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.