See? body-count punters Theory rules Why? no WHY? coda

Worst lyrics ever!

More Than Words

by Extreme

a serious study

Saying I love you Is not the words I want to hear from you It's not that I want you Not to say, but if you only knew How easy it would be to show me how you feel More than words is all you have to do to make it real Then you wouldn't have to say that you love me Cos I'd already know What would you do if my heart was torn in two More than words to show you feel That your love for me is real What would you say if I took those words away Then you couldn't make things new Just by saying I love you More than words Now I've tried to talk to you and make you understand All you have to do is close your eyes And just reach out your hands and touch me Hold me close don't ever let me go More than words is all I ever needed you to show Then you wouldn't have to say that you love me Cos I'd already know What would you do if my heart was torn in two More than words to show you feel That your love for me is real What would you say if I took those words away Then you couldn't make things new Just by saying I love you More than words


Body count

you 24
I 11
me 8
your 4
my 2

  49
This amounts to an olympian percentage of 21.5 on a total of 228 words (I'd and couldn't etc are each counted as one).


See?

Would not most people thus sung to ran away screaming and stop no earlier than in the loneliest place where noone even knew those horrible words? You. Me. It's like being hit over and over again by a fair-sized dinosaur. And what they did to words such as touch and feel was nasty too. Of course, love is the one thing that should never be mentioned in lyrics, but hey, we should never pick nose either. To boot, there is loads of irony in the title more than words, but I can't quite put my finger on it. In earlier days of this page this used to be homework for you, my dear reader, but I've changed my mind. The title and the lyrics combine to form the loony couple supreme. This mystery must not be begrimed by petty analyses.

It's a pity, the music might have been good had it not been killed by the lyrics.

Let me add that the worst sentence in this crappy piece of work is

Then you wouldn't have to say that you love me cos I'd already know

What way of romancing is this!? How does this follow from the preceding lines? Why is it stated in the negative? Why is it so complicated? If you need to know something would it not be best to stop singing this nonsensical drivel and let a little silence do its work? Why do you think anyone is going to mention love at all?

Worst of all, that sentence is neatly aligned with the song's musical coup de grace, the melody going positively angelically haywire.

Intermezzo. Someone kindly pointed out to me that the singer is imploring and beseeching a girl who has trouble getting in touch with her feelings. She is basically extorting the mantra 'I love you' to make everything right, refusing to face the real problem, whatever it is. There might be an implication that the singer is aiming for more physical interaction as well. Of course, I sympathize with the singer given this sorry situation, and his intent at improving it is well appreciated. This part was in fact clear. It's just that, given this situation, the lyrics seem to be even more horribly inadeqate. The song could be delivered the coupe de grace by intertwining it with endlessly repeated 'ooh-but-I-love-you-sooo-much-baby' moaning from a sulking counterpart in Je t'aime style. Now that would really outdo Paradise by the Dashboard Light.

The kindest thing I can think of to say is that it is so dang clumsy. If that were all there is to it. Consider these lines

Now I've tried to talk to you and make you understand
All you have to do is close your eyes
And just reach out your hands and touch me

Wait a minute! The adored one can't do this and must do that and should't say foo and shouldn't say bar, and now the me-thing is proudly proclaiming it tried to talk [to the adored]?? How's that for a turnoff?

While I am at it, let me point out that the whole first stanza has absolutely got to be the worst in history. Here it is one more time for sending shivers down your spine.

Saying I love you
Is not the words I want to hear from you
It's not that I want you
Not to say, but if you only knew
How easy it would be to show me how you feel
More than words is all you have to do to make it real
Then you wouldn't have to say that you love me
Cos I'd already know

Thank you, I am feeling better now.


punters

Many people arrive at this page because they searched for worst lyrics ever. Many people looking for the lyrics to More than words by Extreme end up here as well, and you do seem to come in waves. It is my own little zeitgeist-o-meter, as I suspect this coincides with the tune being aired on radio. To you I offer my sincere apologies for any distress I may have caused, but let me whisper that learning can be painful. And a grain of salt does wonders.


Theory

Many of the top-10 worst lyrics pages out there on the intertubes are ad-laden monstrosities, where people cough up a quick pet peeve in response to some hey, let's do a top-10 worst lyrics reader poll. This leads to shoddy results, unlike the serious study presented here. Obviously, people have different taste in picking bad lyrics. Some categories to be made:

I   Nonsensical lyrics of the shoo-be-doo type
II   Lyrics that are full of cheap rhymes, repeats, cliches, hideous metaphors
III   Lyrics totally wanting of meaning
IV   Rap
V   any combination of the above.

I think this is too straightforward a view on what makes lyrics bad. Especially in pop music, the qualities mentioned above or the lack thereof can surely contribute towards a very fine song. It's not literature, remember. Cheap lyrics, repeats, cliches and hideous metaphors can even give a song that imperceptible je-ne-sais-quoi that makes it just right. Consider for example these lines by The Smiths, found in the web search previously mentioned.

Some girls are bigger than others, some girls are bigger than others, some girls' mothers are bigger than other girls' mothers (..)'

This was posted on some forum after which discussion sprouted. Some people loved these lines, others thought they were in bad taste. I don't know if there is any more context, but bad taste makes a poor argument for nomination and the repeats and the rhythm and rhyme in these lyrics give the fragment a catchy momemtum. Here is another example, an extract from the song Muskrat Love by Captain & Tennille from the album Song of Joy, previously unbeknowst to me.

Muskrat Susie, Muskrat Sam Do the jitterbug out in muskrat land And they shimmy And Sammy's so skinny And they whirled and they twirled and they tangoed Singin' and jinglin' the jango Floatin' like the heavens above It looks like muskrat love .. And now he's ticklin' her fancy Rubbin' her toes Muzzle to muzzle, now anything goes As they wriggle, and Sue starts to giggle

The lyrics are stylistically and nonsensically similar to nursery rhymes [I know, there is an implication of physical interaction - there usually is]. They are quite alright in my book. Another example of such lyrics is Boris the Spider by the Who. I am somewhat surprised at how often worst-lyrics-ever-forum-visiting people disapprove of nonsensical lyrics. How can nonsensical lyrics be bad, when all they aspire to is sound funny, pretend little, and perhaps conjure up some weird or mischievous imagery?

As for some raps, the message (or lack thereof) can be very crude. It can wear you out by being trite or sexist or repetitive, or all at once. Lyrics and music and beat are very much intertwined though, more than with other types of music - by the definition of rap. Many rap lyrics would undoubtebly be worthy contenders in the most offensive lyrics ever or the most braindead lyrics ever showdown, but I feel they are different categories.

Note 1 If you are studying offensive lyrics/language, consider excogitating the insult file.
Note 2 Lou Reed must be the worst rapper on the planet.

It all depends on what makes you cringe. For me it is definitely lyrics that aspire much in the ways of poetry and wisdom and fail miserably. Another nominee I found was Russians by Sting, described as shallow and pretentious. I do not think the lyrics or the song are bad at all, but shallow and pretentious is a great gripe. Let me attempt to set up some rules of thumb for identifying worst lyrics.

I   They cannot contend on grounds of being cheap/nonsensical/repetitive/braindead/offensive
II   Effort must have been put into them
III   Having been published in a book is a bonus
IV   Having been published as poetry is a double bonus

To elucidate, the bonus works both ways. Good gets better and bad gets worse.

More lyrics that I find appalling, although they might violate rule II above. Love Profusion by Madonna is pretentious and has horrible rhyming. Solution confusion profusion consolation explanation and it does not stop there.

Another gem is Sometimes When We Touch with lyrics by Dan Hill. It goes wonderfully well with more than words, analysed on this page, to the extent that I feel compelled to display the first two glorious stanzas. Interestingly, the addressed loved one seems again to be clamoring for reassurance. There is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to this song, including an unreferenced quotation by the Man Dan himself that I wrote it for an "older woman" (she was twenty-two) I was sleeping with. I wanted more than a sexual relationship. She didn't. In this context the lyrics suggest something of a role reversal. This is in itself a clever idea, but unfortunately not conveyed solely through the lyrics, which are content to wrap the words ever tighter into a toecurling foetal ball of lovey-dovey barrage. The full lyrics reach a stupefying 23 you/me percentage. Well done Dan Hill!

You ask me if I love you And I choke on my reply I'd rather hurt you honestly Than mislead you with a lie And who am I to judge you On what you say or do? I'm only just beginning to see the real you And sometimes when we touch The honesty's too much And I have to close my eyes and hide I wanna hold you til I die Til we both break down and cry I wanna hold you till the fear in me subsides

At the end though I am definitely sticking with more than words. Worst lyrics ever! - with that stunningly twisted title fueling the badness to an unprecedented low. Of course there is ample room for expansion outside my little universe. It would be cool to learn of lyrics that are even worse.


Vote

Voting/viewing is temporarily disabled for passing technical reasons

 A) You got pricked by the needle in the haystack. It is a pity you could not do a better job at flaming those totally horiffic lyrics.
 B) You're a complete jerk. How dare you empty your filth-filled mouth on these eternally beautiful words of love and wisdom.
 C) Duh. I am just interested enough to let you know I don't care at all. Get a life.
 D) I appreciate this thoughtfully constructed menu and wish to express my gratitude by ticking this option.
 E) At least two of the above.


Why?

Because every time I hear that song, it feels like maggots start moving in my brain. And it's solely the lyrics doing that - the wonders of language.


no WHY?

Do you mean these are not the answers you were looking for? Do you mean why did I write this page and even put in a voting mechanism (that ceased working)? Well, it is not as if I am writing a blog, is it? I still have to say it's the maggots. And the pointless pages on worst lyrics elsewhere - I wanted to chime in with one of my own. Remember the rules though.


coda - good lyricists

I'll fess up and list some lyricists that have written lyrics that consistently inspire me, make me think twice or laugh or cry or gave me experiences not experienced before. My grasp of popular music is not particularly wide-ranging, so this selection is not very exciting. On further inspection it might be classed as a list of great lyricists from the seventies and a bit of sixties, without detracting anything from their other decades. Without further ado, Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, and David Byrne.