Archive for the ‘lyrics analysis’ Category

Someone else’s research

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I don’t like simply posting links to other people’s research, but this piece of lyrics analysis is too good to ignore:

http://www.fleshmap.com/listen/music.html

Act like you know, Rico

Monday, June 8, 2009

This week in lyrics analysis corner it is my pleasure to welcome one of the few successful pop songs sung by someone named Cecil: Here Comes the Hotstepper, the solitary hit of the artist best known by his stage name Ini Kamoze.

There are two schools of thought on the meaning of Cecil Campbell’s ode to a murderous thug. The most common interpretation is that the narrator is a gang member patrolling the streets with his crew, partaking in gang warfare and generally letting blood as if juicing strawberries.

A more in-depth study, however, suggests that Cecil has spent an unsatisfactory evening at the opera with his crew, whom he has found loitering “in A-D area” of the auditorium. He boasts that anyone testing him will “hear the fat lady sing”, suggesting that he is able to emulate the leading lady’s performance note for note.  Having admonished his friends Rico and Bo for failing to  follow the plot (“Act like you know, Rico / I know what Bo don’t know”), he announces his intention to buy a strawberry-flavoured (“Juice like a strawberry”) ice cream in the interval from an usherette with his spare change (“Ch-ch-chang-chang”). However, learning that the ice cream is £4 for a very small tub, he murders the vendor, noting that the price is “extraordinary” and asking whether she thinks he has “money to burn”. Flushed with regret, he entreats appalled opera-goers to “dial the emergency number”, possibly to call the policeman he accidentally bumped into on the way into the performance (“Excuse me Mr Officer”).

Here comes the hotstepper, murderer
I’m the lyrical gangster, murderer
Pick up the crew in-a de area, murderer
Still love you like that, murderer

No, no, we don’t die
Yes, we multiply
Anyone test will hear the fat lady sing
Act like you know, Rico
I know what Bo don’t know
Touch them up and go, uh-oh
Ch-ch-chang-chang

(chorus)

Extraordinary
Juice like a strawberry
Money to burn baby, all of the time
Cut to fade is me
Fade to cut is she
Come juggle with me, I say every time

Here comes the hotstepper, murderer
I’m the lyrical gangster, murderer
Dial emergency number, murderer
Still love you like that, murderer

Top 5 superior song lyrics to woop, woop

Monday, January 19, 2009

policeman photo taken by allen350d and used under creative commons licence“Woop, woop,” is, according to the rapper KRS-One, the sound of the police.

Is it, though? I’ve heard the police, and it was definitely more: “Mee-maw, mee-maw.”

Now I think about it, that was probably the police car rather than the police themselves. I suggest to KRS-One, if that’s his real name, that he revise his song to one of the following:

1. Would you mind breathing into this bag, sir? That’s the sound of the police.

2. ‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello, that’s the sound of the police.

3. We are appealing for witnesses to come forward, that’s the sound of the police.

4. A 32-year-old man is helping us with our inquiries, that’s the sound of the police.

5. You do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something that you later rely on in court, that’s the sound of the police.

Getting bugged driving up and down the same old strip

Friday, September 5, 2008

Time for some more lyrics analysis, and there are few songs riper for study than I Get Around, the Beach Boys’ paean to dawdling in a car on a Saturday night and ogling girls. Specifically:

My buddies and me are getting real well known,
Yeah, the bad guys know us and they leave us alone

Lyrics, even those of the Beach Boys, don’t get much more thought provoking than this. The question is: have the boys attained the best of the four available scenarios? Obviously, it is preferable to the bad guys knowing them and not leaving them alone, and indeed the bad guys not knowing them and not leaving them alone. But is it better than the bad guys not knowing them and leaving them alone?

Does the bad guys’ knowledge of the boys suggest that they might interfere with them in future? Were they scared off in the past, and if so will their wounded pride cause them to return, better armed, to settle old scores?

Who are these bad guys, anyway? Are they generic finger-clicking punks in Letterman jackets of the type seen in West Side Story, henchmen in orange boilersuits, or literary antiheroes like Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights or Humbert Humbert from Lolita?

Fame

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I’m gonna live foreverI’m gonna learn how to fly

It occurs to me that the opening lyrics to Fame, from Fame, are mutually exclusive. Also, it’s rather quaint that while the song starts as pure aspiration, it quickly becomes more practical. What is learning how to fly, exactly? It’s failing to fly. If you’re going to live forever, learning to fly is the last thing you should try. I suggest rewriting the song thus:

I’m gonna live forever

I’m going to invest in cryogenic suspension

Memo

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Memo to Bob Dylan:

It has been four weeks since we commissioned you to conduct a study on how many roads a man must walk down before he could call himself a man. When we inquired of your secretary about your progress she said that you had completed the report but had left it on a windowsill. This sounds rash. Please reassure us that you will be supplying your answer soon.

Your friend, Terence.

Open letter to Tone Loc

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Money is a bit tight at the moment, so I was delighted to discover that I could save on postage by writing open letters, cutting out the Post Office and their infernal “stamps” altogether.

Dear Tone Loc,

In your song Funky Cold Medina, you say: “This is the Eighties, and I’m down with the ladies.”

Do you mean to say:

a) You were uncertain about your sexuality in the 1970s, but found that any gay leanings were quashed as a by-product of Thatcherism and Reaganomics;

b) You had a newfound sympathy with feminist issues in the 1980s but recognised that you would become a reactionary in the 1990s with the advent of lad magazines such as Loaded and FHM?

Hope this reaches you safely.

Yours sincerely,

Le Poulet Noir

Superstition, black cats and voodoo dolls

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca poses many questions. What colouring pencils did Martin have as a child, for instance. Were his childhood daubs peppered with girls with “devil red” lips and bodies drawn in the colour mocha? But I am preoccupied by one line in particular:

“She’ll make you take your clothes off and go dancing in the rain”

Two scenarios present themselves:

a) You’re in the living room, and the woman suggests you take off your clothes. Fantastic, you think, I had my suspicions from the colour of her lips that she would be up for a bit of rumpty-tumpty. “Right,” she says. “Now go outside and dance.” Well, look, I’d rather not. It’s raining. Are you coming as well? “No. Now move it, pendejo, or there will be no sex for a month.”

b) You’re in the bedroom, and the evening is going well. “Take off your clothes,” she says. Here we go, here we go, you think. “I’m going out now,” she says. “See you later.” What? Why? “To dance. In the rain. Adios.”

I’m struck by the thought that there are two types of people in this world: those who believe that she makes you take your clothes off and makes you go dancing in the rain, and those who prefer that she makes you take your clothes off and goes dancing in the rain herself. Which are you?

(more…)

The revolution will not be…

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

What was Gil Scott-Heron thinking when he declared, in his most famous song, that the revolution would not be televised?

The phrase doesn’t work either literally (revolutions of any significance since the song was written in 1975 have all been televised) or as part of a more detailed argument. viz

(a) The revolution will not be televised because there will be no demand for coverage. Clearly untrue. Even if every last protester was out on the streets, including the elderly and infirm, there would still be a television audience among those under siege from the revolutionaries. Besides, when you got home from the riots, you would want to sit back and watch the highlights.

(b) The revolution will not be televised because there won’t be a revolution, since would-be revolutionaries are too busy watching television. A circular argument if ever there was one. It assumes that there must be potential revolutionaries to justify the existence of a revolution. What is a potential revolutionary, anyway? It’s like a non-practising prostitute.

(c) The revolution will not be televised because counterrevolutionaries control the media and will suppress it. Television companies might be owned by a group of unsympathetic tycoons, but it would still be in their interests to cover the revolution. It might not be televised objectively, but it would certainly have screen time.

(d) The revolution will not be televised because there will be a power shortage. Scott-Heron may have believed that the revolution would be started during an electrical workers’ strike similar to the British experience in December 1970, when the Electrical Trades Union slowdown did indeed cause programmes to be stopped mid-broadcast. However, neither this strike nor any subsequent ones amounted to a revolution.

(e) The revolution will not be televised because it will be slow and organic, and thus unsuitable for television coverage. In that case, it’s not a revolution at all, but an evolution.

(f) The revolution will not be televised because by the time it happens a new form of broadcasting will have usurped television’s role. It has been 30 years since the song was written and television is still the dominant medium. Scott-Heron didn’t give a time frame, but three decades is a bit of a stretch for a political commentary, wouldn’t you say?

But I don’t want to be a stick in the mud. Lots of people like The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, so why not just tweak the lyrics a little? To finish off, here are some ideas for alternative titles. Other suggestions welcome…

The resolution will not be televised. A problem I myself had recently when trying to connect my PC to my television set.

The devolution will not be televised. John Prescott’s failure to get enough votes for a North East regional assembly spells curtains for the sale of broadcast rights.

The restitution will not be televised. Let’s face it, the Elgin Marbles are never going to go back to Greece.

The absolution will not be televised. Not unless the Catholic Church has a radical rethink about the nature of confession and strikes a deal with a reality television company.

The red solution will not be televised. Adding oxalic acid to ammonium thiocyantate and iron(III) chloride hexahydrate is unlikely to make good television, even on Tomorrow’s World.

ps: this is not serious. If you are a race warrior who believes that violence is the only solution to inequality, go and harass someone with a less-developed sense of irony.