If you were to judge a song purely on lyrical content it may be fair to say a lot of great hits would never have made it; or perhaps there are some people that do just love simple words.
The accompanying catchy melodies and instruments have gone a long way to making certain songs a success, despite their crazy lyrics. Here are 5 songs that stick out for having insane lyrical content yet did very well in the charts:
The sixties is undoubtedly the main era of the insane lyric, with many culprits such as the Beatles’ ‘Ob La Di ‘and the Small Faces’ ‘Sha La La La Lee ‘for instance; but one that really sticks out for insane lyrics has to be ‘Do Wah Diddy Diddy’, made famous by Manfred Mann and reaching the top spot for two weeks in the UK and the US in 1964.
The opening verse contains the lyrics, “There she was just walkin’ down the street singin’, “Do wah diddy diddy, dum diddy do” – rather than burying your head and pretending you hadn’t seen someone doing that, the song seems to advocate that you meet and marry them. It remains an integral part of the compilation of clips of sixties gems that seems to be on most DJ’s wedding and holiday club playlist to this day!
Originally released in 1980, ‘De Do Do Do’ reached number 5 in the UK charts. As Sting had more than proved himself lyrically, people were wondering what he must be thinking at this point. Imagine the conversation between him and the ‘Do Wah Diddy Diddy’ girl for instance! It turns out though, that Sting was being kind of ironic when he wrote the lyrics, as it is actually meant as a comment on how people love simple sounding songs!
Chart-topper ‘The Reflex’ (1984) led to many people analysing its unusual lyrics. There are threads on forums that still analyse it today with many theories including the “finding treasure in the dark” line being a reference to Nick Rhodes ‘finding treasure’ in a song.
It may be slightly frustrating to learn that Duran Duran have admitted that the lyrics to ‘The Reflex’ don’t actually make any sense! They came up with the tune first, didn’t have any lyrics, so penned the first lines they thought of because they rhymed!
‘The Riddle’ by Nik Kershaw reached number three in the UK. It is similar to ‘The Reflex’ in the aspect that it has no meaning either, despite the video’s ‘Alice in Wonderland/The Riddler’ from ‘Batman’ references.
Nik Kershaw basically came up with the melody first but needed to think of some lyrics quickly. He thought of some temporary ones which happened to fit better than any lyrics he could think of afterwards.
Words such as, “Near a tree by a river there’s a hole in the ground where an old man of Aran walks around and around” certainly got people theorising at the time though, with Nik receiving sack loads of mail analysing the song in response to a competition that he was unaware of!
Who can forget this incredibly catchy tune from 1997? (Although you may not admit to it!) It not only reached the number one spot in the UK for three weeks, it also got to number one in another 27 countries. It remains the band’s most successful single to date. In case you need a refresher of the insane chorus, it is “mmm bop, ba ba du dop, ba du bop, ba duba dop”…etc! Nah rubbish!
–Author: Karen Hill