So there we were, cheerfully copywriting away with the radio on (quietly of course), when our ears were viciously assaulted by the first lines of the Girls Aloud single, Beautiful Cause You Love Me:

Standing over the basin/I’ve been washing my face in
Jet black mascara racin’/Down my cheeks till I taste it

We don’t want to sound like our parents here, but: Eh? What the blinkin’ flip was THAT? Basin/face in/racin’? How can you sing that with a straight face? We had to buy it from iTunes it to listen again. Then we Googled the lyrics to make sure we hadn’t misheard. Then laughed. Then realised we’d just wasted 99p from the hard-earned copywriters’ kitty. We know Cheryl & Co aren’t renowned for lyrical excellence (“Something kinda ooooh/Jumping on my tu-tu” anyone?) but this was a new low in trying to be deep.

But of course, the car crash that is basin/face in/racin’ joins a long line of awful song lyrics — the best/worst of which must be Life by Des’ree:
I don’t want to see a ghost/It’s a sight that I fear most

I’d rather have a piece of toast/And watch the evening news

We can just picture Miss D in the studio, panicking like a schoolgirl who hasn’t done her homework: “Dang! I’ve forgotten to write any lyrics. I’ll have to make them up as I go along. Now then, what rhymes with ‘most’? Oh, I know: ‘ghost’. And ‘toast’. That’ll do. No one will even notice.” Well sorry Des, we — and the rest of the world it seems — did notice. And the sight we fear most is your lyrics written down in front of us.

We put our copywriting aside (for the briefest of moments, obviously) and started to make a list. And at No2 we had this pearler from She’s In Fashion by Suede:

And she’s as similar as you can get/To the shape of a cigarette

Hmm, might we suggest these for the next lines lads?

And her brother’s shape is identical /To a tent you see at a festival

And her mum is small and round/Like a pebble on the ground

And her dad is fat and wide/Like, er, something large outside

They make about as much sense as the original and took us just as long to write (ie about five seconds). We think they’re almost as good as this priceless effort by ABC in That Was Then But This Is Now:

“Can’t complain, mustn’t grumble/Help yourself to another piece of apple crumble”

It’s quite clear Martin Fry found himself in a lyrical cul-de-sac at 4.59 on a Friday afternoon, but just couldn’t be bothered reversing out. Instead he muttered “Ach, that’ll do”, put his coat on and went home. No doubt for some apple crumble.

While we’re on the subject, The Eagles’ Hotel California always brings out the pedant in us:

So I called up the Captain: Please bring me my wine/He said: We haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine

Wine, of course, isn’t strictly speaking a spirit. Yes yes, we know should let it go, but it’s just so annoying. As are these runners-up in our Chart Of Naffness:

I’ve got no self control/Been living like a mole

(U2, Elevation)

Slowly walking down the hall, faster than a cannonball

(Oasis, Champagne Supernova)

If I was a sculptor/But then again, no

(Elton John, Your Song)

Genius. Copywriters of the world, hang up your quills. Nothing you ever scribble is gonna top that little lot.

So you’ve heard our choices, but which dreadful song lyrics make you cringe? Please let us know which ones you hate the most. Then have a piece of toast. With a ghost.

About the author: Audrey Mason

AUDREY

An award-winning copywriter and magazine feature writer with over 17 years’ experience, Audrey cut her teeth in some of London’s most successful creative agencies. She founded Mantra in 2005 and today looks after business development, three young children and two very naughty dogs. Her interests include wine.

 

4 replies
  1. Steve Harman
    Steve Harman says:

    German Eurodance outfit Snap deserve a mention for their extraordinary combination of crassness and nonsensity with “I’m serious as cancer / When I say ‘Rhythm is a Dancer'”.

    Also how about Thin Lizzy’s “Tonight there’s going to be a jailbreak / Somewhere in this town”? Surely the jailbreak is going to be at the jail?

    Reply
  2. Lee
    Lee says:

    Hi Audrey,

    Great post! I enjoyed the meander across the choice lyrics you highlight here. LOL . I especially like “And her brother’s shape is identical to a tent you see at a festival” This is SO much more creative than the limp lines you quote from Cheryl and Co.

    As for my least favourite lyrics – sorry, but they were not memorable. You guessed it, er…the clutter has long since vanished from my memory. But then again, limp, lifeless lyrics probably never make it into our memory banks in the first place because they don’t register first. 😉

    Reply
  3. Peter
    Peter says:

    Godley & Crème, Under Your Thumb.
    (With a slight pause between each phrase).

    “So I picked up an old newspaper. To read.
    And I noticed something very strange. Indeed.”

    Reply

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