Originally written 2/8/16
Lyrics are a major part of a vast majority of popular songs, especially since vocals, and by extension, vocalists, almost always take center stage in pop music. Yet, come awards season, lyrics are conveniently ignored, except for as a package deal with the Song of the Year award, where lyrics and music are considered in combination, though lyrical content itself is largely ignored. Perhaps it’s the mundanity, or maybe the stupidity, of many pop songs’ lyrical topics, from wondering who let the dogs out, to singing their way through the days of the week (“I’ve Got A Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas), pop music certainly has its share of pointless lyrics.
Here are some lyrical examples showcasing why there is not, and likely never will be, a Grammy for Best Lyrics:
Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda”
“Now that bang bang bang / I let him hit it ’cause he slang Cocaine / He toss my salad like his name Romaine / And when we done, I make him buy me Balmain / I’m on some dumb shit“
Definitely got the last line right. Not only are the lyrics atrocious, but Nicki irreparably damaged a classic song in the process.
Fetty Wap – “Trap Queen”
“I hit the strip with my trap queen ’cause all we know is bands / I just might snatch a ‘Rari and buy my boo a Lamb”
Okay, you do need to know a decent amount of “urban lingo” to even comprehend this song, but that aside, exactly what is one expected to gain from having read these lyrics? Does anyone care about Fetty Wap’s (or any other rappers) stacks of cash? Stacks which certainly did not exist before this song, by the way, and in any case, even after this song he certainly cannot afford a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. Much less both. I mean, come on.
Rihanna – “Rude Boy”
“”Come here rude boy, boy. Can you get it up? / Come here rude boy, boy. Is you big enough? / Take it, take it, baby, baby, take it, take it, love me, love me.”
Subtle as an atomic bomb.
Black Eyed Peas – “My Humps”
“What you gonna do with all that junk? / All that junk inside that trunk? / I’ma get, get, get, get you drunk / Get you love drunk off my hump.”
Again, very profound.
Nickelback – “Photograph”
“Look at this photograph / Every time I do it makes me laugh / How did our eyes get so red? / And what the hell is on Joey’s head?”
I can’t lie. I literally laugh out loud every time I hear these lyrics. Fortunately, I don’t hear this song receiving much airplay anymore, because fighting back rage is always the next phase after laughter.
Pitbull – “Give Me Everything”
“Me not working hard? / Yea, right! / Picture that with a Kodak. / And, better yet, go to Times Square. / Take a picture of me with a Kodak.”
These lines demonstrate what the intellectual capacity of an average 12-year old may look like, yet this guy has a net worth of $65 million. Always follow your dreams, kids.
L.F.O. – “Summer Time”
“New Kids on the Block had a bunch of hits / Chinese food makes me sick.”
I’m sure you just rolled your eyes too. First, the lamest factual reference in a song. Possibly of all time. Then, there’s a silly, meaningless non-sequitur. That’s top-notch writing, L.F.O.’s lyricist.
R. Kelly – “You Remind Me of Something”
“Girl you look just like my car / I wanna wax it.”
So this girl, she looks like… a car? And you want to wax her?! I suppose R. Kelly’s done worse things in his life.
Shakira – “Whenever, Wherever”
“Lucky that my breasts / Are small and humble / So you don’t confuse / Them with mountains”
No one would confuse these two things, regardless of cup size.
To be fair, it’s not just the new artists whose lyrics are atrocious:
America – “A Horse With No Name”
“There were plants and birds and rocks and things.”
It looks like someone gave up halfway through. “Rocks” and “things.” Very descriptive. Inspiring.
AC/DC – “Let Me Put My Love Into You”
“Let me put my love into you babe Let me cut my cake with your knife.”
Lesson learned: if you want to make it as a writer, you might have a chance if you consider writing Pop lyrics.
This is not to say all lyrics are bad in popular music. If there were a category for Best Lyrics, it would certainly give Kendrick Lamar his 12th Grammy nomination in 2016: