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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Worst lyricists......according to Blender Magazine

I read the following on MSN:

Sting tops list of worst lyricists

Maybe Sting should start writing more instrumentals.

The school teacher-turned-rock star topped Blender’s list of the worst lyricists, thanks to lines that betray “mountainous pomposity (and) cloying spirituality,” the music magazine said.

The survey, contained in the November issue that hits newsstands next week, placed Rush drummer Neil Peart at No. 2, Creed front man Scott Stapp at No. 3, Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher at No. 4, and soft-rocker Dan Fogelberg at No. 5.

Blender assailed Sting for such alleged sins as name-dropping Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov in the Police tune “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” quoting a Volvo bumper sticker (”If You Love Someone Set Them Free”), and co-opting the works of Chaucer, St. Augustine and Shakespeare.

Blender described Canadian rocker Peart’s lyrics as “richly awful tapestries of fantasy and science,” and said Gallagher ”seemed incapable of following a metaphor through a single line, let alone a whole verse.”

Further down the ranks, Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant (No. 23) was derided for his Tolkienesque musings on Gollum and Mordor in “Ramble On.”

Carly Simon (No. 31) was mocked for rhyming “yacht,” ”apricot” and “gavotte” in “You’re So Vain.” Paul McCartney made No. 38, thanks in part to “Ebony and Ivory,” his socially conscious duet with Stevie Wonder.

After reading that, I am experiencing shock and anger all wrapped up into one feeling. It doesn't bother me that whoever wrote that list is bashing some of my favorite artists, but that he is so far from the truth that this list was most likely conjured up to beat a deadline.

My biggest opposition to the list is Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart who has been named "The Professor" for his usage of words in his lyrics. Neil is arguably the best rock drummer in history, followed closely by John Bonham and Keith Moon. His playing has probably inspired more of today's drummers than any other in the business. However, it's not his playing that's being scrutinized; it's his lyrics. (We'd all know that the list author would be insane to question Neil's skills behind a drum kit). If you have ever heard a Rush song, you know that the lyrics aren't the typical tongue in cheek cliches that plague most rock music.

Excerpt from "Cut To The Chase" from the Counterparts album:

It is the fire that lights itself
But it burns with a restless flame
The arrow on a moving target
The archer must be sure of his aim
It is the engine that drives itself
But it chooses the uphill climb
A bearing on magnetic north
Growing farther away all the time

When I read those lyrics, I see a person who dares to push the envelope in songwriting. His lyrics are filled with energy, and his style dares to be different with every song. I'm not sure what the writers at Blender are talking about, but I'm guessing there are too many big words for that listener to understand. "We mock what we don't understand", I'm guessing that's the writer's defense in bashing some of the most intelligent lyrics in all of music. Consider the alternatives, songs like "Rump shaker" or "Oops I did it again".

Besides the undeserving shot at Neil, I strongly oppose the criticism of Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. The words and music of that rock group are legendary and reflect the time when they were the undisputed kings of their genre.

Topping the list is Sting, leader of the recently reunited Police. "Every Breath You Take" is a staple of FM radio, as well as "Roxanne". Then you take into consideration the brilliant solo career that Sting has carried for several years while the Police went their separate ways. Sure, not every song is subject for any literary awards but when you criticize the words of legends in music, and completely ignore all of hip hop music and most pop, I have to wonder just how credible the writer of that list is.

I suppose the next list will have Eminem leading the pack of lyrical criminals, even though his peers will all say that he is one of the most gifted mc's of all time.

In general, lists of any kind are mostly useless and completely without merit but it would be nice for someone to actually have insightful reasoning to back up such useless criticism; unlike this instance.

1 comment:

me said...

You know who else is a pretty damn good drummer? The guy from Def Leppard who had one arm and beat the crap out of his wife. ;)

Thanks - I'll be here all week.