Weekend Word Wrap: lousy lyrics

David K. Israel

By my way of thinking, a lousy lyric isn't one that I can't immediately make sense of—I'm happy to use my imagination—but one that violates the simplest, most basic rules of grammar.

Here are two offenders that, when heard on the car radio, make me want to drive straight into oncoming traffic:

Never mind that it sounds like the theme song to The Price is Right, what about the object of the preposition, Jim?

Never mind that Austin Powers mocked it, what about the subjunctive, Joan?

sting_portrait_400.jpg /

Blender mag has a completely different set of parameters for classifying lousy lyrics. They recently released a list called "The 40 Worst Lyricists In Rock," that both entertains and insults.

So who's number one—the worst offender—according to Blender? Sting! "Mountainous pomposity, cloying spirituality, ham-handed metaphors: He can do it all," says the mag. ""¦Once publications labeled him 'The Thinking Woman's Sex Symbol,' a low-watt lightbulb popped on in his head, illuminating the way toward a self-serious future. Sting would go on to rip off Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, St. Augustine's Confessions "¦ even Shakespeare."

In case your wondering which songs/lyrics they're referring to, I submit the following for elucidation:

Sting350.jpg /

is the name of one of Sting's albums and plays on the title of Chaucer's "The Summoner's Tale." While the album left me underwhelmed, I still like the title, which happens to play on Sting's real name: Gordon Sumner. A+ for word puns!

Again, on the album Ten Summoner's Tales, there's a song called "Saint Augustine in Hell" that contains the following rather banal lyric:

If somebody up there likes me/somebody up there cares/Deliver me from evil/save me from these wicked snares/Not into temptation, not to cliffs to fall/On to revelation, and lesson for us all

As for the Shakespeare reference: "Sister Moon" from the album Nothing Like the Sun contains the following semi-clunky lyric:

My mistress eyes are nothing like the sun/My hunger for her explains everything I've done

Also on Blender's list: 2. Rush drummer Neil Peart 3. Creed front man Scott Stapp 4. Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher 5. Dan Fogelberg

But you have to scroll all the way down to number 10 before any sign of The Doors shows up. And although Blender says their worst lyric is from "The Unknown Soldier" (Breakfast where the news is read/Television children fed/Unborn living, living, dead/Bullet strikes the helmet's head), I still wipe my forehead with relief knowing that other critics agree with me.

How about you loyal Wrap readers? Have a lyric/lyricist that/who really gets your goat? Slap "˜em down in the comments for all to debate.