Napster App for
Rhapsody International Inc.

Music 101

Songs to Spell Along With

by Raymond Cummings

Songs to Spell Along With

About this playlist

Sometimes in pop music it isn't quite enough to simply say something; one must adopt an almost pedantic approach, and spell out key words to get across an important point. This intermittent urge to corner and educate a target, or a larger audience, is usually as anthemic as it is self-amused.

While on M.I.A.'s "Ba-na-na Skit" and Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" the word "banana" is broken down to its component parts, the artists' goals are divergent -- the former drawing attention to a nutritional staple in some third-world countries, the latter simultaneously saluting her own perceived badassery and attempting to confer that swagger to listeners. Ashlee Simpson's "L.O.V.E." transforms emphatic spelling into a head-knocking scrum of pro-sisterhood. With "Y.M.C.A," The Village People turned the acronym into a campy middle school dance staple. Meanwhile, Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, The Creator make each letter on Earl's comeback single "Whoa" sound Gotham City-esque gnarly when plunked atop a flurry of downcast piano scales.

The goofiest extremes of this approach are realized on indie rock deep cuts like the Magnetic Fields' ironic jingle "Washington, D.C." -- a hat tip to the opening of Bay City Rollers' "Saturday Night" -- and Stephen Malkmus' toy piano romp "Troubbble." But spelling in song is not to be dismissed easily: The-Dream employed it adroitly to turn "Love King" into a polymonogamist's mantra, and with "Glamorous," Fergie became heir to the crown of this paradigm -- second only, really to Aretha Franklin, whose balls-out "Respect" is without peer on every level.

Related Posts