music and bad lyrics… plus some more J-Pop to go around

13 03 2008

I’ve always thought of lyrics as an important part of music, something that can either add to or take away from the piece as a whole. I think most people will agree with me that sometimes lyrics will either make or break a piece. However, nowadays, it seems like that even if your lyric penning skills are subpar, if you put the lyrics over a catchy beat, then you can get away with almost anything: the chorus of Mims’s “This is Why I’m Hot” comes to mind. Then there are awesome songs that I really don’t understand the lyrics to, even though I could recite the words off the top of my head: Oasis’s “Champagne Supernova” comes to mind here. I understand the individual words, but I don’t think I really grasp what the lyrics actually mean. My knowledge of the English language doesn’t really give me a leg up here; they might as well be speaking another language. Unfortunately, many times I find myself not listening to the words anyways. I always seem to have music playing so I don’t think my daily life is ever really quiet. Most of the time I’m listening to my iPod while I’m studying or walking to class and not really listening to the words of the song. I hear it, but I’m not necessarily thinking about the meaning behind the words 24/7. I think that’s why I can listen to foreign language music and not be too bothered by the fact that I don’t understand what they’re saying. As long as the song is catchy and I find it entertaining, it normally stays on my computer’s hard drive.

But recently, I feel like I’ve been confronted head on by the fact that I really don’t know what these various artists are singing about. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been listening to a lot more J-Pop and so the fact that I don’t know the words is made much more obvious. I makes me a little sad that I can’t understand what HOME MADE Kazoku is talking about in their songs. After googling the lyrics some of their songs, I really want to be able to hear what they’re rapping about. Especially since they’re a hip-hop, funk, and popish trio, their songs are really lyric and beat based. I got the beat, but miss out on the lyrics, which I find great since I find them to be a little more poetic than some other stuff. I’ve been listening to “Take It Easy” from their “musication” album non-stop.

About a month or two ago, I got a copy of NEWS’s new album “pacific”. NEWS is a J-Pop group made up of six guys who sing, dance, act and do other boy band things they seem do so well. Track 8 on the album is entitled Chirarizumu (チラリズム) and composition wise, it’s a fun pop song, it’s catchy and sounds like classic bubble-gum pop to me. Since I don’t understand Japanese, I finally decided one day to google the lyrics and attempt to find out what in the world they’re actually singing about. HAHA. I was so shocked when I found out the song was about an adolescent (I hope…) boy’s desire to peek up girls’ skirts. WHAT?! Knowing that now, I can’t listen to the song in the same way. You can’t. There’s no way. There’s just something vaguely disturbing about guys (they’re all over the age of 20 now mind you, and this album was released November of last year, so they were definitely not adolescents when they sang this song) singing about their desire to perform lewd conduct over a super happy, super innocent and clean sounding track.

Lyrics wise, it really amazes me what you can get away with nowadays. Maybe I was just young and so wasn’t quick to pick up on hidden meanings and double entendres, but I feel like things have become much more explicit. I mean compare Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” to Akon’s “I Wanna F*ck You”. No clever and sometimes cliché analogies, Akon doesn’t really even attempt that but rather he gets straight to the point. I mean, you can’t really get anymore explicit than that.

I’ve been shocked by explicit lyrics more than once, but the most recent occurrence was once again located within the realm of J-Pop. I was listening to KAT-TUN’s “cartoon KAT-TUN II You” album and found that I really liked the back beats on one of the tracks. The singing, if you could call it that, was pretty bad, but I really liked the beat so it was a kind of perfect walking-to-class-while-listening-to-your-iPod kind of song. So when I had some free time, I figured that I would google the lyrics. I really don’t know what I was expecting. The track is called “Make U Wet” for goodness sakes, so I had to have guessed the content of the song. So I googled and surprise surprise, it was what I thought it was. But the thing is, the lyrics are so explicit that they’re just hilarious, like rolling-on-the-floor, good-thing-I-swallowed-my- orange-juice-already-or-else-my-macbook-would-be-orange, I-can’t-believe-they- convinced-him-to-perform-it funny. I can’t even convey how amusing they are; you would have to google them for yourself to really get the full effect. But besides it being really funny, I find it a little scary that adolescent girls in Japan, and in America apparently, listen to this stuff and just eat it up. They watch their concerts and scream in glee when their idols make a move to take off their clothes. It’s like softcore porn for adolescent girls. Scary. I wonder how the guys in the band feel. I’m sure it must feel great to be loved by fans and everything, but I wonder if they ever get tired of taking off their clothes to satisfy the desires of adolescent girls.


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