Jump to content

Insipid Lyrics


mpeddle

Recommended Posts

  • Members

To what extent do you believe that bad lyrics can be offset by excellent delivery? There's only a few guys like Bob Dylan kicking around who succeed in spite of their musical execution, but there are tons of people with less meaningful (or even bad) lyrics and better execution who do very well.

 

Discuss. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I'll admit that as much as I like good lyrics, I think the melody is ultimately more important to creating a song that will appeal to most people.

 

Although appealing to most people certainly a goal worth debating. My rule of thumb is that if my girlfriend sings along, it's a good song.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I disagree with this...

 

"There's only a few guys like Bob Dylan kicking around who succeed in spite of their musical execution"

 

I'm guessing that I'm in the minority here on this particular forum, but I really enjoy Dylan's phrasing and delivery. Even his current weathered wheeze is nifty. I'm not usually a fan of traditionally gifted vocalists, especially male.

 

And to the original point, a striking vocal melody well executed or even just good vocal technique and/or interesting instrumental setting can carry all manner of banality. Just look at Nickleback. They're a group who strikes the right "rock" signifiers and get over on account of seeming *something* enough that people dig their tunes.

 

Another, less mean-spirited, example might be Elvis Costello. The better he's gotten as a singer, the less "crafted" his lyrics. Not saying that he's not writing good songs, but the lyrics are no longer as obviously *written* now that he's a crooner and no longer a new wave yelper.

 

EDIT: Please note, I'm into a lot of punk, alternative, junk rock, old rock and roll, and whathaveyou. I'd much rather listen to Pavement drive a song down the stairs than listen to Jeff Buckley's soaring vox.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

This is a tough one for me to suss out because I revere both excellent vocalists and excellent writers, so it's hard for me to put down one or the other. Regardless, I think it's an important thing to think about because it really informs my songwriting process.

 

I cite Bob Dylan as sort of the archetypical example of someone with a non-traditional voice. I think he's both over and under-rated at the same time. When he was at the top of his game in the 60s, I think he was actually a pretty good singer, but adopted his signature style to get across his message. But his work is really uneven and he has whole albums of stuff that is pretty awful/

 

I agree with you whole-heartedly about both Pavement and Nickelback. And as a side note, I'd contest that Elvis Costello always was a pretty great singer!

 

My title (Insipid Lyrics) was kind of misleading. This is probably a topic best discussed at the bleeding edge between artistic relevance and musical proficiency, rather than really awful bands like Nickelback! :)

 

How about someone like Paul McCartney, post-Beatles? Although most of his stuff in the 70s was awful, I think his voice totally carries "Baby I'm Amazed".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

This is a tough one for me to suss out because I revere both excellent vocalists and excellent writers, so it's hard for me to put down one or the other. Regardless, I think it's an important thing to think about because it really informs my songwriting process.


I cite Bob Dylan as sort of the archetypical example of someone with a non-traditional voice. I think he's both over and under-rated at the same time. When he was at the top of his game in the 60s, I think he was actually a pretty good singer, but adopted his signature style to get across his message. But his work is really uneven and he has whole albums of stuff that is pretty awful/


I agree with you whole-heartedly about both Pavement and Nickelback. And as a side note, I'd contest that Elvis Costello always was a pretty great singer!


My title (Insipid Lyrics) was kind of misleading. This is probably a topic best discussed at the bleeding edge between artistic relevance and musical proficiency, rather than really awful bands like Nickelback!
:)

How about someone like Paul McCartney, post-Beatles? Although most of his stuff in the 70s was awful, I think his voice totally carries "Baby I'm Amazed".

 

Costello's always been good, but somewhere along the line he got great.

 

McCartney's always leaned on his voice and his keen melodic sense. It's not like "Yesterday" is "Tangled Up in Blue." He's got a nice voice and he's a charismatic performer who had a great foil and partner during his formative years. He should be dragged out into the street, shot, and his carcass fed to dogs for "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time." I think John is the more expressive singer of the pair. I think some of John's plainer writing on Plastic Ono Band is totally sold by his vocals.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Hahah, couldn't agree more about "simply having a wonderful christmas time". Paul was past his warranty period by then.

 

Interestingly, I was reading that John was always self-conscious about his voice. I guess he frequently layered a lot processing on his voice in the studio because of this fear. I find it very strange, because I would agree that Lennon is one of the best voices of his generation. For example, I think he totally kills on his cover of "Stand By Me".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

this is really interesting because I'd been thinking lately of posting a simular thread.

For me. it's the music that typically "makes" the song. But then again, I'm a music kinda guy, meaning the lyrics (most of which I can't understand) really don't mean much, however their delivery does.

A song with really bad lyrics that are delivered well will hold me whereas a song with good lyrics and bad delivery loses me rather quickly; case in point, Louie Louie , I know it's only a three chord song but the dynamics and delivery make it. Certainly not the lyrics because I imagine if asked three out of four people couldn't tell you what's being said.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Louie Louie makes me want to die inside when I hear it, but yes, delivery is huge.

 

I think at least 50% of people hear very few lyrics...even people who like music a lot...even some musicians! So, potentially half of your audience may not care how cool your lyrics are...so you had better bring something else to the table.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

Louie Louie makes me want to die inside when I hear it, but yes, delivery is huge.


I think at least 50% of people hear very few lyrics...even people who like music a lot...even some musicians! So, potentially half of your audience may not care how cool your lyrics are...so you had better bring something else to the table.

 

 

 

+1 on L L

most artists with a very good delivery can and will grab your attention and keep it with ease, no matter what they're singing

music on the other hand is quite a different bag o tricks. someone playing a guitar solo in the wrong key, or missed chords for example will not only grab your attention but very likely make you lose all interest (and probably end up being made a joke)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

I disagree with this...


I'm guessing that I'm in the minority here on this particular forum, but I really enjoy Dylan's phrasing and delivery. Even his current weathered wheeze is nifty. I'm not usually a fan of traditionally gifted vocalists, especially male.


 

 

Have to agree with you about Dylan.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

I'll admit that as much as I like good lyrics, I think the melody is ultimately more important to creating a song that will appeal to most people.

 

 

This kind of debate comes up often in this forum...the whole "lyrics vs music" thing or "do lyrics matter". There are many who come to this forum looking to improve their skill crafting a good lyric; some here are purely lyricists; others consider bad or perfunctory lyrics a complete dealbreaker when listening to a song. The nature of this forum is that it can attract lyrics-centric people. So in a sense you are potentially talking to a skewed demographic by posing this question here...and you're certainly not the first to do so.

 

I tend to agree with you overall - I'm a music first person. But that's no excuse to just plow through the lyrics of your songs without thought.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

The lyrics people care about are always the worst ones.

 

 

that maybe somewhat true, then again the lyrics most people care about I for one in most cases can't understand what they're saying.

 

The folks in this forum have helped me graciously, and tremendously in their advice and crits of my work.

It's always a good thing to have those here share their insight and knowledge into improving the song from something standard (or below) to something well worth listening to.

( now if I can only meet their qualities)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

That's a nice enough little bon mott, but I'm not sure if its supported by the facts on the ground.

 

 

The best-loved, most oft-repeated line on Abbey Road is "In the end, the love you make is equal to the love you take". That's pretty stupid on any album, but especially on the album that include "Something" and "Come Together".

 

John Lennon's best-known lyric is "Imagine", a glistening piece of {censored}, particularly placed next to "In My Life" or something.

 

I think Dylan's most popular song was Rainy Day Women ("Everybody must get stoned!"), probably his stupidest lyric. What are some universally praised lyrics that are really good?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

The best-loved, most oft-repeated line on
Abbey Road
is "In the end, the love you make is equal to the love you take". That's pretty stupid on any album, but especially on the album that include "Something" and "Come Together".


John Lennon's best-known lyric is "Imagine", a glistening piece of {censored}, particularly placed next to "In My Life" or something.


I think Dylan's most popular song was Rainy Day Women ("Everybody must get stoned!"), probably his stupidest lyric. What are some universally praised lyrics that are really good?

 

 

I see; you meant "The lyrics to popular songs are always the worst ones." Or "The lyrics on people facebook pages are always the worst ones." I can agree with that (with some niggling, of course). I was unclear on it because I thought just any old anyone caring about lyrics made them the worst, or something.

 

Pavement's most popular/known song is "Cut Your Hair" and it's a pretty great (and representative) lyric.

 

Also, it's near impossible to critically examine "Imagine" because it serves as a secular hymn and/or the national anthem of "rock nation." It'd be like parsing "Amazing Grace."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

Pavement's most popular/known song is "Cut Your Hair" and it's a pretty great (and representative) lyric.


Also, it's near impossible to critically examine "Imagine" because it serves as a secular hymn and/or the national anthem of "rock nation." It'd be like parsing "Amazing Grace."

 

 

In the grand scheme of things, though, "everybody" couldn't give two {censored}s about Pavement. I'm speaking about the general public that listens to music, for whom Pavement isn't even on the radar.

 

And I disagree about both "Imagine" and "Amazing Grace", but what can you do?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I think Imagine's beauty is its simplicity and directness.

 

Maybe if a lyric inspires people to put it on their facebook pages because it speaks to them so directly, it doesn't matter if it's actually {censored}ty writing. Sometimes emotion is direct and simple.

 

On second thought, I distinctly remember someone putting the lyrics to "And then I got high" on their facebook page...

 

Tough nut to crack, huh?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

This kind of debate comes up often in this forum...the whole "lyrics vs music" thing or "do lyrics matter". There are many who come to this forum looking to improve their skill crafting a good lyric; some here are purely lyricists; others consider bad or perfunctory lyrics a complete dealbreaker when listening to a song. The nature of this forum is that it can attract lyrics-centric people. So in a sense you are potentially talking to a skewed demographic by posing this question here...and you're certainly not the first to do so.


I tend to agree with you overall - I'm a music first person. But that's no excuse to just plow through the lyrics of your songs without thought.

 

 

Since I've gotten more into lyrics, there are some songs/artists that I really liked that I'm a little annoyed by now because the lyrics are bad. On another level, I think people unconsciously respond to good or bad lyrics, so there's really no excuse to not work on the lyric aspect of one's songwriting.

 

I was driving along with my wife this weekend and we were having a good time singing along with some CD's. She got kind of annoyed that I was singing along with some song that had lyrics that were about heartbreak or something. To me, I was just singing along with a cool tune. To her, we were singing the lyrics to each other or something. It made me aware of a different perspective on music that I wasn't really aware of.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

To what extent do you believe that bad lyrics can be offset by excellent delivery? There's only a few guys like Bob Dylan kicking around who succeed in spite of their musical execution, but there are tons of people with less meaningful (or even bad) lyrics and better execution who do very well.


Discuss.
:)

 

Bad Lyrics Are Like A Woman: Who cares if they're dumb as long as they're pretty and easy, you know what I mean? It's all about the presentation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

it never ceases to amaze me at the different thoughts people put on lyrics, in another thread a guy asks what his lyrics are about and it's pretty obvious that each individual is probably going to get a little something different that the next. It may be in the same nature or ball park as they say, but different all the same.

Same is true with any story told, whether it be poem, or whatever, each person will tell a (sometimes) slightly different view of what they got out of it.

 

It's the delivery that makes one notice, with sometimes the words themselves being what drives the attention if the words are delivered properly.

Imagine your very favorite speaker or singer doing there best written piece in monotone. :facepalm:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

it never ceases to amaze me at the different thoughts people put on lyrics, in another thread a guy asks what his lyrics are about and it's pretty obvious that each individual is probably going to get a little something different that the next. It may be in the same nature or ball park as they say, but different all the same.

Same is true with any story told, whether it be poem, or whatever, each person will tell a (sometimes) slightly different view of what they got out of it.


It's the delivery that makes one notice, with sometimes the words themselves being what drives the attention if the words are delivered properly.

Imagine your very favorite speaker or singer doing there best written piece in monotone.
:facepalm:

 

I think there are definitely lyrics that are GOOD, and lyrics that are BAD. But the separation between them (and this is coming from a songwriter who spends lots of time thinking about his lyrics and getting them right, and how an audience will take them), is far smaller than we'd like to admit.

 

Why? Because when you take lyrics out of the context of the rest of the song--the tempo (which can imply easygoing or urgency), the chords (which can change a melody's meaning with just the turn of a major to a minor in one spot), and all the rest of a song's parts--you're robbing a listener of their effect on them all at once, as a whole--the delivery, like you said. Everyone can name singers who could sing a telephone book and they'd get chills. The sum total of a song--not just the lyrics--makes it great.

 

Honestly, I can't understand why people post JUST lyrics on this forum, or why so many artists feel compelled to put the lyrics in their album releases. How many artists put in notation or tablature in their album alongside the lyrics? :poke: You put out a full song, with three, four, five, or more people on it besides a singer, and only the words matter for the listener to pick up on? For poetry on its own, that's great. For a song? Isn't that why we make music--so the sum total of organized noises we have on it affects people in a certain way?

 

I'm by no means knocking good lyrics. But I think too many songwriters consider that the words are the most important part, and spend all their time with their notebooks, when they should be messing around more with their guitar (or piano, or bass, or djembe....:) (Please don't flame me for taking the piss out of other culture's instruments, that's not my intention, I've studied a bit of world music and have huge respect for it)).

 

End rant.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...