Thursday, June 12, 2008

Urgh!: A Music War

19. Tom Cochrane - Life Is A Highway (1992)
(File under: The Theory Of Alternating Decades: The '70s & '90s)

Or, as I like to call it, "This Song Is A Shitty Metaphor". Even granting that the titular phrase might sound good when sung (though not by this fool), the second half of the line - "I Want to ride it all night long" - makes absolutely no sense whatso-motherfucking-ever. Perhaps it's because my gift for interpreting symbolism sucks the proverbial fat one - for instance, I thought Moby-Dick was just a boring yarn about some neurotic blue collar schmoe assigning all kinds of unrealistic motives to a frigging whale - but I have yet to hear anyone offer a plausible explanation as to what "ride" is supposed to signify in this instance (though, to be fair, I haven't really brought it up much in conversation). And even discounting this glaring example of lazy lyric writing (and it's by no means the only offender here), why would you only want to "ride it" for one night? Am I to deduce from this that you desire to be dead in the morning? Because I can get behind you on that one. In fact, I wished you were dead about two bars into this steaming lump of festering songcraft.

It begins, as required by the laws of Junior High Poetry Writing, with "Life's like a road that you travel on", not so egregious itself I suppose, until it is followed (foreshadowing the chorus) by the idiotic non sequitur "When there's one day here and the next day gone". How exactly is that like a road, Tom? I think you're confusing space and time, no doubt a result of your extensive readings of Superstring Theory. Or perhaps you're merely functionally retarded. This is then followed by "Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand". What the bloody fuck? Is this guy banana crackers? I can't tell if he's talking about traveling with a carnival freakshow or taking a whiz in a ditch. Can't say as I much care, either.

I could go on, but really, what's the point? The guy crams as many unrelated cliches into his lyrics as fellow Canadian Bryan Adams (and when you consider those two, Loverboy, Triumph and Celine Dion, doesn't it seem we'd have pretty good cause for startinga war of aggression with our neighbors to the north? If only they weren't so maddeningly polite), and he manages to convey them in a voice even more annoyingly generic than that douchebag.

What about the music, you ask? Your basic run-of-the-mill late 80s/early 90s corporate shit rock, played with what people who know more about horrible music than I do would likely describe as a "boogie" beat. Just think second-rate bar-band Van Halen (which is at least 4 different insults in one phrase) and you get the picture. Or, if you're feeling particularly masochistic, just download the thing. But don't blame me when it lodges itself into your brain, forever rendering that particular section of your memory useless for recording more important information, such as who played Flo on Alice or what you ate for dinner last Tuesday.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

18. Black Eyed Peas - My Humps (2005)
(File under: Meet The New Boss: The 2000s)

Goddamn, this song is 57 varieties of stupid. You know, whenever I hear some (usually right-wing) pundit whining about how our civilization's going down the crapper, I tend to roll my eyes - right-wing pundits and similar assholes have been making that claim for eons now. Then I hear something like this blasting from every speaker for months at a time, and I begin to think they have a point. And you've got to be dispensing some plutonium-grade stupidity when it's enough to make normally reasonable people agree with dick-whackers like Pat Robertson.

The great thing about pop music is that it's democratic - anybody can do it, whether they have a shred of talent or not. All it requires is one catchy hook - even eternal hacks like Phil Collins and Billy Joel have been able to squeeze out the occasional decent song. Sometimes, though - as is the case here - the whole concept backfires. "Catchy" is not always a virtue; often, it's downright fucking annoying (think "Who Let The Dogs Out?" or even "By Mennen!"). It's no big deal to write a shitty unmemorable song - it becomes a problem when you're able to write a shitty instantly memorable song that becomes the kind of earworm that causes you to walk around all day at work complaining that you've got the worst song ever stuck in your head and you can't get it out. "My Humps" is undeniably catchy (repeating the chorus a million times in a composition is a pretty surefire way to guarantee such a result). Guess which category it falls under?

When I first heard the Peas, they reminded me somewhat of Dee-Lite - kind of blanded-out, (even more) dumbed-up dance music for Wal-Mart shoppers; multi-racial (they even had an Asian guy whose musical role was somewhat ill-defined) - except there was nothing near as must-hear as "Groove Is In The Heart" among their offerings (Like I said, all it takes is one good hook), and instead of offering a good time to anybody who listened, as Dee-Lite did, they seemed interested solely in their own pleasure.

Really, I can barely bring myself to write about this. If you go to the Youtube video and read the (barely literate, "OMFG dis songz OTH!!1 Whoz got sum lady lumps they wanna share wit dis hot stud!!!") comments, they pretty much say it all. Just like Ted Nugent-era cock-rock, it's a Cro-Mag male fantasy set to a beat; unlike Ted Nugent, these guys got an actual female to go along with it (at least, I think Fergie's a female). The lyrics are beyond (by which I mean below) analysis; the chorus you know, but seriously: "They say I'm really sexy/The boys they wanna sex me"? That's the kind of lazy rhyme I would've written in junior high (and Lenny Kravitz would have written well into his 30s). And it's nowhere near the most egregious example. The most charitable thing that can be said about any of it is that they managed to come up with a descriptive term no one else in their right mind would have even considered without the aid of at least a case of generic beer and a few solid blows to the head.

They don't even get points for phrase-coining, though, since "humps" (not to mention "lady lumps") is so anti-erotic it'll never catch on. In fact, I'd venture it's probably best for society as a whole that you don't go around bragging about your "humps" unless you're either an extraordinarily confident hunchback or a camel. Our Fergie, whatever else may be said of her, is no hunchback. And she's damn sure not a camel, as no self-respecting camel would ever inflict anything this downright fucking annoying on an unsuspecting public. Listen and cringe.