Saturday, 30 April 2016

Crimes against rhymes in music

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t enjoy a misheard lyric. From ‘Into the loo, leaving it all behind me’ (Carpenters) to ‘How’s your boiled egg; how’s your boiled egg?’ (Odyssey). 
Travis: What happened when you were 17?
But I want to discuss something altogether more potentially sinister. With misheard lyrics, it’s the fault of the person listening. With words that are used purely-because-they-rhyme, the high-pressure nozzle of contempt must be thrust squarely in the direction of the lyricist. 

Take this, from the Police and 'Wrapped around your finger'. I'm so glad I'm finally writing this down, because for years the sheer audacity of what you're about to see has sent me trembling with a shock that can only be born of disbelief. Disbelief that someone actually thought they could get away with it. It got to number seven in the charts.

"I have only come here seeking knowledge
Things they would not teach me of in college."

A colleague tells me that it's not just popular music where this sort of crime-against-everything has occurred. It's happened on the West End stage. A lyric for Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat includes the lines:

"All these things you saw in your pajamas
Are a long range forecast for your farmers."

The song? Phaoraoh's Dreams. The effect? I closed my eyes. 

But there are also those artistes who take it on themselves to write a line and then 'sort of' make it rhyme with the next. I'm a great fan of Travis but really:

"Why does it always rain on me? 
Is it because I lied when I was seventeen?"

What did he lie about? Why was that date important? Or is it that the syntax just scanned in a seemingly trendy way? 

But, to my mind, by far the biggest, baddest, and, quite frankly the worse lyric of all time is by Wet Wet Wet. (The song was originally by the Troggs, but WWW repeating it is just as bad). I mean, they actually rearranged the words of a sentence just to make it scan and rhyme. No one speaks like this unless they're in a play at the Globe theatre, and even then Shakespeare would be aghast, forsooth. Love isn't all around...

"There's no beginning, there'll be no end
'Cause on my love you can depend."

No comments:

Post a Comment