Bad Lyrics: A Musical Odyssey





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Bad lyrics. Don’t they drive you crazy?

There’s an MSN article on this here, but it misses out a lot of the ones that drive me crazy (and some of them they cite aren’t as bad as they seem to think they are). Dave Barry also wrote a series of articles on a similar theme (MacArthur Park was voted the worst song ever written in a poll of his readers). However, I can think of others.

I mean, there’s that Killers song that goes “Are we human, or are we dancer?”, which makes no sense. Maybe it’s just a shaky grasp of grammar, or just the English language. Unless the whole of humanity has somehow combined into some sort of bizarre gesalt entity that just so happens to be one of Santa’s reindeer.

And then a friend told me about McFly’s Star Girl, which was recommended for the line “And I was afraid when you kissed me/on your intergalactical Frisbee”. Now, I’m not sure which cosmic body looks like a Frisbee – maybe a very flat comet – but what really bugged me was the fact that intergalactical isn’t actually a word! Maybe pop songs are a magnet for bad astronomy – more on this later.

This isn’t as bad as Champagne Supernova by Oasis. Exhibit A: “Slowly walking down the hall, faster than a cannonball.” What?! That’s against the laws of physics! If you’re slowly walking faster than a cannonball, then the thing’s practically standing still! Or maybe gently trundling along, in which case it’s a health and safety violation. Or the cannonball is going at usual launched-cannonball speed, in which case they’re walking at superspeed! “Oh, it’s a paradox”, some might say, “It’s talking about the dichotomy of human emotions and possibly even Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.” Well, yes, it might be. It might also be complete and utter bobbins.

And yes, while I’m on a rant, let’s consider The Smiths and their “Panic on the streets of [insert British town here]…. Hang the DJ (repeat 472 times)”. Yes, I went there!

And have you ever danced on the ceiling?

But for me, the king of bad lyrics is the Christmas-bothering lalalala-fest that is Chris de Burgh’s A Spaceman Came Travelling. Why? Because it describes an alien who is coming to Earth, coincidentally around the birth of Jesus, and so it’s obviously been a long journey for the guy – “It was light years of time since his mission did start.”

This is where the song is unique, because immediately all the cosmologists in the audience are saying “Chris! You buffoon! A light year is a measure of distance, not time! Read a book!” So straight away the scientists are annoyed. But, the rest of the song suggests the traditional nativity story was the result of extra-terrestrial intervention, which is blasphemous. So Chris de Burgh has actually succeeded in writing the only song ever to pee off both Richard Dawkins and the Archbishop of Canterbury. This is unique. It annoys me on so many levels that I can’t describe it rationally. All I know is that I hear that song, every Christmas, and I get an insane urge to shoot the radio. With a rail gun, and frankly the only reason the DJs escape is that it’s a season of goodwill, a time of peace and love to all mankind, and so it’d be morally wrong to find everyone involved in its production and hang them from the nearest Christmas tree.

See? I’m getting upset now. Bad lyrics do that to me. I’m not saying I could actually do better; I am, however, saying that I couldn’t do much worse without sticking a spoon into my head and scooping out half of my brain.

Anyway, I don’t see why I should be the only one to suffer. I’m throwing it out there – what are your favourite bad lyrics?



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