Chat-Up Lines: Songs The Musically Impaired Can Sing Along To

27 Jun

From Left: The Dandy Warhols express their love/hate of indie culture; Alanis Morissette hates pretty much everyone (but you can singalong with her!)

Although I don’t agree with the countless people who claim that ‘music is their life’ and that their iPod is probably more important than a functioning heart (silence is perfectly acceptable sometimes on a bus ride,) I do enjoy the music that I love. I love creating playlists, organising my album artwork and writing about it. But there’s a glaring omission when it comes to music in my life. I don’t have a musical bone in my body. I can’t write a tune, can’t play an instrument but worst of all can’t sing. I’m endlessly envious of those that can sing, although it does fill me hope that The Wanted have commercial success (because really, I’m not too far off their level of inadequacy). Nevertheless, not being able to sing along to my favourite songs (but always trying) can prove frustrating (and others). There is some hope for those of us who are similarly vocally challenged. On the review of Last Friday NightRolling Stone notes that “Perry likes her songs chatty; in the kegger romp “Last Friday Night,” she chirps, “Think I need a ginger ale/That was such an epic fail.'” As Last Friday Night is pretty much comprised of chanting and some repeated catchy lines (Last Friday night/ Yeah we danced on tabletops/ And we took too many shots/ Think we kissed but I forgot) it’s far easier to sing along to than say, I Will Always Love You. It also helps that it’s likely that you’ll be drunk when it’s being played, and thus automatically sound better (Did you hear me on karaoke?! Enroll me in Brit school now!) In honour of her 8 minute video (which includes Hanson (!) – the musical equivalent of my stars aligning) let’s take a look through some of the chattiest songs:

This post would not be complete without a mention of The Dandy Warhols, whose whole discography is pretty much a glorified conversation. The angsty, We Used To Be Friends was expertly deployed on the Veronica Mars soundtrack, and can probably be applied to most teenagers’ lives. Their cult (?) single Bohemian Like You holds the title for chattiest track. You could talk your way throughout this whole song, but my favourite lines are:

So what do you do?
Oh yeah, I wait tables too.
No I haven’t heard your band
Cause you guys are pretty new.

Here’s the video, I advise putting on your finest Seth Cohen attire and pining over the failure of early 2000 alternative rock:

She may be confused about her literary terms, (irony is apparently a fly in your chardonnay) but Alanis Morissette proved herself to be a voice for those who have broken up. As much as I would like to say I would have taken a post break-up stance a la Adele (sometimes angry with Set Fire to the Rain but always mature with Someone Like You) I think I would tend to Morissette’s furious belting of You Oughta Know and Right Through You. It’s often said that it was a surprise that Jagged Little Pill was as successful as it was, as it is essentially an album about loneliness that celebrates her isolation. Whilst I can understand this viewpoint, I think that anyone who has ever had a bad day can relate to this record. For its angsty nature, it earned its place in the popular-culture canon (even if Morissette has failed to live up to her debut record). It is also has great singalong value. Often, songs that involve little singing are those that are confessional and about personal issues, in Morissette and Nash’s case, they’re about breaking up. Here’s You Oughta Know, Morissette’s angry retaliation to an ex:

‘How much does a Polar Bear weigh?’ Breaking the ice with the chatty Kate Nash

Homegrown popstar Kate Nash broke onto the music scene with Foundations which proved to be endlessly quotable. To wit:

‘You say I must eat so many lemons

Because I am so bitter

I said I’d rather be with your friends, mate

Because they are much fitter.’

In her own words, these are certainly ‘childish.’ But they’re also really, really fun. Nash talks her way through most of the record, posing as a female version of Just Jack and a slightly less annoying version of Lilly Allen. Where Allen smacks of a mouthy brat, Nash comes across as endearing in a similar way that The Maccabees were with Toothpaste Kisses. The song was endlessly played at the ned of reality television shows during the make-up/reunion session but it never lost its raw feeling, much like Morissette’s. Nash is often unfairly resigned to a ‘Brit-school-could-have-been’ group and her second album, although unpolished, is solid. Pickpocket is a sweet, cockney version of Regina Spektor’s Hero, and Us and Kiss That Grrrl a poppy addition to the Riot Grrrl canon. It also proved that Nash is the master (mistress?) of the chatty song genre. It’s possible to woo-hoo your way through the lead single, Do Wah Do and I Hate Seagulls is just a list of Miss Nash’s irritations:

I hate seagulls and I hate being sick
I hate burning my finger on the toaster and I hate nits
I hate fallin over
I hate grazing my knee

Her quality may vary, but there’s always the common thread that in-tune vocal chords are not necessary. Here’s Foundations, and the video of Do Wah Do for a summery, uplifting finish:


One Response to “Chat-Up Lines: Songs The Musically Impaired Can Sing Along To”

  1. Florence Knight N. Gill June 27, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    good to know, being someone who loves music but has none – and i mean NONE – of the musical ability for herself, i will definitely be “chatting” these lyrics. bohemian like you is a personal favorite of mine, but that video . . .

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