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When two lines rhyme, they are intended to both convey meaning, and lock tightly into the aesthetic structure of the song. At least, that's my opinion. But what if one of those things is sacrificed for the other. Or worse...what if both of them are just completely disregarded?

You can get my book at bookshop.org here: https://bookshop.org/books/a-beautifully-foolish-endeavor/9781524743475

Also, if you want to hear me talk about Summer Girls by LFO, you can do that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3tTaDHjiu4

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Good morning, John. Songwriting is amazing. Getting meaning into an aesthetically pleasing structure is a really interesting challenge and one that creates a lot of beauty in the world. But this video's not about those times. It is about the worst moments in Top 40 songwriting. I get that this is extremely subjective but what I'm thinking about when I'm talking about bad songwriting is when, like, aesthetics is deeply sacrificed for meaning, or meaning is sacrificed for aesthetics.

The most clear example of that second thing being LFO's Summer Girls, right? This song has a preamble. Let us listen to it.

When we met, last summer

So they're saying this song is gonna be about the summer we met.

New Kids On The Block
Had a bunch of hits

Okay, excellent. You are describing the summer in question.

Chinese food makes me sick

What just happened? We are suddenly no longer talking about the summer, we are now talking about a man's currently somewhat racist stomach? I'm not upset that sick and hits is kind of a forced rhyme, that's fine! But if you're gonna make a stretch, make a stretch for a reason. ESPECIALLY IN THE FIRST LINE OF THE SONG! An example of a bad line being less intrusive because emphasis isn't placed on it is:

The meteor men beg to differ
Judging by the whole in the satellite pitcher

Yes, this is a forced rhyme that doesn't seem to understand climate science at all that is inside of a verse that essentially could be summed up by saying, "It's cold! No wait! It's hot!" It's not great but it's not emphasized so you don't really notice. It doesn't change the feeling of the song. AS OPPOSED TO!

Eminem undoubtedly has a mastery of language and rhyme, storytelling and meter, and I do not understand how his brain works. But I also don't understand how you do this.

Life is no Nintendo Game
But you lied again
Now you get to watch her
Leave out the window
Guess that's why they call it
Window pane

If this line had existed in the middle of the verse it would have been a throw away, little, fun pun. But because it ends and there's this huge space, it, like, places so much emphasis on this terrible pun, which would be okay if the song were not a deeply troubling explanation of domestic violence.

It's not the worst though. We're still gonna get there. Though it does hurt a little extra because it's Eminem, and I do not like the way it hurts. What about, then, when a song sacrifices aesthetics for meaning.

Are you more than hot for me
Or am I a page in your history
Book?


Wait. Do it again.

Or am I a page in your history
Book?


The worst thing is that we've wrapped around to another line, which is okay. If there is a reason. But there's no reason! Just leave the word book out. I get that it's a page in a book! "Or am I a page in your history. book?"

But the worst line-- we have arrived-- is not one that sacrifices aesthetics for meaning or meaning for aesthetics. It's one that just does not even try to do either.

We were trying different things
We were smoking funny things

Smoking funny things I will allow, but trying different things. Why? Why? That means nothing! Did you try a Boca burger for the first time, Kid Rock? It's not like other things don't rhyme with things. Were we listening to the songs that Skynyrd sings? Were you feeling like kings? Did Red Bull give you wings? Was it something about the joy that summer brings?

TRYING DIFFERENT THINGS! Double rhyming is an aesthetic sacrifice. And in this case, it happens for no reason. It's the worst thing I'e ever heard! John. I'm a little warm. I have to go outside. I'll see you on Tuesday.

Where the skies are so blue
Sweet home Alabama
Love the skies are so blue

Like, it's the equivalent of that! If you want to buy a book by this guy, it's available July the 7th for pre-order now, including at Bookshops.org where the price is the same as it is on Amazon but you get to support local bookshops. I'M FINE!!