Friday, 6 April 2012

Top 5 song lyrics that are anything but timeless

You often hear of art, and in particular music, being described as timeless. I mean Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor can be just as moving today as I am sure it was in the early 1800’s. Of course when you throw in lyrics it can be a little more tricky, which is no doubt why we see so many songs written about the ‘timeless’ topics of love and loss, and relationships in general.

But every now and then you come across ephemeral moments in songs that seem to date them almost instantaneously. Here’s my top 5:

1. Tone Loc - Funky Cold Medina
This is the 80's, and I'm down with the ladies

Putting a specific year or era in your lyrics is always a dangerous move, I mean nothing says expiry date like stating you’re going to party like it’s 1999. But the thing that always amused me about this line from Tone is that this song came out in late 1989. Certainly down under it was still relatively fresh on the airways as we entered the 90's.

2. Ben Lee – Catch my Disease
They don’t play me on the radio, but that’s the way I like it

Perhaps more ironic than a true ephemeral moment, this catchy little tune from the man we love to hate (or maybe hate to love?) went on to become the most played song on Australian radio in 2008 (per the 2008 APRA awards). Unless you were living in a Ben Lee proof cocoon you could not escape this song, leaving many to wish they really didn’t play him on the radio.

3. Nirvana – About a Girl
This is off our first record, most people don’t know it
Technically this one is not part of the actual lyrics, but it still has to be one of the most well know intros to a song in recent memory. Similar to Ben Lee, this might have been true when he said it but the Unplugged album went on to be a huge seller and this was the only single released, getting plenty of radio play. Kurt, you can rest in peace knowing that most people do know this song and we all know it’s off your first album.

4. Sugarhill Gang – Rappers Delight

I got a colour TV so I can see the Knicks play basketball
Today’s rappers and hip hop stars are all talk of Bentleys and bling but back in 1979 if you really wanted to let people know how high your status was in society, all you needed was a colour TV. There is no doubt that the song has earned its place in music history as the first big rap single but it is always this line that brings the smile to my face.

5. De La Soul – Ring, Ring, Ring

I got an answering machine that can talk to you…
Similar to naming a year, technology can also date your lyrics pretty fast. Over time there have been plenty of references to pay phones, operators and even pagers, but this one has to be my favourite. Somehow the romance of an answering machine has been lost with the current day voice mail, and the cassette tapes throughout the video clip are also a bit of a give away!

De La Soul - Ring Ring Ring

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