When Good Lyrics Go Bad

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I was listening to a song today by Incubus, one that I like. I always got the general idea of the lyrics just from listening to the song but there were parts that I didn’t understand. So, today I decided to look them up and was rather surprised at what I found.

Let me just start by giving a description of the song for those who haven’t heard it. The song is called “Here in My Room” and it is a rather dreamy, pop ballad – a little weird kinda like the band, but a nice melody.

I knew going in that the lyrics were about the protagonist (I won’t say the singer because who knows if he wrote it about himself) and his fascination with a girl at a party. I kinda figured there was some sexual situation involved, but it was hard to tell from the lyrics, which are a bit cryptic.

All that was cleared up…well, let me just post the lyrics and let you decide for yourself.

This party is old and uninviting
Participants all in black and white
You enter in fullblown technicolor
Nothing is the same after tonight

Ok, good start. Decent visual imagery used here. The girl makes an impact on an otherwise dull and un-interesting party. Cool. Got that.

If the world would fall apart
In a fiction worthy wind
I wouldn’t change a thing
Now that you’re here

Nice use of metaphorical language – a “fiction worthy wind.” Good stuff. Cryptic but descriptive and it is clear that the guy is really into this girl.

Yeah, love is a verb here in my room
Here in my room, here in my room

Here is our first hint at sex. “Love is a verb” is a pretty clear reference to sex and that’s fine. It isn’t overt or classless. That’s saved for later.

You enter and close the door behind you
Now show me the world as seen from the stars
If only the lights would dim a little
I’m weary of eyes upon my scars

This is very nice. He explains that he is vulnerable with “scars” no doubt referring to both physical and emotional pain he has experienced. I have to wonder if “show me the world as seen from the stars” is just a cryptic spacey lyric or a reference to the girl actually being a celebrity.

This certainly wouldn’t be the first reference to a celebrity loved by a singer. Everything from “Sweet Judy Blue Eyes,” to Duncan Sheik’s “Magazine” to Led Zeppelin’s hidden message to Joni Mitchell in “Goin’ to California” has displayed songwriters closely linked to celebrities. Hell, just ask the guy from Full House how he likes getting blasted in Alanis Morisette’s anthem, “You Outta Know,” a song not exactly short on sexual references itself.

But, anyway, on to the best part.

Let me just preface this by saying that I have no problem to references to body parts in songs. From Aerosmith being “down on a muffin” in “Walk This Way” to the more humerous references to the male organ in XTC’s “Pink Thing,” Jellyfish’s “My Best Friend” and, best of all, Spinal Tap’s “pink torpedo” in the classic song, “Big Bottoms,” referencing body parts of both genders has run the gamut from the disturbing to the really funny.

Now, we have an Incubus offering.

Pink tractor beam into your incision
Head spinning as free as dervishs’ whirl

Seriously? Pink tractor beam? Incision? Oh, man. Not only is that a really poorly written lyric (especially considering the careful crafting of the rest of the song), but it sounds like a third grader.

What’s worse is that any good geek will tell you that a tractor beam would not exactly be appropriate in this instance. A tractor beam latches onto things and pulls them back to you. Now, maybe I’ve missed some new sexual technology, but I haven’t heard of any such device or technique.

In reality, if you want to make it more accurate, “pink LASER beam” would work, but that is beyond the point. If you have to stoop to penial references in an otherwise interesting song, you either ran out of ideas or were so confused by the bong resin and pot smoke haze that you didn’t know what you were doing.

However, it gets, at least in my opinion, worse.

I came here expecting next to nothing
So thank you for being that kind of girl

He caps off this beautiful love song with a thank you to this girl for being a slut. How lovely. He went from having his world turn to technicolor when she comes in the room to paying her cab fare and wishing her well on her trip back to the whore house. Another big leap forward for the male gender on this one.

Maybe, next time, he can mix in references to hot dogs and cherry pie. At least that would be funny.

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