Song Lyrics that Don’t Quite Fit

Source: Music note A" by Original uploader was Ofeky at he.wikipedia - Originally from he.wikipedia; description page is/was here.. Licensed under Attribution via Wikimedia Commons.

Source: Music note A” by Original uploader was Ofeky at he.wikipedia – Originally from he.wikipedia; description page is/was here.. Licensed under Attribution via Wikimedia Commons.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I like song lyrics, particularly ones that are just fun stories, or inspiring.

Well, in the past few months, I’ve noticed a few songs with lyrics that don’t quite fit, and I’ve found it such an interesting phenomena. I can’t tell if the lyrics are intentionally misaligned to be more memorable, or if it’t just an accident of fate. I’d tend to think it’s intentional as lyricists can be totally ingenious people. I’m often in awe of how succinctly and well they phrase the human condition.

But, I thought today we’d have a little fun with lyrics that made me pause, and say, Wait, what? (I must admit, I thought about this post a few months back, so these songs are not the most current).

In the song, Timber (Pitbull featuring Ke$ha), there’s this line where she sings: “Let’s make a night you won’t remember; I’ll be the one you won’t forget.”

And I get where she’s going with this, but the first time I heard it, I thought, that’s crazy. You can’t get amnesia and then selectively remember a person. That makes no logical sense. As I thought about it, I saw it was more to imply how awesome she was, that she would be the only thing he remembered on this night otherwise lost to him.  However, the fact that I spent any time whatsoever mulling over these lyrics means they’re initial incongruity worked to make me focus on them, right?

Then there was that 1D song (One Direction for the unanointed), Story of my Life. This song, to this day, bothers me because I can’t figure out what is going on. Every time I hear it, I wonder, “Who is this guy? Is he good? Is he bad? What’s up with him?” And I like the song, but this set of lyrics completely baffle me as to what is going on, because they’re polar opposites.

At one point, the protagonist of our song, sings, “I take her home, I drive all night to keep her warm,” and I’m thinking, what a great guy. Then, our protagonist sings, “I give her hope. I spend her love until she’s broke inside.” And I’m like, what a creep. I like the song, and I remember the lyrics to this section because they so baffle me. How can you love this woman so much and then end up breaking her? I guess maybe you can, but it’s too hard to explain in the span of a song.

It’s a weird that because of the incongruent nature of the lyrics, I find the song lines very memorable. However, I’m also irritated by the fact that they don’t quite line up, just in the context of the song. As a writer, it’s started me to wonder if a little incongruence is good at times. I certainly don’t want readers irritated or confused by something I wrote. But, I do like the idea of the words sticking with them.

So, what are your thoughts on lyrics (or writing in general) that’s just a tad askew, so you end up stopping and thinking about it?  Is it good, bad, or somewhere in the middle?

 

About RJ Crayton

RJ Crayton is a former journalist who now writes fiction. She's reported for the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle, as well as the smaller publications Education Technology News and Campus Crime. She has two published novels, Life First and Second Life and blogs for Indies Unlimited and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. For exclusive content and first looks at her new work, sign up for the newsletter at http://rjcrayton.com/subscribe.
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3 Responses to Song Lyrics that Don’t Quite Fit

  1. Dale says:

    I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but I think I know what you mean. I’ll definitely listen more closely now.

    What I do like though, is when people sing the wrong lyrics in a competition or in a paid gig. They’re close and rhyme, but they can be so funny. Darn, I wish I could give you an example where I just had to tell the person the right lyrics ’cause the wrong ones were just hilarious. 🙂

    • RJ Crayton says:

      Dale,

      I know exactly what you mean. Misheard song lyrics are so funny. This Jimmy Fallon clip is hilarious, as it features misheard song lyrics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZTk8FWPcm0. My daughter also used to think that rhyme, “Mary Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row” said TACO shells. She found it odd you could grow the taco shell right there in the garden.

      • Dale says:

        Hahaha, love the Jimmy Fallon lyrics. Oh, taco shells, lol. Wonder what the plant would look like. I’m still laughing at the Pennsylvania one.

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