09 July 2007

What Are Your Musical Pet Peeves?

Andrew and I are just back from an excellent trip to Maine, and for the first time in the history of our travels together, we didn't hit any traffic coming back into New York. It was amazing. We made it all the way home in less than five hours, which is sometimes how long it seems to take to go from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

But even with the Traffic Spirits on our side, we still had plenty of time to listen to music. At one point, the radio hit us with Madonna's "True Blue," and Andrew quickly revolted. You see, that particular ditty is on his list of permanently forbidden car songs. (Other banned titles include Rihanna's "Umbrella," Avril Lavigne's apparently plagiarized "Girlfriend," and T-Pain's "Buy You a Drank (Shawty Snappin').")

Andrew finds "True Blue" to be, and I quote, "insipid."

I just asked him to clarify what he means. Glancing up from his laptop--and looking quite dashing in a blue t-shirt and some shorts recently purchased at a Banana Republic outlet store--he says, "Musically, it's a boring chord structure that never goes anywhere. It's like substandrard fifties music. And lyrically, it's pedestrian. That would be a nice way to put it."

Now while I find "True Blue" to be a charming, inoffensive early draft of the girl-group homage Madonna would later perfect with "Cherish," I can take Andrew's point. This song is not the deepest puddle on the sidewalk.

More damning for "True Blue" (in Andrew's case) is the fact that it embodies two of his musical pet peeves. Not only does it have a music track that is endlessly repetitive, but it also features the lyric "your heart fits me like a glove." For Andrew, saying something "fits like a glove" is forced and phony. That's like how I feel about the "shelf/self" rhyme.

I'm interested to know: Which songs have no chance with you? What are your musical pet peeves? Are there any elements of songwriting that make you want to ball your fists in fury?

If so, don't let that rage fester inside. We here at "I Totally Hear That" want to help you work through it

As for me... well, I just mentioned how much I hate the "shelf/self" thing. And I really, really hate overuse of the vocoder. It's cool on Cher's "Believe," but it's egregious on almost everything else. Case in point? The aforementioned "Buy You a Drank."

See there? By letting out my anger, I found another link with Andrew. We both hate that damn "Shawty Snappin'" song. Amazing!

Truth brings connection, people! Truth brings connection!

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At 12:06 PM, Blogger Liz said...

Well, ok, I'll be the first to rant. Being a writer, my musical pet peeve is "street slang" "ebonics" or whatever you want to call "Hella Good" and "Buy You a Drank." I know we've got some cultural things going on with this one, so I find it less annoying in rap music. But Gwen Stefani? You grew up in Orange County. Not exactly a ghetto, and "hella" is generally northern california slang.

I think the root of this annoyance for me is that it's a lack of lyrical creativity - but it generally annoys me in dancey/pop songs which aren't really known for their depth.

At 4:10 PM, Blogger megc said...

One of my musical pet peeves is bad intonation from the lead singer. Beth Orton, I'm talking to you.

At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Diana M said...

My main one is lyrical Sentimentaly. I do differentiate between real emotion and sentimentallity. I can even handle melodrama but insincere emotion pisses me off big time.

James Blunt are you listening?

At 7:24 PM, Blogger N said...

Songs with lyrics that are supposed to reveal some sort of clever "twist" but are so predictible it hurts.

Hoobastank's "The Reason" - "And the reason is... YOOOOOOOOU!" Really, Hoobastank? What a pleasant surprise! I would never have guessed that I/"you" was the reason. Especially since you sing the song so so so slowly.

See also: Clay Aiken's "Invisible" - "If I was invisible... wait! I already am." Ugh. Bad grammar, too.

It's especially annoying when this "twist" occurs in the chorus because then you have to keep listening to that stupid part several times during the course of the song. (Even though lots of country songs employ the gimmick, at least they usually stick it at the end, so that bothers me less. Besides I loves me some story-telling country music.)

At 5:24 PM, Blogger lucas mirĂ© said...

Definitely would have to be the Cranberries / Dolores O'Riordan school of songwriting where something is repeated three times in a row...

especially in a chorus.

LAZY! but also catchy....

absolutely my biggest songwriting pet peeve, though...

Love your blog! :-)

At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In your head! In your head! Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!

Sorry, Lucas. It's a good loud shower-singing song, though.

At 11:46 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

As I have said before, the only way I can deal with Beyonce rhyming
"I could have another you in a minute"
"matter fact he'll be here in a minute"
in Irreplaceable is to think that girlfriend is so righteously angry that she can't even THINK of another word right then. Despite the obvious charms of coming up with some line that ended in a forced rhyme of "up in it' instead.

At 8:56 PM, Blogger Scott Turner Schofield said...

I have to say that the song "Tim McGraw" as performed by the 12 year old on the last Country Music Awards was not only insipid as a song (even if it does give mad props to the ATL...), it was disturbing in performance. For the obvious 12 year old reasons, and also because it made clear that she used a VoCoder in the studio and can't carry a tune live. (Forgive my inability to remember the performer's name. It's a mark of disrespect - for a reason.)

Wow...I do feel better. Huh!

At 3:23 PM, Anonymous kalle said...

"Photograph" by Nickelback. Forced sentimentality (or nostalgia) is very painful indeed. Thus, anything by Celine Dion is a channel-changer. Oh, Diana M already got that one... yeah, James Blunt needs to get off the air, too.

Pseudo feel-good-but-intelligent is even worse. I'm thinking about songs like "Big Yellow Taxi" by Counting Crows or "Waiting on the World to Change" by John Mayer. Instant head-exploders. They really love that kind of music here in Denmark.

But how is Beyonce's minute-minute rhyme a problem? I haven't heard anyone questioning the lyrics of, for instance, "Light my Fire" which is very much guilty of the same thing. However, the cleverest one in this category is "War Pigs" by Black Sabbath (generals gathered in their masses / just like witches at black masses) because the word is the same, but it has a different meaning in each sentence (or so I understand it, am I correct?)...


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