In 2002 when Shania Twain‘s alleged tracklisting for her Up! album leaked I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about hearing a collection of songs. No, now don’t be silly, I wasn’t, and am not, a huge Shania fan or anything, but when you read a proposed tracklisting that consists of titles like: Thank You Baby (For Making Me Come So Soon); Waiter! Bring Me Water!; I’m Not in the Mood (To Say No!) and In My Car (I’ll Be the Driver), you can almost piss yourself with excitement at the thought of a major international pop artist throwing away the rulebook and choosing comedy over quality.
Where’s Shania today? Oh, she’s OUTSIDE THE BOX. Of course, these tracks all turned out to be pedestrian country-pop throwbacks, but at least the signs were there that Twain understood the importance of a stand-out song title.
Recycling is boring
You know what I mean. Oh look, let’s hear the latest single from No Direction, or Fiona Lewis, or any other made up derivative of an existing pop act, who churn out single after single with titles like “I Love You”, or “Girl”, or “Stay”, which are created under the standard process of recycling the same unimaginative, generic verbs and nouns. Mainstream pop is the most guilty genre of this crime, and presumably this is because the pop market essentially aims to please everyone at the same time.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. That’s right Fiona Lewis, in 2005 The Cardigans dropped an unexpected Personality Bomb on us with I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer, which narrates the turbulent relationship of a dysfunctional couple who get drunk and then angry at each other every night. Kirsty MacColl told it like it was in 1981 with There’s A Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis, and even that dreadful emo act Panic At The Disco got it right one time with There’s a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought of It Yet.
A good song title doesn’t have to necessarily be long to be interesting either. How I wished that the craze Rihanna started for inanimate objects as song titles had continued after her Umbrella in 2007, but alas, all we got was Eve and her Tambourine later that year.
Music can be a very stale place because once a new idea works commercially, every record company under the sun tries to make a carbon copy. When Britney Spears broke sales records in the first quarter of 1999, what followed was a wave of similar blonde-haired pop wasps, primped and programmed to get in on the honey. (Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore, Alsou and Ellie Campbell were all launched within a year of Spears) And with the market saturated at the best of times, the least you can do as an artist is to throw an interesting song title into the mix. Should being interesting fail, listen to Shania and never underestimate the power of a well-placed bracket.
Top Ten Song Titles:
Not only are these song titles great, but they also fit the music underneath them. Bingo:
- Kerry McGregor – A Yodel In The Canyon Of Love
- The Cardigans – I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer
- Bobby Womack – If You Think You’re Lonely Now (Wait Until Tonight)
- The Tamperer featuring Maya – If You Buy This Record Your Life Will Be Better
- Nancy Wilson – Tonight May Have To Last Me All Of My Life
- Wayne Carter – My Wife Ran Away With My Best Friend And I Sure Do Miss Him
- Sufjan Stevens – They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From the Dead!! Ahhhh!
- Kirsty MacColl – There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis
- Golden Boy – It’s Good For You To Meet People Like Us
- Bobby Fuller – I Fought The Law (And The Law Won)