Sunday, August 11, 2013

WTF, Fall Out Boy?!?*

*I cannot take credit for that quote.  C.E. said it, summing up our feelings.

Fall Out Boy had a new single playing on the radio, and I was puzzled over the lyrics.  When C.E. was in the car, I subjected her to my rambling thoughts on the subject (I was driving; she had no choice but to listen or jump from a moving vehicle).  She's younger than I am, so I thought maybe her hip and cool knowledge would have up-to-the-minute information that I wasn't privy to.

"Have you heard that new Fall Out Boy song?  Is it about child abuse and molestation??" I asked.  The lyrics said (I thought), "My sons know what you did in the dark."

I had visions of the members of Fall Out Boy writing about some horrible childhood tragedy or abuse they had suffered, and the protagonist of the song telling their own children about this monster so the pattern of abuse wouldn't be repeated.  "Everyone knows what you did, creepy Uncle Bob.  Even these children are (rightly) judging you."  Then the chorus says, "So light 'em up," and I had further visions of turning on blazing metaphorical floodlights, lighting up the past -- no more secrets in the dark.

So C.E. whipped out her smart phone and looked up "Fall Out Boy lyrics."  SPOILER ALERT:  the song is not about child molestation.

The lyrics say (and the title of the song is):  "My songs know what you did in the dark."

Uhh, what?

"Is this song about rape??"  C.E. kept reading lyrics aloud:
"I'm just dreaming of tearing you apart
I'm in the details with the devil
So now the world can never get me on my level
I just gotta get you off the cage
I'm a young lover's rage
Gonna need a spark to ignite"

Cue C.E.:  "What the fuck, Fall Out Boy??"

WTF, indeed.  C.E. commented that she expected a full rhetorical analysis of these fucked up lyrics on her desk within a week.  But I'm not analyzing these lyrics, other than to say it is possible to have too many metaphors.  Metaphors need to work together, people, so your piece has some sort of coherent (but not necessarily obvious) meaning.  We are not making spaghetti here; you cannot just throw every piece of imagery you have at the wall ("because it sounds cool") and hope it all sticks -- tada! A song is born.
Not quite.

But no.  This piece is about the lost art of diction:
"the accent, inflection, intonation, and speech-sound quality manifested by an individual speaker, usually judged in terms of prevailing standards of acceptability; enunciation."
The words "song" and "son" should not sound the same.  They are even spelled differently in the IPA:  \ˈsŋ\ and  \ˈsən\

 Lack of diction in songs force my brain to try to figure out WTF they are singing, giving some strange interpretations to the lyrics, as outlined above -- usually giving the song's artist much more credit than they deserve.

Here are some other top contenders, in handy chart form:

What I Hear
What They Said
“Locked Out of Heaven”
Bruno Mars
“Your sex texts me to paradise”
“Your sex takes me to paradise”
Sexting to paradise is much less romantic, that’s for sure.
“Just Can’t Get Enough”
Black-Eyed Peas
“Can’t get enough / Wanna germ inside your love”
“Can’t get enough / Wanna jump inside your love”
Eww.  I don’t even want to know what “germ inside your love” would entail.
Anna Kendrick
“You’re gonna miss me by taco.”
“You’re gonna miss me by my talk – oh”
This is a good reason to switch these lyrics around to “You’re going to miss me by my talk / you’re going to miss by my walk – oh” when singing the song at karaoke.

Enunciation, good people!  It's not just for breakfast anymore.  Now go practice your tongue twisters and vocal warm-ups!  Don't come back here until I can hear every "K" sound in the following:
"You know New York
You need New York
You know you need unique New York."

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