Song lyrics from the 1990s are often quite rightly pilloried for being rather daft. "I'm serious as cancer, when I say rhythm is a dancer", rapped the lad from Snap in their smash hit Rhythm is a Dancer.
As levels of seriousness go, that is indeed quite serious, but also completely stupid. In any case, how can ‘rhythm’ be a ‘dancer’? Unless the song is about a person whose name is Rhythm, and they worked as a dancer. Let’s also not forget Des’ree’s classic pop ditty Life, which contains the line: “I don't want to see a ghost, it's a sight that I fear the most, I'd rather have a piece of toast, watch the evening news.” In fairness, having a nice bit of toast while watching telly is one of life’s simple pleasures, but the lyric is unadulterated garbage.
"Do you know your ledge waterfalls from your horsetail waterfalls? If not, then you really need to leave it to the professionals."
However, not all the supposedly stupid lyrics deserve to be ridiculed. Take TLC for example, and their hugely popular song Waterfalls. “Don’t go chasing waterfalls,” they urge. Very sound advice indeed. Chasing after a waterfall, without a proficient understanding of the processes of fluvial erosion, isn’t recommended.
We’re talking about turbulent whirlpools and plunge pools, boulder attrition and abrasion. Do you know your ledge waterfalls from your horsetail waterfalls? If not, then you really need to leave it to the professionals. TLC knew what they were doing when they wrote this song; it’s a cautionary tale to amateur waterfall chasers all over the world. “Don't go chasing waterfalls / Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to” they sang. Sage words by Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas. If you’re familiar with a body of water, whether it’s a lake or river, why would you entertain the perilous idea of chasing a waterfall?
“Is that your ass or your momma have reindeer?” It’s undoubtedly a curious line. How could a person possibly confuse a donkey from a reindeer?"
Another maligned song lyric comes from the song Shake Ya Tailfeather, by rappers Nelly (real name Colm Doyle), P Diddy (real name Eugene McGarr), and Murphy Lee (real name Lee Murphy.) This is the controversial line: “Is that your ass or your momma have reindeer?” It’s undoubtedly a curious line. How could a person possibly confuse a donkey from a reindeer? It’s impossible, right? Unless the owner of these animals used a cunning disguise to confuse a potential livestock trader.
Is this line a warning about nefarious practices within the agricultural economy? Is it a subtle reminder from Nelly, Diddy and Lee, that buying a pig in a poke is still a real concern for agrarian strugglers across farming communities? Or are they simply a trio of dim-witted uncouth imbeciles? The latter is what the conventional conformists would have you believe, the groupthink peddlers and the bleeding hearts, but perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to judge.
Finally, it would be churlish not to mention Shakira. She received much undeserved opprobrium for the following line from her hit Whenever, Wherever: “Lucky that my breasts are small and humble, so you don't confuse them with mountains.” Critics tittered at her expression and mocked her sensitivity. Yet there is much wisdom in Shakira’s words, as I learned myself following a rather unfortunate misunderstanding which occurred while mountaineering in the McGillycuddy’s Reeks last month. The confusion could happen far easier than you think. A combination of heavy fog, and my glasses momentarily falling of my face, and an untimely stumble down a rocky path, caused a bit of an incident. Once again I would like to apologise to the lady involved, and I would like to thank the Gardaí for being so understanding.
Furthermore, I now accept that wearing short shorts while mountain climbing is entirely impractical and potentially displeasing to fellow climbers, particularly in the context of a breast/mountain confusion incident.
If only I’d paid a bit more attention to Shakira.
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