Question of the Week: March 8th, 2016

What kinds of music lyrics do you like?

Last month I asked what kinds of music lyrics bother you.  This is the followup question.

I’ll start with a few examples.  I like “For Pretend” by Beauty Pill, which is about a person who becomes a bad father for the sake of method acting.  The story is cute and funny, and relevant to my interests (here, it’s my interest in metafiction).

Another one I like, “In Two” by Nine Inch Nails.  It’s kind of abstract, but I guess it’s about someone violently splitting into two, and then it’s hard to tell the two apart?  The main thing is, I like this music to begin with, and the lyrics are intelligible without me needing to look them up.  Also, I am entertained by the thought that the lyrics describe people who adopt aggressive personas on the internet.  This is relevant to my interests.

About Siggy

Siggy is a physics grad student in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and makes amateur attempts at asexual activism. His interests include godlessness, scientific skepticism, and math. While not working or blogging, he plays video and board games with his boyfriend, and folds colored squares.
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7 Responses to Question of the Week: March 8th, 2016

  1. A lot of my favorite lyrics are about Shipwrecks (Ha! Shipper joke) like “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, “Sinking Of The Reuben James”, and “The Mary Ellen Carter”. (the last one is more about unsinking a ship though). In general I like folk music and sea shanties because there’s a lot of folk songs that aren’t romance related. My favorite song is “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday” by the Muppets (shhh, don’t laugh). My favorite lyrics in the song are: “There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met./Part heaven, part space, or have I found my place?/You can just visit, but I plan to stay./I’m going to go back there someday.” It speaks to me as a song about true friendship the way most people sigh dreamily about “True Love” in the romantic sense. That’s the kind of friendship I want.

  2. elainexe says:

    Can I opt for music with no lyrics? XD
    –Or okay, I guess now that I think of it there are songs in which lyrics add to it. I really….don’t care for words so much. Poetry is just annoying to me. But there are some musical exceptions.
    Joke songs are fun. That’s kinda the point.
    Also songs with strange lyrics? I dunno, Björk is my favorite artist, and I also like Regina Spektor. They get pretty strange.
    Songs that tell stories. Like above I was just reminded of Braille by Regina Spektor. Also Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
    I guess perhaps what I do like in lyrics is….doesn’t rely on poetic value alone. Needs other merits.

    • Siggy says:

      Heh, I also like music with no lyrics. But that’s not what I asked about! 🙂
      I’m not sure if this is what you mean by poetic value, but for me, I really want to hear the shape of those words. The phonemes must match the music!

  3. Sciatrix says:

    I select my very favorite artists on the basis of their lyrics, actually! (No seriously, that’s the fastest way to get me to listen to anything.) I really love artists who can paint an emotionally vivid picture with their words–Vienna Teng is a master at that, and while she does sometimes write songs about romantic relationships there are plenty of songs about different things. (And even the romantic ones are often interesting for other reasons–City Hall, for example, is about the experience of having same-sex marriage suddenly made legal).

    I enjoy Missy Higgins’ work for similar reasons. Dessa is also a master at this, although her artistic style is very different. Basically, I love songs that are about more than just generic feelings of affection or fascination, songs that tell a very specific story from a narrator. I also like songs that grapple with emotional vulnerability and past trauma–I like music that conveys a particular emotional state well. I like dysfunctional relationships.

    I also like explicitly political music. Frank Turner’s work fits into that category for me sometimes, as when he’s singing about a case for joyful atheism. Everlast’s What It’s Like is also a really good example of the genre, or Slaid Cleaves’ Borderline (about the pressures an illegal immigrant is facing as he tries to figure out how to support his family). There’s also a lot of union songs on my playlists, like this version of The Red Flag.

    My playlists also have a lot of songs borrowed from musicals–Bring It On’s What I Was Born to Do, all of the Hamilton soundtrack (especially Satisfied), plus music from Wicked and Disney movies and 1776.

    And then sometimes I’m just mad and want to listen to people threaten to eat other people or feeling silly and want to listen to nemeses declare ever-dying… attachment. Or overwhelmed and laughing because it’s all too goddamn much, but I have to grit my teeth and get through it anyway.

    Basically, almost all my music is selected on basis of lyrics.

  4. luvtheheaven says:

    I like all sorts of lyrics, for all sorts of reasons. I like really specific lyrics, I like songs that are fun to sing along to, I like songs that would make interesting fanvideos especially in terms of lyric matching, and by interesting I can mean powerful or even just fun… I can’t listen to a song and not think about vidding it nowadays, and it’s frustrating if I love a song and it hasn’t got any potential to be vidded. Even if I make far fewer fanvideos nowadays than I did back a decade ago when I was in high school, and viddability doesn’t really matter… I still think about it. Really specific lyrics are not often viddable. 😛 But those can be some of the most fun! Like Sciatrix said, a narrator telling a story can be such an amazing song. I love “Omigod You Guys” from the Legally Blonde musical precisely because the story is so easy to follow and the lyrics are so specific but also hilarious, and the same goes for Eminem’s “Stan” in its own way, however opposite the sound of that song is. I tend to like Taylor Swift’s lyrics a lot, because she phrases things in a powerful way at times, really paints a story of a relationship that is specific, and sometimes the lyrics themselves tell a really specific story (especially in her more country-esque songs) but other times, I just like how powerfully she conveys her emotions with the songs and it might be as much or more about the music than the lyrics, but the lyrics don’t hurt it, I tend to still really like them. I enjoy any song that feels fun to sing along to, but the most fun songs are ones where knowing the lyrics really adds a lot of meaning to the song. Idk. I like music for both lyric reasons and non-lyric reasons, depending on the song, but I do really especially love when the lyrics are part of the whole experience.

  5. Seth says:

    I broadly appreciate lyrics that deviate significantly from what popular music has done to death, which can mean unusual subject matter, or unusual structure, or just dealing with a well-worn subject in a fresh or cryptic way. Most often, I go for fantasy/sci-fi/horror (“Seven Screaming Diz-Busters” – Blue Öyster Cult; “Welcome Home” – Metallica; “Ejection” – Hawkwind, which is also notable for its rhyme scheme), but also humor (“Valley Girl” – Frank Zappa; “The Motorcycle Song” – Arlo Guthrie; “I’m Straight” – The Modern Lovers, which I think is hilarious, but YMMV), politics (“War Pigs” – Black Sabbath), unflattering portrayal of religion (“In the Name of God” – Dream Theater; “Lithium” – Nirvana), philosophy (“Freedom of Choice” – Devo), literature (“White Rabbit” – Jefferson Airplane, “Tom Sawyer” – Rush), video games (“Still Alive” – Jonathan Coulton), asexiness (“Pretty Girls Make Graves” – The Smiths; “I’m Not In Love” – Talking Heads), history (“Warsaw” – Joy Division), stream of consciousness (“Land” – Patti Smith), things that defy categorization (“Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine” – White Stripes; “Roland” – Interpol; “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict” – Pink Floyd), and pure poetic nonsense (“Marquee Moon” – Television).

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