Da Musicz

Oh god, the sand in her braids!

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I am late to the discussion on the complexity of song lyrics of newer music, but I found this video to be…how do I put this?..a little biased? I like Rick Beato a lot, but when he does a video about how today’s music sucks, he engages in some selection bias. He compares some new songs currently popular on Spotify to one of the Beatles greatest songs. And he does this sort of thing a lot in his “Today’s music is awful” videos, which I think he makes too often. He’ll compare some random song that’s popular right now to a pop song from the 60s-90s, but that we still remember. You can find songs that were popular back then for a week or a month that have been lost to history because people realized they sucked. Some popular music has always sucked. Eventually, we forget about those songs. The ones we remember are the good ones. Selection bias. And honestly, there are some songs that have survived that don’t suck that have really simple lyrics. And you mentioned War Pigs earlier. In this video, Beato complains about one of these new songs rhyming a word with itself. War Pigs does that in the opening verse, and most people agree it’s one of the greatest anti-war protest songs ever. But it literally rhymes masses with masses.

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Oh, I’m about to be eviscerated, but….he uses Beatles’ songs as examples of well-written lyrics? As opposed to — waves hands wildly — millions of other examples from the same era?

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Yeah, I can’t remember right now which Beatles song it was, but I remember it was from 1969. It’s a great song with very poetic lyrics. I commented on the video and pointed out that Sugar, Sugar was also released in 1969, and those song lyrics sure as hell weren’t ever going to win a Pulitzer.

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Complexity…

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That wasn’t the one, but that’s one of my personal favorite Beatles songs, so I like those lyrics.

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I’ve said my piece about folk and pop musics and complexity above but a shout out to classical music:

We used to regularly slag off classical music by pointing at pages of notes with the single word Gloria! as all the lyrics. I will also say that were one to criticise the little that is there from the perspective of pop criticism it’s poor enough writing technically.

Just checking here: you’re making fun of the claim that lyric writing must be complex to be appreciated, right?

Because otherwise you and I are going to have words, mister!

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Not quite. I’m saying there’s a skill to writing nonsense, skat, and chorus special effects which clasical music often doesn’t exhibit. As well as often not exhibiting the syllabic discipline in verses that pop music has. Which is where we get to the point that people can consider lyrics as art. Because they are actually getting meaning from the content as well as the form.

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Janet Jackson Reaction GIF

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Scat singing is typically improvised. There’s certainly a skill to it, but it’s not really written, as such. Writing music and lyrics of all kinds takes skill. Not all the same skill, but skill nonetheless. Pop music is often more formulaic, but it’s still a skill that has to be learned. And if you want some real nonsense lyrics, check out some prog rock lyrics from the 70s. A ton of that shit makes no sense at all, but is wonderful in its own weird way. I don’t know that much classical music. It is a major gap in my knowledge. But I cannot believe that there’s not skill involved in writing lyrics for the classical music that has lyrics.

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Phish also primarily has nonsense lyrics

ETA:

Here’s an example…

Guyute was the ugly pig
Who walked on me and danced a jig
That he had learned when he was six
Then stopped and did some other tricks

Like pulling weapons from his coat
And holding them against my throat
He lectured me in a language strange
And scampered quickly out of range

I’m bouncing like a newborn elf
I can’t remain inside myself
Guyute glances in my eyes
And manages to hypnotize

Me as I sleep the sleep of death
He suck from me my only breath
That I had breathed since I was ten
I hope this happens once again

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The Fish (Schindleria praematurus), by Yes

Schindleria praematurus
Schindleria praematurus
Schindleria praematurus
Schindleria praematurus

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Spontaneous composition is composition. In words and in music.

It’s a different skill and, obviously, in sung improvisation the poor writing that characterises much of western classical music is unlikely: syllabic matching to music and sense. Pop excels at that typically.

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Yeah! This! Actually if I understand you correctly.

Except I think all the values are absolutely subjective. The values of the past or future are unknowable on some level and so whatever is a mistake in one place and time may be some obsessive requirement of another place and time. People are weird and social values for things like art just shift with other things.

When I write, my honestly humble I’m-just-trying-to-not-lose-touch-with-the-craft efforts I find that whatever I was trying to say I end up scrapping and changing several times often because I recognize that I have to prioritize how to sing it and how to make it feel good for a singer. Knowing what vowel needs to fall where so that the expression feels natural enough, knowing how much weight the ideas the words should evoke should put on the melody without spoiling the mood/moment.

That’s actually pretty challenging, enough that I try not to beat myself up for frequently falling short in my discipline (I mostly don’t write words actually)…but the people who do it well really grasp the oratory nature of poetry. All the arts are really just a heartbeat away from each other.

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Yup. That’s craft that is. Look at say early drafts of Shelley or Yeats and it’s all rhythm marks and sounds, some words, but very little like what we think of as a deep and meaningful poem. They could have written great pop songs.

Unlike great poets of different times who do not show the same craft. Different craft of course, but not the one that would suit good popular music.

ETA
It is a craft I utterly lack btw. But I admire things I really can’t do much more than things I can!

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Um… your comments are kind of a derail; as that isn’t what this thread is meant for.

Please go start your own post if music theory is what you wish to discuss instead.

Thanks.

Now back to posting actual music videos:

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Does Kim Petras appear under Smith’s dress again?

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