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Honest Lyric Vs. Bad Guy


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  • Noob

so, to contrast, the singer never wants to be the bad guy, but, honest lyrics are some of the best ones our there.

i would like to explore the reasons and rationale behind the long-standing rule that the singer never wants to be the bad guy.

Also, i'm usre there are a lot of really good lyrics to be had by being the bad guy. any artists ever explore this fully? can anyone name a few of them for me?

cheers,

dan

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Hey

I know what you mean from a singer's reluctance to be associated with certain subjects, particularly ones that make them look "bad", not that it makes them look like a bad guy. For example, try getting a non-comedic singer to sing about sexual inadequacy and having stupendously small genitals.... any takers?

It does seem a strange recommendation from publishers, in that it doesn't really address the problem. "Write lyrics that paint the singer in a positive light" seems more appropriate (not saying I agree with it, just it would be a more sensible guideline). That of course works for bad guy rappers as what would paint them in a positive light with their fans is quite different from what would paint a Christian rocker in a positive light with their fans.

Thinking like this is perhaps something I do unintentionally, in that I write mainly for myself to sing. Personally I haven't shied away from uncomfortable topics over the years, though I think the more controversial topics were not written in the first person.

As with most things in songwriting, I don't think of rules but guidelines.

Cheers

John

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  • Noob

good reminder on the first person writing. however, i still find it amusing that artists (or maybe their managers) don't like fielding first person material. it's as if to say, well, i don't know if they can really buy into that. flaky as usual

besides rap, r & b and hip hop, are there any serious attempts at being the bad guy? please don't bring up any KKK music about how some hillbilly wants to lynch someone either.

cheers,

dan

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first person lyrics are more difficult to place because the artist has to assume the identity
But isn't that exactly what performers are expected to do ?

At least, it is certainly the case where I live that an 'artist' has an obligation to 'own' a song and occupy it as a convincing dramatic performance space.

besides rap, r & b and hip hop, are there any serious attempts at being the bad guy?
Hey - welcome to Songstuff, Danny - but I just don't get your premise.

It seems false to me.

Let's start with "I Shot The Sherrif' for example, then maybe move on to Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison ("I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die")

From my perspective it would appear that a huge deal of pop/rock history is based solidly on the development of 'bad boy' personae.

The list of examples is too large to be overlooked, surely.

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  • Noob

Lazz,

Johnny Cash's "I shot a man in reno" is a good example. thanks.

however, to counter the "i shot the sheriff" example:

I shot the sheriff is not about being bad. its about defending ones self and the character says it was in self defense. this is not an example of someone truly coming to grips with being bad.

the song "Unfaithful" sung by Rihanna is one song that deals directly with being bad but refrains from truly dealing with it by saying "i dont want to do this anymore" "i dont want to be the reason why" blah blah blah.

I'm curious as to the psychology of why most artist don't want to tackle these sorts of songs. i guess it's a reflection of the white lie in all of us.

cheers,

dan

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