A hate on SWAG

From Planet Minecraft

SWAG has by now been so overused that no one, not even the generation that wear their hats sideways and wear their pants so that half their ass shows, seem to know what it means anymore. And I don’t mean that older people don’t know what they mean, but I am not sure that even young people do either.

Sure, you could come across a blog that has some kind of definition fo SWAG, but if it is from a blog appealing to today’s teens, I can guarantee you that 10 websites will garner 10 different and conflicting definitions. Quite often, if the website, such as a blog, has a message to say, then they often must take the trouble to inform you of which definition of SWAG they are referring to. The Urban Dictionary has over a hundred of definitions for SWAG (I gave up counting after the 20th page of definitions). Some of them seemed to get it right when they note that it is the most overused expression since the major media accused Pol Pot of being “Communist” (he was many awful things, but never a communist). And “overused” has a way of soon becoming synonymous with “meaningless”.

From @swagsteppin on Twitter
From @swagsteppin on Twitter

In my day, which wasn’t yesterday, I confess, we had something called a “generation gap”, where parents often complained that they couldn’t understand us, but knew that we young ‘uns understood each other. That is, we may have invented some words to express everyday emotions in a way that seem to give an impression that we were the first generation that ever felt them, but at least teens could talk to other teens.

But what does it mean when “your SWAG is not up to my level?”, or “Mark and I are SWAG?” It might be letters that stand for something like “secretly we are gay”, or “style without admitting greatness”, or “stolen without a gun”, or “stuff we ain’t got”, “scientific wild-ass guess”, “something we all get tired of hearing”, “sexy with a bit of gangsta”, or … well, after 30 pages of SWAG, I can only conclude no one knows what they are saying to each other anymore. The young generation has reduced the dignity of adolescence to incoherent baby-talk.

From Return of Kings

I am genuinely worried about this since I feel that young people are losing the ability to communicate with each other. A lack of definition means that SWAG is a marketable word in advertising. SWAG means whatever you want it to mean, and so if you want to buy clothes that are “Simply SWAG”, or rings that are SWAG, then your only admission into this exclusive club of users of the word SWAG is to have heard the word previously. People who can’t express their wants or needs properly are also likely not to be able to think too critically — an ideal target market for salespeople. A mere generational gap has now become a huge interpersonal gap where the young have lost the ability to express their feelings, emotions, and opinions to each other. Relationships have become shallow, even by 1970s and 1980s standards, when many older people of that generation lamented that us young folk lost touch with seeking out fulfilling relationships, and afraid to be in touch with each other.

The YBF blog

It was not too long ago that SWAG was a word used at conventions and meant “Stuff we all get”, like T-shirts, pens, note pads, and so on. These things were often handed out at convention booths by vendors advertising their businesses to attendees.

When you brought your SWAG home from the convention, you had their names, their logos, their addresses and phone numbers, so that should you need their services, you knew who to contact.

#swaggeriest yo
Found on Tumblr

Worst Lyrics: A review of a review

There was an article that appeared on Friday on MSN.COM, which tried to poke fun at some of “the worst lyrics of all time” by artists who presumably should have known better. I had a problem with the article, just like the lyrics, the smart-aleck comments from the author of the MSN article were not well-thought-out and thus almost as poorly written as the song lyrics the author criticizes.

Whether I do a better job with my smart-aleck comments is anyone’s opinion, but then I’m not working for MSN.

“Swingin’ in there
Cause she wanted me to feed her,
So I mixed up the batter
And she licked the beater”
–Warrant, “Cherry Pie”
I agree that this is a food metaphor gone wrong. It works better if you see the video. But I think the lyrics were never meant for adult minds who naturally would be bothered by the overdone food metaphors, but for adolescents with raging hormones who probably don’t care if this is from an overrated 90s metal band as long as the video has lots of jiggle.
“It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay,
It’s a death row pardon two minutes late;

And isn’t it ironic… don’t you think?”
–Alanis Morrisette, “Ironic”
It is obvious that Alanis Morrisette never bothered to look up ‘Ironic’ in a dictionary, and as much has been said since the song came out in 1996. It wasn’t just the quoted lyrics that were bad, the whole song suffered from the same problem. Most abuses of the word seemed to suggest that she really meant  ‘bad luck’ or something similar. Proof that famous musicians never lost a dollar by being inarticulate.
“I drew a line,
I drew a line for you.
Oh, what a thing to do.
And it was all yellow.”
–Coldplay, “Yellow”
This was picked out as being the worst lyric snippet from Coldplay’s first American hit, ‘Yellow’, released in 2000. It’s the kind of thing that means more to the writer than the listener. The song went gold for some other reason than the lyrics. The song seems to end up being about not much at all, but purportedly is about devotion.
“If the light is off
Then it isn’t on.”
–Hilary Duff, “So Yesterday”
I can’t argue with these lyrics. Reminds me of Me and Bobby McGee. Remember? “Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’, but it’s free”. Nobody can say the obvious better than Kris Kristofferson. But Duff, even with all of her overly-marketed million-selling albums, can’t come close to this. She just comes off like an under-aged bimbo with nothing useful to say. (Yeah, I know she’s not underage anymore).
“These other guys, they wanna take me for a ride,
But when I walk their talk is suicide”
–Paris Hilton, “Stars Are Blind”
Lots of 60s musicians sang the obvious. But it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Kristofferson said it in a way that it became a rallying cry for those who rejected materialism, and embraced simplicity. You were convinced that Kristofferson had “been there”, and knew your pain. You would easily forget that he was a Rhodes Scholar at Merton in Oxford, with a Bachelor’s in English Lit. Being able to achieve that is not the mark of phoniness, it is the mark of a true artist, deserving of our respect and admiration.

Sorry, I can’t find any information on Paris Hilton except for a bunch of videos of what appears to be her performing fellatio on a record company exec in a fleabag hotel with the curtains drawn. Maybe next time.

“You know you love me, I know you care,
Just shout whenever, And I’ll be there.
You are my love, You are my heart,
And we will never ever-ever be apart.”
–Justin Bieber, “Baby”
News flash!!!!! 16 year-old Stratford, Ontario native Justin Bieber has the writing talent of a 16 year-old.

The only reason this kind of drek sells is that there is nothing better for the buying public, that they are aware of. The market is flooded with under-aged, under-talented kids, surrounded by marketers who want to bring back the days of The Jackson 5, and Donny Osmond. The video stations and other media organs are flooded with this stuff, while really good music is out there, waiting to be listened to.

“Lucky that my breasts
Are small and humble
So you don’t confuse
Them with mountains”
–Shakira, ‘Whenever, Wherever’
It’s like saying we’ll get along fine as long as you don’t stare at my boobs. It NEVER works, ladies. It just makes the problem worse.
“I ain’t never seen
An a**like that
The way you move it
You make my pee-pee go
‘Doing-doing-doing'”
–Eminem, “A** Like That”
News Flash!!!!! 38 year-old Marshall Bruce Mathers III, known by his stage name Eminem, has the writing talents of an 8 year-old. Sometimes his mother helps him.
“I’m as serious as cancer
When I say rhythm is a dancer”
–Snap, “Rhythm is a Dancer”
Besides a German-to-English dictionary, the German dance group Snap! should have also used a rhyming dictionary to see what else might rhyme with “dancer” that might work better than “cancer”.
“You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
It’s true”
–James Blunt, “You’re Beautiful”
I have always seen this song as “just another love song”. One that is not very inspired with tired lyrics and a new musical sound behind it to make it palatable.
“We built this city on rock and roll.”

–Starship, “We Built This City”

I have to go beyond what the MSN author has said and further state that these are also the most phony lyrics in rock history. The particular lineup of Starship which sang that hit had none of the founding members of Jefferson Airplane in it. Grace Slick doesn’t count, since she was not a founding member. So, no, they don’t earn the bragging rights they seem to claim.
“Against the grain should be a way of life
What’s worth the price is always worth the fight
Every second counts ’cause there’s no second try
So live like you’re never living twice
Don’t take the free ride in your own life”
— Nickelback, “If Today Was Your Last Day”
Another winner for the most cliches per square inch. A close contender could be Harlan Howard’s 1958 song “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down” (played by every imaginible country musician — the one I heard was from Buck Owens). At least Harlan was just trying to be clever, but Nickleback just looks like they’ve been reading too many motivational posters.
“I would do anything for love
But I won’t do that.”
–Meat Loaf, “I’d Do Anything for Love”
Mr. Loaf has been with us for three decades or more, bringing us lyrics ranging from mundane to just plain sucking out loud. I would call this one mundane. At least it’s vague, and that means he left something up to my imagination for once.

There were more in the article, but I have had little more time to explore them. Just thought I would cover the worst cases.

Crappy Album Covers #45 — Teenagers

Teenagers are a difficult demographic to reach, unless you don’t know anything about them. If you know nothing about the demographic, then it does’t pose a difficulty for you. I know that’s kind of like saying that if you don’t know anything about painting a portrait, then slashing the brush in any direction or color at random poses no problem to the painter. It seems that way, with the covers below. If your album overtly suggests that “This album is for teenagers”, I will guarantee you teens won’t buy them. On the other hand, if you say this is “R-rated”, and contains cuss words and sexual suggestions that would put a blush on a two-dollar hooker (you know, like Rap), and that young people shouldn’t buy them at all, then they will fly off the shelves and teens would be the biggest part of the market.

album-cover-crap-19_bizarrerecords_comCase in point, this realistic portrait of teenagers having a good time. I bet you already knew they were listening to this very record, recorded by Bobby Krane and His Orchestra, and distributed by Bravo! Records.

Look! The young lady in the foreground is saying it too! — Bravo! Bravo! At least that looks like what she could be saying.

Look at the photo and indulge in the fantasy that there is still a world where young teen girls don’t dress like sluts; the guys stay straight and sober (by “straight” I meant drug-free, but I guess it could also be taken the other way) and don’t dress like plumber-butt pimps. And the guys even ask the girls “may I have this dance with you?”

And then there’s Tex Ritter. Tex Ritter? And that’s when I woke up.

album-cover-crap-20_bizarrerecords_comThe TOPS record label, which previously warned us about the world ending, are shown here producing records of “12 Top Hits” so you can party like it’s 1999, or more to the point, like it’s 1959.

You have to admit that the one thing that stands out most about this cover is that the lady who is dancing is wearing argyle socks. I thought there was a law passed by Joe McCarthy’s HUAC banning women from wearing argyle socks. It was supposed to be a guy thing. It totally clashes with the pink blouse.  If this is a fashion statement, then she should be arrested by the fashion police for bad fashion grammar.

Once again, the cover consists of the tamest teenagers you’ve never seen. And I don’t think they existed in 1959 either. Even in 1959, teens got drunk, and they had sex. Perhaps the only worthwhile thing that the photo realistically illustrates, is that in 1959, the guys didn’t have the bad taste to wear plumber-butt pants or hoodies, which would have made the chick in argyle look like Elizabeth Taylor (I mean Liz Taylor in 1959, not in 2008).

To anyone born after the 1960s: HUAC = “House Un-American Activities Committee“. It’s sort of like Homeland Security against commies and hippies.

album-cover-crap-18_lp-cover-loverThese seemingly adult-age folks may as well be adolescent, since they are depicted in the way their parents would approve. “I Love Music” was a sampler sent to radio stations across North America from Capitol Records back in 1958. The album cover gives every indication that the HUAC would have approved of this album. Going by the cover, for instance, it is obvious that these two folks are not planning the overthrow of the proletariat, and of taking over the means of production.

The artlessness of these depictions are a sure symptom of the McCarthy era. I recall when I began collecting old issues of Mad Magazine (digested in paperback form) going back to the 1950s, the most boring and least funny issues were during the period of 1958-1963. It couldn’t have been a good time to be a satirist.

And there was one more I forgot to add:
tammy_casual-slack-080726Yes, this 12″ LP of hits, which by the cover seems to treat teenagers as younger than they really are, may not have been headed for any kind of landmark success.

A toy doll with a toy record goes to a toy jukebox to pretend to play music on it. And, what’s left? You can only sing along to the music you are pretending to play.

I must say that much of the advertising I see today parallels the kind of mentality depicted on all of these albums in today’s blog. There is a certain advertising these days that points to a certain clientele, or a certain lifestyle as we would like to see it. But it is made to look artsy, so that you can’t accuse advertisers of appealing to people that don’t really exist. Instead, it can look naive, even idealistically so.  Sticking to album covers, the Putumayo Collection, discussed earlier, is an example of album covers that are like this.