Hippo Manchester
September 15, 2005

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Rocking the cliché

One DJ says: enough shock and y’all, no more hos, quit whining about your dad

By Rick Ganley

I was a pretty poor drummer in high school and college and my attempts at lyric writing will only serve to make my next of kin laugh with pity someday.

That said, after years of listening to popular music, both as a radio disc jockey and music fan, I’d like to offer my humble advice on what subject matter aspiring song writers and musicians should avoid, should they wish to bestow their talents upon the world. This is by no means a complete list and your mileage may vary. Feel free to tack this up on a wall and leave plenty of space below to add clichés as you discover them. I’ve separated subjects by genre for ease of use… and maximum comedic effect.

For Rap

1. Gonna Get Rich or Die Tryin’: You’d think that living in a state with the motto “Live Free or Die,” I’d identify with this theme, but to me it comes off as contrived. After all, most of the MC’s on the radio already are rich beyond anything the average kid listening is ever going to have, so why rhyme about it on your third album?

2. How Much the Ladies Just Love (insert self as third person here): Referring to women as “hos,” really, has this kind of stuff ever worked with anyone you’d want to sleep with? No, really… I know there are plenty of delusional white suburban boys out there (the prime demographic for rap), but c’mon, THAT delusional?

3. How Much Better My Stuff Is Than (insert opposite-coast rival here): We are fast approaching a point when every track on every rap disc will be about another rap artist. There is a theory that states that time and space will at this point fall back upon itself, creating a rip in the space-time continuum, thereby causing the universe to collapse into a big pile of doo-doo. This same theory also states that the white suburban boys will still buy it and play it on a system that cost them 5.8 times the actual cost of their 12-year-old Civic.

For Rock

1. My Father Was a Jerk and it Caused All My Problems in Life: Really? How old are you now? Listen, adolescence was pretty bad for all of us — by degrees, granted, but you’ve got a record contract now. Shut up and enjoy the spoils. Which brings me to…

2. Baby, I’ve Got Your Lovin’ Right Here: I’m sure you do, and the bottle of antibiotics to go with it. Spare me. It’s been done, dude. And so has the mullet. Unless you’re a 70-plus blues master straight from the Delta or a member of the Supremes, never, ever use the word “baby” in a song. EVER. No exceptions.

3. We’re Gonna Party Like No One Has Ever Partied Before: See Keith Moon, Bon Scott or Keith Richards’ liver.

For Country

1. Love the Good Ole USA or Get Out, Commie: Yes, I love my country. Enough to have learned the history beyond the Confederacy. In that history, I have learned that true patriotism is never blind allegiance. Johnny Cash knew that.

2. I’m Down Home Folk… But I Left Home and Family to Be a Big Music Star and Get Famous: You’re rich and a superstar but what you really want in life is the simple pleasures. Right.

For Pop

1. I’m 17 But Wise to The World: Manufactured pop stars are nothing new. That’s OK. Just stop trying to convince us that we can learn from your junior high romance. Now get back to work; mom and dad need to live vicariously, you know.

2. Being a Pop Star is, Like, Really Hard!: So is working six and a half days a week for a paycheck so my kids can buy your crap. Please, shut up.