You can’t rhyme “night” with “night”: 8 unintentionally funny lyrics

You can’t rhyme “night” with “night”: 8 unintentionally funny lyrics

Illustration for article titled You can’t rhyme “night” with “night”: 8 unintentionally funny lyrics
Graphic: Natalie Peeples
AVQ&AWelcome back to AVQ&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. Consider this a prompt to compare notes on your interface with pop culture, to reveal your embarrassing tastes and experiences.

This week’s AVQ&A comes from assistant editor Alex McLevy:

What’s your favorite unintentionally funny lyric from a song?

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2 / 10

Train, “Drops Of Jupiter”

Train, “Drops Of Jupiter”

You know that John Mulaney bit about the “happy birthday” sign? I feel like this object lesson in going too big too fast plays out every time Train’s “Drops Of Jupiter” reaches its bridge. And it’s not just the way frontman Pat Monahan drawwwwwwwwwws ouuuuuuuuuuuuut the words before reaching the end of a lyric, where he must cram multiple syllables into the space of a sneeze. It’s in the structure of the bridge itself, the order in which the song’s subject is asked about all the things they’ll miss when they leave this Earth. Beginning with love and pride? That tracks. But when the bridge reaches its conclusion, the profound intangibles have been exhausted, leaving only room for this curled-up noodle “Y” of an image: “The best soy latte that you’ve ever had.” I get it: Monahan wrote the song after the death of his mother, and in grief, there is no significant and insignificant—it all adds up to who a person was. But does any other gooey-hearted song that became as ubiquitous as “Drops Of Jupiter” contain a less lyrical combination of words? Unlike the Mulaney bit, the specificity is working against its writer—but it makes me chuckle just the same. [Erik Adams]

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3 / 10

Hilary Duff, “So Yesterday”

Hilary Duff, “So Yesterday”

The Black Eyed Peas deciding there are two Saturdays in a week always bugged the crap out of me, but that was more annoying than funny. To find a lyric that struck the right balance of ridiculous yet not infuriating, I had to go to Hilary Duff’s first single. At the time, Duff was still grimacing through Disney Channel promos as the lead on Lizzie McGuire, so I fully acknowledge her music was basically Kidz Bops songs that just happened to not be covers—but that still doesn’t excuse the song’s bridge. It starts off listing the ways in which she’ll one-up her ex-boyfriend: “If you’re over me, I’m already over you / If it’s all been done, what is left to do? / How can you hang up if the line is dead? / If you want to walk, I’m a step ahead / If you’re moving on, I’m already gone…” Now, “If it’s all been done, what is left to do?” is a bit of a non sequitur, but she saves her biggest head-scratcher for the high note: “If the light is off then it isn’t oooooon.” Well, yes, Ms. Duff. Of course that would be the case. That’s just a fact. [Patrick Gomez]

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4 / 10

One Direction, “I Would”

One Direction, “I Would”

My One Direction fandom is pretty well-documented on this website, but I’ll be the first to admit that the bulk of the boy band’s lyrics rest on the thin line between cheese-drenched earnestness and total groaner. Perhaps their most egregious example of saccharine silliness is in the song “I Would” from their sophomore album, Up All Night, a whistle-happy tune in which the then-teens croon about their hopeless devotion to a crush who’s already going steady with someone else. Before the second chorus, Louis Tomlinson wails, “‘Cause I can’t compete with your boyfriend / He’s got twenty-seven tattoos.” Between the specificity of the “27 tattoos” and the way Tomlinson’s whine draws out the final syllable, the lyric has always felt hilariously pitiable. But it’s now made even funnier considering One Direction seems to have taken the “other man’s” ink as a challenge: These days—between the five of them—they have at least 27 tattoos [Cameron Scheetz]

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5 / 10

Toto, “Africa”

Toto, “Africa”

Look, there’s nothing explicitly wrong with rhyming the words “solitary company” and “Serengeti.” Sure, it’s an imperfect rhyme, but that’s a mere road bump for Toto’s “Africa,” one of the most purely “shut off your brain and groove” pop songs ever written. The real issue is that second line, which as rendered in full, goes “Sure as Kilimanjaro rising like Olympus above the Serengeti.” We’re not professional songwriters, admittedly. But we’re pretty sure 20 syllables—more than half of which are devoted to naming geographical features, not all of which are in Africa—is a long, distracting way to go for a pretty simple metaphor about doing what’s right. Admit it, Toto: You got greedy trying to jam Mt. Olympus in there, and unprepared karaoke singers have been paying the price ever since. [William Hughes]

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6 / 10

Sublime, “What I Got”

Sublime, “What I Got”

I’m not going to lie: My first thought for this was motivated directly by a tweet. But now that I’ve seen said tweet, it makes me laugh every time that I so much as think about this song. And that would be Sublime’s “What I Got,” in which singer Bradley Nowell sings the line, “I can play the guitar like a motherfuckin’ riot,” and then proceeds to lay out the saddest, most pitiful guitar sounds ever made in human history. It sounds like the dying gasps of an acoustic guitar, or possibly just what happens when you let an extremely stoned person noodle around with the instrument for a few seconds. Either way, it’s ridiculous, and the best possible counterpoint to the braggadocio of the lyric that precedes it. [Alex McLevy]

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7 / 10

The Killers, “All These Things That I’ve Done”

The Killers, “All These Things That I’ve Done”

I am a total sucker for The Killers’ idolization of ’70s rock opera, the desire to turn every song into a life-changing showstopper. My all-time favorite Killers track is the epic, almost five-minute “All These Things That I’ve Done” from the band’s 2004 debut, Hot Fuss—but as much as I love it, I can’t help but cringe at the pummeled-into-your-brain line, “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier.” It’s the kind of almost-pun that may occur to you during the writing process, but hopefully one that you quickly toss away. The fact that the cheesy, unintentionally humorous line doesn’t ruin the song for me is only a testament to “All These Things”’ greatness. [Gwen Ihnat]

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8 / 10

Mest, “Cadillac”

Mest, “Cadillac”

I don’t remember much about Mest, a pop-punk band I listened to when I had blue hair and an eyebrow ring. What I do remember, however, I’ll never forget: These motherfuckers rhymed the word “night” twice in a single verse. “It’s Friday night / What’s going on tonight / I’ll see her later on tonight,” sings frontman Tony Lovato on “Cadillac,” a 2001 song that not only contains this lyrical abomination but leads with it. I have to admire the boldness, the casual implication that verses don’t matter in a track defined by its dunderheaded chorus. I also have to laugh, though, because that shit is hilarious. [Randall Colburn]

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9 / 10

Childish Gambino, “3005”

Childish Gambino, “3005”

Long before the superstardom, the multiple Grammy wins, and the critical acclaim, Donald Glover’s musical alter-ego, Childish Gambino, was mostly hit or miss. Occasionally, he’d show off flashes of brilliance with his inventive, out-of-the-box approach to hip-hop. All too often, however, he was dishing out corny, bordering on lazy one-liners, like on “3005,” the lead single for his 2013 LP, Because The Internet. Less than 40 seconds in, he threatens to derail the whole song with the laughable couplet, “Got no patience, ’cause I’m not a doctor / Girl why is you lying? Girl why you Mufasa?” That is some real Rap 101, bottom-of-the-barrel, basic word association, made more embarrassing by the fact that “3005” was his first charting song on the Billboard Hot 100, effectively acting as his introduction to mainstream listeners. Thankfully, the song mostly recovers from that lyrical gaffe, propelled by its lush, colorful production, Gambino’s vocals, and the infectious hook. [Baraka Kaseko]

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10 / 10