I have somewhat of an undying appreciation and admiration for clever lyricists. There’s a huge amount of talent behind some of my favourite lyrics which are then combined with music, which is yet more admirable to make it musical. Some of my favourite lyrics are really wordy dictionary-digging type stuff and others are just great because they contain some slang or even invented words to get the point across. Here’s some of my favourite lines as spat by lead singers across the world.
A Cautionary Tale / The Decemberists / Colin Meloy
With dirty hands and trousers torn
They grapple until she’s safe within their keeping
A gag is placed between her lips
To keep her sorry tongue from any speaking, or screaming
Deliciously dark and morbid. Colin Meloy’s lyrics in this particular shanty tell the story of a mother who prostitutes by moonlight to the local sailors in order to feed her bastard child. The child, we discover is being told the story because they often refuse the food her hard work puts on the table.
Crying Lighting / Arctic Monkeys / Alex Turner
Outside the café by the cracker factory,
You were practising a magic trick,
And my thoughts got rude, as you talked and chewed,
On the last of your pick and mix.
Alex Turner’s lyrics often ooze sex in an unobvious way. Crying Lighting seems to be obsessed with imagery of sweet things and a comfrontation with a dominating character who Alex confesses to having rude thoughts about. Mixed with the charm and lilt of Turner’s accent, the lyrics find a life of their own not possible if say, Cliff Richard tried to sing them.
Folk Singer / Brendan Benson
It was fun while it lasted until it was blasted
Right out of the water and into fantastic
Now he feels shafted and she’s already past it
She’s like elastic and he’s so spastic
Benson’s lyrics often show the fragility of a moment but this verse from Folk Singer portrays Benson as just being plain pissed off. A middle finger to the loose woman he spent wasted time bothering with. Nice.
You’re So Damn Hot / OK Go / Damian Kulash
So now you’re headed to your car.
You say it’s dinner with your sister, sweetie.
But darling look at how you’re dressed. Your best suggests
another kind of guest.
The sarcasm, bitchiness and pure critique of the target’s motives are what make me love this verse from OK Go’s You’re so Damn Hot. In recent times the band have become more of a fad with their music videos but the tracks from their first album (self titled) are pure bubblegum rock and catchy as hell.