Friday Fun – The Awful Lyrics Game

It’s time for my Friday Fun post, in which I offer nothing more than perhaps an opportunity for some amusement.

All right, it’s Friday and time to prepare for the weekend with a little fun. This week, I offer you the ‘Awful Lyrics’ game. The goal is to submit lines from songs that you believe constitute some truly awful lyrics. There are many criteria you may use for this, and I look forward to reading your offerings.

I would like to begin by paying homage to and making fun of Toto’s megahit, “Africa.” While I am in many ways a child of the 80s when it comes to music, and I love “Africa” and will turn it up if it comes on the radio in my car, I agree, nevertheless, with one of my best friends who always cites the song as an example of terrible lyrics.

I will quote an excerpt from the second verse to illustrate just a few of the problems.

The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company,
I know that I must do what’s right
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.

Now, there’s a lot to object to here, like the high nonsense quotient in the song – ie, the listener’s deepening suspicion in general that these words don’t really mean anything. There are also specific questions like what exactly ‘solitary company’ would be, since the two things seem mutually exclusive.

However, the primary objection here, I think, is the last line in the excerpt, and I’m not talking about the ridiculous pomposity of the image. I’m talking about the impossibly awful meter of the line. If you remember the things you learned about meter when you studied poetry in school, you will understand what I’m talking about. Most melodies follow a specific, regular, consistent meter, and lyrics that ‘fit’ that meter are generally desirable. Of course, you can add a syllable here or there and get away with it, but this line is a metric train wreck of colossal proportions. If you don’t believe it, read the lyric out loud. Even better, count the syllables of each line & compare.

What about you? Have a favorite line or verse or image to offer as an awful lyric? Submit it in the comments.

11 thoughts on “Friday Fun – The Awful Lyrics Game

  • At last! At loooooooong last! Justice has rolled down like a mighty stream and this crime against society has been called to account! I can’t add to your critique above because you’ve left the once semi-popular “super-group” dead to rights. All I can say is that other criminal lines that have irked me over the years pale in comparison. Africa’s “satanic verse,” if you will, surpasses even U2’s horrid:
    “you stole it, ’cause I needed the cash, And you killed it, ’cause I wanted revenge, Well, you lied to me, ’cause I asked you to, Baby, can we still be friends?”

    And it even blanks the sole pseudo hit from the rightly obscure Zebra, Tell me What You Want (which is surely a contender for worst video of all time):
    “My head’s on the floor forevermore
    I have given you all
    All that I had
    But with a slam of a door
    You’ve driven me mad
    Now I’m sad”

    You might have started this conversation off with the chief of all lyrical sinners, so I’m not sure who else can truly contend.

    Bravo, man…bravo!

  • I don’t know man … the beginning of the Joker has to at least get an honorable mention:

    Some people call me the space cowboy, yeah
    Some call me the gangster of love
    Some people call me Maurice
    Cause I speak of the pompitous of love

  • OK … I know Springsteen is supposed to be some great songwriter, but what illegal substance was he on when he wrote these?

    It’s catchy enough … at least when covered by Manfred Mann … but what in the world?

    Madman drummers bummers,
    Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat
    In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat
    With a boulder on my shoulder,
    feelin’ kinda older,
    I tripped the merry-go-round

    With this very unpleasin’,
    sneezin’ and wheezin,
    the calliope crashed to the ground
    The calliope crashed to the ground

  • I just wanted to ask a serious question: when will TDR be released on Amazon? It has missed the listed date by 3 days. I have been eagerly awaiting your return to fantasy, so I would love to know what the hold up is.

  • Rick, I had the same question. My contact at AMG, the publisher, says the hold up is at the printer, but that books should be finished & shipped next week – unfortunately, that means it might not be listed as ‘available’ until the week of August 19.

    More pressure on the book to live up to expectations, I guess. 🙂

  • Another example of lyrics that make you go … huh?

    Are they bad or just silly? You decide.

    He bag production
    He got walrus gumboot
    He got Ono sideboard
    He one spinal clacker
    He got feet down below his knees
    Hold you in his arms till
    You can feel his disease

    Come together, right now
    Over me

  • Mark,

    We are of one mind here. The “Boss” has been cut way too much slack, and has flown under the radar far too long for this one.

    And kudos for having the courage to proffer some Beatles iconoclasm! No one is safe NO ONE!

  • The cake baking song comes to mind – someone left the cake out in the rain and it took so long to bake it and I’ll never have that recipe again…..WHAT? =)

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