Is everyone really a poet?
Let’s consider our earliest forays into the world of poetry. Most of us first learned nursery rhymes early on in childhood. Some of the lullabies, rhyming songs and simple poems that we memorized as little children in North America have been around for centuries– “Jack & Jill,” “Hickory Dickory Dock,” and “This Little Piggy” are just a few from the multitude of well known rhymes from the mid-18th century. “Little Miss Muffet” and “Humpty Dumpty” came to us in the early 19th century.
As we got older, we learned about ABAB rhyme schemes, haikus and limericks, then eventually free verse and iambic pentameter—just some examples from the vastly diverse world of poetry. In school, we even had to compose some poetry. There wasn’t much emphasis on whether the poetry was good or not. In fact, teachers often communicated the idea that poetry could be just about anything, that it wasn’t good or bad. Understandable–we don’t want to discourage a child from being creative.
Most of us listen to musical poetry every day—song. Being an adult, I think it’s now safe to step away from that “poetry is anything and everything” mindset. It’s now safe and appropriate to qualify the poetry that we hear every day on the drive to work…MAN is there some bad poetry out there on the airwaves! I’m talking chart-topping songs from really popular musical artists backed by major record labels. I’m not talking about melody, or vocal ability; I’m talking about the cringe-worthy poetry within the song, otherwise known as the lyric. There are some horridly uninspired lyrics in pop songs; don’t even get me started on rap music today where many rappers now jam in nonsensical words where they don’t belong just so their lines can rhyme. What’s going on, o ye singers and rappers? Cat got your brain?
I’ve compiled a short list of some of the worst lyrics I’ve ever had the displeasure of hearing:
#1 – We’ll begin with “Whenever, Wherever” by Shakira. Truth be told, this song by Shakira is a goldmine of bad lyrics. It’s responsible for the following:
‘Lucky that my breasts are small and humble / So you don’t confuse them with mountains.’
‘Baby I would climb the Andes solely / To count the freckles on your body’
‘Lucky I have strong legs like my mother / To run for cover when I need it.’
Where do I begin with those lines? Who sat down, wrote those lines, and patted himself on the back afterwards, saying “Yeah! You’ve really got a winner with these!”
#2 – “I’m Already There” by Lonestar. This song has good sentiment. In fact, the verses are pretty nice. But that first refrain starts and the nice emotional buildup of the first verse turns into…creepiness? I give you exhibit A:
‘I’m already there / Take a look around
I’m the sunshine in your hair / I’m the shadow on the ground
I’m the whisper in the wind / I’m your imaginary friend.’
Sounds like my favorite stalker. But without a doubt, the worst line there is ‘I’m your imaginary friend.’ Every horror movie with a child who has an imaginary friend ends badly. And do you really want to be responsible for making your kid the lonely kid at recess because he talks to his “imaginary friend” all day?
#3 – “Knock You Down” by Keri Hilson. I like this song. It’s catchy and cute. Most of the lyrics are fine—until you get down to Kanye’s rap:
‘This is bad, real bad, Michael Jackson / Now I’m mad, real mad, Joe Jackson.’
Seriously Kanye? What does that even mean? You’ve won how many awards and you couldn’t come up with anything better than that nonsense? What do MJ and his dad have to do with this song?
#4 – “Get Low” by Lil John.
‘3,6,9 damn you’re fine / Move it so you can sock it to me one mo time!’
Here I’ll give brownie points—even though the numbers 3,6, and 9 are only there because “9” rhymes with “fine,” I’ll give Lil John some credit because he knows how to count. Oh wait, I’ll have to take away those brownie points because less than ten seconds later he starts talking about sweat on his b*lls. Wow folks, have we so run out of things to talk about that we sing songs about b*ll sweat these days?
#5 – “If You Seek Amy” by Britney Spears.
‘Oh Oh, Tell me have you seen her / Because I’m so Oh
I can’t get her off of my brain /I just want to go to the party she gonna go /
Can somebody take me home? / Ha ha, he he, ha ha, ho
When one of your lyrics is “ha ha, he he, ha ha, ho,” you’ve officially run out of things to say.
Record labels, managers, musicians, please—for the public’s sake, run your lyrics by a high school lit teacher first!
Thinking about lyrics that you can’t stand? Please post them in comments below!