Man, I love this song!

Have you ever been enjoying a happy song, humming along and air-drumming to the beat, only to have a friend look at you wide-eyed and ask “don’t you know what this song is about?” And then you felt vaguely dirty because what you thought was a bright and catchy summer tune is actually about drug addiction or domestic abuse, and you hadn’t noticed?

That happens to me a lot. It’s not necessarily that I’m oblivious, it’s that I’m just not good with song lyrics. Everyone seems to sing too fast and mumbly for me to catch the words on the first try. It’s frustrating, because I feel like those around me don’t have that problem. My husband can hear a song twice and be able to sing along to the whole thing. I’m lucky if I’ve even got the chorus straight by that point. He’s much more musically inclined than me, so maybe that’s a part of it, but I’m starting to wonder if maybe my hearing is just terrible.

Many of my friends, especially the more creative and musically talented ones, will dig songs for their lyrical aspect. I can, too, if I can follow what’s going on. Some are easier than others. For example, I love Paul and Storm‘s funny songs, and Marian Call‘s lyrics can make me cry, because I find it very easy to understand what they’re singing. It’s hard to appreciate the songwriter’s efforts if I can’t make out the words. I wonder if that’s why I liked Bon Jovi and Madonna when I was growing up, instead of Nirvana and Pearl Jam like all the cool kids. I can sing along to “You Give Love a Bad Name,” but what the hell is going on with “Smells Like Teen Spirit?”*

If a song is pushes the right buttons in my brain, I don’t need to understand its deeper message in order to enjoy it. It doesn’t even have to have a deeper message. Bruno Mars sings such shallow lyrics as:

Yeah your sex takes me to paradise

And it shows, yeah, yeah, yeah

Cause you make me feel like,

I’ve been locked out of heaven

For too long, For too long

Yeah you make me feel like,

I’ve been locked out of heaven

For too long, for too long

Oh yeah yeah yeah yeah


Oh yeah yeah

Oh yeah yeah yeah yeah


But it’s a catchy little song and I can’t help enjoying it. Same goes for tons of other stuff. Sure, maybe the lyrics are idiotic, but it’s making me smile and tap on the steering wheel in traffic.

I’m trying to be less judgmental about what other people enjoy, because I think it’s equally valid to enjoy a song for its melody and lyrical complexity as for its bouncy sound and ability to stick in your brain all day. I have to believe that, or I have to hate myself for liking certain songs. And if I believe that, then I have to apply the same logic to a person’s love of books, or art, or TV shows. So you read 50 Shades of Gray and watch Two and a Half Men? That’s okay. Maybe they’re your Bruno Mars. And that’s totally cool.

Just don’t expect me to watch Two and a Half Men with you.

*Theory: I was a social outcast not because I was a nerd and matched my socks to my T-shirts, but because I have difficulty filtering out background noise to discern words. I like this theory.

One thought on “Man, I love this song!

  1. Dan

    Wait! You mean some people DON’T match their socks to their t-shirts? That’s just…. wrong.


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