The Year: Interlude – The Year That Was in Pop Lyrics.

This is a guest post by Ailbhe Malone, full real life journalist for the NME, Nylon, the Irish Independent and various other things.

In terms of the Year That Was, there were two main trends in pop music lyrics. One was the amount of stuff that was happening in tha club (so many clubs – why so many clubs? There may be valid reasons why there are not many pop songs about sitting in and drinking a bottle of Lidl wine while Youtubing clips of animals behaving like humans, but by gosh there ought to be). Aside from all these songs about entrance fees and waiting in line for a pint of watery Heineken and seeing your mate grinding with a guy who wears gel in his hair, there was another, slightly more overwhelming theme.

I’ve blogged about this before – over at On the Record – but if 2010 stood for anything in pop, it was for an odd crossover – where teenager and kidult met. We had the youngest ever artist to have a single in the Top 5 in the form of Willow Smith – a startlingly adept 10 year old, with enough swagger to sink a ship full of Nicki Minaj’s hairpieces. Then there was Lil P’nut – who trumped Willow in being, y’know, a seven year old rapper featured on Ellen DeGeneres’ show, subsequently recording a diss response of sorts to Whip My Hair. Oh, and NME have just profiled Lyrikkal (any relation to Mysti of the Kaal clan?), another 9 year old hip hop sensation.

Meanwhile, as I mentioned in my guest post for OTR, the adults are yearning to be younger – all Teenage Dream this, and ‘let’s have a good good night’ that, as a 16 year old Justin Bieber sups a Horlicks and sings of finding the right girl to settle down with. At the risk of getting all Pseud’s Corner, one could posit that this reflects the current economic circumstance- unwilling, and unable to cope with overwhelming financial difficulty, adults are reverting to a childlike state, while young’uns, overhearing parents’ conversation topics, try and act mature and knowing. Or, you know, it could just be that ‘we’ll be young forever’ makes for a better rhyme than ‘soon we will die, and don’t forget the mortgage payment’s due on Tuesday’.

Unfortunately, some casualties must fall along the wayside, and as such, it means that songs like Tracey Thorn’s subtle and touching ‘Hormones’ – about a mother and her teen daughter (including lyrics such as ‘And either way these days/ we’re not as in control as we think/ you’re stamping up the stairs/ I’m crying at the kitchen sink’) – are left to languish at the bottom of end-of-year lists, waiting to be picked out of the bin when the kids grow down, and the adults grow up.


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