Don’t make grammar the backup vocals

I’m on a quest to find someone who could accurately explain to me, in just one sentence, what the word “shufflin’” exactly means. I’ll gladly award them a whopping $1 for their definition.

Why lyricists, singers, musicians and the rest of the humans involved in the lyric-writing process feel the urge to sacrifice grammar for the sake of a beat or two is a fact of life I’ll never be able to fully grasp.

I’ll admit I’m not an expert on anything relating to music, so I’ll offer my apologies in advance if I make an ignorant misjudgment. I offer my opinion as a person with ears who has the ability to listen to lyrics on the radio that honestly, half the time, don’t really make sense.

I’m not going to keep hating on LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” though. It’s one of my jams. But take Taylor Swift’s award-winning melody, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” In 2012, Rolling Stone dubbed the song the second best of the year. More surprisingly, the song received a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year. Maybe I just don’t understand the depths behind Tay-Tay’s lyrics but the song is a mere repetition of the same words … like, over and over and over again.

I understand lyricists may sometimes need to abbreviate words in order for them to fit in with the beats, but lately, I think the industry is overdoing it. I mean, imagine if I abbreviated words in this column just so they’d fit within this page? I work with the designers to make my columns fit and vice-versa. So, music industry, follow suit. Go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me.

And, though sometimes songs like Taylor’s make me never ever ever ever want to turn the radio on again, I still believe in the future of music and its beauty.

If you don’t have anything grammatically correct to sing, then don’t sing anything at all. Maybe I should call Kanye and ask for help boo-ing Tay-Tay off the stage … but then again Kanye’s not the best man to emulate when it comes to songwriting.


Stephanie Parra is a junior majoring in journalism and political science.

January 20, 2013


Stephanie Parra


ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Don’t make grammar the backup vocals”

  1. Kyle Bedu says:

    In music, the voice is just another instrument. I see no reason to restrict an instrument; it is often the unusual ways in which instruments are used that creates interesting music. Should guitars only be allowed to play in drop D tuning? Is it “wrong” to perform col legno (hitting the strings with the bow) on a violin? Forcing lyricists to conform to a certain method of performing does nothing but kill creativity. As long as it adds to the music, vocals should be able to do whatever they want, whether it’s changing words slightly or shouting unintelligible gibberish. For the latter, I recommend Can’s “Peking O” from the 1971 Tago Mago album.

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