Music is the art form that evokes all sorts of emotions and feelings in its listeners. If music is really, really good, it will produce evocative imagery and memorable enjoyment that you’ll carry with you for the longest time. If music is really, really suckish, however, then you’ll get P.O.ed, bored and, eventually, you’ll start drinking. . . not necessarily in that order, though. Besides copious abuse of autotune and horrible singing (I’m talking about you, Ke$ha, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry), the only other culprit behind awful music is the overused filler lyric.
Overused filler lyrics, OFLs from here on out, are the mortal enemy of good music and an enjoyable listening experience, which is what you should get each and every time you relax and unwind to some tunes. OFLs are shamelessly rampant across the entire music industry, and they’re primarily seen in the superficial, overly commercialized and teeny bopper pop world. If you’ve ever listened to songs by pop tarts (read: female pop singers), then you know what I mean. If you’ve ever listened to songs by boy bands, then you know what I mean. If you’ve ever listened to Top 40 radio, then you most definitely know what I mean.
Here’s a list of the worst offenders in the OFL arena.
Baby: four letters, two syllables and one short word. Yet it has perpetrated so much massive damage to the music listener over the years that the word should be permanently outlawed by the United Nations (or whatever other global government you can think of) in the context of music. This offensive word has been overused and abused by years and by numerous artists, and the most notorious example of this particular OFL is from none other than that way hyper-marketed teeny bopper himself, Justin Bieber.
I mean. . . come on! This guy (or the marketing machine that controls him) actually put out a song called ‘Baby’ for cripe’s sake! The whole song is just one giant, unforgiveable mess of an OFL, all packaged into a repulsive teeny bopper track aggressively marketed to misguided teen girls. Do you know how many times the OFL “baby” appears in this song? I actually counted, and it took me hours because there were literally about 130,302 “babys” that appeared there! To any musician out there: Stop using “baby” in your songs because you’re just irritating everyone.
Bonus Analysis: Wanna know a band that actually never uses “baby” in its songs? Tool! I dare you to find even one Tool song that has “baby” in it. Go on. Just try it.
“Yeah” (or variations thereof)
Yeah! How many times have you ever listened to any song in any genre, only to hear “Yeah!!!!” used as an OFL?! Far too many times. . . that’s how many! Usually, “Yeah!” will be used in a song when there’s just a little bit too much music between verses and choruses. . . or when the genius lead singer simply runs out of any more thoughtful words to include in the song.
Now, the use of “Yeah!!!” is trickier than the above-mentioned “baby” because “Yeah!!!” will appear in awesome songs, as well as ones that totally suck. This is a very important point to remember because, normally, when you hear “baby” in a song, you can usually conclude pretty quickly that it will just blow. Hard. However, when you hear the almighty “Yeah!!!” in a song, you have to actually use your noodle to evaluate whether it’s really a good song or not.
Here’s an example. Take Pearl Jam, the seminal ’90s grunge band that’s now become something of a Republican-hating political/touring band. Take one of its hugest hits that’s still awesome today: ‘Alive’. How many times does Eddie Vedder bellow, “Yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah!!!!” in that almost-six-minute tour de force? Lotsa times! But because the song just kicks ass, it works. . . big time.
Now, let’s look at the other side of the spectrum with Usher’s 2004 ditty called – you guessed it – “Yeah!” It even has the exclamation mark as part of the title! Isn’t that awesome?!?!? Yeah! It is!! This song is just pure B.S. and puts the word “bull” into bulls***. It has 70 “yeahs” in it. WTF? The song isn’t listenable because it’s a “Yeah!!!!” overkill. Notice this suspicious coincidence though: Usher, who is guilty of using and abusing OFLs, is also Justin Bieber’s mentor. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?
Honorable Mention: Any song by Creed, that Scott Stapp-fronted band of Pearl Jam rip-off artists, is going to be very guilty of abusing variations of “Yeah!!!!” More properly, if you consult the blessed Urban Dictionary, you’ll see that to “yarl” is basically combining the word “Yeah!!” with unintelligible bellowing, which is what Scott Stapp does relentlessly in any Creed song. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaarl!
Virtually every song in the history of pop and rap has oodles and oodles of “oooooooooooooos” in it, but some songs are so egregious in their abuse of this OFL that they turn into the poster boy for abusing the “ooooooooo”. Take Akon’s ‘Get This Party Started’. Don’t tell me that he even spent two minutes scrawling whatever first popped into his head on a napkin at some bar – he probably spent less effort on the lyrics than that! Lyrics-wise, half the song is just “oooooooo”. Okay, okay, to be fair, sometimes, just to change things up, Akon throws in the occasional “eeeee,” too! But when half of your song is just about the “oooooooo,” then you know your song sucks, big time.
This particular OFL is usually thrown into the mix when the singer’s just feline’ it. It will usually appear toward the middle or end part of a song, when, it seems, the singer just needs to stretch out his “words” to fit the remaining music that’s still playing.
There you have it! These are the OFLs that are the worst of all the OFLs in the history of music as we know it. Beware of these OFLs because they only lessen your music-listening experience to the point where you’re basically hearing overly full-of-themselves artists just emitting whatever sounds they want, because they believe that it sounds good. And, of course, you deserve a great listening experience whenever you enjoy some music. . . not just some filler shtick!