23 September 2007

The importance of lyrics

Nicole C. Mullen's Always Love You is well outside my normal preferences of music genre. First, it's what I would call "girly" - the kind of song that my female relatives would pick at a karaoke while the male relatives sit out. Second, it's somewhere in the "black" range - the kind of music that black people typically sing and enjoy, to which I've never paid enough attention to tell the difference between the various genres (rhythm and blues? reggae?). And third, the singer's style is in the direction of one that I really don't like - where it has an "ah-ah" sound breaking up the middle of the melody line rather than a straight-through "aaaaahhh" and breaks only at breaths.

It also turns out to be "gospel" - and the theme song for the Christian movie End of the Spear. Christian music is about as far outside my musical interests as one can get. This particular song, however, is about love rather than God, so I kept listening.

What caught my attention was the lyrics. They're unusual for having a three-line rhyme scheme, and the singer does a wonderful job of matching emotion to lyrics to melody. The song as a whole is very well constructed, and I have it as one of my current top ten favorites.

Meanwhile, Snow Patrol's Chasing Cars has everything I could ever want in a song, musically speaking. The slow, melancholic start, the gradual introduction of different instruments adding their parts to the greater whole, the strings that come in last, the way it all builds and falls and comes back in again, even the sound of the singer's voice.

But good lord, the lyrics make me want to stab myself in the head repeatedly with a fork. Each stanza sounds like it's going to say something profound ... and then it doesn't. Nothing goes anywhere. It's an insipid mess. It doesn't even slightly rhyme, and the choice of words is like fingernails on chalkboard. This is one song I would enjoy a whole lot more if it were in a language I don't understand. Someone needs to write better lyrics to fit to this song. :p


janiece.murphy said...

Thanks for the Mullen song. I'm always looking for new music, and I do like R&B and gospel style music that doesn't mention God. Is that an Oxymoron?

Want a giggle? The End of the Spear, a movie about meddling missionaries in Ecuador, cast Chad Allen in the lead role...and he's gay. Hee!

MWT said...

I dug around a bit and noticed that. :) It's discussed in the Wikipedia article. I'd say good for them to see past that and hire him anyway - baby steps are good too. ;) The movie sounds interesting enough that I've put it on my list of movies to get around to renting someday.

As for other non-God gospel, well, having Mullen's song on my Pandora list seems to be turning up all sorts of interesting things. So far nothing else that talks about something besides God, though. I'll let you know if I find anything.

janiece.murphy said...

Yeah, I thought it was good of them to honor their offer to Allen even after they found out he was gay, in spite of the fact that it obviously bothered them tremendously. Although being surprised when people do the right thing says something, too.

MWT said...

Baby steps. :) A friend of mine in his 50s says that queers now are in the same position that blacks were back in his youth. It'll take a few decades of education, but they'll figure it out eventually (says the hopeless optimist).

janiece.murphy said...

You're right - baby steps are better than no steps at all. For the sake of my gay family members and friends, though, I want progress now.

Impatient? Who me?

Rebelcat said...

Lyrics are important stuff. The wrong lyrics and the song can be destroyed. Even when the lyrics don't make sense or they can barely be understood or not understood at all, the lyrics are an instrument among the other.

Lyrics can be a weapon. It can try to raise a debate. Or just try to tell a tales. And then there is the ones that explains how the singer feels. That's the ones that make you think "Oh, that's exactly how it feels! I'm not alone feeling this way." That's the ones that can save lives.

And then there is the ones that you try to figure out the meaning of all your life. Or until you give up and realize that it doesn't matter. Because it means one thing for you and if it means something different to someone else, it doesn't matter.

But...if you want to debate about the meanings of songs go to this page: