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Rhyme Or Reason

Article from Making Music, September 1987

This month our talk is on The Rhyme In Popular Song.

There is often an overwhelming feeling that the second line of a rhyming couplet did not come easily to the writer. For example, "I substitute you for my mum/ At least I get my washing done," wrote Pete Townshend in the Go's 'Substitute'. Wonder what the second lines he rejected were like? And then, "She'll be my mirror, reflect what I am/ A loser and winner, the King of Siam," sings a commoner called McCulloch, apparently seriously, in the Bunnymen's 'Lips Like Sugar'.

Sting has a little section all to himself. He can be too-clever-for-his-own-good ("It's no use he sees her he starts to shake and cough/ Just like the old man in that book by Nabakov" in 'Don't Stand So Close'), or he can just be clever ("We share the same biology/ Regardless of ideology" in 'Russians'). Or he can go away.

We welcome lyrics written down that should never have been written down. Try saying "I lose my cool when she steps in the room/ And I get so excited just from her perfume" (Billy Ocean's 'Caribbean Queen') without making the rhyme sound stupid. Or try "Just like a magazine romance/ A springtime honeymoon in France" (Paul Brady's 'The Game Of Love') without tripping up.

There are rhymes which strain a little. "The bottles stand forlorn/ A symbol of the dawn" sang Herman of the Hermits in their 1966 hit 'No Milk Today' with witless charm.

Finally, there are the simple rhymes that make us laugh.

Try: "Bands dress like women with hairspray and lace/ I'd pass an image law and stick it in their face" from the ever playful Anthrax ('Imitation Of Life'). Or: "Don't worry about the neighbours they're blind drunk in the loo/ There'll be no trouble from the police cos they're in here too." Thus sing Saxon on the deeply meaningful 'Party Till U Puke'. And last, it's our old faves Aha, from 'Maybe Maybe', when they sing: "Maybe it was over/ When you chucked me out the Rover." Over and out.

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Publisher: Making Music - Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

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Making Music - Sep 1987

The Front End


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