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What characterizes "corny" or "cheesy" lyrics in your view
Old 13th March 2014
  #1
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stclair's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Lightbulb What characterizes "corny" or "cheesy" lyrics in your view

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnalia Barcus ➡️
I'm asking this in an attempt to understand, because I never feel that any lyrics are bad. So a reason that you feel they're bad is because they're corny or cheesy--what characterizes "corny" or "cheesy" in your view, and why are those qualities undesirable in your view?
Above quote was in response to comments in the "American Authors" songwriting win thread.

I think this is a great question and deserve it's own thread!
Old 13th March 2014
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Anytime the writer is willingly vulnerable, naive, gullible, simply happy and truly free of all social pressures they risk being seen as pretentious, especially by those who demand a tough, fortified ego projection.

IOW, "cheesiness" is in the eye of the beholder. Many times 21st century musicians/listeners see 1970's & 1980's songs as "cheesy" or "corny".

Personally, I find the contrived, 21st century street-cred bravado to be both cheesy and corny. Same with the overly indulgent electronic music makers Skrillex and Deadmau5 - it's so over the top and presumptuous. Very very cheesy and corny IMO.
Old 13th March 2014
  #3
Deleted User
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Forced rhymes. Over simplified rhymes. Cliche rhymes. Over reliance on politically correct genre formulas. One person's cheese is another person's cheeseburger.
Old 13th March 2014
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
"Cheesy"/"Corny" are IMO blanket terms covering songs with one or more obvious symptoms of non-creativity:

* Cliche - much as in prose, there are poetic devices, like certain rhyme pairs or full metered lines, that are so old and overused that extreme care must be taken to avoid using them in a serious way. If you're listening to a song you've never heard before, and you can accurately predict the word they'll use to rhyme with the line you just heard, or worse, the entire line, the songwriter probably succumbed to cliche. It's prevalent in amateur/improv rap.

* Derivative - It doesn't have to be cliche to be hopelessly predictable. When trying to follow "three chords and an attitude" as a recipe for success, those three chords simply cannot be D-A-G or G-C-D. Now, there are exceptions; GBW's "Say Something" is in the key of D and is based on chord progressions every guitar student learns in their first few lessons. But, it's elegant in this simplicity, and throws in "agonized" variations in the string section that change it up.

* Immature - A lot of really bad songs attempt to address serious real-life subjects, like love, using language a five-year-old would call condescendingly simple. Others take a 13-year-old's view of the world in general, which is all the more irritating when it comes out of a 20-something or 30-something's mouth (one of the reasons I don't like "#SELFIE", even though it's poking fun at that millenial valley girl stereotype; even showcasing that stereotype as a joke gives it too much respect).

* Repetitive - There's "elegant minimalism", then there's beating a trick to death. This is subjective; pop music, along with most new music genres of the past 60 years or so, are repetitive by nature. However, there is a line somewhere between following a harmonized chord pattern and never wavering from a three or even two-chord progression ("Horse With No Name", I'm looking at you).
Old 13th March 2014
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
The vast majority of love songs. I call them you/me songs. Yuk.
Old 13th March 2014
  #6
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Cheesy/corny lyrics can be found and written in any genre if one follows established rules of songwriting but when I think of lyrics described as either cheesy or corny I think of 70s "easy listening" and "soft rock," both past and current pop and in Hip Hop 99% of the current pseudo-artists in the genre and I hate lyrical condescension just as much as cheesy and corny lyrics.
Old 13th March 2014
  #7
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Carnalia Barcus's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
What a great idea for a thread, haha.

Anyway, I'm not sure the answers are really giving me a handle on it so far as for the most part they all seem very different to me.
Old 13th March 2014 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liko ➡️
"Cheesy"/"Corny" are IMO blanket terms covering songs with one or more obvious symptoms of non-creativity:

* Cliche - much as in prose, there are poetic devices, like certain rhyme pairs or full metered lines, that are so old and overused that extreme care must be taken to avoid using them in a serious way. If you're listening to a song you've never heard before, and you can accurately predict the word they'll use to rhyme with the line you just heard, or worse, the entire line, the songwriter probably succumbed to cliche. It's prevalent in amateur/improv rap.

* Derivative - It doesn't have to be cliche to be hopelessly predictable. When trying to follow "three chords and an attitude" as a recipe for success, those three chords simply cannot be D-A-G or G-C-D. Now, there are exceptions; GBW's "Say Something" is in the key of D and is based on chord progressions every guitar student learns in their first few lessons. But, it's elegant in this simplicity, and throws in "agonized" variations in the string section that change it up.

* Immature - A lot of really bad songs attempt to address serious real-life subjects, like love, using language a five-year-old would call condescendingly simple. Others take a 13-year-old's view of the world in general, which is all the more irritating when it comes out of a 20-something or 30-something's mouth (one of the reasons I don't like "#SELFIE", even though it's poking fun at that millenial valley girl stereotype; even showcasing that stereotype as a joke gives it too much respect).

* Repetitive - There's "elegant minimalism", then there's beating a trick to death. This is subjective; pop music, along with most new music genres of the past 60 years or so, are repetitive by nature. However, there is a line somewhere between following a harmonized chord pattern and never wavering from a three or even two-chord progression ("Horse With No Name", I'm looking at you).
That's about as good an objective and systematic attempt at a definition one could hope to come up with.

Or not ?
Old 13th March 2014
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I would suggest that if you've never heard a lyric that you thought was bad, and if you have no idea what the words corny or cheesy mean, then maybe language is not your strong suit.
Old 13th March 2014 | Show parent
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB ➡️
I would suggest that if you've never heard a lyric that you thought was bad, and if you have no idea what the words corny or cheesy mean, then maybe language is not your strong suit.
Then please provide an example of what would bring about a unanimous consensus. And maybe theblue1 can come along and say, "that's YOUR opinion". heh


MacArthur's Park (Cheesecake)

Spring was never waiting for us dear
It ran one step ahead
As we followed in the dance

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again
Oh, nooooo

I recall the yellow cotton dress
Foaming like a wave
On the ground beneath your knees
The birds like tender babies in your hands
And the old men playing chinese checkers by the trees

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again
Oh, nooooo

[Instrumental Interlude]

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet green icing flowing down
Someone left my cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to make it
And I'll never have that recipe again
Oh, nooooo
Old 13th March 2014 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Carnalia Barcus's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB ➡️
I would suggest that if you've never heard a lyric that you thought was bad, and if you have no idea what the words corny or cheesy mean, then maybe language is not your strong suit.


I use "cheesy" often enough, but I almost always see it as something positive.

I don't think I've ever used "cheesy" for lyrics though.

And yeah, I definitely never think that any lyrics are bad. I can't even imagine what lyrics would have to be like for me to think they're bad. The vast majority of lyrics I'm just indifferent to.
Old 13th March 2014
  #12
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pinkheadedbug's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
There's good cheese and there's bad cheese.
Old 14th March 2014
  #13
Gear Head
 
HSA7's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
There are no bad lyrics, only bad melody and music. Give me your cheesiest lyric and I will build a killer song around it.
Old 14th March 2014 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by eldon2975 ➡️
Then please provide an example of what would bring about a unanimous consensus.
I didn't say anything about consensus. I just find it hard to believe that somebody has never heard a song and thought the lyrics were dumb. I think anyone saying that is just trolling. But if it's true, then that person probably has no taste or standards, or are simply not paying attention, in which case why are they here on a songwriting discussion forum?
Old 14th March 2014
  #15
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Apparently, someone here takes their esteemed notion of "cheesiness" very seriously, and is a little lemony-sour about it.

Lol.
Old 14th March 2014 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Addict
 
stclair's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by HSA7 ➡️
There are no bad lyrics, only bad melody and music. Give me your cheesiest lyric and I will build a killer song around it.
I'm not totally convinced yet, but I think there is something to this.

Context, is important, and I remember someone's example about club music been usually pretty bottom of the barrel stuff but great when you are in the club.

I used to have a big disdain for all of Pitbulls writing (DALE!), having left the party scene for a while I think I feel that way probably because I'm too disconnected to judge it objectively. But people react quite well to the vaccuous party anthems because hey they are having a party and it feels good within a circle of women and high on grey goose.

Perhaps it's just the context in where and when the lyrics are placed?? Would it be the lyrics be fine in a childrens song but cheesy in a adult contemporary piece.



But then again I might have the definition wrong, cheesy or simple lyrics aren't necessary bad are they.

Perhaps there is a distinction also between bad lyrics and cheesy lyrics.

Old 14th March 2014
  #17
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
"Cheesy" to me is super positive happy stuff. No conflict, just happiness. From the same place as "say cheeeeeessse" and everyone smiles. The word causes a smile in pronouncing it.

Corny seems to have a different connotation to me. More like someone trying way too hard at something completely played out, ridiculously obvious, or of very little value.
Old 14th March 2014
  #18
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Ahem.


I would like to formally apologize for my previous outburst, in the context of this very important subject of discourse. The matter at hand (cheese) must not be dismissed, or underemphasized in any way, otherwise we may be at risk of falling into various treacherous (cheese) traps. I suggest that a certain fortification against the threat at hand is most certainly in order. One must not let one's guard down in any way, for hindsight is perfect, and it would be quite the embarrassment to leave oneself at the mercy of the ridicule levied by future generations.


So, project your outer Paladin.....




.....so as not to expose your inner Poodle.....




....lest you end up, like this.....

Dead Or Alive - You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) - YouTube



Good night, and good luck. May the cheese repelling force be with you. Forever and ever, Amen.
Old 14th March 2014 | Show parent
  #19
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Carnalia Barcus's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB ➡️
I just find it hard to believe that somebody has never heard a song and thought the lyrics were dumb.
I've never seen a movie I thought was dumb, either.

Here's why: "dumb" versus "smart" basically seem like category errors with respect to the arts in my opinion. To me, that seems to not really get the gist of what the arts are.

Whenever I see people claiming that lyrics or movies are "dumb", they always seem to be trying to parse movies or lyrics as transparently, superficially making truth-claims about the actual world (and sometimes for lyrics, it's about not following grammatical conventions, too). But that would be not getting the arts at all, in my opinion.
Quote:
then that person probably has no taste or standards,
"Taste" is simply one's preferences. What one likes and dislikes. I have likes and dislikes. I just don't dislike any lyrics, even though I'm indifferent to most lyrics. There are lyrics I like though, lyrics I love, etc. So that set of likes/dislikes is my taste.
Old 14th March 2014
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
The performer's delivery is the deciding factor to me...I've heard people say some ridiculous things, but if they can say it in the right way without coming off like a joke then it usually can work for me.
Old 14th March 2014
  #21
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
It's all about the delivery. I can believe the cheesiest of lyrics and not think twice about them if the singer really sells them in the performance.
Old 14th March 2014
  #22
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jaxman12's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
It's like ready really bad poetry.

MacArthur's Park is probably one of the best examples of bad lyrics EVER!

Makes no sense, stupid, no relevance, ignorant, silly, irritating.
Old 14th March 2014
  #23
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I think if you can tell what they are going to rhyme with, 2 lines ahead.... eh

Didn't try hard enough.
Old 14th March 2014 | Show parent
  #24
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Carnalia Barcus's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaxman12 ➡️
It's like ready really bad poetry.

MacArthur's Park is probably one of the best examples of bad lyrics EVER!

Makes no sense, stupid, no relevance, ignorant, silly, irritating.
I love that tune. Jimmy Webb is easily one of my favorite pop songwriters.

The idea that lyrics have to "make sense" seems contrary to lyrics being an art form in my view. Not that I'd say MacArthur Park makes no sense, but it wouldn't have to. One of my favorite lyrics is "Rubber Biscuit", and no, I'm not joking about that.

And I like silly.
Old 14th March 2014 | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnalia Barcus ➡️
"Taste" is simply one's preferences. What one likes and dislikes. I have likes and dislikes. I just don't dislike any lyrics, even though I'm indifferent to most lyrics. There are lyrics I like though, lyrics I love, etc. So that set of likes/dislikes is my taste.
Yes and if you don't have any dislikes then you don't really have any preferences and therefore don't have any taste. I don't mean that as a put down, but if what you're saying is true, and you don't make any distinction between the quality of different lyrics, then you literally don't have any taste in lyrics. Although I have a feeling that you're not being honest, and it's revealing how you refer to "that set of likes/dislikes" there at the end after denying having any dislikes.
Old 14th March 2014 | Show parent
  #26
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnalia Barcus ➡️
Here's why: "dumb" versus "smart" basically seem like category errors with respect to the arts in my opinion.
I think you're either intentionally trolling, or you honestly think you're making a clever semantic point, but either way I think you're being disingenuous. You'll agree that a person's reaction to art is subjective? These words like good, bad, dumb, cheesy, or corny are common adjectives used to describe someone's subjective experience of a piece of art, and we all know what they mean. Some are more precise than others, and we may agree or disagree with their application in a particular case, but don't pretend like you don't understand what these words mean, or that a person isn't allowed to use these words to describe their own subjective experiences.

Calling a movie "dumb" isn't a category error. You know perfectly well that nobody thinks the movie itself is sentient. It's a judgement on the creators of the work and the audience who would enjoy it.
Old 14th March 2014 | Show parent
  #27
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Carnalia Barcus's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB ➡️
Yes and if you don't have any dislikes then you don't really have any preferences and therefore don't have any taste. I don't mean that as a put down, but if what you're saying is true, and you don't make any distinction between the quality of different lyrics, then you literally don't have any taste in lyrics.
What we need to figure out is how you could possibly read what I wrote and believe that I have no preferences when it comes to lyrics.

If:

* I am indifferent towards some lyrics,
* I like some lyrics,
* I love some lyrics,

Wouldn't that amount to a preference for some lyrics?

Namely, if someone says, "Do you prefer lyric x or lyric y", and lyric x is a lyric I am indifferent to, but lyric y is a lyric I like, then I'd prefer lyric y, right?

Or do you see some logical problem there that I'm somehow overlooking?
Quote:
Although I have a feeling that you're not being honest, and it's revealing how you refer to "that set of likes/dislikes" there at the end after denying having any dislikes.
What I wrote was really, really not very complicated.

I have likes and dislikes.

But I do not dislike any lyrics. (In other words, I dislike some other things besides lyrics when it comes to music.)

The majority of lyrics I feel indifferent about.

There are lyrics I like however.

And there are lyrics I love.

--that shouldn't be difficult to follow.
Old 14th March 2014 | Show parent
  #28
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Carnalia Barcus's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB ➡️
I think you're either intentionally trolling, or you honestly think you're making a clever semantic point, but either way I think you're being disingenuous.
Okay, but I'd say that's your problem at this point. Seriously.
Quote:
You'll agree that a person's reaction to art is subjective?
Of course.
Quote:
These words like good, bad, dumb, cheesy, or corny are common adjectives used to describe someone's subjective experience of a piece of art,
Sure. Absolutely no problem there. No one denied that anyone uses these terms.
Quote:
and we all know what they mean.
How the heck does that follow from anything above, though? It doesn't. If we agree that people use words x, y and z when talking about their reactions to artworks, and we agree that their reactions are subjective, it does not at all follow that "we all know what other folks mean when they use word x" when they talk about an artwork, or that we feel it makes sense to use word x to talk about artworks, or that we feel that using word x amounts to getting the functional idea of artworks just in case people use it to talk about artworks or anything like that. None of that follows from the initial points.
Quote:
Some are more precise than others, and we may agree or disagree with their application in a particular case, but don't pretend like you don't understand what these words mean,
What tells you that someone is pretending something like that?
Quote:
or that a person isn't allowed to use these words to describe their own subjective experiences.
No one said anything about allowance/disallowance.
Quote:
Calling a movie "dumb" isn't a category error.
Because you say it isn't? I believe it is a category error in relation to understanding the gist of artworks, re functionally what makes artworks something different than stuff that's not artworks.
Quote:
You know perfectly well that nobody thinks the movie itself is sentient.
Quote:
It's a judgement on the creators of the work and the audience who would enjoy it.
And in my view that judgment makes no sense with respect to having a functional understanding of artworks.

I expect when you respond to this, and the last post, that you do not bypass any questions or points. I'll go back over them, probably one at a time, if you do. If you're going to challenge me about something, be willing to carry it through, or don't start it in the first place . . . at least if you want me to feel it's worth spending time interacting with you.
Old 14th March 2014 | Show parent
  #29
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnalia Barcus ➡️
* I am indifferent towards some lyrics,
* I like some lyrics,
* I love some lyrics,
What makes you indifferent toward some lyrics? What qualities do those lyrics have or lack that prevent you from liking them?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnalia Barcus ➡️
How the heck does that follow from anything above, though? It doesn't. If we agree that people use words x, y and z when talking about their reactions to artworks, and we agree that their reactions are subjective, it does not at all follow that "we all know what other folks mean when they use word x" when they talk about an artwork, or that we feel it makes sense to use word x to talk about artworks, or that we feel that using word x amounts to getting the functional idea of artworks just in case people use it to talk about artworks or anything like that. None of that follows from the initial points.What tells you that someone is pretending something like that?
You asked "what characterizes "corny" or "cheesy" in your view, and why are those qualities undesirable in your view?" You could simply look up those words in the dictionary and see what those words are commonly understood to characterize. And the undesirability is implicit in the definition of each of those words. So if I say a particular lyric is corny, I think it's fair for you to question why I find that particular lyric corny and to take issue with that description. But if you start to question the very definition of the word corny and claim that certain adjectives can never be applied to art without making a category error, it seems like you're less interested in discussing that particular piece of art and understanding my personal reaction to it, and more interested in simply having a semantic argument for argument's sake.

Do you believe in cliché? Have you ever experienced something in a piece of art that you thought was a cliché? If so did you think that improved the work or weakened it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnalia Barcus ➡️
I believe it is a category error in relation to understanding the gist of artworks, re functionally what makes artworks something different than stuff that's not artworks.
Please elaborate. I don't think you've explained clearly why it's a category error to use a particular adjective as a shorthand critique of an artwork. Are there only some adjective you object to? Just the negative ones?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnalia Barcus ➡️
And in my view that judgment makes no sense with respect to having a functional understanding of artworks.
What is a functional understanding of artworks?
Old 14th March 2014 | Show parent
  #30
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Carnalia Barcus's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB ➡️
What makes you indifferent toward some lyrics? What qualities do those lyrics have or lack that prevent you from liking them?
They're just not interesting to me. They're not formally interesting to me and the semantic content isn't something I care about, either.

I'll get to the rest in a minute, but as I noted, if you really want to do this type of discussion with me--where you're challenging me and giving me **** about my views and so on, I don't mind doing it, but I don't proceed if points and questions are overlooked, because I really have no interest in arguing (I tend to hate it rather). I want to settle things instead (but not simply by feigning or kowtowing to agreement with something I do not agree with, and I don't expect others to do that either, but I do not only expect but require that some attempt is made to settle/solve/resolve things even if it just comes down to realizing that there are irreconcilable differences, fundamental disposition/viewpoint/etc. incompatibilities on some particular issue).

So the first thing that you're overlooking is this question:

"Wouldn't that amount to a preference for some lyrics?"

That's a yes or no question, or if you believe that there's a reason that one cannot answer it with yes or no, explain that reason.
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