Lyric Riffs

Nov 20, 2015

I’m sinking faster and faster/Between heaven and disaster/Sorry if I make you feel like/I’m standing on the borderline

from The Feeling lyrics by Justin Bieber

More gentle sobbing from pop’s greatest experiment, a star made exclusively out of M&M’s, emojis and product surveys. He’s using predictable beats to soundtrack his corny odyssey to manhood; doing his damnedest to sound tortured when he’s as transparent as an Amber Rose dress. He’s digging as deep as his shallow heart will allow, but despite his efforts it still reads like one long drunk text.

Nov 20, 2015

We want peace, not fucking drones

from Refugees In lyrics by Pussy Riot

PR’s always been “political firebrand first, music second,” but they’ve veered into industrial to make their varied points: “refugees in, Nazis out…fuck the police,” mainly. The vid is definitely divisive, hovering at a 50/50 like/dislike ratio on YouTube; they’re further stoking the fires of both “welcome refugee” camp and largely-racist opposition — it’s not just preaching to the choir; [LISTEN].

Nov 19, 2015

But the years went by and the rock just died/Suzie went and left us for some foreign guy/Long nights crying by the record machine/Dreaming of my Chevy and my old blue jeans

from Crocodile Rock lyrics by Elton John

Cheesy by today’s standards, sure. And maybe the “foreign guy” is vaguely xenophobic, if we’re picking it apart. But it’s the best distillation of nostalgia, puppy-love and innocence lost, and rock fetishism perhaps of all time. That and the falsetto “La, lalalala la” part is equal parts silly and super catchy; [LISTEN].

Nov 19, 2015

Step and move your hips/With a feelin’ from side to side/Sit yourself down in your car/And take a ride/While you’re movin’ rock steady/Rock steady

from Rock Steady lyrics by The Marvels

A sweet cover of a longstanding classic, one hand-dipped in some honey BBQ dub. The original moves at breakneck speed, which is perfect for the spirited b-boy, but slowed down with some choppy guitar licks makes for a more savory experience; a flavorful spread that can be enjoyed from the first beat to the last. Despite the tempo shift it still swings with the same jovial heart as the original.

Nov 18, 2015

This is what you get when you mess with love

from T.I.W.Y.G. lyrics by Savages

Extending the conversation on love, Adore Life’s second utterance is another furious post-punk exercise in vulnerability, that like most Savages joints emerges in the end heaving all warrior like with a new sense of self-truth; like painting w/ one’s own blood. How Jehnny Beth keeps pulling it off whilst remaining so plainspoken is a testament to the buzzsaw magic these women have w/ one another.

Nov 18, 2015

Never mind the pressure/End up, go stronger and better/And get fresher/Stay free in your endeavours/Tell the visa man whatever

from NO Colonial Fiction lyrics by Yasiin Bey

Like his live performances his rap’s have now descended into virtually nothing; morsels of words and fractions of ideas that do nothing other than inflate his own ego, a self-important song that is tacky at best. The beat is pretty with its lilting melodies, but against the backdrop of what he’s trying to say it comes off as off-color and confused, the icky result of feeling yourself too much.

Nov 18, 2015

The dance that you doing is dumb/How they do where you from?/Stickin’ out your tongue/Girl, but you know you’re too young

from WTF (Where They From) lyrics by Missy Elliott

Big booty bass crafted specifically for the queen of bugged out raps. She sounds at ease and in top form like she had never left. Sure the beat is not a Timbaland product but it is close enough in that it embraces all the sounds that accentuate Missy’s voice. She’s redlining the groove and breathing new life into a style that she christened. A return to form that we all need to be excited about.

Nov 18, 2015

As I walk through frozen sands/Through the flames of burning glands/I fear a tone, they’re torn to strands/I will not thirst

from I Shall Rise lyrics by Karen O

With a sparse guitar intro very reminiscent of Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang,” Karen O’s spin on the Gloria GaynorI Will Survive” motif disappoints as recycled material at first. However, it builds with marching snare buzz-rolls, crashing cymbals, a slight twist on the “Be My Babyrhythm, and the rest of the kitchen sink. All said, it’s a great fit for first-person video game action; [LISTEN].

Nov 17, 2015

Hot coals laying on my motorcade/Jewelry gone, eyes still blue/Thin memories in love with you, my hoary fire/In love with you

from Hot Coals lyrics by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Ebert’s Polyphonic Johnny & June project is now without its distinct female lead in Jade Castrinos (amid rumors that, despite their sappy hit “Home”, Castrinos and Ebert loathed each other). Despite the warnings to “stay the fuck out my sight,” this shuffling, jazz-brushes-and-Pink-Floyd-chords ditty draws you in for all seven jamming minutes with more subtlety than their previous material.

Nov 17, 2015

She said why’d you smoke tonight/You think I smoke too much/I think you think too much/You’re always in a rush

from Finale lyrics by Ty Dolla $ign

An unorthodox style that fits nicely in this context. The beat, a product of the Sa-Ra tribe, is a tapestry of melodies and rhythms, which gives Ty the latitude to get pleasantly blunted. The diversity of it is a challenge and instead of poisoning it like some of the other rookie’s out there he goes with the flow, like floating down a lazy river. An appropriate end to a rock solid album.


What is a RIFF?

A RIFF is a bonsai-trimmed song review in 300 characters or less, plugging your favorite lyric. Create your own, vote others to the TOP - the lyric is your oyster.