Songs That Bug Me

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Does anyone else get annoyed when song lyrics don’t make sense?

I love music. So many different styles of music. When it’s a good song, I feel it. Especially when the melody and lyrics come together in perfect compliment, so you can’t help but go, daaaamn. I know exactly what she means! Sing it, girl! My new favorite single is Royals by Lorde. Try listening to that without moving your body.

But seriously. Some of these songs make me wonder if pop stars learn the same English language as the rest of us. Now before you crucify reprimand me for being anti-art (Grammar nazi! It’s a song, not a college essay!), let me say I’m all for artistic expression. I’m always manipulating language to fit my style and voice. I’ve got ten sentence fragments in this blog post alone. (Bragging rights if you can find them all.) 

I’m not talking about grammar. Or punctuation. I’m talking about illogical lyrics. Take Cheap Trick’s “The Flame,” for example.

Remember, after the fire, after all the rain,

I will be the flame.

I will be the flaaaaaame!

Is that supposed to be comforting? Why would I want you to be a flame after I just survived a fire? I know it’s supposed to be a metaphor for something, but what?

And how about One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful”? (I know, I know. No fair using a boy band. Too easy. But this one really bugs me.)

Baby you light up my world like nobody else.

The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed.

But when you smile at the ground it ain’t hard to tell–

You don’t know-ow-ow,

You don’t know you’re beautiful.

Oh-oh-oh,

That’s what makes you beautiful!

So many issues with this one. Where do I begin? First of all, I know teenage boys aren’t exactly experts on feminine body language, but do you seriously not know that when girls flip their hair or smile at the ground it means they’re flirting? And they don’t even go together. Hair flipping says, “Look at me! I’ve got great hair and I want you to notice me!” And smiling at the ground means, “I want to look coy, but I know that you know that I know you like me.”

But set these guys’ lack of knowledge about girls aside. I suppose I can forgive them for that. What is up with the end of the song? You don’t know you’re beautiful. That’s what makes you beautiful. So low self-esteem is the big turn-on, huh? If that’s the case, why did you just spend three minutes trying to convince her that she’s beautiful? Now that you’ve told her she’s beautiful, does she know it? And if so, does that make her no longer beautiful?

And while we’re on the subject of boy bands, what about “Quit Playing Games with My Heart” by the Backstreet Boys?

Sometimes I wish I could turn back time,

Impossible as it may seem.

So what is it you’re referring to when you say that “it” seems impossible? You probably think it’s turning back time, but to me it sounds like you’re saying the fact that you wish you could turn back time seems impossible. OK. Maybe if I knew you better, and you were the type of guy who never wishes for such things, then I’d think that seemed impossible. But you’d be playing to a pretty small audience there.

But even if I accept that you mean it seems impossible that you could turn back time, it still makes no sense. That doesn’t seem impossible. It is impossible.

And Carly Simon, you’re not getting off here. What’s up with “You’re So Vain”?

You’re so vain.

I bet you think this song is about you.

Hello! This song is about him! You just said like a hundred and ten things about him! Were those just minor points that didn’t speak to your true theme?

Anyway. Sorry to be such a crank this afternoon. I have a cold. When my head clears up I’ll go back to writing about my novels and goofy stuff my kids say.

Are there any songs that bug you because the lyrics are illogical? Let me know in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you!

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6 comments

  1. Quite often songs seem very illogical to me. But that’s depending on the situtation I’m in while listening to the song (for the first time). Some songs I couldn’t stand in the past have become my most favorite ones, as slowly the lyrics began to speak to me and made sense.

    http://songmeanings.com

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  2. Or how about when you don’t understand what the singer is saying? I can’t think of a specific example – except the classic – Judy in disguise (in the sky) with diamonds…

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  3. When illogical lyrics really get to you, cleanse your palate with Cream’s “Toad”. Enjoy Ginger Baker’s thunderous drum solo and especially enjoy the total absence of any words at all.

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  4. Here’s what I suggest:

    He’s the “flame” that is still blazing for this love. It has not been “blown out”, yet, at least, on his side. She may have already blown it out though, but he doesn’t want to realize that. I agree, the word “flame” sounds terrible right after surviving that fire which stands for the arguments they had. There’s a colloquial meaning to the word “flame”, as well, i.e. “teasing”. Although, I assume it’s not what he intended, it could mean that he will always be to blame for all the arguments and the broken relationship.

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  5. As for Carly Simon’s song … I always loved it, because it’s so “provoking”. Of course, it’s obvious that she sings about that particular Mr. X. But she acts like she denies it in the refrain, provoking him with a sort of “Well, if that cap fits ya, wear it!” … and of course, it fits. She knows, he knows… and he’s upset.

    It’s like writing a subtextual hate speech on Facebook these days. *G The right person will always get it, unless, s/he’s too stupid.

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