I’m on the phone with Hope last night, and she’s singing her favorite songs to me. I love this kid! She’s always reading something to me or singing to me. I know when she does that, that’s she’s locked in; it’s one of the ways we bond. Tonight she’s serving up a Justin Bieber concert.
And if I ever see Justin Bieber, I’m punching that little punk in the face and the gut. Does this dude really have my kid singing about BJs on this song Hold Tight? What in the H-E-double hockey sticks is going on??
Hope: [Singing away, she’s got a nice voice by the way.]
ABM: [Furiously, googling song lyrics so I can read along and get a better sense of what Bieber is singing about]
Hope: Ok, I’m done.
ABM: Hope that was awesome! But, er, um, those lyrics…they are a bit naughty don’t you think?
Hope: [Exasperated] What do you mean? I mean, all of his songs are about love.
ABM: Well while you were singing, I looked up the lyrics so I could follow along.
Hope: You looked up the lyrics?
ABM: Yeah, I do that. So, what do you think this song is about?
Hope: He’s talking about kissing in this song…and stuff.
Yeah, it’s that “and stuff” that has me wanting to limit her musical exploration to instrumental jazz and gospel forever. Nevertheless, we had a brief discussion about music, lyrics “and stuff.” It went ok, even if it was a wee bit awkward; I just didn’t want to miss this opportunity to start talking about some important topics.
Bieber clearly thinks we missed the naughtiness of the lyrics, saying, “I am a hopeless romantic so when I love someone, I never want to let them go. This song is about the rush you get when you have that feeling. No matter how hard you try, you can’t let that person go. You just want to hold on as tight as you can. I tried to capture that with this one.”
Yeah, ok Biebs…Ok, I see you.
I’ve been around the block more than a few times. I love good lyricists, and I love reading lyrics. I like to pick them apart, figuring out what they mean, how artists put the words over music, how the lyrics stand alone. Not all lyrics are poetry; some lyrics are just a bunch of crap strung together. These lyrics are actually clever; just hidden enough but hardly hidden at all.
If Hope wasn’t signing them over and over, and wasn’t proclaiming Hold Tight as her new favorite song, then I probably could see the lyrics through a different lens. The lyrics aren’t poetry, but they are clever in riding the line that allows Bieber to deny alternative meanings.
The upside of this new Bieber vendetta of mine is realizing that music will likely be a gateway for us to talk about all kinds of things, including sex “and stuff.” That’s a very good thing. I like that she keeps a song book and carefully transcribes lyrics. I look forward to nurturing a love of lyrics derived from creative writing that results in really good poetry over music.
In the meantime I need to go look up lyrics for all these little teen singers to see what’s going on in that world. Fun times ahead.