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Withering Glance: Stupid songs we sing along to

  • Article by: Rick Nelson and Claude Peck
  • Star Tribune
  • August 4, 2012 - 6:01 PM

Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.

 

CP: Man, have some truly dumb songs become hits.

RN: Sorry, I didn't hear you. I've been plugged into the soundtrack to "Smash" on a 24/7 basis, and Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee were just mega-belting in my earbuds.

CP: I could just rest my case right there. But seriously, when Paul McCartney performed for a global TV audience at the opening of the London Olympics, he chose "Hey Jude." I like the Beatles, but my note to Sir Paul is, "take a bad song, and make it better." Better yet, just "Let It Be."

RN: It could have been worse. He could have crooned "Silly Love Songs" to Her Majesty the Queen.

CP: Take an oft-covered classic like "You Are My Sunshine." The first line is fine, if a bit bland. But then the lyric modifies the statement, adding "my only sunshine." What, all else in the world is cold, dark and colorless except for the singer's solitary love object? That's straight-up psychotic co-dependence.

RN: I'll freely admit that I'm totally out of it. I only come into contact with newish pop music at my spinning class. But I have to ask: Contemporary recording artists actually cover that piece of songwriting dreck?

CP: I presumed you had Ricky Nelson's version on heavy rotation on the portable record player in your bedroom even today.

RN: I just Googled it, and yes, he covered it. Scary. Name the last song you really flipped over. Quick.

CP: Oh, no, you don't. This is about dumb songs, like much of what booms out of that spin room of yours, for example. "I Kissed a Girl"? Britney Spears' back catalog? No wonder you wear earplugs. I also find about half the whiny, wispy, twangy alt-pop musings on the Current to be deserving of an abrupt silencing.

RN: It's true, most of the songs I pedal to seem destined to become the "Muskrat Love" of our time. You know, something like Jennifer Lopez's "I'm Into You," although at least she's not Auto-Tuning "I'm Into Me."

CP: I dunno. Rhyming "love controller" with "four-leaf clover"? Instant classic.

RN: She was a poet, and she didn't know it!

CP: Flash bulletin to those awarding record contracts and granting radio play: "Put your hands in the air" is quite far from a great song lyric. Songwriting should be more than a poorly stitched sampler of buzz phrases, braggadocio and flaccid axioms.

RN: See Sondheim, Stephen.

CP: Ditto Robyn, a popster who manages to seem genuine on the road to Superfresh Funtown.

RN: I'm waiting for someone to set a Glance to music, and then we'll play Rate-A-Record. Let's see, what rhymes with Peck? Don't make me say dreck.

CP: You already did.

Email: witheringglance@startribune.com Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib

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