Despite (and because of) pop music’s prevalence, there are plenty of people who will go on a “Pop Rant” at the slightest provocation. The content of these rants generally include how deplorable pop music is due its repetitiveness, the general lack of meaning in lyrics, as well as how uncreative and over-produced the music is. While all of these expressions of distaste have their merits, they have been re-hashed so many times that they have, for the most part, stopped being meaningful. Obviously, no one cares about this enough to actually stop listening to the boring, meaningless, uncreative, over-produced and Horribly Catchy pop music. So although criticism of pop music seems to be effectively meaningless, let me add one more complaint, one that is perhaps less cliched, to the Pop Rant. I don’t expect it to change anyone’s listening habits, but perhaps it will make someone think a little more when they listen to pop music.
Contrary to the rage against pop’s empty lyrics, I would like to instead rant about how, when pop songs do have meaning, how horrible and even conflicting the ideas which the songs express are. For example, Ed Sheeran’s two most recent singles, when considered together, make no sense and make him look like a jerk or a manipulative music-industry tool instead of a musician who is truly expressing himself through his music. What the first song basically says is, “I had sex with a random girl in a hotel, so yeah, that happened. It was pretty cool I guess.” His next single pledges his life-long love to his one-and-only, declaring “I’ll be loving you still when we’re seventy.” I think the discrepancy is clear. I’m pretty sure he’s not talking about the girl he met in the hotel when he says he’ll love her until seventy. Taken together, these songs don’t just cast doubts on his personal character, but also on his integrity as a musician.
Another example of a pop song with a message which turns out to be horrible is Maroon Five’s song Animals. Once you get past the devilish catchiness of the song and realize that every single line is sexual innuendo, it doesn’t take much to realize that essentially what the leader singer is saying is, “I’m a slave to my own sexuality. Holla.” My only question is, “Why are you proud of that?”
Perhaps it’s better for pop lyrics to not say anything at all if all they can manage to convey otherwise are ideas that are either false or potentially detrimental.