Hunka-Hunka Burning Lyric

I try to be fairly positive on this blog and not directly disparage any individuals (except for maybe 5th Harmony…. I’ve definitely called them out), but sometimes that lady time of the month comes around and I want to take a flame thrower to the world.  But society and the police say I can’t do that so I will instead torch a lyric.

As a writer, I notice the words when a song comes on the radio and I get a special kind of annoyed when they’re not up to snuff.  It’s always the songs that get played over and over too, or maybe they only get played when I’m in my car.  Either way, it’s the kind of thing that fuels my hormone-sparked fire.  Today, I will be dissecting one of these lyrics.  Delicately.  With a battle axe.

Now quick disclaimers: this is meant to be entertaining, not a serious analysis of a lyric.  I’m not one of those snobs that expects every lyric to have an earth-shaking, life-changing message; I appreciate a completely vapid party song every once in a while.  I am one of those snobs that expects even vapid lyrics to be at least as well constructed as your first grade essay on what you did over summer break.  When critiquing something, one will often be in turn critiqued with the incredibly childish question, “Can you write something better?”  Well, I’m no Carol King or Kristofferson, but yes, I could do better than the lyric I’m about to eviscerate.  And even if I couldn’t, I don’t have to be a five star chef to know that something tastes like ass.  Your argument is irrelevant.  Moving on.

Today I’m going to destroy this sentimental ditty by Fifth Harmony (because you already know I’m not a fan), “Worth It,” a song that I called out in a previous post and that I think deserves some one-on-one attention.

I initially liked the beat and the weird klezmer thing happening in the track.  Plus the whole “I’m worth it” line initially sounds pretty empowering.  Then I listened closer.  Below are my thoughts, line by line.

“Worth It”
(feat. Kid Ink)

[Camila:]
Give it to me, I’m worth it
Ok, we’ve got some girl power going on here.
Baby, I’m worth it
I’m bobbing my head to this.
Uh huh I’m worth it
I like this, we haven’t said much yet, but I feel pumped about the absolute nothing we’re discussing here.
Gimme gimme I’m worth it
Gimme gimme?  Are we five, ladies?
Give it to me, I’m worth it
I’ve heard this before but now I can sing along.
Baby, I’m worth it
Is this the entire song?  I’d kind of be ok with that.
Uh huh I’m worth it
“Uh huh.”  Alright, if we have to write grunting into the lyric we might be off to a rough start.
Gimme gimme I’m worth it

Use your grown-up words.

[Kid Ink:]
OK, I tell her bring it back like she left some-

Some what?  What are we bringing back?  To where?
Bring it bring it back like she left some-
Obviously Kid Ink is a cyborg that runs on old DVD-R discs because he’s skipping pretty badly.  We might need to rub some toothpaste on that.
In the club with the lights off
Why are the lights off?  Every club I’ve been to there’ve been some lights on somewhere in the room.  I think the power might be out.  You should precede to a fire exit.  Just saying.
Whatchu acting shy for?
She’s not.  She said “Gimme gimme, I’m worth it.”  She’s begging for whatever this mysterious “it” is and she fees entitled to it.  Unless your definition of shy is “not forcibly taking what you want,” I’d say she’s pretty confident.
Come and show me that you’re with it with it with it with it with it
What is “it’!?  What are we supposed to be with?  Also we’re having some issues with skipping again.
Stop playing, now you know that I’m with it with it with it with it with it with it
Am I supposed to be imagining another side to this conversation?  What did we do that’s “playing?”  I’m just listening to your halfhearted rap.  By the way, this incessant repetition is exactly why you should always put your CDs back in their cases.  
Whatchu acting shy for?

Really?  Couldn’t write one new line?  You’ve only used, like, ten unique words in this chorus.  I think we can safely add a couple more without overloading your CPU.  If my Dell loaded up with Windows 98 could run Civ IV, you can run the English language.

[Dinah:]
Just gimme you, just gimme you

Oooooohhhh…  “It” is his penis.  I get it now.
Just gimme you, that’s all I wanna do
Apparently the CD you’re all lip syncing to is damaged because that’s the 7th time you’ve said “gimme” and we’re just starting the first verse.  And this is definitely not a girl power song.  I think casual sex is great and you are no less valuable of a person for engaging in it, but do we have to beg for it?  “All I want to do is your dick.”  No.  No.  Make him work for it.  You’re not worth anything right now; you’re free.  You make Walmart look expensive.
And if what they say is true
Who is saying what?
If it’s true, I might give me to you
Maybe instead of hiring session vocalists to sing your parts you cheaped out and bought a couple parrots.  That would at least explain why you have to say everything twice.  And how, if you’re having sex with him, are you not also giving yourself to him?  Were you just begging to please him with no expectation of reciprocity?  It sounds like you just met and that this is just casual sex.  Did you just beg to give him a blow job?  This line feels like a failed attempt make you sound empowered written by someone who thinks empowered means “not currently making me a sandwich.”
I may talk a lot of stuff
You just begged for the D, “shit” is too bad a word for you?  And even if you are going to maintain some weird sense of morality, you can’t find a better word than “stuff?”  No one says “I may talk a lot of stuff.”  No one says this.
I think I’m a call you bluff
Oh so “stuff” was just there to rhyme with this little cliche.  What a bastion of creative thought we are.  This line was definitely worth sacrificing the line above it.  Yeah, NO ONE’s ever said THIS before.
Hurry up, I’m waitin’ out front

You waste NO time.  He hasn’t even said “yes” yet and you’re heading to the car. 

[Normani:]

Holy shit, I had no idea there were different women singing these verses.  I seriously can’t hear a difference in their voices.  They must all be rendered by the same computer.
Uh huh, you see me in the spotlight
What did you do that the lighting guy is pointing you out?  Are the bouncers trying to find you?  Is this actually a high school prom in a bad 80’s movie?
“Ooh I love your style”
I appreciate someone’s style and I probably do form judgements about them before I even realize it based on their clothes, but it’s not a deciding factor in who I have sex with.  I’m not like, “Are those Italian leather loafers?  Get IN me!”
Uh huh show me what you got
More grunting.  Not a great start to this line.  Also, are we still at the club or are you back at someone’s apartment now?  You were waiting out front at the end of the last verse.  Wait, do you have a spotlight in your bedroom?  New theory: this song might be about someone who makes their own sex tapes.
‘Cause I don’t wanna waste my time
You’ve known this guy for like a verse and half and you’re worried about wasting time?  Do you turn into a pumpkin at midnight or something?  What’s the rush?
Uh huh see me in the spotlight
Ok, this line again…
“Ooh I love your style”
Listen, you really need to base this sexual encounter you’re about to engage in on something more than what clothes you’re wearing; especially since you’re presumably about to take them off.  Like are you going to take off your dress and he’s just gonna be like, “Nah, never mind; I was just in it for the French Connection.”?
Uh huh show me what you got now
That’s called indecent exposure and it’ll land you on a list.  I hope this is happening in your weird sex-tape studio bedroom and not the club; otherwise you’re about to have to introduce yourself to all your neighbors.
Come and make it worth my while

As excited as I am that you’ve actually bothered to write a new line instead of just repeating the prechorus in its entirety, this whole “make it worth my while thing” is a little late in the game.  Like 7 lines ago you were begging him for sex and now your like “I don’t know, is your dick really that great?”  Which is totally your prerogative – you have every right to change your mind, even in the middle of sex – but it seems like a subject better handled in a different song.

[Camila:]
Give it to me, I’m worth it

I’m so much less enthused about this chorus now that I understand its context.
Baby, I’m worth it
Seriously, there’s not enough content in this chorus for me to even keep commenting.  I’ll see you at the next verse.
Uh huh I’m worth it
Gimme gimme I’m worth it
Give it to me, I’m worth it
Baby, I’m worth it
Uh huh I’m worth it
Gimme gimme I’m worth it

 

[Camila:]
It’s all on you, it’s all on you

Ok, putting the ball in his court.  Let him chase.  This is good.  At least we’re not throwing ourselves at him any more.
It’s all on you, so what you wanna do?
We’re two lines in and you’ve repeated the same phrase three times already.  And the new phrase you’re introducing basically says the same thing as the last three lines.   So what I’m saying is, we’re a quarter of the way through your verse and you’ve said nothing so far.
And if you don’t have a clue
“I met you a minute and a half ago.  What do want to do to me?!  Decide NOW!”
Not a clue, I’ll tell you what to do
We’ve repeated another line.  Do we have a quota of words we can’t exceed or something?  Also, I recognize that when I’m like “babe, what do you want to do?” and I already have a game plan for what I want if he doesn’t have an idea, I should just tell him what I want to do, because otherwise I’m going to be disappointed.  You’re setting yourself up for a bad night here, Camila.
Come harder just because
I’m over thinking this line.  I’m assuming your asking for, like, rougher sex.  Just not sure that I’ve ever heard anyone ask for it this way.  It kinda sounds like you’re commanding him to orgasm more aggressively which… like… can anyone even consciously do that?
I don’t like it, like it too soft
We figured as much since you’re demanding that he “come harder” but thanks for stuttering through a clarification for us.
I like it a little rough
Again, gathered that.  We’ve got a lot of context clues to work with.
Not too much, but maybe just enough

This is my least favorite line of the entire song.  You could have farted into the microphone and it would have contained more information than this line.  You’ve managed to completely strip all meaning from the English language and reduce it to a series of empty grunts and chirps.  Frankly, it’s almost impressive.  I didn’t think it was possible to say so little with so much.

[Ally:]
Uh huh, you see me in the spotlight

We’re back to this again.
“Ooh I love your style”
We’re this far into the song and he’s still stuck on your outfit?  He is NOT into you.  He’s not even commenting on YOUR attractiveness.  He’s just like “you’re clothes are nice.”  Why do you want to have sex with him?
Uh huh show me what you got
Maybe “what they say” is that he has a magic penis or something.  Is that it?  Why are you so anxious to jump this guy whose only interest in you is your wardrobe?
‘Cause I don’t wanna waste my time
Again, really seems like you’re rushing, if anything.  You could stand to slow things down.
Uh huh see me in the spotlight
I swear, I’m going to start counting how many unique words are in this song.
“Ooh I love your style”
Kids, this is not why you engage with someone sexually.  Don’t do this.
Uh huh, show me what you got now
This song might be the least specific lyric in history.  It’s not poetic either.  It’s not metaphor or beautiful, abstract imagery.  “I’m On A Boat” had more information about what was happening than this.  At least I knew where the hell we were supposed to be in that song (we were on a boat, in case you didn’t know).
Come and make it worth my while

You were already having sex during the last verse.  This entire prechorus is no longer relevant.  GET IT TOGETHER FIFTH HARMONY.

[Camila:]
Give it to me, I’m worth it

Are you?  Really?
Baby, I’m worth it
I’m not sure I believe you any more.
Uh huh I’m worth it
What about your SELF-worth?  Where is that?
Gimme gimme I’m worth it
You know, I just realized why this line bothers me.  Sexual baby talk kinda grosses me out; just a personal pet peeve.
Give it to me, I’m worth it (know what I mean?)
What do you mean?  And what are we risking here by taking your free sex that you’re throwing at us?  Are you saying we’re going to get herpes but it’s going to be fun catching it?
Baby, I’m worth it (give me everything)
“My vagina is a portal to Hell!  Satan dwells within it’s black depths!  Enter and give the dark lord your everything, your life-force, your SOUL!”
Uh huh I’m worth it
Considering how sad this exercise is making me for the future of art and humanity, I would say that you are not – in fact – worth it.
Gimme gimme I’m worth it

No.  Say please at the very least.  It’ll still be a no, but I’ll like you better.

[Kid Ink:]
OKI tell her bring it back like she left some-                                                                             You couldn’t even write another crappy rap for the last part of the song?  It’s not like the first one was your opus or anything.
Bring it bring it back like she left some-                                                                                                “I want this girl to dance on me like she forgot her keys!”
In the club with the lights off                                                                                                                          At this point in the song, I’m going to assume that everyone involved has severe head trauma and Kid Ink’s assessment that the lights are off in the club is actually just temporary blindness resulting from a recent catastrophic brain injury.
Whatchu acting shy for?                                                                                                                                             You really should have rewritten this rap, man.  According to that second verse, you all have at least graphically discussed sex if not actually had it.  And she told you to “come harder.”  Ain’t nothing shy about that.
Come and show me that you’re with it with it with it with it with it                                             I feel it’s safe to say that neither your nor she have the mental capacity to consent to sex at this moment.  She (by the way, which one of the 4 or 5 supposed singers on this song are you singing to?) shouldn’t show you anything.  
Stop playing, now you know that I’m with it with it with it with it with it                               Ah, the familiar, sad repetition that defines this song.  It’s almost comforting now.
Whatchu acting shy for?                                                                                                                           I’m going to vote this line as the second lowest low-point in this song, right after “not too much, but maybe just enough.” 

[Ally:]
Uh huh, you see me in the spotlight                                                                                                         I don’t feel that there’s enough content at this point so I’m going to start giving you some handy numerical stats.
“Ooh I love your style”                                                                                                                               There are eight discreet words in the entire chorus.
Uh huh show me what you got                                                                                                                     There are 603 words in the song but only 101 on them (17%) are unique.
‘Cause I don’t wanna waste my time                                                                                                       There are only four words in the entire song with three or more syllables in them.
Uh huh see me in the spotlight                                                                                                                   The four most used words are: worth (36 times),                                                                                                       
“Ooh I love your style”                                                                                                                                   me (26 times),
Uh huh, show me what you got now                                                                                                           uh (20 times),
Come and make it worth my while                                                                                                           and huh (20 times).

[Camila:]
Give it to me, I’m worth it                                                                                                                              Looking back at those top four words, two of them aren’t even actually words; they’re just grunting.  I also think the word counter I used excluded “it,” otherwise I would have thought it would be the most common word.  Trust me, I tried counting this myself and just… failed at it.
Baby, I’m worth it                                                                                                                                                    By the way, the fifth most used word was my favorite, “gimme.”
Uh huh I’m worth it                                                                                                                                        According to the same word counter (wordcounttools.com, if you’re curious; it’s pretty fun),  this song receives a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level rating of 1.2.  So it’s as though the writer was a month into second grade when they composed this.
Gimme gimme I’m worth it                                                                                                                       Also interesting, the average word length is 3.5 letters long.  This means that the majority of the vocabulary in this song doesn’t even make it to four letters.  And four letter words are often accused of being the lowest form of expression. 
Give it to me, I’m worth it (know what I mean?)                                                                                        The exercise in madness that has been analyzing this song has led me to a few conclusions:
Baby, I’m worth it (give me everything)                                                                                                1) There is definitely such a thing as too much vocal production because all of the women sound the same to me,
Uh huh I’m worth it                                                                                                                                        2) They clearly didn’t pay Kid Ink enough for his rap chorus,
Gimme gimme I’m worth it                                                                                                                     3) Someone got paid to write this.  And it’s been all over the radio.  Our society is obviously collapsing.

Give it to me, I’m worth it                                                                                                                                No.  I can confidently say, you’re not.

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Bare Bones: The Sound of One Heart

A few days ago I posted a video of my original song, “The Sound of One Heart,” on Youtube.  The video once again features Pete Jacobs on guitar and was recorded live in one take; no clever editing, lip syncing, or pitch correction (hence my audible struggles to sing and shaker at the same time).  I’m very proud of this performance and the composition – it’s one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever written.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch below:

When I preform this live, I always tell the story behind it because it’s SO ridiculous.  Most of what I write doesn’t have nearly so interesting a tale, but this song…  If you haven’t been to one of my shows or seen a round I played in, I’ll share it with you now.  (If you’ve had to hear this story before, tough.)  The following is entirely true:

When I was a senior in college back in Boston I had a huge crush on a friend of mine.  I had a half-hearted relationship with an on-again-off-again boyfriend, but I was really into this other guy.  When the friend invited me to a concert he was playing a couple days before Thanksgiving, for some reason my brain interpreted that as “he totally has the hots for you,” so I dumped the poor guy I had been stringing along (don’t judge me; I was younger and I understand now that this was a selfish, douche-y thing to do) and took two buses to the concert which was being hosted in the unfinished basement of a really poorly maintained Elks Club in Cambridge.

My roommate was supposed to come with me, but she flaked.  This was fine, however, because I was about to find True Love.  I got there and bought a rusted can of PBR from a cooler carefully hidden under a box so the cops wouldn’t know they were selling alcohol out of their basement with no license, should any walk by.  I was politely asked to say I brought it myself if any police showed up; the Elks Club guy was very concerned about the cops which led me to believe he may have had a previous run-in with the law regarding rusted PBR cans.  I found my friend and watched a couple of the opening bands with him, heart all a-flutter.  Then he waved over a pretty brunette and introduced me to his new girlfriend.

I bought another rusted PBR.  Tetanus be damned.

rusty can11b.jpgf86bfb01-597c-421a-881e-d6bbc502a712Large

This looks safe.

That wonderful stroke of instant karma was probably well deserved, as devastating as it was.  I was suddenly a lot less cool with my roommate ditching.  My internal dialogue went from “no problem” to a string of cartoonish expletives.  It was fine, everything was fine.  I drank my tetanus beer and took some calming breaths and tried to keep the color out of my face while not being awkward hanging out with my crush’s new girlfriend (who’s roommates had, coincidentally, not ditched her).  I watched his band play while trying not to make direct eye contact with his date.  I was fine, it was fine, I was going to make it through.

Then I got a text from the friend who was supposed to drive me home the next day for Thanksgiving.  “Can you take a phone call?” she asked.  I stepped into the quiet[er] bathroom and gave her a call.  Her mother had had an accident, breaking her neck, and she was already driving to Connecticut to be with her in the hospital, so she couldn’t drive me home tomorrow.  This was my best friend who’s family I know well, so I completely understood and told her to drive safely and take care of her mom for me.  I was, however, suddenly faced with buying a $120 train ticket.  More slow deep breaths.  The night officially sucked but at least now I had a good excuse to leave.

I told my friend (and his new goddamn girlfriend – the only two people I knew at the event) that I needed to head home and buy a train ticket.  Home for me was about 2 miles away and it was late November in Boston, but I set out on foot, figuring that I would wait at a bus stop in a less shady area.  Part way to my bus stop of choice my phone rang again.  This time it was my little cousin, who was a freshman at the same school as me and he was very upset.  His roommate had been busted for dealing weed out of their dorm room and my straight-edge cousin was now on housing probation for not narking on his older, drug-dealer dorm-mate (although he had asked him to do his business elsewhere a couple times previously).  Apparently, our college was unfamiliar with the old folk-saying “snitches get stitches” and were penalizing him for not receiving the aforementioned stitches.

“What do I do?” he asked.

It was officially the worst night ever.  At that point, I decided to stomp the rest of the way home through the freezing, autumn night instead of waiting for the bus.  I pledged to my cousin that I would be at the housing hearing if he wanted me there and offered to either vouch for his honor or physically fight the RD, whatever seemed more effective at the time (surprisingly, he didn’t ask me to come).  By the time he was calm enough to get off the phone I was nearly home.  My pure, unbridled rage had managed to stave off the cold.  In fact, I was nearly in a furious sweat when I reached my neighborhood package store and bought a six pack.  I finished the entire thing (if you ever been drinking with me, you know two beers is usually my limit before I’m drunk), fell asleep to some angry dreams, and started writing this song the next day.

It took over a year to finish.  I brought it to every writing teacher I could think of, reworked it from bottom to top a couple dozen times, and left it alone for months just to pick it up for a couple days here and there.  It wasn’t until I started working it on guitar instead of piano and had truly fallen in love with someone else (obviously, that fateful night was worth it, because I have someone AMAZING now) that I had enough distance to finish the song.  I added the fictional narrative of two people who had already dated meeting again; their same-but-opposite experience felt very powerful to me, something that could touch a lot of listeners.  But those first two lines were drawn directly from my experience that night: “She averts her eyes / ’cause seeing them together is like staring at the sun.”  It took a little more reworking to get the same-but-opposite thing really happening in the pre-choruses, but it was worth the effort.  Here’s the lyric back-to-back:

Her hearts a bruise / And their laughter is a ringing in her ear / Nightmare come true / The radio’s blasting, but the only thing she hears…

He’s smiling too / With a pretty girl whispering in his ear / A dream come true / The radio’s blasting but the only thing he hears…

It wound up being a fun lyric to work on and helped make me see the whole experience in a better light.  Sometimes, adding that layer of distance and fiction to a real-life situation I’m writing about helps me process what I’ve gone through.  It’s one of the reasons I’m so lucky I can write – it’s truly a gift to have that added vehicle for understanding the world and my experiences in it.  Plus, retelling the events that led up to creation of the song helped me realize what a crazy, sit-com situation it was and has really helped me laugh at it.

Friends

I covered like a season’s worth of Friends plot material in one night.

As for the recording, it started with me throwing guitar picks around the room in frustration.  Going into it, I was determined to play all the instruments myself and film it at the same time.  This did not go well.  Take after take after take failed to live up to my expectations and, as I began to realize that I would not be able to do it myself, I got really angsty.  I’ve been working on my guitar skills like it’s my job (because it is) but I still struggle, and it can be very disheartening to have it thrown into stark relief the way trying to play to a click does.  Luckily Pete – who was filling the role of cameraman, engineer, and producer – saved the day by offering to jump in and play.

And it wound up being as simple as that.  One take with the camera running all the way through.  No overdubs or fussing.  Yeah ,there’s a shadow over my face but it was such a great, natural take.  We just played – no headphones, just the sound of the room – and it sounded just like I had envisioned but couldn’t bring to life on my own.  I live for those moments where I have a musical experience with another person like that.  It’s one of the reasons I keep doing it.

I hope you enjoyed listening, watching, and reading the inside scoop on the entire thing as much as I enjoyed creating it all!  Look forward to more inside scoops like this and general content coming soon.

Peace and love.