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There are certain lyrics that always drive me crazy for various reasons. Every time I hear them, I want to take a time machine and travel back into the studio and say, "Please tweak that."

One is the Toto song Africa. "Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti." So you're actually going to make a metaphor comparing one of the world's highest mountains to another mountain? And one that isn't even that tall?

She's Gone by Hall & Oates "Think I'll spend eternity in the city. Let the carbon and monoxide choke my thoughts away" The carbon and monoxide? That's not how chemistry works.

Duran Duran, "Smell like I sound." Huh?

But the worst of all time, the one that gets me every single time it plays is Steve Miller Band: "Billy Mac is a detective down in Texas. Ya know he knows just exactly what the facts is. He ain't gonna let those two escape justice. He makes his livin' off the peoples' taxes."

There's just so much wrong there. The first sentence, mmmmmoookay. But that second sentence. Nevermind all the colloquial abbreviations (which I don't think are appropriate to Texas;) the "just exactly" kills me and then the subject/verb issue... Ugh! And I'll let the third sentence pass since we already established that we're using slang, even if maybe just a little too much. But the fourth sentence is just unnecessary information. And then there's the issue that none of it actually rhymes!

Anyway, as writers, what are your pet peeve lyrics? I'm curious.

EDITING TO ADD: Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the songs are bad. In fact, I like most of them very much and I even sing along, but those phrases, they just grate.
 

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jdcore said:
One is the Toto song Africa. "Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti." So you're actually going to make a metaphor comparing one of the world's highest mountains to another mountain? And one that isn't even that tall?
That line has always bugged me for having waaaaay too many syllables. But I actually always heard it as "rises like a leopardess." :-[ Still too many syllables, but maybe a little more sensible?? Toto should've called us for help, I guess ... :p
 

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jdcore said:
One is the Toto song Africa. "Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti." So you're actually going to make a metaphor comparing one of the world's highest mountains to another mountain? And one that isn't even that tall?
I always thought it was ....like an Empress above...... Well, slap my thigh!
The fact is that Toto 1V was not only a good album lyrically and musically it was also lauded for it's 'tightness' and superb productrion.
 

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"Gliddy glup gloopy
Nibby nabby noopy la la la lo lo
Sabba sibby sabba
Nooby abba nabba le le lo lo
Tooby ooby walla nooby abba nabba
Early morning singing song."

?????????
 

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jdcore said:
But the worst of all time, the one that gets me every single time it plays is Steve Miller Band: "Billy Mac is a detective down in Texas. Ya know he knows just exactly what the facts is. He ain't gonna let those two escape justice. He makes his livin' off the peoples' taxes."

There's just so much wrong there. The first sentence, mmmmmoookay. But that second sentence. Nevermind all the colloquial abbreviations (which I don't think are appropriate to Texas;) the "just exactly" kills me and then the subject/verb issue... Ugh! And I'll let the third sentence pass since we already established that we're using slang, even if maybe just a little too much. But the fourth sentence is just unnecessary information. And then there's the issue that none of it actually rhymes!
Lyrics need not always rhyme. There's a lot of give and take between what the lyrics are and what the music is--the two have to fit together well. Lyrics are meant to be evocative, to pull on the imagination in a different way than books. You're listening to music the way you might try to listen to an audiobook--and therein seems to lie your frustration. They're different worlds on purpose (musical lyrics and book writing). Poetry/Lyrics do not adhere to the rules of strict language because they are attempting brevity and matching pace with rythym.

I live with professional musicians, so I hear this kind of stuff all the time. I get in my own way with lyrics constantly, so I feel the same way you do. This is how it was explained to me. It helped me (a little) to let it go a little more every time I hear certain songs.
 

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Ha, yep lyrics are hard.  I can write words and stuff, and I can write music, but I've tried to do lyrics and I know I can't do it.  So, I very much respect people who can do it, even if it comes out sloppy sometimes, but...there is one thing with song lyrics that drives me nuts.  It's when somebody is singing a song and you can just tell that they don't have a reference for it personally.  Like, when a city kid sings a song about working in his orchard or something.  This happens a lot with folksey music, and me the farmer gets offended.  But I think my favorite problematic frame of reference in a song though was something I found when I worked in a guitar store.  There was a song book (and I wish I could remember the name of the band) that was a metal band but their schtick was that everything was preshistoric themed.  Kinda caveman metal.  They lyrics were, "I hunt mammoth with rock and spear" and I was hurting laughing.

Also, I love Toto and Hall and Oates.  I feel like they can get away with a lot out of sheer 80s awesomeness.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Kathy Dee said:
"Gliddy glup gloopy
Nibby nabby noopy la la la lo lo
Sabba sibby sabba
Nooby abba nabba le le lo lo
Tooby ooby walla nooby abba nabba
Early morning singing song."

?????????
Bahahahaha! I was in art school when Phil Collins remade Groovy Kind of Love. My roommate hated it because nobody says "groovy" anymore so he felt Collins should have changed the lyric and title to be more contemporary. But yes, nonsense words are a weird choice. It makes it less likely anyone is going to sing along which is kind of a necessary thing. They don't call it a "hook" for nothing.

Side story, I was in a local production of Grease several years ago. "We go together like rama lama lama ka dinginty ding de dong." That song was a killer.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
scott.marmorstein said:
Lyrics need not always rhyme. There's a lot of give and take between what the lyrics are and what the music is--the two have to fit together well. Lyrics are meant to be evocative, to pull on the imagination in a different way than books. You're listening to music the way you might try to listen to an audiobook--and therein seems to lie your frustration. They're different worlds on purpose (musical lyrics and book writing). Poetry/Lyrics do not adhere to the rules of strict language because they are attempting brevity and matching pace with rythym.

I live with professional musicians, so I hear this kind of stuff all the time. I get in my own way with lyrics constantly, so I feel the same way you do. This is how it was explained to me. It helped me (a little) to let it go a little more every time I hear certain songs.
I've written lyrics too, and I also get in my own way.
 

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Ah, I heard one on the radio today that was always weird to me.  Carly Simon singing, "You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you."  Because whoever this is about, the song is about them, it's just about them thinking that it's about them.  I may be thinking way too far into this.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
NikOK said:
Ah, I heard one on the radio today that was always weird to me. Carly Simon singing, "You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you." Because whoever this is about, the song is about them, it's just about them thinking that it's about them. I may be thinking way too far into this.
LOL

That was the genius of the song.

But it did have a lyric that bugged me.

"and your horse naturally won."

She could have sung, "And naturally, your horse won." It would have been better syntax and still fit the meter.
 

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There's a song by The Killers called 'Human' which features the lyric: "Are we human, or are we dancer?"

The song came out 12 years ago, and that lyric has bothered me ever since.
 

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Corvid said:
There's a song by The Killers called 'Human' which features the lyric: "Are we human, or are we dancer?"

The song came out 12 years ago, and that lyric has bothered me ever since.
I'm with you there. "Are we human, or are we dancers?" would pose an equally mystifying but more grammatically correct question. It could be an attempt to avoid the sibilant sound of "ess" or a deliberate dissonance.

According to Brandon Flowers, the line's based on a quote from Hunter S Thompson and that's kind of groovy.

jdcore said:
Bahahahaha! I was in art school when Phil Collins remade Groovy Kind of Love. My roommate hated it because nobody says "groovy" anymore so he felt Collins should have changed the lyric and title to be more contemporary.
The 1988 version "Groovy Kind of Love" featured in the film "Buster", released the same year. Phil Collins played the title character, Buster Edwards, one of the great train robbers. The film's set mainly in London in the sixties, when everything was "groovy". :)

Groovy made a brief comeback a few years ago as a term of sarcasm.

I am loving this thread.

For bad lyrics, the Glam Rock era takes some beating - if it rhymed & fans could stomp along & shout it out, it was in.
 

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Even as a casual listener, I noticed years ago that a lot of song lyrics don't make sense.  There may be complete sentences, but not necessarily all related in any particular way.

Ironically I was watching an episode of Big Bang Theory tonight when a woman Raj was dating said she didn't care about music  "Even Beyonce?" he asked incredulously.  She said, "Her lyrics are 'Ooo-ooo-ooo.'"  (Disclaimer:  I'm not familiar with the song, so I neither know nor care about her lyrics.  ???)
 

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NikOK said:
Ah, I heard one on the radio today that was always weird to me. Carly Simon singing, "You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you." Because whoever this is about, the song is about them
James Taylor I believe!

Anyway, I heard Good Morning Starshine on the radio a few weeks back and I can tell you, I was singing along.

"Singing a song, humming a song
Singing a song, loving a song
Laughing a song
Sing the song, sing the song
Song the sing
Song, song, song, sing
Sing, sing, sing, song."

Genius!
 

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Dayseye said:
The 1988 version "Groovy Kind of Love" featured in the film "Buster", released the same year. Phil Collins played the title character, Buster Edwards, one of the great train robbers. The film's set mainly in London in the sixties, when everything was "groovy". :)

Groovy made a brief comeback a few years ago as a term of sarcasm.
Groovy Kind of Love was first recorded on an EP in 1965 by Diane and Annita, also by Wayne Fontanna and the Mindbenders as a single which charted in the UK and the US. That was a time when "groovy" was common.

As you say Phill Collins recorded it for the film Buster in 1988 to denote that time period in the film.

Simon and Garfunkle had the song titled Feeling Groovy and that was in the lyrics.

OMG, rembering those lyrics really dates me. Lol.
 

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Decon said:
Simon and Garfunkle had the song titled Feeling Groovy and that was in the lyrics.
"Doo-da-n-doo-doo, feeling groovy.
Ba da-da da-da da-da, feeling groovy."

They don't write them like that any more!

Don't mind me. Just fixing quote code. - Becca
 

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Not bad lyrics, but double innuendo.

"If I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me."

As a chat up line meaning physically, I think they could possibly mentally hold it against you as being cheesy.
 
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