You will note that rap and most other popular music is not found in our recap. The Village Voice has a funny feature on terrible lyrics that can make up for the shortcomings of Alipete and myself. Feel free to share anything we've missed in the comments.
Jack Johnson - "If I Had Eyes"
If I had eyes in the back of my head
I would have told you that you look good as I walked away
I heard this song on the radio one day on the way to work. Although 2008 had barely begun, I knew this would be the worst opening line I'd hear all year. Jack, you don't need eyes in the back of your head to determine if someone looks good. Your regular, front-facing eyes will do just fine, as your neck allows your head to swivel, identify, and evaluate your target. Technically, you don't need eyes on either side of your head to tell someone (I'm guessing a girl? That likes to surf? And just, like, chill?) they look good. Your mouth, lips, tongue, vocal cords -- all that good stuff -- are used to make the word sounds.
Vampire Weekend, "Oxford Comma"Disclaimer: I like Vampire Weekend. I think their album is fun and catchy, if slightly overrated. But this? A Lil' Jon reference? This is impossible to defend. It’d be better if these lines were taken out of context, but they're not. "Oxford Comma," like many Vampire Weekend songs, sounds like disjointed Mad Libs. I don't even know what to say.
Why would you lie about how much coal you have?
Why would you lie about something dumb like that?
Why would you lie about anything at all?
First the window, then it's to the wall
Lil' Jon, he always tells the truth
The Tallest Man on Earth, "Where Do My Bluebird Fly?"
With all this fever in my mind,
I could aim for your kerosene eyes
This guy, Kristian Matsson, is the latest to be named The Next Dylan. Sometimes the title is bestowed laughably inappropriately (I'm looking at you, Oberst) but this time it seems pretty on target.
Vampire Weekend - "Bryn"Beetles elsewhere? They might as well be in prison. Only Kansas-born beetles can freely roam.
Eyes like a seagull
no Kansas-born beetle
would ever come close to that free
Best Overall Verse
Okkervil River, "Calling and Not Calling My Ex"When it comes to lyrics (at least this year), I think everyone is vying for second place behind Will Sheff. This is probably my favorite song of 2008, lyrically speaking. The entire song is pretty stellar, but this excerpt I thought was especially lovely.
Here, on another quiet night,
I will wait until another indistinguishable day arrives outside,
where the light's even and bright,
where my life's sweet as it's (slightly disappointingly) just gliding softly by.
Gary Louris - "Omaha Nights"Am I ready to put a gun in my mouth? Almost. It's that wistful, Gary. Well done.
All the days are numbered
Are they slipping through my fingers?
Am I singing melodies all meant for other singers?
Occupying spaces that were clearly meant for others?
Am I growing old in the arms of the wrong lover?
Land of Talk, "Got a Call"Once you get past the mumbling of Land of Talk, you will discover some other amazing lines, like: "You can't keep down the girl who loves music." I don't know whether that's true, but I can appreciate the sentiment.
Darkness dares to the dial tone
As I sing myself to sleep
The most beauty I've seen
Lives in a dream
Where we laugh and want to live for the little things
Best Rhyming Couplet
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - "Cold Son"
Who is it that said the world is my oyster
I feel like a nympho stuck in a cloister
Soul Asylum Funeral/Urinal Memorial Award: Best Half-Rhyming Couplet
Aimee Mann - "Phoenix"
Got out of Phoenix
just in time
A box of Kleenex
for the ride
Okkervil River "Singer Songwriter"
You've got taste, you've got taste,
What a waste that that's all that you have
It's one of my favorite lines of the year.
It's all in your hand, it's all in your hand,
Like a gun, like a globe, like a grand.
This song is such a treasure trove of lyrical brilliance, it's hard to pin down what I love most about it. I hope those repetitive couplets do it justice.
Worst Metaphor or Simile
Jenny Lewis - "Trying My Best to Love You"
Our love is sweeter than strings
Our love is thicker than angel wings
Sorry, Ms. Lewis. You are adorable, but you can't compare a metaphysical attribute of an emotion to a physical attribute of a nonexistent (or unmeasurable) being.
Cloud Cult "Journey of the Featherless"
And my fingers, they are blisters
And my eyes, they are bullet holes
Liz Phair - "Ant in Alaska"
I'm just an ant in Alaska to you.
Fleet Foxes, "He Doesn't Know Why"
Memory is a fickle siren song
Death Cab for Cutie - "Long Division"
They carried on like long division
The Hold Steady, "Constructive Summer"
Me and my friends are like
the drums on "Lust for Life"
Most Puzzling Simile
Death Cab for Cutie - "Cath"I appreciate the thought, Mr. Gibbard. I want to know how she's holding the smile, and I also like your twist on the verb "hold". I fault your execution. She holds a smile like SOMEONE would hold a crying child. Who? Whom? If a bachelor like myself is holding the crying child, she's smiling in a particular way, and if a mother of five is holding HER OWN crying child, that smile looks completely different. Why is the child crying? If baby hit his bottom and made a boo boo, I'd hold him much differently than if he were crying because of, say, dehydration sparked by cholera.
She holds a smile like someone would hold a crying child
Best Use of a Non-Word
Bon Iver, "Blindsided"
I'm not really like this... I'm probably plightless
Coldplay - "42"
Those who are dead are not dead
They're just livin' in my head
The Submarines, "1940"
But curious shapes shift in the dark,
They vanish with the sunrise spark
Okkervil River, "Pop Lie"
Sweetly sung and succinctly stated
Vampire Weekend, "Oxford Comma"
All your diction dripping with disdain
Okkervil River - "Lost Coastlines"
Is that marionette
real enough yet
to step off of that set
Fleet Foxes, "White Winter Hymnal"
And, Michael, you would fall
and turn the white snow red as strawberries
in the summertime.
I first thought he was singing "And what's so red as strawberries in the summertime?" As someone who loves strawberries, especially in the summertime, I thought that was delightful. Turns out it's not.
Bon Iver, "Skinny Love"Gruesome! There's a blood theme here, which is not intentional and completely uncharacteristic.
Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer
Most Obscure Rhyme
Vampire Weekend - “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”
As a young girl
With your mother
on a sandy lawn