Saturday, January 26, 2013

Lyrics Part One


Sorry for the lack of a post last night, but I had to take the SAT at a school this morning that's about fifty minutes away from here, so I had to go to bed super early to get there on time.

Anyways, this week, I've decided to start a little series on lyrics. Love 'em, hate 'em, disregard 'em or appreciate 'em, they're a major component of music. Sometimes the lyrics are funny, sometimes they evoke an emotional response, sometimes they are sheer fluff and other times, the lyrics are the key component of a song.

This week I want to focus on the actual writers of these songs.

Songs are written by teams of people, as opposed to artists thinking and creating for themselves. Granted, some people are not able to create beautiful lyrics and melodies; some have talents in one area and not both. Fine, I understand that. But, explain why it took 6 writers and 4 producers to come up with this crap. I'm perfectly fine with bands/artists reaching out for a little help, but why does it all sound repetitious and pathetic?

Take, Katy Perry, for example. Her album "Teenage Dream" had nine producers and the title track had five writers. Contrasting directly with one of my favorite bands, MuteMath, and their newest album "Odd Soul" which had three producers (the band members) and their title track had three writers (the three members of the band). Both artists' title tracks are similar, in that they are narrative in style (story-telling) but that is the only similarity they share.

 Let's directly compare lyrics.

Teenage Dream
"You think I'm pretty without any make-up on
You think I'm funny when I tell the punch line wrong
I know you get me, so I let my walls come down, down
Before you met me, I was a wreck
But things were kinda heavy, you brought me to life
Now every February you'll be my valentine, valentine
Let's go all the way tonight
No regrets, just love
We can dance until we die
You and I, we'll be young forever
You make me feel like I'm living a teenage dream
The way you turn me on, I can't sleep
Let's runaway and don't ever look back
Don't ever look back
My heart stops when you look at me
Just one touch, now baby I believe
This is real, so take a chance
And don't ever look back, don't ever look back
We drove to Cali and got drunk on the beach
Got a motel and built a fort  out of sheets
I finally found you, my missing puzzle piece
I'm complete..."

Odd Soul
"I was once a son
Now I'm on my own
Wade through every rut
And I've got myself to show

And the trials and tribulations
Seem to always track me down
I'll ride off into the sunset
And try me another town

I'm an odd soul, oh yes, an odd soul
Walking side roads
'Cause that's the only way I know
I'm an odd soul, oh yes, an odd soul

Watch for who you know
Careful what you try
Everywhere I go
I still got myself to fight

And one day my child
Ever wonders what is wrong
I won't bat an eye when
I tell her, "Daddy don't belong"

I'm an odd soul, oh yes, an odd soul
Walking side roads
'Cause that's the only way I know
I'm an odd soul, oh yes, an odd soul

One of God's own
Just trying to find a place called home."

See the differences? I know I do. Katy and her gazillion other writers detail a stereotypical fling that escalates to much more, they'll be together forever, he makes her feel younger (she's only in her twenties, what the heck is wrong with her?) and he completes her. No set rhyme scheme, no real diction I mean, yes, they chose words, but obviously not strategically, and there is too much filler repetition. (I didn't copy all the lyrics because it essentially repeats all over again). In Mutemath's song, they present a personal anecdote of trying to find themselves and their purposes on Earth. Certainly, it's quite a bit deeper than "going all the way tonight" like Katy. They actually utilize some rhymes (down/town, etc) and I absolutely adore the phrase "wade through every rut," as it shows they know how to use dark diction and careful syntax to get their ideas across.

In conclusion, though both songs are narrative, in essence, one clearly outshines the other. MM tells a deep story of looking for meaning, both relating to God and life in general, while Katy discusses a fling with a guy who makes her feel like an irresponsible teenager. Overall, it is easy to see the discrepancies between the two.

Next week, for the second part of this series, I will break down the notion of good songwriting versus good "line-writing."

Until then,

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