Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pop music for beginners - lesson 1

Many people I know would disagree with this statement, but I'm gonna throw it out there - pop music can be confusing and difficult to understand. I don't believe it to be the insipid trash that most music snobs harshly label it as being; it's challenging, it's gets to the heart of issues and pushes people to really THINK and ENGAGE with what's actually happening in the world. I mean, for god's sake, the pied piper was popular and nobody bags him out - they bloody lord him because he drove all the rats out of town. There's very little research (read: no research but I'm still looking) to support this, but I'm almost 60% certain that Britney's song Toxic would have the same effect on local vermin... just saying, have you heard anything to contradict this idea? No? Try it and see.

However, back to my original point which is that pop music is intellectually difficult to understand at times. "What? You must be on crack, Danielle. What wasted talent..." I hear you say. But to you I say NO, stay with me and I will prove how hard pop music is to understand.

"Now I'm feeling so fly like a G6". That's the name and a line from a pop/dance song from Far East Movement. I mean, it's lyrical genius because it begs so many questions, the first being 'What the shit is a G6?'. Well, since you asked, a G6 is a private jet that rich people like the Sultan of Brunei, Oprah and Justin Bieber fly around in. 2nd question: why would I feel fly like a plane? Another excellent question - feeling fly means you feel hot and sexy and if you have a private jet you would also feel hot and sexy and the actual plane flies in the sky... so you see how it all ties together? It's genius, pure and simple.

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with other critically important pop lyrics, you no longer have to grab your crotch and make excuses about having to pee the next time someone mentions Saturday's episode of video hits around the water cooler at work. Use this quick guide and you will be down (read: well versed) with all things pop music lyrics and, let's face it, probably a bit more attractive.

- "Gold Digger" by Kanye West. This song is NOT, despite first glance, about a lonely prospector who pans for gold and other precious rocks in a forest somewhere far away like Ballarat. No, it's about the struggles rich men face in knowing whether or not the women they are dating are doing so only for the financial benefits that come along with the relationship. Well done Kanye on your attempts at educating men like Hugh Hefner that some women only want them for their money. I mean, imagine if Hugh had to spend the rest of his life (I mean he's 80 or something so he's probably only got a few weeks left, but still...) deluding himself that the dozen or so 25 year old women who share his mansion actually ENJOY his sagging old man balls and inability to sustain an erection without the use of bamboo scaffolding. Can you imagine the injustice?! Kanye, we salute you.

- "Living on a Prayer" Bon Jovi. For clarity's sake, I should start by saying this song is not about Bon Jovi suffering from an eating disorder where he just ate pages from the bible and other holy books. It's about having faith when times are shit - if you listen to the lyrics Gina is dating this guy called Tommy who is apparently a bit of a no hoper and tells her to work at the diner all day for love. I'm no economist nor am I any other kind of 'ist', but I think what Bon Jovi is really commenting on is that love and family is the real currency and that even if you die of starvation living in a cardboard box under a bridge because your home and car were repossessed, at least you have love. In a happy coincidence, and because they don't care about money, Bon Jovi trades in hugs and rainbows and happy thoughts - and I'm sure he told his record label to stick the cash when he discovered that his band was the highest grossing touring band in 2010. He's got a heart of gold tucked away in those inappropriately tight jeans.

- "No Limit" 2 Unlimited. There's no limit to what you can do or achieve, say the 90's Belgian smash hit dance/pop superstars and they were SO RIGHT! Until, of course, after they release that song and realised that there was a definite limit to how many times humans with ears could listen to their music without developing some weird eye tick and they promptly broke up. But still the key message remains - reach for the sky... again, not literally because then you'll be some freak who walks around with their arms up all the time, slowly going mad from trying to actually achieve this impossible task of reaching the sky.

- "Sussudio" Phil Collins. Nobody knows what this fucking means, not even PC himself. Theories abound as to its meaning, but Phil has very plainly said he was just stuffing around in the studio and the noise popped out. It could just have easily have been something that sounded like a fart or yodel or any song that Madonna has released, so don't read into it.

- "Only Girl in the World" Rihanna. She wants you to make her feel like she's the only girl in the world. As in, if you want to stand a chance with Rihanna or any woman that you desire, you need to physically kill every other woman or man who could possibly compete with her and then she'll be happy. Ideas for making this happen include poisoning the water supply, inciting nuclear war or directing a massive asteroid to hit the earth and wipe out all life. OK? Have I cleared that one up for you? Of course, maybe don't discuss the lessons you've taken from this song whilst around the water cooler at work because you might find yourself with a very thick ASIO file marked "critical security risk" and a van parked permanently outside your house.

Look, there's literally a gazillion pop songs that I could unpack for you but I think that by utilising these five examples, I've made my point. Pop songs are truly educational and thought provoking and have the power to change the world. Without pop, we would be completely unaware of the hazards of tying a yellow ribbon around an old oak tree or the vital role that Snow played in informing to the police in an effort to keep drugs off our streets.

Finally, I'd like to leave you with a pop lyric that I find is true to life for me and tends to guide me through rough times. It's from the genius box within the mind of Shaggy. He says "They call me Mr Boombastic. Girl me fantastic. Touch me on me butt they call me Mr ro-ro-romantic". Tip of the hat sir. Tip. Of. The. Hat.

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