#2. "They Aren't Even Saying Anything in Their Lyrics!"
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The lyrics to your typical pop song get lambasted from all four corners of the Earth for being vapid and useless. Just another love song about a girl, or a boy, or maybe a rat, because that's just what we need. Have we truly run out of things to say? What happened to the true musical poets, the guys who could craft meaningful words that make you think while you're rocking out?
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"Y'know, things that start with earthquakes really ARE great. Life makes sense now!"
Well, guess what? Those barely exist. For every Public Enemy or Rage Against the Machine, there's a guy like Beck, who's supposedly surreal lyrics are often nothing more than pure gibberish, done on the first take. "Slab of turkey neck, and it's hangin' from a pigeon wing" is not some Riddler-esque enigma; it's Beck vomiting words into the microphone and calling it a day.
Also, for every epic Bob Dylan song, there are 10 more bullshit Bob Dylan songs. "Blowin' in the Wind" may have defined a generation, but the second he starts getting vague on your ass, you can bet he's blowin' smoke up it.
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Either that or just plain blowing smoke.
Usually, what you think is an incredibly obscure reference is just a bit of word salad, or an exercise in alliteration, or simply something made up because, to him, art is only true art when it's utterly meaningless. Sounds like pretty much everybody on Radio Disney, right?
Speaking of that, the Beatles pretty much overdosed on useless lyrics, even after abandoning their cutesy suits and mop tops (which, as long as we're talking fakeness, they were forced into wearing by their manager). "I Am the Walrus," "Glass Onion," "Strawberry Fields," and the like were nothing more than pure boloney, written to troll people who thought their other songs had actual meaning beyond "Yesterday, all my bills seemed so hard to pay / Now the debt collector's gone away / Oh, being rich is A-OK."
Tell Weird Al he can finish my song. For a price.
It's not a new problem. Justin Bieber singing "My first time broke my heart for the first time and I was like 'Baby'" is not any more egregious or less shallow than Paul McCartney singing "She was just 17 / You know what I mean."
#1. "And They Don't Even Write Their Own Shitty Music!"
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Some people don't write their own stuff, even lyrics. And few aspects of teeny-tweeny pop spin anger wheels faster than that. After all, what kind of useless phony simply recites shit written by somebody else?
Well played, Google. Well played.
Ever since Buddy Holly popularized the idea, fans of "real" music have demanded that pop singers write their own stuff to show us that they truly care about their art. If they don't, they're damned for ruining music forever, or at least until someone else comes along and ruins music forever.
But in a lot of cases, the Selena Gomezes (Gomez's? Gollums?) of the world actually write more than your favorite rock gods, many of whom contribute precisely dick to the creative process. Got examples if you want 'em!
Alice in Chains' original singer, Layne Staley, was lauded for his pained, soulful talk of drug addiction and demon battling. Problem is, he was too busy battling said demons to write the tales he told. His guitarist, Jerry Cantrell, did that for him, while writing most of the music as well. Staley wrote a bit more later on, but still not nearly as much as Cantrell. Thus, when it came time to reboot the band with a new singer, they simply had Cantrell write everything again, and the band barely missed a beat.
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"We didn't actually hire him; we hired his sweet-ass 'fro, and the body came along for the ride."
How about the original rocker, Elvis? Yes, I poked at him earlier, but it turns out I wasn't done. The King wasn't much of a songwriter. In fact, the future King of England, the one born just a little while ago, is almost as much a writer as Elvis.
Elvis wrote one song, a forgettable ditty called "You'll Be Gone." Any other songwriting credit was, as the man himself put it, "a big hoax." He'd think of a line or two, and sometimes just a title, like the time he told a friend a dream left him "all shook up." Elvis got credit for "writing" that. Why can't my life be that easy? Instead of banging out 2,500 words to make my point, maybe I'll just submit a title, collect my check, and then go date 25 girls at a time. OK, 20. I won't be greedy.
And then we have Ozzy. The Prince of Darkness, throughout his legendary 40-plus-year career, has written anywhere from squat to less than squat, depending on the year. The other guys in Sabbath handled the brunt of the writing duties while Ozzy went off and did his drugs. Post-Sabbath, a bassist named Bob Daisley became the reason Ozzy has a solo career at all, since he wrote, oh, everything. Turns out Ozzy is greatly influenced by Elvis: suggest a title or a vague concept here, maybe a line or two there, let someone else do the rest, sing the song, get paid, do more drugs.
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"It was my idea to wear shit-tons of guyliner, so that's something, right?"
Finally, there's the mighty AC/DC, purveyors of all things rock. Grab a beer, blast some "Hell's Bells," and you've got yourself a party. A big FAKE party, that is. The guy screeching out those lyrics? He doesn't do a damned thing except screech them out. Brian Johnson hasn't written one stinking song since 1990, because he "ran out of words." Apparently, four or five albums of "I like beer and I like girls and VYAAAAAGHAAGHAAGHAAGHAAGHAAGHAWAAAAAAAAAAAAAA" was all his brain could handle.
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"I tried EEEEYAHAHAHAHAWOOOORRRRGHHHH once, but it just didn't feel right."
Angus Young and his brother, Not-Angus, write all the band's music and lyrics now. So if you're only into AC/DC for the rocking riffs and solos, then fine. But if you wave devil horns at the funny little man with the old man hat, or at just about anybody I've picked on in this article, you're endorsing a man with less creativity and authenticity than whoever finished sixth on last year's American Idol. You know the guy. Or girl. Either or.