I find it interesting that my angriest, bitchiest articles are the ones that people seem to be enjoying the most at the moment. The ‘grumpy old women’ format has been done to death – and fair enough, because they’ve gone/are going through the menopause, which I believe makes you a little cantankerous, and now they’re doomed to a stereotype life of knitting patterns, Reader’s Digest and watching Eastenders on the TV to add some drama to their lives. Or, worse, they turn to gardening. But considering that I’m easily irritated by various trivialities at the tender age of 19, and not exclusively when premenstrual, I dread to think what I’ll be like when my ovaries dry up and I have wrinkles appearing in my wrinkles. I’m an example of a ‘grumpy young woman’, loving nothing more than a good bitch and/or moan, and clearly that’s an entertaining trait; so as a more useful way of airing my grievances about the world at large, both for myself and for those who enjoy my rants, I’m going to be writing a series of articles called ‘The Most Annoying Features of…’ amongst my other articles. If you’re easily annoyed by the annoyances of the easily-annoyed, I suggest you don’t read any further, as here are some musings on the most exasperating features of songs – which are, as you’ll see, mostly contained within the lyrics.
1) The use of the platitude ‘baby’.
‘Baby’ as a term of endearment annoys me immensely anyway; it’s borderline paedophilic, it makes you sound drippier than a broken tap and, in any case, why is being compared to a vomiting, screaming bundle of lard a good thing? I’d rather be compared to Shrek (which, fortunately, I once was). ‘Babe’ is nearly as bad – it’s the name of a protagonist pig in its eponymous film. Even though said pig is endearing, delightful and clean as far as pigs go, there are better things to compare one’s paramour to.
Unfortunately, the world of music – particularly pop, though by no means exclusively – hasn’t got the memo yet. The most obvious example of this is Justin Bieber’s single/assault on the ears (delete where appropriate) ‘Baby’, with its deep and meaningful chorus “And I was like, baby, baby, baby – oh! Like, baby, baby, baby – no!” and so on. Now, I think that J-Biebs is reviled by his detractors to an unnecessary extent, many of whom I suspect are jealous that they will never receive as much naked fanmail in their lifetimes as Bieber probably does in a day, even if it is just from 12-year-olds with webcams. But if J-Biebs wants to receive some critical acclaim from anyone other than his family and the female tween community, he may want to stay away from the worst and creepiest pet name to plague the masses. Because aside from making you sound like you hang around the crèche with a camera, your conquest may just think you’ve forgotten his/her name.
2) Saying your/the featured artist’s name in the rap at the beginning. Or in the middle.
Every single chart song at the moment seems to showcase this idiotic feature – even Rebecca Black’s infamous anthem ‘Friday’! Perhaps it’s intended for an audience that only ever listens to the radio and always misses the DJ saying who the song is by. Stick your and your comrades’ names into the rap, and everyone will remember who you are! Genius. Except there are several flaws in this plan.
For a start, the distracted audience are probably not listening intently to your coherent lyrics, let alone the gabbled rap if it’s in the middle – the rap from ‘Friday’ is the only part I can’t recite from memory – so it’s only the discerning listener who can hear you rap the names. It’s also difficult sometimes to distinguish what the names are, because at this introductory part of the rap/song there tend to be lots of random words for hardcore effect, or plugs. Take, for example, ‘Independent Woman Part 1’ by Destiny’s Child. The opening prologue by Beyoncé is infuriating; she raps the names of the actresses starring in Charlie’s Angels (whose soundtrack featured the song) – “Lucy Liu, with ma girl Drew, Cameron D and Destiny – Charlie’s Angels c’mon”. It’s a shameless and lame name plug for the film, but has nothing whatsoever to do with the song. Jay-Z also plugs Rihanna’s album at the time in Umbrella (“Rihanna – Good Girl Gone Bad, uh huh”). Product placement in films is annoying, but easy to miss; it’s so much more infuriating at the beginning of songs.
The worst offender of saying one’s own name in a song is Lady Gaga, who seems unable to record or release a song without namechecking herself. First single ‘Just Dance’, ‘Starstruck’, ‘I Like It Rough’, ‘Eh Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)’, ‘Christmas Tree’, ‘Bad Romance’, ‘Monster’, ‘Judas’ and ‘Government Hooker’ all feature her singing about herself. Now, whilst her stage name is good for nonsense rhyming (‘Bad Romance’), and it’s understandable that she used this tactic on her first song to make her a recognisable name, there is absolutely no excuse for putting your name at the beginning of non-single tracks from your second album. We know who you are, Gaga, and I doubt we’re in any danger of forgetting your name. Clearly, you are.
3) Having more featured artists contributing to your song than you have brain cells.
If you are genuinely making a song with a decent contribution from another artist, why not? ‘Golddigger’ would be far worse without Jamie Foxx’s contribution, in my opinion, and some artists – Gorillaz spring to mind – are inventive with their choices of singing partners and what they contribute. However, getting some hardcore rapper who no-one’s ever heard of before to add three words to a song and then classifying that as a decent reference point to include him on the artist line is infuriating. A lot of the time, contributing artists are really contributing nothing of worth to the song except their names, which a lot of the time have no fame-related worth in themselves.
On the other hand, it annoys me when DJs make no mention in the artist line of the bimbo lisping her mediocre way through the ‘lyrics’ in whatever club anthem they’ve spun up recently, so I suppose it works both ways.
4) Mentioning websites in lyrics (n-dubz Facebook, Cher Lloyd Tweetin’)
Social networking has taken over the world, and the music industry has taken notice. MySpace launched delights such as Lily Allen and The Arctic Monkeys into the charts, whilst YouTube has thrust unsuspecting starlets such as the ubiquitous Rebecca Black into the fore of public consciousness. There was no better way for artists to pay homage to these forces than to namecheck them in songs, then, clearly. Sadly the artists using these namedrops create some of the worst music around; the two examples I can think of immediately are N-Dubz ‘looking all over Facebook’ for a girl in a club and Cher Lloyd telling her ‘haters’ that people ‘can’t stop Tweetin’ ‘bout [her]’ in current internet non-phenomenon ‘Swagger Jagger’. The latter has spurred many more Tweets about her, few of them positive – well, it is an awful song – and I’m sure any female coming into contact with Dappy has rendered her profile private since that song came out. The problem with namechecking these sites is that they’re ephemeral; they may be invincible at the moment, but they won’t be in ten years (I imagine). They immediately date songs, in a less subtle way than Lady Gaga’s ‘Edge of Glory’ is dated by the 80s-esque sax solo in the middle.
Admittedly, this isn’t a particularly common lyrical occurrence – for which we can all be grateful – but when it does happen, it’s annoying. Though, quite frankly, any new song being released by Cher Lloyd or N-Dubz is an annoyance in itself.