I feel a little sorry for Arcade Fire lately! Here they were, kings and queens of the world, but with this latest album the enchantment is apparently wearing off. People are writing mean things in national newspapers about their sex lives, and calling them “dorks.”
I enjoy their music as much as the next person, I suppose, and have clocked the standard amount of time listening to “Wake Up” allocated to any person who was in their 20s in the aughts. But a thing that has long bothered me about them, and that I felt was insufficiently discussed at the height of their fame, was their unquestionably terrible lyrics. Like, their lyrics always sounded, if you actually listened, like they’d been transcribed directly from the notebook — the spiral-bound, crappy notebook — of a 13-year-old boy. Behold: here are the worst examples:
Take the poison of your age Don’t lick your fingers when you turn the page It was wrong but you said it was right In the future I will read at night
So, let me ask you this: if you’re the kind of person who wets your finger to turn a page, is “lick” really the right term for the action you perform?
“My Heart Is an Apple”
My mouth is full, your heart is an apple Pomme-pomme-pomme-pomme-pomme-pomme-pomme-pomme
I realize you need to take a bite out of life and all, but I just think that ripping into a human heart with your teeth, and then muttering the French word for apple like a demented two-year-old, is not the right way to convey that.
“Neighborhood #2 (Laika)”
If you want something, don’t ask for nothing! If you want nothing, don’t ask for something!
I guess it’s impossible to quibble with the tautology of this.
“Ready to Start”
If I was scared… I would And if I was bored… you know I would And if I was yours… but I’m not
I have never been clear on whether the last line here was an emancipatory statement on the part of the singer. Still, the essential petulance shines through, doesn’t it?
You were burning out, you’re black and gray You were burning out, you’re black and gray Something I would never say
Except that the speaker just said it.
“You Already Know”
When your love is right When your love is right You can’t sleep at night You’ve been sleeping just fine But when your love is bad When your love is bad I don’t know why you’re so sad
Try reading this aloud and see if you don’t blush.
You can cry; I won’t go. You can scream; I won’t go Little boys with their porno. Little boys with their porno Makes me feel like something’s wrong. It’s the only world we know Yeah, something’s wrong. Little boys with their porno
I guess I’m the sort of person who thinks it’s creepy to just repeat this image over and over and over.
So can you understand? Why I want a daughter while I’m still young I wanna hold her hand And show her some beauty Before all this damage is done
Ah, the fetishization of girl-children, a classic, but regrettably dead image. Lyndon Johnson blew it right up.
“Month of May”
Gonna make a record in the month of May In the month of May, in the month of May Gonna make a record in the month of May When the violent wind blows the wires away
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a song about recording the song is not so much meta as it is a sign of artistic bankruptcy.
With my lighnin’ bolts a glowin’ I can see where I am goin’ With my lighnin’ bolts a glowin’ I can see where I am go-goin’ You better look out below!
This is a Zeus fantasy. Like, straight-up “I am truly a Greek god” stuff. At least Kanye is direct (if also tongue-in-cheek) about his delusions of grandeur.