By Carlos Eton
Confession time. Sometimes songwriting is a lot of work. Although the popular idea about song writing is that somehow the blending of music, arrangements, and lyrics flow magically and effortlessly, the truth is closer to something else. Sometimes, the process of songwriting can be downright horrifyingly humorous.
Picture this; you’re in your music studio, you’ve got your favorite recording and arranging software connected your favorite hardware digital audio workstation and you start working on what you hope is a great musical idea. Perhaps you created the rhythm arrangement first: rich drums, a tantalizing bass line, funky guitar work, and now … you’re ready to work on lyrics.
It is at this point that rhyme lyric panic—the panic that accompanies the need to create workable lyrics for your song—assaults your mind. Rhyme lyric panic will have you settle for less impressive (and often ludicrous) lyrical content so that you can actually get the song written, recorded, produced, and … done! [A movie that captures this sentiment extremely well is the 1992 Bill Plympton film “The Tune.”]
At this point, you will do whatever it takes to make the lyrics rhyme.
But it is only after postproduction and the distribution of the song that you notice it—your lyrics weren’t exactly spectacular. Did you really use “gall midge” (a mosquito-like fly) to rhyme with “bridge?” Did you think that a good rhyme for “touch” would be “smutch” (to soil something by smudging)? We won’t even discuss the word you used to rhyme with “luck.”
But if you think that it is only amateur songwriters that experience rhyme lyric panic, think again. It happens to professional songwriters and performers, as well.
The crime isn’t the rhyme lyric panic—oh, heavens no! The real affront to humankind and society is ignoring the rhyme lyric panic. The issue that sets the world back three hundred years is releasing the music containing less than optimal lyrics.
It makes you wonder … what were they thinking when they wrote that?
It makes you wonder … what were they thinking when they wrote that?
Let’s consider these examples in which lyric-panic should have been addressed. Please keep in mind that I might be taking some of the lyrics out of context, but that, chances are, better and more effective lyrics could have been substituted. [Disclosure: a couple of these examples are a little risqué.]
|“Yeah, you got that yummy-yum, that yummy-yum, that yummy-yummy.”||Okay, so it’s Justin Bieber and that for a while everyone made fun of this guy.
But it does make one wonder; did the songwriters here craft a work-for-hire agreement with Ms. Cellanie’s third-grade class?
|“The square root of 69 is 8 something, right? Cause I’ve been tryna work it out.”||I think the nicest thing we can do as members of the Rihanna fan club is to pitch in and get her a calculator. She’s much too busy to try to calculate 8.30662386292 by hand.
Maybe she had a falling out with her accountant, who most likely had calculator on his desk. Or Microsoft Excel on his computer. Or an abacus in his living room.
|“Me not working hard? Yea, right! Picture that with a Kodak. And, better yet, go to Times Square. Take a picture of me with a Kodak.”
|Speaking of fan clubs pitching in and helping out recording artists, perhaps we need to get Mr. Pitbull a better, and more modern, camera? After all, the song is titled “Give Me Everything.”
On another note, getting Kodak film developed is going to be a bit difficult. Especially here on the island.
|“B*****s s**k my d*** because I look like J.K. Rowling.”||Uhm … J. K. Rowling is a woman, so I don’t think Lil B is likely to realize his objectives here. [In the name of good taste I am going to stop right there.]
Here’s a suggestion … there’s this website called Google that could be helpful in the future.
Or better yet, Mr. B can take the PHI 200 (Critical Thinking) course here at UVI. It’s available this fall Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30.
[Sorry for the use of this example, but I think you can understand why I included it.]
|“My hump, my hump, my hump (ha), my lovely lady lumps (Check it out).”
|To be fair, I do love Black Eyes Peas music.
I do wonder if this song was inspired by a visit to a medical professional.
If so, maybe they can write one about regular ENT (ear nose and throat) checkups.
|“Young, black, and famous, with money hangin’ out the anus”
|Speaking of medical conditions … TMI, Mr. Combs. The good news is that there will never a need to use ATM machines in the company of Mr. Combs.
I am curious, though. Does the expelled currency change when traveling to foreign countries? What happens when we go to Canada, Japan, or Nigeria? And if the currency does change, how is the exchange rate handled? Daily? Hourly? And what happens when Mr. Combs enters a bank?
Also, does the affliction simplify or complicate payroll?
On another note, keeping furniture clean must a be real challenge for housekeeping staff at Mr. Combs’ residence.
|“Only time will tell if we stand the test of time.”||Huh? Remember that time in fifth grade when your teacher asked you to define “fun” and told you that you couldn’t use the word “fun” in your definition of the word “fun” and you knew that this request would not be fun?
Somebody should have told that to the members of Van Halen.
[To be fair, Eddie Van Halen was a phenomenal guitarist who influenced many guitar players around the world during his lifetime.]
|“Driving so fast ’bout to p*ss on myself. Driving so fast ’bout to p*ss on myself. Driving so fast ’bout to p*ss on myself.”||Uhm … pull over?
In retrospect, it seems Miley Cyrus might have placed more focus on finding a restroom than blinding audiences with twirking attempts. Just a thought.
|“In the desert you can’t remember your name ’cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.”||This was a song by a group called America called “A Horse with No Name” recorded decades ago.
From what I can gather there wasn’t anyone to provide grammar lessons in the desert either.
Actually, maybe there was a typo in the original lyrics. Maybe they meant “dessert” instead of “desert.” That would probably make more sense. After all, have you ever had to expel a horse from a bowl of tapioca?
|“I’m too sexy for my shirt.”||Uhm … no. Put that shirt back on! You’re hurting my eyes! Please tell the members of Right Said Fred to think about the rest of us! We can’t unsee that! We just can’t!
As you can see, the songwriting world clearly needs our help! (What rhymes with “help?” Kelp? Yelp? Skelp? Oh, and what rhymes with “crwth?”)
We need to stand in Winter Fall
And change the lyrics. Change ’em all.
We must have nerve and have the gall
To not break down or drool or fall.
Or lightly kick the soccer ball
And break the wind in Taj Majal.
Let’s just step in and do the rhyme
While there is still some ample time.
I’d like Mojito with a lime.
A summer twilight paradigm.
Ugh! Make it stop!!!! It’s just horrible! Terrible!
I wonder if there’s a support group for rhyme lyric panic. If there isn’t, maybe we should start one. I clearly need to attend a meeting.
The Random Safari Express, a serial feature column by senior UVI Communication student and humorist Carlos Eton, celebrates comedy, philosophy, and the thousand (often ridiculous) random thoughts that pop into our heads during the quiet moments of our day.