Things that Annoy Me: Self-Identification in the Music World

Found on Google images.
Found on Google images.

Musical artists have the luck and the advantage of having 2 avenues through which to differentiate themselves and get their messages across to the listener as opposed to we more traditional writers of poems and stories: the notes and the lyrics. As a writer, while I do have a minor background in music, the first thing I am typically drawn to when I hear a song is the lyrics. Give me a clever play on words or an intriguing image and I’m hooked. I am pretty open to any type of music and my iPod is an eclectic mix of a little bit of everything. But there is a curious trend in the music world that I really dislike and frankly, just don’t get. I really hate songs where the artists have to interject their name into the song. I mean come on, really? Do you have that big of an ego? Or do you worry that your sound is not unique enough to be recognized by the masses as you and not to be confused with any one else? Would you like it if I was crooning a delicious melody, instilling the perfect mood and all of a sudden, just belted out my own name? I don’t think so.

Common culprits of this annoying trait are: Rihanna, Akon, Jason Derulo, Pit Bull and his alter egos Mr. 305 and Mr. Worldwide, Lil John, Justin Bieber and Britney Spears. I’m sure there are many more, but those are the perpetrators that come to mind as I write this. This trend brings to mind the critiques that we members of the Millienial generation often receive for being extremely self-centered, always snapping photos of ourselves making fish faces. I didn’t care enough to check into the ages of all of the above mentioned artists to determine whether or not they are a part of the Millenial generation or not. It may be an interesting 5-minute research project for someone. Regardless, I don’t view my generation as any more self-centered than other generations were in their more youthful days. But being on the older end of the Millenial generation, I will say that I have never taken a photo of myself making a fish face. I digress.

One would think that a writer of music would strive to differentiate him or herself in a way that the common listener would know it was their song without the use of the characteristic self-identification. At the very least, it would preserve the integrity of the lyrics that have been written—not that there is much integrity left in a lot of songs written today anyway. But it may help to salvage the art of songwriting a bit.

There are many instances of when you strip the music away and read the lyrics for what they are, you are left with really a whole lot of nothing. Empty words on a wasted page. And nothing pains me more than this. When I write poetry, there is so much packed into the few sparse lines that I have written. Of course, when I write poetry, that’s the goal.

Now I’m not saying that I could write songs. To be certain, I don’t know the first thing about writing songs. But I do know good writing and some songs that get released and become popular are a bit surprising simply because of the blandness which has been covered by the music itself. When an artist chooses to announce themselves in the middle of their song, really they just lose me altogether.

I don’t think I have ever read a poem where the author interjects their name into the middle of the piece. They may have their name written below the title, but that’s typical. Maybe singers who employ the self-identification tactic into their work would compare their choice to the author’s name written beneath the title of a work. I’d say it’s a long shot though. Either way, nothing makes me flip the dial or press skip faster than an artist singing their own name.

2 thoughts on “Things that Annoy Me: Self-Identification in the Music World

  1. You may not be familiar with Indian Carnatic music. It is a very rich ancient musical system and there are still many many people who undergo rigorous training to perfectly render masterpieces by talented composers. The lyrics are almost always in praise of Hindu Gods and Goddesses and have very deep meaning. The lyrics are also often spiritually uplifting. Many great composers used to interject there names in the very last line which is often “a tribute to You from (name of composer)” or “composed by You through (name of composer) as medium” and so on. The compositions were never written down until recently. They used to be transferred from teacher to disciple.

    (If the comment is too long or you don’t like it in any way, please feel free not to publish it)

    1. Thank you for the cultural insight! I definitely appreciate it. I had no idea that this was a pattern in any musical tradition. Thank you for sharing.

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