyes, or for that matter to see your eyes at all, you need a mirror. Glad to help.

Well, or maybe you just need sunglasses with rear-view mirrors. You can buy those these days.

While she’s deceiving me
It cuts my security

So Mr. Hart has realized that he’s being deceived, and so he feels insecure. I’ve got to give Mr. Hart credit here—he’s good at stating the obvious.

Has she got control of me?

Well, it depends on how you react to the deception, i suppose.

I turn to her and say

At this point, you’d probably expect Mr. Hart to say something like “Get out, and never darken my songs’ lyrical content again!” But as it turns out, Mr. Hart has to take things in a different direction, because it turns out that…

Don’t switch the blade
On the guy in shades, oh no

…she’s got a knife.

Well, that does change things a bit, doesn’t it? Things have suddenly gotten a bit more intense for good Mr. Hart. I wonder what he’s going to say to try to calm things down—it’s time to think fast!

Don’t masquerade
With the guy in shades, oh no

But maybe not that fast.

I mean, i don’t a costumed dance really needs to be at the top of your worry list right now. Well, unless she’s holding you at knifepoint to try to force you to go to one, but if that’s the case you might want to try to be a little more indirect about this.

I can’t believe it
’Cause you got it made
With the guy in shades, oh no

Well, i guess reminding her of how wonderful it is to be involved in a relationship with you, a man who wears sunglasses, could be one way of trying to get things back to normal.

And I wear my sunglasses at night
So I can, so I can
Forget my name while you collect your claim

But this sounds creepy enough that you might not want to put things quite that way.

And I wear my sunglasses at night
So I can, so I can
See the light that’s right before my eyes

Okay, Mr. Hart, you’ve completely lost me now.

You see—and it appears that you’re unaware of this, so i’ll try to take this slowly—the primary purpose of sunglasses is to block light from entering your eyes. Therefore, if you’re wearing a decent pair of sunglasses, you will find yourself lessable to see any lights that might happen to be in front of your eyes.

I’m thinking you might be wanting a different type of eyewear.

And then we get repetition of several of the preceding lines, reminding us (in case we happened to forget, what with all the excitement) that Mr. Hart has been deceived by a woman who may have control over him, that he’s being held at knifepoint by her, and that he’d rather not go to a costume ball with her. Apparently all that is important to the narrative of the song.

Don’t be afraid
Of the guy in shades, oh no
It kinda scared you
’Cause you got it made
With the guy in shades, oh no

Um, dude, she’s armed. I don’t think she’s scared of you, really i don’t.

Though i have to give you credit for being willing to try all sorts of different ways to talk her down.

Oh, I say I wear my sunglasses at night

Yes, we know—you already told us.

I wear my sunglasses at night

As did we all back in the day. Remember? There was an entire mini-discussion about it right at the beginning of the song.

I wear my sunglasses at night

Right. It’s a given by now.

I say it to you now
I wear my sunglasses at night

Yes, that’s actually true that you’re saying it to us now, i suppose.

I wear my sunglasses at night

But there’s no reason to say it to us now again.

I wear my sunglasses at night

Mr. Hart, you can stop it now. Really. I mean it.

I cry to you
I wear my sunglasses at night

Well, no need to cry. Actually, if anyone should cry it should be us, for having to listen to you tell us about the preferred time for you to wear darkened eyewear.

I wear my sunglasses at night

You know, it just occurred to me that Mr. Hart isn’t telling us about anything else he’s wearing. I wonder if there’s a reason for that? (Warning: That link may or may not be safe for work, depending on precisely what your job description is.)

And after that you may need a unicorn chaser, which i’m always glad to provide.

Anyway, good night. I think i’m going to go put on my sunglasses and get some sleep.

01 October 2010

Bonnie Tyler: Total Eclipse of the Heart

This week the Lyrics, Weakly wayback machine takes us all to 1983 and Bonnie Tyler’s biggest hit single, the #1-in-many-nations song “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.

You should, by the way, definitely click on that link to experience the legal acid trip that is the song’s video. And then, after you do so, you should experience this alternative version.

But enough about the video—this blog’s about the lyrics. It starts with a line by a male backing singer who reappears a few times (occasionally accompanied by an entire chorus of backing singers), so i’ll place those lines in parentheses (as i usually do) so you can tell them apart from the the bits that Ms Tyler sings.

(Turn around)

Odd. It seems that Ms Tyler is starting the song by facing away the guy she’s singing to. Unusual, but i’m sure there’s a reason for it.

Every now and then I get a little bit lonely
And you’re never coming round

But he just asked you to turn around! That means he’s here, right? So he’s come around to see you—but i guess you just haven’t noticed yet, since you’re facing away from him and all.

(Turn around)

So he realizes she must not have heard him the first time, so he’s repeating himself so that she will turn around and they can chat.

It’s nice to see a nice, ordinary domestic situation appearing in popular songs, you know?

Every now and then I get a little bit tired
of listening to the sound of my tears

Wow—you have really, really amazing hearing, Ms Tyler!

(Turn around)

So why can’t you hear this guy?

Every now and then I get a little bit nervous
That the best of all the years have gone by

I’d be most nervous about the hearing loss that performing music all these years has left you with, actually.

(Turn around)

Okay, dude, this is starting to get weird—it’s clear that she can’t hear you, even though she can hear the sound of her own tears falling. I’m starting to think that it may actually be that she’s ignoring you on purpose.

Every now and then I get a little bit terrified
And then I see the look in your eyes

Okay, Ms Tyler, i have to say that this doesn’t really make sense to me. I mean, what with your repeated refusal to turn around so that you can actually see any part of this guy, least of all his eyes, i’m not sure that you have the right to make such a claim about the calming effect of any part of his anatomy. I mean, for all you know his eyes aren’t very calming at all.

(Turn around bright eyes)

Good idea, dude—mix it up a little. Makes sense, since it was pretty clear by now that your original approach wasn’t working.

Every now and then I fall apart

Falling apart is, i have just learned, pretty expensive. (Maybe you’d be better off with a cheaper option?)

(Turn around bright eyes)

You’d think that by now you’d’ve learned that just repeating yourself over and over isn’t helping, dude.

Every now and then I fall apart

Yes, we know—unlike you, we could hear you the first time.

(Turn around)

You know, this is starting to seem a little passive-aggressive of you. I mean, you could always just walk around to the other side of her, after all.

Every now and then I get a little bit restless
And i dream of something wild

Ms Tyler, this is a family blog—we’d appreciate you keeping things a bit more innocent, okay?

(Turn around)
Every now and then I get a little bit helpless
And I’m lying like a child in your arms

Wait—you’re lying in his arms but you’re facing away from him? You mean all this time you’ve been spooning? And you’re still acting like you can’t hear him? I really don’t understand y’all’s relationship at all, i must say.

Every now and then I get a little bit angry
And I know I have to get out and cry

But i thought you were tired of listening to the sound of your tears? You’re not making logical sense, Ms Tyler!

(Turn around)
Every now and then I get a little bit terrified
but then I see the look in your eyes

Yes, i know—you’ve already told us, remember? No need to repeat yourself.

(Turn around bright eyes)
Every now and then I fall apart
(Turn around bright eyes)
Every now and then I fall apart

I give up.

But wait—new stuff!

And I need you now tonight
And I need you more than ever

Um, he’s right behind you. You’re in his arms. I’m pretty sure that means you’ve already got him.

And if you’ll only hold me tight
We’ll be holding on forever

Well, at least you would be if it weren’t for that pesky mortality problem.

Erm, wait. Wrong mortality. Try this one instead.

Ahem. Yes. Well. Back to your regularly scheduled snark.

And we’ll only be making it right
Cause we’ll never be wrong together

Um, isn’t that a bit of a self-fulfilling statement?

We can take it to the end of the line
Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time
I don’t know what to do and I’m always in the dark

I have no idea what this is about. I mean seriously, this makes no sense.

We’re living in a powder keg and giving off sparks

But how are you always in the dark if you’re giving off sparks? I don’t get the logic here, really i don’t.

And a powder keg with sparks? See also mortality, above.

I really need you tonight
Forever’s gonna start tonight
Forever’s gonna start tonight

Um, if you give a starting point and no ending point, you’ve pretty much defined the starting point of a potentially infinite span of time.

Or, in other words, see also tautology, above.

Once upon a time I was falling in love
But now I’m only falling apart

Okay, this song has really dumb lyrics, but i’m willing to give credit where it’s due: Nice use of the verb “falling” in two completely different but parallel ways.

There’s nothing I can do

Well, what about trying turning around?

A total eclipse of the heart
Once upon a time there was light in my life
But now there’s only love in the dark

Love in the dark ages? There’s one i haven’t heard about in a long time. I have to admit that i never saw this particular pop culture reference coming—i mean, a CBS afterschool special promoting sexual abstinence isn’t what i’d’ve expected Ms Tyler to be into—but so it goes.

Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart

Nthing you can say? Well, then, why didn’t you not say it?

(This then gets not not said twice more. And no, i don’t have the stamina to reproduce the repetitions here.)

(Turnaround bright eyes)

The background singer has now been joined by an entire chorus of background singers. Given that we’d established earlier that he and Ms Tyler are spooning, this ranks somewhere between creepy and kinky. And here i’d thought that we had an agreement to keep this somewhere to the innocent side of the ratings.

Every now and then I fall apart

Ms Tyler apparently feels strongly enough about this that she repeats it yet again after this. Maybe it’s a warning about her personal state of existence?

But anyway, then we get a repetition of the verse where Ms Tyler informs us she’s always in the dark except for the sparks that blow up the powder keg she lives in, and it continues to not make any sense.

Not that that’s a surprise.

But i’ll skip all of it, except to say that she closes by repeating the words Total eclipse of the heart several times, giving me the excuse (as if i needed one!) to post this.

24 September 2010

Spice Girls: Wannabe

So this week Lyrics, Weakly takes a trip back to 1996 (well, more 1997 in the United States), and specifically back to the start of the whole Spice Girls phenomenon and their debut single, “Wannabe”.

Yep, they named a song allegedly about girl power and friendship (though, as you’ll see below, it really seems to be about much weirder stuff than that) with a word denoting someone trying to fit in with a group that’s more popular than they naturally are. Something’s really rather bizarre about that disjunction, you know?

But the Spice Girls really were a bizarre thing overall, weren’t they? They claimed to be all about girl power, but they were also presented so as to appeal to a pretty wide range of male fantasies (the redheaded one, the athletic one, the rich and well-dressed one, the dark-skinned one, and—most creepily—the one presented as a large-breasted fifteen-year-old). Basically, the Spice Girls were a heterosexual Village People.

Anyway, here are the lyrics to the song. All of the Spice Girls take various turns in this, but i’m not about to try to identify which one delivers which line, or which one is the lead singer—i’m really not taken enough with them to spend that much effort on figuring out which voice is whose. You’ll just have to take it as a given, then, that there’s a good bit of call-and-response going on here, and so the pronoun shifts aren’t actually as jarring as they might look in print.

That said, the discourse incoherence is jarring at times. Like, oh, in the very first verse…

Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want

Cool. I mean, it’s not like I have the means of giving it to you, what with you being in a British band and me being on the other side of the Atlantic and all, but it’s nice to know what’s on your Christmas list. You know, should i ever be in a position to provide you with what you really, really want.

So tell me what you want, what you really really want

And this comes from someone else in the band. Nice of her, i think—she hears that her bandmate has a need, and so she signals that she wants to know the details of the request, presumably so that she can fulfill the need (at least, if she has the resources to do so).

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want

No, dude, your friend already said you should tell her—if you repeat this in that context it simply sounds like a desperate plea for attention. And, of course, you being a Spice Girl, you wouldn’t want to give the impression that you’re after undue attention, would you?

So tell me what you want, what you really really want

Nice of her friend—i’d’ve already walked away. (But then again, i have better things to do with my time than engage verbal teases in conversation—i mean, i could be at YouTube watching Russians yodel or something useful like that.)

But it appears our tease of a Spice Girl is finally going to give an answer, namely:

I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna

With this much buildup, it must be something amazing!

I wanna really really really wanna zigaziga ha

Or not.

Seriously, every time i hear this verse (and i’ve been hearing it way too often writing this up) i feel like i’ve been rickrolled. I mean, zigaziga ha?!? Seriously?

But maybe this bit of arcane cant will be explained in the verses that follow. I mean, there’s no way we’ll be left with something that meaningless, right?

If you want my future forget my past

Read: I know where Jimmy Hoffa is buried. And i plan to invoke my fifth amendment rights should you ask how i came by that knowledge.

If you wanna get with me better make it fast
Now don’t go wasting my precious time
Get your act together we could be just fine

It appears that the particular Spice Girl who’s singing here is really, really worried about her biological clock. This is perhaps unexpected, given that the oldest of them was about 24 years old when this song was released, but i suppose that that only goes to show how much value our modern Angloamerican society places on motherhood. There’s a sociology dissertation in there waiting to be written, i’m thinking.

(If you’re interested, i’ll even provide you with a title to use: On the Relationship Between Lyrical Content of Modern Dance Songs and Maternal Longing: A Post-Lacanian Analysis. No, no need to thank me—you don’t even have to acknowledge my contribution if you use it. In fact, upon further thought, please don’t acknowledge my contribution if you use it.)

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want

You’re just toying with us now, aren’t you?

So tell me what you want, what you really really want

You know, this response has gone beyond niceness—it’s now just enabling. You really want to avoid these sorts of co-dependence issues, you know.

I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna
I wanna really really really wanna zigazig ha

Well, i guess we should at least be happy that she only claimed she’d tell us what she really, really wanted once before providing us with this line this time.

Small blessing—it’s all about counting the small blessings.

If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends
Make it last forever friendship never ends

So this starts out actually making sense—if you want to be some particular Spice Girls’ lover you first have to pass through the gauntlet of being approved by her friends. Fine—that’s ordinary enough. But if you’re going to make such a request, you could at least give a rational reason for it. But the reason that’s given here? Because friendship never ends.

Right. That’s why all of you have been hanging out with the same people since kindergarten, right?

Of course not! Friendships ebb and flow—it’s part of the whole circle of life thing. There’s no shame in admitting that you won’t always be friends with the people you’re friends with now—just deal with it.

Of course, there may be shame in admitting you’re a very young woman with biological clock neuroses, but we’ve already dealt with that line of the song.

If you wanna be my lover, you have got to give

I’m guessing they named themselves the Spice Girls because Material Girl was already in use?

Taking is too easy, but that’s the way it is

First, i wish to highlight the triteness of the way this line ends—i mean, that’s the way it is? What, was the Pop-Song-O-Matic 5000 down the weekend this song was written, so they couldn’t come up with anything better? Even worse, is is, as far as i can tell, being used here as a rhyme for give. Really? You couldn’t even have come up with something that rhymed with the word give?!?

Here, try this: Taking is too easy, so that’s how you will live. It’s no better than the actual line in the song, sure, but i spent all of about four seconds on it and it actually rhymes—and it was easy to come up with, and i’m an amateur!

Second, taking is too easy? Um, you just said that this guy has to give—sounds like you’re gonna be doing some taking, but he doesn’t get to. Sounds, um, fair. You know, if you come across someone who really is that desperate to sleep with you, that is.

What do you think about that now you know how I feel
Say you can handle my love are you for real

If he’s imaginary he can handle anything you want him to handle, i’m thinking.

I won’t be hasty, I’ll give you a try

But earlier you said you wanted him to hurry—but you reserve the right not to?

Yeah, i’m calling you out right here as nothing but a manipulative b…um…ackbiter.

If you really bug me then I’ll say goodbye

First of all, by now the guy you’re singing to may be craving such a release.

But also, what’s the big deal about this? I mean, isn’t that the way romantic relationships work? Seriously—we don’t dwell on it all that much, but there’s a reason there are a lot of breakup songs, it’s because people end relationships with some frequency.

Face it, this doesn’t make you special. At all.

Yo I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want

I already know what you want, what you really, really want—you want to be able to dictate all of the terms of your relationships. And i suspect you’re going to be successful at that, too. Amazing what semi-attractive people are able to get away with, isn’t it?

So tell me what you want, what you really really want
I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna
I wanna really really really wanna

Might i suggest a chocolate biscuit?

zigaziga ha

No such luck.

By the way, according to various sources on the internet, one of the Spice Girls has informed the world that zigaziga ha actually means sex. I think this is like Bryan Adams claiming that the song “Summer of ’69” is actually about sex, not about 1969—if you say something stupid in a song and people call you on it, claim it’s about sex. Somebody’ll believe you.

You know what? I don’t.

If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends

I didn’t mention it earlier, but if this song is about sex, this is an almost-creepy line—to “get with” someone is to engage in romantic touching, possibly even sexual acts. So, once again if this song really is about sex, it seems to also be about polyamory.

Not necessarily an intrinsically bad thing, but not something my obviously old-fashioned-and-stuck-in-the-simpler-times-of-the-eighties self is really comfortable with pre-teens singing about, you know?

Make it last forever friendship never ends
If you wanna be my lover, you have got to give
Taking is too easy, but that’s the way it is

Another option: Taking is too easy, but my brain’s like a sieve.

And now we get told about various personality traits of members of the group—and i’ll warn you, things get somewhat less family-friendly here.

So here’s a story from A to Z, you wanna get with me
you gotta listen carefully

So if i don’t want to get with you, i get to ignore you? Cool—two wins with one action!

We got Em in the place who likes it in your face

Oh. My.

I’m trying to maintain a PG rating here, i really am, but…

Wow. There’s really not much i can say about this one, then, is there. (Warning: Link almost certainly unsafe for work.)

We got G like MC who likes it on an

This is, quite seriously, the entire line. As a result, i really do have nothing to say about this—mainly because there’s no actual propositional content.


Easy V doesn’t come for free, she's a real lady

So whichever Spice Girl happens to be V, i’m finding it impossible to come up with a non-sexual reading for this. In fact, i’m finding it impossible to come up with a reading for this in which her sexual activities are, um, non-professional. Well, i guess we now know the sort of women the soccer players are into these days.

And as for me you’ll see

Hey! Finally! We’re going to find out what the lead singer wants, what she really really wants.

It’s about time.

So what is it? Let’s listen carefully, as we find out that she wants the object of her affections to…

Slam your body down and wind it all around
Slam your body down and wind it all around

Um, yeah.

Well, at least we have a better idea of where this singer gets her inspiration.

(And then we get a reminder that if you want to be her lover, not only must you perform acts designed to create pain for yourself, but you also must get with her friends. I’ll skip it, which brings us, blessedly, to the end.)

If you wanna be my lover, you gotta
You gotta, you gotta, you gotta, you gotta

Maybe the problem is actually that she’s a stutterer?

Slam, slam, slam, slam
Slam your body down and wind it all around
Slam your body down and wind it all around
Slam your body down and wind it all around
Slam your body down zigaziga ah
If you wanna be my lover

Sorry, not interested, you’re asking for too much that isn’t really my kind of kink. Thanks for being up-front with your desires, though—it’s certainly saved us both a lot of time.

22 September 2010

My one big user-interface problem with Blogger

So i decided on a song for this Friday’s installment of Lyrics, Weakly, but it was such a tempting target that i wanted to make sure i hadn’t discussed it before and simply forgot about it. To make sure, i went over to the blog and…well, it didn’t look right. The most recent post was Boys Don’t Cry’s “I Wanna Be a Cowboy”, which was not what i expected to see there. So i poked around, and discovered that i had left last Friday’s post a draft, never actually publishing it to the blog.

(Really, now that they’ve fixed the Chinese porn spam problem, my biggest complaint with Blogger is that the buttons to publish and to save as a draft are right next to each other—i’ve been caught by that a couple times on another blog i write, so you would have thought i’d’ve learned by now to always check the blog right after something gets published. But no, apparently not…)

Anyway, rather than put last Friday’s post up this morning, i’m deferring it to this Friday so it’s at the top of the page for a full week—it deserves it, as i’m sure you’ll agree when you see what it is. Of course, that means that you’ll have to wait an extra week to see what horrors managed to hit #1 in 1983, but in exchange for getting a full week to revel in the horrors that hit #1 in 1996? Yeah, 1983 can wait.

10 September 2010

Boys Don’t Cry: I Wanna Be a Cowboy

And so this week, Lyrics, Weakly travels back in time to 1986.

You know, 80s music is big on the radio right now—there are lots of radio stations playing all 80s music, all the time. And if you listen to these stations, you could be forgiven for thinking that that was a really great decade for rock music—i mean, you’ve got everything from the new wave of the Cure and the Smiths and the Police to the synth-pop of Soft Cell and Tears for Fears to classic rap and hip-hop from Run-DMC and A Tribe Called Quest to really excellent straight-ahead pop from Michael Jackson and Duran Duran and Madonna when she made good music. (I mean, even the hair metal of bands like Poison and Twisted Sister is fun in a campy sort of way.)

But then you hear a song like Boys Don’t Cry’s “I Wanna Be a Cowboy” and you remember that this was a top-twenty hit back in the day, and you figure out the secret to why 80s radio stations sound so good—it’s because they can pick and choose from an entire decade to flesh out their playlists, and they can just pretend that horrors like that song never existed.

So how much of a horror is it? Well, first i’d suggest clicking through the link above and watching the video if you haven’t already, and basking in the amazement of the flat, tuneless delivery on the part of “singer” Nick Richards (co-writer of the song with bandmate Brian Chatton) along with the complete disregard for the intricacies of meter and rhyme. (And that’s not to mention the whole “What the [insert expletive of choice here]?”-ness of the video itself.)

And then, after that, we can get to the actual words of the song.

Riding on the range
I’ve got my hat…on
I’ve got my boots…dusty

So Mr. Richards is telling us about his day, going through all the normal stuff—you know, where he is, what he’s wearing.

I like the pauses, by the way—evidence that he’s checking to make sure that he’s telling the truth. I imagine that in concert he might singchant I’ve got my hat…off/​I’ve got my boots…actually, i’m wearing sneakers up here.

I’ve got my saddle
On my horse

As opposed, of course, to having his saddle on his cat.

He’s called…T‑t‑t‑t‑t‑t‑trigger
Of course

Yes, yes, of course. But i’m thinking that “Hi-yo, T‑t‑t‑t‑t‑t‑trigger, away!” might be kind of hard to consistently say, and that could be a problem. I mean, what if you’re in a hurry and you accidentally say “Hi-yo T‑t‑trigger, away!” and somebody else’s horse takes off, leaving you sitting in place and about to be caught by the posse? Yeah, sure, it sounded like a cool name when you came up with it, but it’s gonna get you stuck in jail one of these days, mark my words.

I wanna be a cowboy
and you can be my cowgirl
I wanna be a cowboy
and you can be my cowgirl
I wanna be a cowboy

Wait a minute—you only want to be a cowboy? So you bought the outfit (and horse), figuring that then you could make a better case for it? Well, most people would have just sent out a resumé, but whatever works for you, i guess.

And i have to admit that i’m really struggling here with the whole “cowgirl” motif—i hear that word, and all i can think of is the movie with perhaps the worst trailer in the history of cinematography, Mad Cowgirl. (If you wish, you can view the trailer here, but i’ll warn you that, aside from being vaguely unsafe for work, it’s…disturbing, and not in a good way. The rest of you can read the synopsis at its Wikipedia page.)

Alternately, maybe Mr. Richards is suggesting that the woman he’s singing to would be happier if affiliated with the Monster Raving Loony Party? Yeah, that makes more sense—this whole song is actually a political manifesto.

And now we get an interlude in which the speaker is female. I’ll mark these lines by underlinging them, so that you can tell them apart from the lines Mr. Richards singshaltingly speaks. (Background vocals are in parentheses, as you’d expect.)

Riding on the chuck wagon

A woman’s place being in the kitchen, even out on the range, eh?

Following my man
His name is Ted
Can you believe that?

Why yes, yes i can. Ted is most certainly a name, a fairly common name in fact, and it is also a man’s name. Therefore, yes, i can believe that your man’s name is Ted.

Also, this is even more believable when i consider that Mr. Richards’s first name is Nick, and by identifying your man’s name as Ted and not Nick, you are showing the sort of wise judgment i would expect of any woman.

(Ted, on Ted, fighting off danger)
Camping on the prairie
Plays havoc with my hair

Semi-random pop culture note: There are actually multiple places on the interwebs where you can find the traces of people seriously discussing the hairstyles from the series Little House on the Prairie. I don’t know what this says about our world, but it can’t be good.

Makes me feel quite dirty
Though we all do sometimes

You know, i realize that this is supposed to be a double entendre, especially since it’s delivered in a breathy and supposedly-seductive voice, but i can’t help but giggle a little inside every time i hear it—and while i’ll admit to liking a good laugh now and again, I’m really not the sort of person who gets all hot and bothered by it. (Warning: That last link is unsafe for work, and could raise some serious eyebrows if your significant other sees you there.)

(Ted gets so dirty)

Well, the unnamed woman already told us they all feel quite dirty sometimes, so this isn’t much of a surprise. But thanks for working to keep us informed, background singing Greek chorus!

I wanna be a cowboy
and you can be my cowgirl
I wanna be a cowboy
and you can be my cowgirl
I wanna be a cowboy

We already knew this, Mr. Richards. Repeating it over and over makes you just seem desperate for the position—and that’s not likely to be helpful.

Looking like a hero
Six-gun at my side
Chewing my tobacco

Really? Imagine this in your mind’s eye, folks. I don’t know what you get, but i get something like this, but holding a pistol. Not my particular image of a hero, but your mileage may vary, i suppose.

Out on the horizon
I see a puff of smoke

Apparently, while Mr. Richards is into the use of smokeless tobacco products, others around him are smoking cigarettes.

Indians on the warpath
(White man speaking with forked tongue isn’t it?)

So that last line wasn’t sung by the background singers, but rather it was spoken by someone who was supposedly speaking like an Indian—and all i can really say is “Wow”. I mean, dude, i’m not an American Indian, but even i feel insulted by that line.

Or not

No, no, after you’ve portrayed them that way, i’d argue that they have every right to head out on the warpath after you.

I wanna be a cowboy
and you can be my cowgirl
I wanna be a cowboy

More desperation from Mr. Richards.

My name is Ted

No, it’s not—we’re already aware that your name is Nick. Also, i don’t care how much of a ditz the woman who sang earlier is, she’s going to figure that out, too. Just give it up.

(Oh yippee yippee-yo-yo)

If you listen to the track, you can hear that this is the point where the background singing Greek chorus got into the helium.

And one day I’ll be dead yo yo

But sadly, not before producing this song.

But, to its credit, i think we can all agree that the yo yo appended to the end of this line makes it the worst-delivered line in all of 80s music.

Well, okay, so i guess that’s not much of a compliment—but after a song like this we take what we can get, right?

03 September 2010

Blink-182: All the Small Things

This is a momentous episode in the broadcast history of Lyrics, Weakly: This is the first song that’s being covered here by request of one of my children. Yes, I’ve dealt with some songs because my children have drawn my attention to them, but this one was an actual request from a child, since, as she said herself, the words to it make absolutely no sense.

It almost brings a tear of paternal pride to my eye, it does.

Anyway, the song that was requested was a song by Blink-182 (or, according to some sources, Blink 182—i’ve run across some intense arguments on the net about putting in or leaving out the hyphen, and you know, i don’t care enough to even link to them), the 2000 top-ten hit “All the Small Things”.

I’ll happily admit that it’s a fun song to listen to, but it’s not one i ever really got into—and i also never took the time to listen to the lyrics. Now that i have, i can say that this is one of the most non sequitur-laced songs out there. I mean, it certainly wouldn’t displace my nominee for the top spot in that category, but it may well be in the top five.

This is not an honor to covet.

But enough about that—you’re not here to hear me talk about non sequiturs, you’re here to hear me point them out as they come up. So sit back and listen to the words that Blink-182 guitarist Tom DeLonge came up with, presumably while he was so shorted on sleep that he couldn’t think straight.

All the small things

Oh, cool—Mr. DeLonge is apparently writing a song about really small things, like the three-and-a-half-inch long Madame Berthe’s Mouse Lemur, or the 1.3 gram Etruscan Shrew, or the four-inch long Barbados Threadsnake, or maybe even the 139-micrometer long parasitic wasp Dicopomorpha echmepterygis. It’s always good to see a punk-pop artist taking an interest in the life sciences.

According to the always-reliable Wikipedia page for this song, though, Mr. DeLonge wrote this song for Jennifer Jenkins, the woman who later married him. I’m rather surprised she didn’t take being compared to a parasitic wasp rather personally, but then again i’m not a rock star’s girlfriend.

True care truth brings

What does this line even mean? I mean, i haven’t even ripped it out of its syntactic context—it really makes no sense.

Oh well, everybody has a bad line now and again. I’m sure it won’t happen again, right, Mr. DeLonge?

I’ll take one lift
Your ride best trip

I’m trying hard to make sense out of this, i really am.

But the best i can do with this is that Mr. DeLonge is promising Ms Jenkins that he’s going to bum rides off of her. I wouldn’t have thought that such behavior was an auspicious sign for a relationship, but what do i know?

Always I know
You’ll be at my show
Watching, waiting

Commiserating about the fact that she has to listen to songs like this, I’m thinking.

(Sometimes a lyricist just hands you a gift, you know?)

Say it ain’t so

Okay. It ain’t so.

I will not go
Turn the lights off
Carry me home

Okay, we’ve got issues again.

After all, if you get carried home, Mr. DeLonge, you’re presumably being carried from a place that is not home. Therefore, if someone fulfills your request for carrying, you will in fact be going from the not-home place you were at when you first made the claim that you will not be going.

In any event, you end up not telling the truth, and that as a result of your own ordering of others around. Hope that teaches you a lesson.

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na

Wow. Now i see why Mr. DeLonge gets all the adoring fans, what with being able to write lyrics that get to the heart of human relationships so concisely as this very line.

Late night come home
Work sucks I know

Dude? You’re a big-name rock star. Even if you hate your job, none of the rest of us want to hear it, okay? (And we wouldn’t believe you anyway.)

She left me roses by the stairs
Surprises let me know she cares

Yes, of course—this is the way i know my wife cares for me, when she leaves roses some place other than, say, in a water-filled vase on the table. It really lets me know that romance has reached its greatest heights when roses are just left any old place to die.

Say it ain’t so
I will not go
Turn the lights off
Carry me home

Wait a minute—this is sounding familiar. In fact, if i recall correctly, it was the lead-in to the line that…Oh, please, not that again—not already!

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na

Yes, already.

(And then we get another repeat of the chorus, skipped here, but thankfully without yet anotherna, na, na” drone.)

Keep your head still
I’ll be your thrill

Just for a moment, imagine someone saying this to you in real life: “Keep your head still, [insert your name here], I’ll be your thrill!”

I submit that this can only mean that something dangerous is about to happen, and it’s going to come at your expense. Basically, it’s time to run away.

But somehow, here it’s romantic. Right? Or something.

The night will go on
My little windmill

My little windmill?!?

This has got to be the worst pet name in the entire English language since Percy Bysshe Shelley used to call Mary Wallstonecraft Shelley “Pecksie”.

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na

Oh, no—stealth “na, na, na”s!

And after that, we get repeats of previous choruses—but i think we’ve heard quite enough already, yes?

In closing, though, i must say that i’m very happy that Mr. DeLonge and Ms Jenkins ended up getting along so well. After all, judging by the romance level of the images in this song i’m sure i wouldn’t be happy in a relationship like this, but different strokes and all that, right?

27 August 2010

Oasis: Champagne Supernova

Welcome to Lyrics, Weakly, where we listen to the songs so you don’t have to!

First of all, a bit of an apology to Karate Mom—she requested last week’s song, but i neglected to acknowledge her request in the intro. So, then, here’s the acknowledgment.

And speaking of acknowledgments, here’s one for Mariana this week, for requesting “Champagne Supernova” by Oasis. It’s a long song at well over seven minutes, and one of the more nonsensical songs i’ve ever listened to (which is saying a lot).

The most amazing thing isn’t that this song reached #1 on the Billboard modern rock chart—by now we expect that of dumb songs—but that, in an absolutely beautiful bit of synchronicity, the song it replaced at that position was one of the few #1 songs that could give this one a run for its nonsensical money, Alanis Morisette’s “Ironic”. (And that was preceded by “Wonderwall” by, once more, Oasis, which to be honest isn’t much better, and that by Bush’s “Glycerine”…really, the spring of 1996 may well have been the peak of dumb music. But then you start looking at 1986, and 1976, and you realize that dumb is simply what music does. Which, i suppose, is a good thing for the business of this blog.)

But enough about the idiocy of the modern music industry—we’re interested in the idiocy of this song. And since there’s a lot of it, let’s dive in now, shall we?

How many special people change?

Well, all of them do, actually. See, as long as you’re alive, your cells are in a constant state of change. In fact, even after you die you go through processes of change, though they’re not necessarily as rapid.

But i’m sure any sort of ignorance of such scientific truths was simply a momentary lapse, and that no further such false statements will be found anywhere in this song, right, Mr. Gallagher?

(And i’d also like to note that i can’t tell if this question refers to people who are special to you, or to “special” people. ’Cause if it’s the latter, that’s a little bit mean, you know?)

How many lives are living strange?
Where were you while we were getting high?

Well, given Mr. Gallagher’s particular history of drug use, i’m thinking that any of us could pick a random place any of us have been during the past thirty or so years and we’d be right.

Slowly walking down the hall
Faster than a cannonball



Okay, see, i’ve got a problem with this couplet—mainly, i can’t tell what in the world it means. But, being the brave lad i am, i’m going to give it a shot.

The main problem, i guess, is that there are multiple possibilities.

The first one is that Mr. Gallagher is playing with the fact that cannonballs don’t actually have any power to move themselves—so since by walking you’re moving, no matter how slowly you walk down the hall, you’re always going to be faster than a cannonball.

The second one is that he’s trying to give some sort of impression of great speed, since most imaginings of cannonballs have them hurtling at a target—but since i’m unaware of any prominent imaginings of cannonballs hurtling through a hallway (not saying that none exist, but i sincerely doubt they’re very common), this is a really bizarre image to use.

Well, except that…

Where were you while we were getting high?

…when you consider the sheer quantity of recreational chemicals that went into this song, such bizarreness suddenly seems less unlikely.

Someday you will find me
Caught beneath the landslide

Is it just me, or is this a Fleetwood Mac reference?

Yeah, it’s probably just me. Still puts me off a bit, though.

In a champagne supernova in the sky
Someday you will find me
Caught beneath the landslide
In a champagne supernova
A champagne supernova in the sky

A champagne supernova. Really? A champagne supernova?

And i thought the whole cannonball thing was confusing.

All right, i can do this—let’s just break this down piece by piece, shall we?

First of all, supernovae are massive events, releasing so much energy that they can outshine entire galaxies. Further, they occur due to the effects of nuclear fusion and always involve stars a good bit more massive than our own sun. It is unlikely—though i will admit that this has technically not been proven—that one could actually use champagne to trigger a supernova.

In any event, since a supernova results in an ejection of energy and plasma away from a core that eventually becomes very dense, potentially even a black hole, i would think that a landslide in conjunction with a supernova would be the least—and, probably quite literally the last—of your worries.

Wake up the dawn and ask her why?

Eos, goddess of the dawn, was known to have abducted young men who struck her fancy. Therefore, Mr. Gallagher, i would suggest that you do exactly what you’re suggesting. The rest of us might get lucky.

(Though i suggest that you make sure your insurance is up to date before you do so.)

A dreamer dreams she never dies

Obviously, she dreamed she was falling.

Wipe that tear away now from your eye
Slowly walking down the hall
Faster than a cannon ball
Where were you while we were getting high?

Dude, we already know you’re baked. You don’t have to keep telling us about it.

Someday you will find me
Caught beneath the landslide
In a Champagne Supernova in the sky

Not only is this a nonsensical image (supernovae don’t have landslides, landslides don’t occur in the sky, &c.), it’s not even a terribly pretty one. I can let nonsense slip past occasionally if it’s being offered in the service of poetic imagery, but if i suspect (as i do here) that it’s only because you knew you had to fill the meter with something or the song wouldn’t make it onto the album, well, then it deserves to be held up as a steaming example of all that is wrong with musical “talent” these days.

Someday you will find me
Caught beneath the landslide
In a Champagne Supernova
A Champagne Supernova

Why the repetition? I’m guessing it’s because even Mr. Gallagher’s stoned-beyond-sensibility brain had enough functioning neurons to realize that the phrase “champagne supernova” actually is that bizarre, and so it had to be repeated in order to let everyone know that yes, they just paid good money for something that makes no sense in an attempt to pretend to be deep.

’Cos people believe that they’re
Gonna get away for the summer
But you and I, we live and die

As opposed to all the billions of people who live and don’t die? Like, this is supposed to make us feel like you’re special?

The world’s still spinning round
We don’t know why?
Why? Why? Why? Why?

First of all, We don’t know why is not a question, even though it’s marked as a question in every internet source for the lyrics for this song i could find. I don’t know if this is Mr. Gallagher’s fault or that of his transcribers, but either way it’s just not right.

Second, if you couldn’t think of four syllables to fill that last line, you could have just remained silent.

Finally, the world continues to spin around due to the initial angular momentum of the cloud of interstellar debris coupled with the possible effects of collisions between the Earth and other comparatively large objects during its history. Couple that with the fact that the effects of friction on the Earth aren’t large enough to counter all that initial and added energy, and you have an easy answer to every “Why?” you could ever throw at us.

And speaking of “Why?”, why has it become my lot to teach songwriters the basics of astrophysics? ’Cause if someone as unqualified in that field as me is able to do that, it makes me kind of worried about what other ignorances they’re bringing to the table.

How many special people change?
How many lives are living strange?
Where were you while we were getting high?

Right here, dude. We’re still right here, finding it halfway amazing that you can ramble like this for nearly eight minutes.

Slowly walking down the hall
Faster than a cannon ball
Where were you while we were getting high?

Mr. Gallagher, i already told you that we’re aware of how stoned you’ve been, and so you can assume we don’t have to be told about this yet again.

Oh, wait—maybe you’re just unaware that you’ve already told us. Ah, then, it’s entirely understandable—annoying, but understandable.

And then we get the verses about champagne supernovae and the world spinning around repeated, which i’ll leave out, since even if Mr. Gallagher doesn’t remember singing them, we remember hearing them.

All too well.

How many special people change?
How many lives are living strange?
Where were you while we were getting high?

For those of you keeping count, this is repetition number six. Six! I mean, come on—if you haven’t gotten an answer yet, it’s just not going to happen. Give it up already!

We were getting high

Yes, we were aware of that—no need to mention it again.

We were getting high

Or maybe you should have googled for some advice before sitting down to write this.

We were getting high

Never mind. It’s obvious that you’re out to win this argument.

You know, George Martin—yes, that George Martin, the “fifth Beatle” George Martin—actually once called Mr. Gallagher “the finest songwriter of this generation”.

Yeah, i rather boggled at that one, too.

Anyway, We were getting high repeats gobs and bunches more times, but i’m done with it—listening to this is starting to give me the munchies.

20 August 2010

Train: Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)

Welcome once again to Lyrics, Weakly, now once again running weekly, and in glorious Technicolor to thrill you like never before!

So this week our song is Train’s “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)”, a top-ten song from 2001 and 2002. Interestingly, according to Wikipedia (now with more truthiness!), this song spent more time in the top 100 before hitting the top ten than any other song in history—nearly an entire year.

And yes, i believe it, ’cause i remember hearing it over and over and over (and over again) on the radio back then during its whole long climb and slow—ever so agonizingly slow!—fall back down the charts. I’d actually managed to pretty much forget it before i heard it playing on a local classic rock(!) station this past week, and the the memories came flooding back. And since most of those memories revolved around it being a pretty stupid song, i figured it belonged here. So, onward!

Now that she’s back in the atmosphere
With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey

See, we’ve got our first problem already.

To begin with, Jupiter’s one of the gas giants. As a result, any drops of Jupiter in her hair would be composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, and so even before her arrival in the Earth’s atmosphere those gases would dissipate, leaving her without any remaining drops of Jupiter in her hair. Basically, the gentlemen of Train are starting us off with an astronomical impossibility. This does not bode well.

She acts like summer and walks like rain

Well, i lived in Florida for several years, and so i can say that an association between summer and rain isn’t really terribly unexpected. But i suppose that there’s a place for glaring obviousness in music, so i’ll let this slide.

Reminds me that there’s a time to change, hey

This line was presumably taken to heart by one of Train’s founding members, Rob Hotchkiss, who left the band for a solo career shortly after the release of this song.

Since the return from her stay on the moon

Wait a minute, good sirs—just three lines earlier you were telling me that she had Jupiter in her hair, and now you’re saying she stayed on the moon for a while? I’m thinking y’all are either making this stuff up, or else you have friends with really enormous travel budgets.

On the whole, though, i’m doubting your veracity.

She listens like spring and she talks like June, hey, hey

I suspect that this line was supposed to sound deep or something, but since spring in the United States is generally considered to shift into summer on 21 June, this is simply more obviousness.

But tell me, did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way

Um, yes, she did. The Earth, after all, is part of the Milky Way galaxy.

To see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated?
Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star?
One without a permanent scar

They didn’t just do that, did they? Yes, they did—they just rhymed star with scar, a perfectly good rhyme except that to get there they had to say something that makes no sense at all.

Also, by definition, shooting stars occur within the Earth’s atmosphere. I’m beginning to think that the woman that the members of Train are singing about never even got into orbit, let alone reached Jupiter.

(Also, does it weird anyone else out that NASA’s website for kids is called “StarChild”? ’Cause i’ve seen 2001, and the Star Child is nothing but creepy.)

And then you missed me
While you were looking for yourself out there?

That’s quite understandable—anytime you’re packing for a long trip, you always forget one important thing. She apparently forgot to pack her mirror. No problem, there’s mirrors she can use all over the place.

Now that she’s back from that soul vacation
Tracing her way through the constellation, hey
She checks out Mozart while she does Tae-Bo

Here is an example of tae bo. Here is an example of Mozart. I would almost be willing to pay money to someone who’d be willing to find a way to remix them together properly.

Reminds me that there’s room to grow, hey
Now that she's back in the atmosphere
I’m afraid that she might think of me as
Plain ol’ Jane

Actually, i wouldn’t worry about her thinking your name is Jane—the voice of the lead singer is pretty clearly masculine.

If you were Justin Bieber, though, i could see this being a potential issue.

told a story about a man
Who was too afraid to fly so he never did land

Really, the only explanation for this line is that it was trying to sound deep, but it actually ended up being simple nonsense.

But tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet?

I’ve been through multiple hurricanes. The wind doesn’t so much sweep you off your feet as blow very heavy things at you—and then they knock you off your feet, and possibly kill you.

Well, unless you’re wearing very low-friction shoes. Then, i suppose, the wind could send you sliding, which could be a decent stand-in for being swept off your feet.

Did you finally get the chance
To dance along the light of day
And head back to the Milky Way?

More misunderstanding of the relationship between the Earth and its galaxy.

I’m beginning to suspect that the good men of Train didn’t pay very much attention in their science classes.

And tell me, did Venus blow your mind?
Was it everything you wanted to find?

Well, if she was looking for a daytime temperature hot enough to melt lead and an atmosphere made up primarily of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid then yes, she most likely did find what she was looking for.

And then you missed me
While you were looking for yourself out there
Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken

No deep-fried chicken? But the Colonel’s everywhere, i thought!

Your best friend always sticking up for you
Even when I know you’re wrong?
Can you imagine no first dance, freeze-dried romance

Don’t have any freeze-dried romance in stock, sorry. Would freeze-dried ice cream do?

Five-hour phone conversation
The best soy latte that you ever had, and me?

I’m thinking that this is part of the lamest possible twenty-first century update to the old “Coffee, tea, or me?” line: “Soy latte, masala chai, or me?”

And then we get a couple more repeats of the choruses. This is running long enough as it is, so i’ll skip them, leading to where things change up a little.

And did you fall for a shooting star?
Fall for a shooting star?
And now you’re lonely looking for yourself out there

Once again, if only she’d brought a mirror. Ah, well, the best-laid plans and all that, eh?

13 August 2010

When you fall behind on deadlines…

I hate the beginning of school. Please tune back in next week, once my syllabi are written.

06 August 2010

Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg: California Gurls

Welcome once again to Lyrics, Weakly, where we remain dedicated to the proposition that it is, in fact, the singer and not the song that makes the music move along. You doubt that? Then consider that the song “California Gurls” by Katy Perry (with stunt vocals by Snoop Dogg) was the #1 song in the United States—and much of the rest of the world, so it’s not like taste elsewhere is any better—for several weeks earlier this summer.

I mean, really, with lyrics like this, you really think it would have been taken seriously if it weren’t for the star power of Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg getting people to think they liked it? I mean, really, take a look at the lyrics, and then try to convince me we have poetry to rival Longfellow and Coleridge and Dylan Thomas (or even Bob Dylan) here.

→Greetings loved ones
→Let’s take a journey

First of all, Snoop Dogg doesn’t have all that many lines in this song, so i’ll be marking his lines with an arrow (→), to contrast them with Katy Perry’s unmarked lines.

Second, when Mr. Dogg asks me to take a journey, i can only assume he means a journey that would result in all of us being, ahem, at an excessive altitude.

I know a place where the grass is really greener
Warm, wet, and wild
There must be something in the water

Okay, i get the grass being greener—that’s fine. And Ms Perry’s completely within her rights to have whatever opinions about landscaping she wants to, but i don’t want my lawn to be warm, wet, and wild unless there’s just been a summertime rainstorm. Otherwise, i’m pretty sure she’s right and there is something in the water—unfortunately, Ms Perry, you’ll just need to be more careful about where you put the pool next time.

Sippin’ gin and juice (gin and juice)
Laying underneath the palm trees (undone)
The boys break their necks
Try’na to creep a little sneak peek (at us)

Great, just great—i come here thinking i’m going to be listening to a mindless little song about summer and all, and i end up being faced with the horrible, horrible image of guys with broken necks. Wow, way to harsh my mellow, dudes.

You could travel the world
But nothing comes close
To the golden coast

True fact: If you search Google for “golden coast”, the first results are for locations in Australia and Africa. If nothing else, then, it appears that this song may be useful as a way to alert the educational establishment in the United States of the desperate need to improve the state of geography instruction, particularly international geography.

Once you party with us
You’ll be falling in love

Well, i suppose “love” is one way of phrasing it, so yes, i guess you’re right.

California girls, we’re unforgettable

Very seriously, this is true. Listen to any top-40 station these days, and you’ll hear this song so often that it will sear itself permanently into your brain.

I would submit, however, that this is not the Good Thing that Ms Perry is presenting it as.

Daisy Dukes, bikinis on top

This isn’t titillating, it’s simply boring—the whole Daisy Dukes+bikini top thing has been done to death. You want to get someone’s attention these days, you need a bit more originality—maybe pair your Daisy Dukes with a turtleneck or something.

Sun kissed skin so hot
We’ll melt your popsicle

This line, believe it or not, led to a very proud parenting moment for me: My 11- and 9-year-old daughters, upon listening to the lyrics to this song, had the same reaction as i did, and the 11-year-old told me i should discuss this song on this blog simply because it has this one amazingly stupid line.

My reaction? Well, it’s simple, really: Given the temperature of skin, at least of the skin of living human beings, when compared to the melting point of popsicles, anybody’s skin will melt your popsicle. So, essentially, Ms Perry is saying that California gurls are alive. Wow, that’s exciting. No, really—better than Cats, even.

Well, either that or there’s some sort of sexual reference going on here, which (given that we are talking Katy Perry and Snoop “Doggystyle” Dogg himself) wouldn’t surprise me at all. However, the only thing i can come up with is that the popsicle is a phallic reference, and the message is that mere viewing of the sun-kissed skin of the California gurls out there will result in the popsicle, um, losing its popsicle-like shape. Doesn’t really seem like a very positive portrayal of the view on the west coast, does it?


Oh-oh (or perhaps uh-oh), indeed.

California girls, we’re undeniable
Fine, fresh, fierce, we got it on lock

So since i’m not hip and with it enough to know what it means to have things “on lock”, I took a stroll over to Urban Dictionary, where i discovered that it means to have things under control, but in a very intense way—in particular, it means (as the most clinical of the definitions phrases it) to be under strict, severe obligations or rules.

So basically, we have just learned that California gurls are all nuns. I’m a little confused now.

West Coast, represent
Now put your hands up

I’m always curious what happens when performers get famous enough to do a national tour and they deliver a line like this in, say, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I mean, Philadelphians have been known to boo and throw snowballs at Santa Claus, so i might actually pay to go to a Katy Perry concert just to see what they came up with in response to this verse.

If it was early in the night, i’m guessing that East Coast would represent by putting their fingers (well, actually, just one, relatively long finger) up. If it was later in the night, after the beer started flowing, though, it could get interesting…

Sex on the beach

This may be getting a bit too personal here, but i would like to publicly say that this is not an experience i care to ever have. I mean, sand is uncomfortable enough when it somehow gets stuck in your armpit or the crook of your elbow—i don’t wish to ever have sand reach other, more sensitive parts of my anatomy.

And now, as an apology for that image, here’s something completely unrelated for you to waste a couple minutes with.

We don’t mind sand in our stilettos

More discomfort.

Though i would like to watch Ms Perry walk across the beach in stilettos. Just imagine it: Step-sink, step-sink, step-sink… It might even make up for having to watch the video for this song as i was writing this post.

We freak in our jeep,
Snopp Doggy Dogg on the stereo

This seems to be Ms Perry’s way of warning us that Snoop Dogg is about to speak. A bit overly subtle, but at least it does give you a chance to change the station if you haven’t already, so we should all thank her for her thoughtfulness.

You could travel the world (you could travel the world)
But nothing comes close
To the golden coast

Well, except for the water. I mean, that’s kind of the definition of “coast”, you know?

Once you party with us (once you party with us)
You’ll be falling in love

And then we get a couple repetitions of the chorus, where we are reminded, in case we were not already aware, that human skin will melt popsicles. Since you are, i assume, already aware of that fact, i will skip them for you.

→Tone, tan, fit and ready
→Turn it up cause it’s gettin’ heavy
→Wild, wild west coast
→These are the girls I love the most
→I mean the ones, I mean like, she’s the one
→Kiss her, touch her, squeeze her buns (uhhh)

Apparently i erred earlier, and i should have put the link to the McDonald’s Rap here.

→The girl’s a freak, she drive a jeep
→in Laguna beach

So she’s a yuppie driving an SUV. Wow. Such an exciting freak she must be. Maybe she actually even (dare i say this on a blog without a warning page?) plays golf!

→I’m okay, I won’t play

Oh, apparently not. Sorry.

→I love the bay, just like I love LA

So does Randy Newman. I can’t figure out if that comparison helps or hurts your cause, but either way it certainly makes things a bit weirder.

→Venice beach and Palm Springs
→Summer time is everything

Well, everything except winter, spring, and fall, at least.

→Home boys, hanging out (all that ass hanging out)
→Bikinis, zucchini, martinis, no weenies

Okay, this may be very second-grade of me to point out, but Mr. Dogg just told us all that his homeboys have no weenies. I hadn’t even suspected this.

→Just the kingy and the queenie
→Katy, my lady (yeah?)
→Hey looky here baby (uh huh)
→I'm all up on you
→Cause you representing California (oh-oh-oh yeah)

Actually, in the interest of accuracy, i have looked at the official website of the House of Representatives, and i find Ms Perry’s name nowhere on the list of representatives from California. Maybe this song was written during a previous sitting of Congress, and she was serving there back then? ’Cause i didn’t have time to research all the previous California congressional delegations, so i can’t be sure.

Either way, we get two more repetitions of the chorus, where we get told yet again that California gurls are actually warm-blooded, resulting in them having skin so hot [they]’ll melt your popsicle.

Well, upon thinking about this further, i guess it’s good to know they’re not lizards or anything like that, so maybe i shouldn’t be so hard on that line.

→California girls, man
→I wish they all could be
→California girls (California)
→I really wish you all could be
→California girls (California, yeah)

And we close with Snoop Dogg giving a shout-out to his progenitors in rap, those unknown pioneers of hip-hop, the, um, Beach Boys.

Wow. Now that’s a juxtaposition to make your head explode, that is.