The top ten: Worst rhyming couplets in pop songs
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at King's College, London, and at Queen Mary University of London. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Sunday 21 July 2013
In the course of praising Spandau Ballet, Patrick Hennessy, the political editor of 'The Sunday Telegraph', mentioned the first couplet on this list as a "contender for the worst of all time". I thought that a little broad, not wanting to bring Shakespeare or, worse, Milton into it. So I decided to keep it to popular music after 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'.
1. "She used to be a diplomat/ But now she's down the Laundromat." Spandau Ballet, "Highly Strung".
2. "Generals gathered in their masses/ Just like witches at black masses." Black Sabbath, "War Pigs". As Martyn Jackson says, "Rightfully been the subject of ridicule over the years, even from die-hard rock fans."
3. "To buy a drink that is so much more reasonable/ I think I'll go there when it gets seasonable." New Order, "Sooner Than You Think". Thanks to Warren Peace.
4. "I smoked my first cigarette at 10/ And for girls, I had a bad yen." The Animals, "When I was Young". Thanks to Roger Stevenson.
5. "Never been a fake and I'm never phony/ I got more flavour than a packet of macaroni." Bomb the Bass, sampled by the Prodigy, nominated by Mark Lott and Christopher Parkman.
6. "With a Smith & Wesson 38/ John Lennon's life was no longer a debate." The Cranberries, "I Just Shot John Lennon", nominated by Michael Deacon.
7. "Sip a glass of cold champagne wine/ The rug that we lie on feels divine." Nominated by Simmy Richman, who says it is "made more irritating by being in a song I rather like": Omar's "There's Nothing Like This".
8. "We spent the night in 'Frisco/ At every kind of disco." The Jacksons, "Blame it on the Boogie". Thanks to Andy Derya.
9. "I guess I'm something of a ne'er-do-well/ Even though that's something I could never do well." The Decemberists, "Oceanside".
10. "Abra, abra-cadabra/ I want to reach out and grab ya." Steve Miller Band, "Abracadabra". Thanks to Leyla Sanai.
Next week: Words that ought to be used more often.
Coming soon: Unsung villains: historical figures who don't get nearly as bad a press as they should. Send suggestions (by Tuesday 30 July), and ideas for future Top 10s, to email@example.com
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