Some songs defy time and trends, and they become these masterpieces that have a cultural value bigger than the music itself. Think of Louis Armstrong, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, The Beatles… the list is endless.
But if you listen to, for example, “What A Wonderful World,” you’ll soon realize it’s not the melody, the voice, the composition that’s captivating, it’s also the lyrics that stick out. Simple words often carry great meanings, and no wonder they are quoted time and again throughout history.
On the other end, there are lyrics that do exactly the opposite—point out the obvious, often hilariously absurd no-brainers that make you wonder what on earth the artist was thinking. In fact, there’s even a whole Twitter page, ‘Lyric Cards,’ dedicated to lyrics from songs that sound completely made up.
Scroll down below to see the funniest examples shared on this page with almost 500K followers and after you’re done, be sure to check out part 1 of the article.
It seems like some songs stick with us for years to come, so we can easily hum a refrain even when woken in the middle of night, while others just come and go without leaving a mark. This may be almost a philosophical quest into the art of music-making, and I guess whoever finds the answer to it will be a millionaire.
The closest we get to the core of it is probably the work of the legendary pop songwriter and record producer Max Martin, who created mega-hits for Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, The Weeknd, or Ed Sheeran, to name just a few. Britney’s “Baby One More Time” and The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” are among his works, and they stand out for catchy melody, unmistakable style, and weirdly appealing lyrics.
So in order to find out how important lyrics are to a song, we spoke with singer and songwriter Vaida Baranove, for pop aficionados better known by her stage name Alice Way. “Lyrics are the heart of a song. Sometimes one fascinating line is enough to keep you coming back to a piece of music over and over again,” Vaida said.
She continued: “The greatest songwriters manage to fit an entire story in 3-4 minutes and make that story feel relatable to millions, no matter how specific it is. For example, Bob Dylan or Lou Reed told very specific and personal stories and yet the entire world felt exactly what they were all about. That’s the magic of songwriting.”
“There’s a great piece of advice many writers and lyricists hear quite often: if you can live without writing—do it,” Vaida said and added it’s because it’s a hard path. “It’s a very old-school approach, I know it, but I think it’s still relevant.”
According to the Lithuania-based songwriter, it’s not possible to write a great song with crappy lyrics. “It may be memorable, may even become a hit, but it won't make a long-term impact. For a song to remain alive for a very long time, it must keep being played long past its initial release stage, so, at least for over a year or two.”
Vaida explained that “nowadays, when many songwriters rely on 'success formulas' and the entire craft is reduced to creating a great hook, songs have really short lifespans. Meanwhile, find someone who cannot sing 'Rocketman' by Elton John? It was written in 1972. It’s still very much alive.”
Having said that, Vaida confirmed that there are musicians who still write great lyrics, like Lana del Rey, Damien Rice, John Mayer, Taylor Swift, Roo Panes, Lorde, and Adele. “Some of these artists are enormous pop stars but still manage to keep their lyrics strong, relatable, and poetic, and are appreciated by music lovers and critics alike.”
On the other hand, Vaida believes that “there are way too many ‘formula’ songs that have a very specific goal: money. They stay on the radio for a while and disappear into oblivion. Of course, if your songwriting pays your bills—lucky you.” She added that it shouldn’t be the main goal or at least not the only goal. “It’s easy to romanticize art and maybe I’m doing that a little bit. But you want a song to move you, simple as that.” Vaida concluded that even fantastic artists sometimes write horrible lines.