Oct 062009

Rock requires rhyming. Relinquishing rhyme requires retaining regular rhythm regardless.

Ok, I’ll stop.

My point is that any rule, such as the one stipulating that rock lyrics must use end-rhyme, can seem like a straitjacket, and it will lead you to write things you wouldn’t write if the rule were not there.

And it’s too easy to lean on examples you’ve heard before, which leads to hackneyed lyrics that are just there because you need to fill up the space with words if you want to sing rock music. It’s often been noted that English is not a great language for rhymes, compared to Romance languages, but that’s no excuse for laziness.

One of my least favorite rhymes is found you/around you. It usually takes the form of “I’m so happy that I’ve found you/I’ll build my world around you,” but perhaps the most famous version of this rhyme is in The Foundations‘ song:


I’ve never liked this song, though I’ve got to admit that’s a pretty cool video. One of things I had problems with was the “now that I’ve found you/I can let you go” concept. Looking up the lyrics now, I see that it’s “I can’t let you go,” and suddenly the whole song seems too much like a domestic abuse scenario.

Another rhyme I hate is change/rearrange.


In this case it’s made more annoying by the chaayaange/rearraayaange pronunciation. Changing the world is a tall order, especially for a scrawny English dude with such elementary skills on the piano.

We had a thread recently where we talked about the lazy lyricist who rhymed a word with itself. That’s bad, but reaching into the grab bag of pre-existing obvious rhymes is just as bad.

What are some of your least favorite hackneyed rhymes?


  11 Responses to “Lay Down Your Lazy Pen, My Friend: Rhymes I Never Want to Hear Again”

  1. mockcarr

    The use of blue rhymed with you, true, new, pretty much any ooo-sounding word. It sounds fine and is easy to sing, but I can never remember hearing anyone ever use the word “blue” conversationally like that. I could be swayed by argument, but my feeling is that if you’re going to sing it, you should be able to say it without music and not seem like an idiot.

  2. Elton John, Your Song:
    “But the sun’s been quite kind while I wrote this song
    It’s for people like you that keep it turned on”

    By the way, in the previous thread when we were discussing rhyming words with the exact same word, I don’t think anybody brought up what has to be considered the Best in Show:

    Motley Crue, Kickstart My Heart:
    “I’d say we’ve kicked some ass….
    And I’d say we’re still kickin’ ass”

  3. hrrundivbakshi

    I dunno, I think I’d kinda like a song that rhymed “blue” with “poo.”

  4. anything that rhymes drink with think

  5. Eyes/surprise

    Can’t STAND them! The third one is especially egregious, as the line is usually something to the extent of:
    don’t leave me by myself
    don’t put me up on a shelf

    The rhyme is not only bad and overused, but also forces the use of a really stupid metaphor, that of a shelf being an inherently isolated place where disused things go.

  6. BigSteve

    That ‘put me on a shelf’ image is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about. Good one.

  7. PS I should’ve said:

    Seriously, once I hear that in a song, it’s hard for me to recover. The song better be damn good!

  8. Mr. Moderator

    I’ve been trying to think whether there’s a particularly annoying rhyme out there. People have noted good ones, but I can’t recall a time when a rhyme has stood out from the context of a song and detracted from my enjoyment of it. Even for my least favorite Beatles song, “She’s a Woman,” I can’t stand the song long before the horrible “presents/peasant” rhyme. There are other lyrical devices that annoy me in rock songs, such as similes: “Your love is like oxygen” being the first really bad one to come to mind, but that’s another song I would dislike if that lyric had been excised. What I’m saying is, that “Your love is like a rose…” style of lyrics distracts me as a device for device’s sake and takes me out of the song.

  9. hrrundivbakshi

    Mod, lay off those non-rhyme lyrical pet peeves; I’m waiting for the thread where we can *really* cut loose with our *conceptual* least-faves.

    In terms of rhymes I’m tired of/never liked: I’m very much tired of lines that rhyme things with the word “insane.” Or maybe (and here I’m venturing into the conceptual discussion, I guess) I’m just tired of all the things that seem to drive rock stars INSAAAAAAAANE. (Pronounced “in-say-eeeeeeen.”)

  10. Mr. Moderator

    Why wait for that thread, HVB, when you can make it so?

  11. taking the flip side of the discussion, you can’t help but crack a smile whenever you hear this perennial one. That is, if you haven’t changed the radio station before these lyrics come up:

    well, we got no class
    we got no principal
    we got no innocence,
    we can’t even think of a word that rhymes

    such blatant honestly is so refreshing

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