Just because something is popular doesn’t mean that it’s also actually good. And more importantly–just because something is popular doesn’t mean it makes sense. Like, at all.
“I Am the Walrus” (The Beatles)
I am the egg man/ They are the egg man/ I am the walrus/ Goo goo g’joob
The good news is this–when John Lennon was writing the Beatles’ hit “I Am the Walrus” he wasn’t going for clarity. In fact, he was trying his best to stuff the song full of puzzling, nonsensical lyrics. And that’s exactly what he did! Sometimes a little silly fun is all you need to get people humming along.
“Set Fire to the Rain” (Adele)
But I set fire to the rain/ Watched it pour as I touched your face/ Well, it burned while I cried
It’s a good thing that Adele is an accomplished singer, because she clearly does not have a future in science. Even if you set aside the blatant violations to the laws of nature, the song’s central image of setting fire to water is still pretty convoluted…even for a breakup song.
“Break Free” (Ariana Grande)
I only want to die alive/ Never by the hands of a broken heart
No one turns to Ariana Grande for deep, thought-provoking lyrics. And that’s probably for the best, because the infamous line about “dying alive” in “Break Free” is clear proof she’s incapable of them. I’m sure it sounded complex and complicated in the recording studio, but over the airwaves, it just sounds insane.
“Icon” (Jaden Smith)
“I am not a Mayan, I’m a menace/ It’s wild, you can lie like a professor/ I don’t got the time to put you on the stretcher
Jaden Smith is not afraid to be creative or think outside the box. Unfortunately, a little time inside the box would be a good thing for him. The lines I’ve featured here are merely a small sample of the non-stop incoherence featured on Smith’s 2017 hit “Icon”–which itself is merely a small sample of the non-stop incoherence that comes out of his mouth all the time.
Uh, girl you’re hot and cold/ That makes you warm
Tyga has managed a true feat with this line from his 2017 song “Temperature.” In some sense, he’s right–if you add hot and cold together you get warm. A truly brilliant scientific breakthrough. But, in the context of this love song, that makes no sense. We specifically call people “hot and cold” if they’re sending us mixed signals. We call people “warm” when they are being friendly. Oh god, now Tyga’s got me stating the stupidly obvious too…
“Gucci Gang” (Lil Pump)
Gucci gang/ Gucci gang/ Gucci gang (Gucci gang)
Almost 30% of the lyrics in the 2017 “hit” “Gucci Gang” are literally just the song’s title repeated over and over again. If that doesn’t qualify as a song that makes no sense, then I don’t know what does. This is arguably one of the dumbest songs on the list, so it should come as no surprise that it garnered over a billion views on Youtube and peaked at #3 on Billiboard’s Hot 100.
“Stupid Hoe” (Nicki Minaj)
You a stupid ho/ you a you a stupid ho
If you’ve ever wanted to see Nicki Minaj dance in leopard print around a colorful, seizure-inducing set all while making veiled disses at other rappers, then the music video for “Stupid Hoe” is for you. For everyone else, you’ll probably be thinking, “What did I just watch?” after seeing it.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” (Queen)
I see a little silhouetto of a man/ Scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the fandango/ Thunderbolt and lightning very very frightening me
Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is proof that even if a song doesn’t make sense, it can still be a worthwhile hit. No one has every really pinned down what the lyrics mean, and the band has remained tight-lipped as well. Regardless, it still managed to become one of Queen’s most recognizable hits–if not THE most recognizable hit.
“Uptown Funk” (Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars)
I’m too hot/ Called a police and a fireman/ I’m too hot/ Make a dragon wanna retire man
This song’s nonsensical lyrics didn’t stop it from becoming a full-blown phenomenon. Which is absolutely fine–everyone is listening for the instrumentals in this one anyways.
“Tutti Frutti” (Little Richard)
Little Richard’s biggest hit might have nonsense lyrics, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad song. Although it’s a far cry from what we would call rock and roll today, “Tutti Frutti” was an important and catchy development early in the genre.
“Baby” (Justin Bieber)
Baby, baby, baby oh/ Like baby, baby, baby no
Making fun of Justin Beiber lyrics isn’t hard, but his 2010 single “Baby” might be the worst thing he’s ever put out. Bubblegum pop isn’t known to be particularly insightful, but Bieber’s ratio of baby to other words is absurd, even for the genre.
“This is Why I’m Hot” (Mims)
I’m hot cause I’m fly/ You ain’t cause you’re not/ This is why/ This is why/ This is why I’m hot
Mims might have thought he was making a simple statement of fact when he rapped those lyrics in his 2007 song “This is Why I’m Hot”, but in reality, he was just another musician falling victim to dumb lyrics. And if you’ve got to spend 4 minutes convincing people that you are hot, then you probably aren’t.
“Here We Go” (Trina)
Sounds like blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah (talk too much)/ I’m like uh huh, okay, wassup, shut up
The crazy thing is that Trina’s “Here We Go” isn’t filled to the brim with bad lyrics or anything. But then you run across lines like this that are not only so dumb but also so unimportant to the overall effect of the song. No one would have missed all those blahs, and it probably would have made the song better.
“It’s Hot” (Jay-Z)
.38 revolve like the sun round the Earth
Jay-Z tried to look tough and cool by dropping a gun reference. But you know what’s really cool? Heliocentrism.
“Ice Ice Baby” (Vanilla Ice)
Flow like a harpoon daily and nightly/ Will it ever stop?
I guess if you want to be suuuuper generous, a harpoon can technically “flow”, but I’m not feeling generous. The song is a classic, but honestly, a lot of the appeal comes from the silly lyrics.
“Dooo It” (Miley Cyrus)
Sing about love, love is what you need/ Loving what you sing, and loving smoking weed (Weed, weed, weed, weed)
If you ever encounter someone who has never heard of Miley Cyrus, this single, dumb lyric will tell them everything they need to know about the wayward former Disney star.
“Gettin It In” (Jadakiss &Kanye West)
My apologies, are you into astrology/ Cause I’m trying to make it to Uranus
Kanye West rapping dumb lyrics? Who could imagine such a world? Yet here we are, with America’s favorite nutjob making an anus joke.
“Small Talk” (Katy Perry)
This is another case where you could cut out all the nonsense words in a song and nothing of value would be lost.
“MacArthur Park” (Donna Summer)
Someone left the cake out in the rain/ I don’t think that I can take it/ Cause it took so long to bake it/ And I’ll never have that recipe again
Okay, technically, this was originally by Richard Harris, but the Donna Summer version is better–and that insane cake lyric shows up in both. If you think you don’t need a disco hit about a soggy cake, then you clearly have never listened to “MacArthur Park.”
“Look What You Made Me Do” (Taylor Swift)
I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now/ Why? Cause she’s already dead
Taylor Swift might have made the jump from country to pop, but regardless of the genre she’s it, she can’t seem to help being absurdly angsty. Her entire career is pretty much one long lyric that doesn’t make any sense.