Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Lazy lyrics

Some songwriters and songs reach a higher plane by virtue of great lyrics. Bob Dylan is the master-poet of the song lyric; Springsteen and Elton John/Bernie Taupin are close behind. And then there are the songs where unimaginative and uninspired lyrics are pasted in as a placeholder…and just stay there.

For example, any mention of beverages is a sure sign of a lazy lyric:

I like coffee and I like tea
But to be able to enter a final plea

That’s a line from “Run Around” by Blues Traveler. Then there’s this doggerel from Ten Years After’s “I’d Love to Change the World”:

Life is funny
Skies are sunny
Bees make honey
Who needs money

For sheer density of dumb lyrics, you can’t beat the Temptations’ “The Way you Do the Things you Do”:

The way you stole my heart
You know, you could have been a cool crook.
And baby you're so smart
You know, you could have been a school book

But then this morning (on satellite radio!) I heard quite possibly the laziest lyrics every put to music. It was a minor hit for Frankie Ford called “Roberta”:

I ain’t mad at you
Don’t you be mad at me
1+1 is 2
2+1 is 3

I think these lyrics were written on the back of a napkin by a four-year-old. Think about the thousands of other words Frankie could have rhymed with “me.” Instead he takes the path of least effort and drops in a math lesson. Wayne Brady makes up better lyrics during improv on “Whose Line is it Anyway?”

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