Waxing lyrical #7
Because The Ivors are happening next Thursday, we thought we'd share the lyrics that mean a lot to us. Today's lyrics get the nod for their brummie everyday-ness, potential sarcasm and intelligent historical referencing.
‘Turn left up the street / Nothing but grey concrete and dead beats / Grab something to eat / Maccy D's or KFC / Only one choice in the city / Done voicing my pity, now let's get to the nitty-gritty’
Weak Become Heroes, by The Streets.
This is the start of the story. Each song on the album tells a different story, and together they make up the novel. To me, it just feels real. Maybe it’s because of the brummie accent. Maccy D’s just feels so familiar. Even though I’m not a brummie. (But I do a good brummie accent.)
The sound of the tune doesn’t seem to fit the words, it’s all plinky-plonky and quite upbeat. And then you listen to what he’s saying. He paints a picture and doesn’t use any artistic licence to make it prettier or brighter – he tells it like it is, and does it in his own words.
It reminds me of my brother too. He’s a teacher, and everyone calls him Mr Chavitt (instead of Chris Davitt). He’s not a deadbeat or anything. But he is a bit like Mike Skinner.
‘Human, human of the year / And you’ve won’
Human Of The Year, by Regina Spektor.
This is from Regina Spektor’s fifth album, Far. I don’t know why I like it so much – probably because Regina’s vocals soar straight into the rafters with the piano on this line, smacking the accusatory tone of the song right in your face. But, putting aside her incredible vocal ability for a minute:
How does someone become human of the year?
Is it the human of the year? Or is it a human of the year?
Is it like the Nobel Prize, but for everyone?
...In fact, what constitutes a human? What makes this particular human a special human? If you’re naming an award the ‘Human of the Year Award’, then what’s it celebrating, exactly? Is it an award that’s even worth anything? We’re all humans after all, right?
I smell her sarcasm, sense her disbelief, feel her confusion. ‘Human of the year? And you won?’ she seems to say. Or is it: ‘Human of the year, what a stupid award. Great that you won.’ Maybe she’s even releasing a sigh before muttering, angrily under her breath (hoping that no one hears), ‘Human of the year, and you won. Of course you did.’
Resignation. An admission. A rejection of what’s happening. Who knows? And that’s the beauty of it.
‘Yeah, I got more records than the KGB’
Paper Planes, by MIA.
I love this. As puns go, it’s remarkably non-groan-inducing and cleverer than your average puntastic quip.
I studied history at university. The Cold War’s plethora of big brother intelligence agencies, with records on everyone and everything, is one of the era’s defining features that really sticks out in my mind.
This song was also fairly ubiquitous when I was student. So it was always a bit of a cheap thrill hearing this 20th-century referencing lyric in the middle of a busy dance floor. And it still brings a smile to my face.