There is a common thread that binds us all. You, me, even that weirdo you know who keeps eating and doesn’t pause to wipe his mouth when a ton of food builds up in the corner crevice of his lips. Like, an entire piece of cheese is just sitting right there on the precipice of his foodhole for minutes on end, and he just keeps eating more. Don’t you know? Don’t you feel it? Are you saving it for later? Are you an alien wearing a skinsuit, doing your best to mimic a human eating, and this is a tiny detail that you overlooked? Cuz it’s gross man.
Whoops, my bad. Topic for another day.
What we all have in common is bearing witness to that person who consistently sings song lyrics wrong. We’ve all been there. It could be your mom, your sister, your daughter, your girlfriend, your wife, in rare cases a guy – but it’s always the same.
- They know the lyrics and boy, they “know” ’em so well, they’re gonna sing ’em!
- In private? Irrelevant! In public? Irrelevant and embarrassing!
- Attempts at correction, be they made, whether earnest or joking, are most often met with laughter…and a continued merciless mutilation of said lyrics
But wait, I don’t want a bloodbath on my hands. Let’s be roboticly neutral and put sex, gender, age, and pretty much all other identifying factors of the culprits aside. Let’s think forward. Let’s identify the source of the problem and most importantly, let’s focus on how to fix it, because if we don’t work together then goddamnit, we all suffer.
The next time you’re at a bar, a work function, a get together, a freaking BBQ, do you really want to be subjected to some lipsinker performing open-heart surgery on your favorite lyric with all the precision of a blindfolded left shark holding a rusty chainsaw? If you took a second to think about that, there’s a reason you just winced.
Let’s take us through an example. You hear the lyrical abomination and a little light probably flicks on in your brain. If you’re normal, it feels something like “Hmmm, interesting”.
Yaaayyy good for you, you have a rational handle on problem scope! Congratulations! Now here’s a peek at what’s going on inside me:
My poor brain is assaulted by the affront. What’s going on? How? How can I make it stop?! Not only are lyrics not subject to clever argument sidestepping tropes like “debate” or “opinion”, they’re not even dynamic!
The lyrics to a song simply are the lyrics to that song. It’s not a Picasso; there’s no room for cute words like “interpretation”. The words are the same as they’ve ever been or ever will be. You are violating Truth, my on and off again mistress, and you must be stopped.
But lo, I have room for forgiveness. I’m a person, not a monster. Maybe you’re over 30 (like me), and you’re not used to googling every/anything you don’t fully understand immediately. Maybe you thought this is what those lyrics always were; and as such you’ve been committing this atrocity for a long time. You made a mistake, sure, but it was an honest one – that’s the best kind of mistake! It’s not like you were looking at your brother’s side of the Battleship board 18ish years ago when he was out of the room but he came back early and caught you redhanded and he remembers forever now and brings it up in a random blog post, Peter.
My point is that while some things can’t be forgiven, I have it within me to forgive lipsinking, because I am a person who understands empathy, if only at a basic level. But, lipsinker, if you want my forgiveness IT TAKES TWO.
(My basic [see: free] WordPress plan does not allow me to embed videos directly, but if I could, this is where Seduction’s timeless classic “It Takes Two” would be.)
Now we’re in full agreement that hearing an innocent song lyric get distorted is like watching some shitty tourist scribble all over a timeless work of art in a museum, and that’s tops. But if dumbtourist.jpg really, legitimately never knew that it’s wrong to doodle on the Mona Lisa in the first place, it actually isn’t okay to lambast them about it, even if it would feel satisfying. As a Guardian of Truth, you must first do your part. You must treat the lipsinker as an equal.
“HEY! NO! No goddamnit! It’s not “No Woman No Lie!”, Jesus! Think about that for a second! It doesn’t even make sense! Why would he even be singing about women lying all the time?!”
Excellent job! Now that you’ve officially done your part, the onus is on the lipsinker. At this point, the offender has several options which might make sense to them:
- “Oh wow, I never realized that! I guess I never thought about the lyric’s meaning! Thanks!”
- -hangs head in silent shame-
- -listens to lyrics for real, for the first time ever- “Wow, you’re right!”
- “Hmmm I dunno, I’ll google it.”
- “Uhhh I thought maybe it’s because he was sick of women lying. Women lie, you know.”
While any of the first four bullets are acceptable to me, that last one is not. This is usage of the Noun known as Denial, which dictionary.com classifies thusly:
So here I am, trying to defend Truth and my own ears, and in doing so trying to help you, and in doing so trying to avoid feeling embarrassed, and your response is denial. Well, that makes my remaining options rather limited…
Bello, the Far from Faultless.
I am far from faultless. Further, hear me and hear me well: I HAVE LIPSUNK. Yes, I. I, this Guardian of Truth whose rant you now read. I’m just a man and as such, am flawed. You can’t guard a thing until you understand it, and the paths I take towards enlightenment in a given topic are usually a little…rocky. What I’m saying is, I’ve butchered a song lyric or two in my time.
So what now? We get that this can happen to anyone. As you’re reading this at your desk with your headphones on, listening to Pandora for songs that you’ll want to add to your “Sing Along” Spotify Playlist, know that you could be lipsinking right now. And I’m cool with that. I’m cool with it mostly because I cannot hear you, but that point can be moot until you’re within range. But if anyone can be guilty of this sin at any time, why does it bother me? Why do I bother? There will always be lipsinkers.
Because a cause doesn’t stop being worthy when it becomes difficult to achieve.
This is a worthy cause. With every lipsinker corrected, think of the many ears that are saved from future abuse. There will always be lipsinkers yes, but know too that there will always be people like me. Guardians of Truth.
I won’t be rude. I won’t be all in your face about it. I won’t jeer or point. I may not even say anything; I may just be like this internally .
I may also do it myself and if I do, please tell me, because I’d rather sing truth than lies.
It boils down to this: People who care about honoring the artist’s intent will research the correct lyric, will alter the way that they’ve been singing the song in the future. People who care will change, people who don’t care won’t, and bringing that choice to the forefront of someone’s mind is about as much as I can do.
In the end, if ever we are faced with this decision, we must all choose.
Guard Truth? Or knowingly butcher it?
Are you a Lipsinker?