Do Lyrics Matter?

That’s what I have been asking myself since I started writing this blog. Does anyone care about lyrics? Well, obviously I do. For me, they make all the difference.

Of course, the first thing that strikes when listening to a song is the melody, the tune, the instruments, the rhythm. The singer’s voice might also catch your attention. You either like all these in a song or you don’t. There is such thing as “love at first sight” – or better: “at first hearing”, don’t you think so?

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If you just want to dance the night away, you won’t pay much attention to the text. There might be a chorus that is easy to understand and remember so that everyone can sing along – that certainly adds to the fun. Looking at the songs I have dealt with in this blog, “In my head” by Jason Derulo and “Bad Romance” by Lady GaGa as well as  30 Seconds To Mars’ “Closer To The Edge” and “We Are  The People” by Empire Of The Sun would possibly belong to this category. I guess not many people, especially in non-English-speaking countries, do understand the lyrics at all. Still, these songs are highly popular, for example in Germany.

Other songs which might be considered as ballads, with a slower rhythm, a calm melody, attach much more importance  to the lyrics. They have a message they want to get across – like John Lennon’s “Imagine”, Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning”. Others tell little stories: “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette, Eminem’s “Stan” or Jay Brannan’s “Housewife”.

There are songs that can be seen as poems set to music–like Hey Rosetta’S “Red Song”, they are not really easy to understand and leave a lot to the interpreter’s imagination.

Of course, if you are in love, you’ll like to listen to love songs, if you have been disappointed, “Grenade” might be the song for you. So sometimes it’s all about the lyrics, isn’t it?

To my surprise I have found rather poetic verses in very popular charts-songs, like “Closer To The Edge”  and “We Are The People”. Maybe they are not meant to “mean” anything and just sound poetic, but then again: you could say the same thing about some modern poems which are sometimes really hard to “understand”.

And even songs such as “Bad Romance or “In My Head” deliver a message, take up a certain attitude, morale, idea. This is what I try to discover and analyze in my blog. As long as a song has lyrics, it conveys an idea, and be it only unconsciously. We should be aware of that.

That’s why lyrics DO matter, in my opinion.

I’d love to hear your opinion – please feel free to comment and discuss.

Do you listen to the lyrics of a song? Do you care? Do you try to understand them?

Let me know about your favourite song – I might have a closer look at it in this blog some day!

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Bruno, don’t blame the piano! Grenade – Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars – Grenade from Mazlanlan on Vimeo.

Bruno Mars – Grenade from Mazlanlan on Vimeo.
In case the video doesn’t work watch it on this website. The song’s lyrics can be found here.

“I encourage everyone who watches this video to understand that it is an artistic interpretation of the song, and not something to imitate.” This is what Bruno Mars advises on his website.
That’s good to know, Bruno! I was already picturing in my head all those painful and somehow senseless actions you are singing about in this song.

I have to admit I quite liked the hook, the melody, the rhythm of “Grenade”. But then of course I was curious about the lyrics. Why would someone “catch a grenade, throw his hand on a blade, jump in front of a train, take a bullet straight through his brain, yes, even die” for someone else? Well, obviously because he is in love with the girl – and she is not. He would do all these things for her – but what for? To save her life? To attract her attention? To show her how much he loves her? I’ m not sure that would work – and if it worked and she would start loving him he wouldn’t look nice anymore… 😉
But it all starts with some heavy reproaches: “Easy come, easy go, that’s just how you live, oh, take, take, take it all, but you never give.” He gave her all, but she “tossed it in the trash”, she “doesn’t understand” and even seems to be the violent kind “beat me ‘til I’m numb”, coming straight from hell (“tell the devil…”). I wonder why he loved her in the first place, but then again, love happens, right, and you don’t have the choice…? Bad woman, good guy – the modern version of a drama, another bad romance?
I am not saying that people don’t do these things for someone they love. I’m not sure if I would catch a grenade, which means to kill myself to save someone else’s life – maybe I would for my children, but I don’t know if I really had the courage to do it in the very situation. But why would I jump in front of a train for someone – this doesn’t make sense, really… which leads me to the official video for this song.

The idea of dragging a piano across town and overcome several obstacles such as traffic and street gangs is quite a romantic project. I like the idea. However, we already know that the girl is a bad one, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that she is with another man. Poor Bruno decides to end his life (and the piano’s!) by positioning himself on a rail track. He kills himself because she doesn’t love him. This is suicide – and it happens all the time and has nothing to do with martyrdom and saving someone’s life. So what’s the point? I don’t really get the message. Lyrics and film tell a different story.
Can someone please come up with some less destructive ways of showing your love to someone? Dragging a piano to the beloved’s house and singing a song would indeed be a good start… 😉  Any other ideas?