I have seen several of these around on the net. But I'm not quite satisfied with any. So I create my own: The best lyrics in the world. At least in my opinion.
I'm not sure on order or which of these are the very best. So I just list them out of order. I have tried to include all genres, I have even included some danish artists, though they sing in English. For each choice I have made a comment on why the song has been chosen. This list is a work in progress. Probably for ever.
This song doesn't appear on any of the at least 4 first best lyrics list when doing a google search. I'm surprised by that. This song is so easy to like. Take parts of the lyric like
Well it goes like this: The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Look at how concrete and elegant he describes the relationship between music and a naive person in love. Or
She tied you to her kitchen chair And she broke your throne and she cut your hair And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
this picture of how uneven and unfair love can be. That is in Leonard Cohen's own words:
And I've seen your flag on the marble arch And love is not a victory march It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah
Helpyourselfish is by the danish band DAD. They have written several great lyrics. But this song speaks to me in a special way. Take for example the chorus:
It's when a pat on the back becomes a slap in your face now. Don't look back just helpyourselfish
If you turn around while being padded on the back, you will be slapped in the face instead. It's a very figurative and complex way to say that it's just easier to be a selfish asshole. That is get by life without doing any real effort. Put in a DAD way:
Through a revolving door on someone else's push Yeah, it is easy to be haaard.
This is one of the songs that I have a sharp recall of from my teenage years. It is supposedly a song about being unemployed Armenian living in the states doing nothing, but "eating seeds" and chatting on AOL version 7.0. The one thing I admire the most about lyrics like this one is the ability of the writer to on the one side make a concrete story (Looking through the eyes of a tired hub), and on the other side raise enormous philosophical questions like
You, what do you own the world? How do you own disorder, disorder
This one seems to be missing in the google search result too. Other Bob Dylan songs (Like Lay, lady, lay) are included. But not this, which I wonder as much as to why Hallelujah is missing.
To get a grip here we might as well borrow from other analyses. In the wiki article the song is both praised and criticized - I agree on the critique, a watch tower is not something you can move along. Though you can sit in the watchtower complaining:
There must be some kind of way outta here Said the joker to the thief There's too much confusion I can't get no relief
The joker and the thief might as well symbolize the bottom of society, or maybe the useless part of society since
Business men, they drink my wine Plowman dig my earth
The wiki article mentions that the actual beginning of the story starts at the last verse, that is
Outside in the cold distance A wildcat did growl Two riders were approaching And the wind began to howl
Two riders who come to conquer the watchtower, begin a new story, revolt society? The text has made an impact, that is for sure. The term "joker and the thief" is the title of a song by the band Wolfmother. Jimi Hendrix, among others, have made a cover. And so on. For all its mystique I think the song deserves it place among the greatest lyrics.
One more from the Danes. I learned to play this song on guitar before ever hearing it. Though the guitar part is quite complex, the text I see as stunning craftsmanship. I mean:
Rose, don't pull your needles out of me close your yellow leaves around me don't drink all the water from the ground I've got inside my wicked soul don't push the time shorter, let us grow old
Let's have a looksie at some rapsie. Disregard everything but Kendrick Lamar's verse (the second). This is very well written. The verse is supposed to be a diss or a beef, but apparently it has made an enormous controversial impact. Rappers got angry because they saw themselves as king of New York, and even Eminem responded.
That aside. The lyric seems way more complex than that of a simple diss. Take a line like
I don't smoke crack, motherfucker I sell it
Said with a voice like Eazy-E it reminds me of the Eazy-E line "selling dope by the school yard". A very elegant way of dissing a spicific rapper. Or a general comment on hypocrisy of gangstars. Between all the name droppings you find gems like this
Tell Flex to drop a bomb on this shit So many bombs, ring the alarm like Vietnam on this shit So many bombs, make Farrakhan think that Saddam in this bitch One at a time, I line 'em up and bomb on they mom while she watchin' the kids I'm in a destruction mode if the gold exists
Drop bombs like Vietnam or on Saddam and a poor mom watching her kids. War apparently has consequences. The diss moves on to this conclusion
Who tryna jump and get it? You're better off tryna skydive Out the exit window of 5 G5's with 5 grand With your granddad as the pilot he drunk as fuck tryna land With the hand full of arthritis and popping prosthetic leg Bumping Pac in the cockpit so the shit that pops in his head Is an option of violence, someone heard the stewardess said That your parachute is a latex condom hooked to a dread
Can't you just picture that granddad drunk as fuck, head full of violence and gangster rap trying to land the wreck, your only escape is to jump into dead. This diss goes from a remark on old school gangster rap to diss the newbies to how you will find the only escape of death is to miss birth (the condom) when deeply entwined in violence and gang war. Thus it disses both the old school rappers as the new schole ones. And this on complex terms.
None of the diss replies I have heard, possesses even some of the complexity I can put into this one. They are plain disses, like stated in the Eminem's rediss: "I'm a son of a dog, I'm authentic, you're all fake you're all 'printed'?". Which is why "they have to try harder" as put by Kendrick himself.
Once presented to me by a friend who likes rap a lot. I like this a lot. Though Guru, the late lead voice of Gangstarr, is a highly skilled rapper, this award goes to Freddie the Foxxx.
I once collected implication of the form "disrespect → consequence". This song has at least two. The Guru "disrespect one of us, you'll see plenty of us". And the even more spectacular "disrespect, you get the TEC" by Freddie. This rap is not as complex as Lamar's Control verse, but it is quite stylistic. Take for instance
Niggas feel my presence, like I'm right in they palm Cause a stormy day is coming, when you see me so calm, it's on
Followed by the renowned lines
No more twin glocks, they jam up my plays Now its twin .40 calibre Walther PPK's
with references to James Bond, style and the implication that follows
I'm in the control of my game, you must respect me like The Ref Uh-huh, you disrespect *gun clicks* you get the tech
The peak, I think, is found in the two lines
My style is water baby, spread it around But when you niggaz don't flow it right and fuck up my sound
Style again, here as water. And if it don't flow right, the sound is fucked. Nice!
Again one controversial song. The subject of controversy is transgender or transvestite beings. A song like this might have a hard time today. Or it might not. The song I don't see as offending, rather the first person narrator is depicted in a quite ironic way:
Well, I'm not the world's most physical guy But when she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine Oh my Lola, lo lo lo lo Lola
The song goes on like this displaying the uneven relationship between this weak guy and strong woman. It reminds me of scenes from The Triplets of Belville - a very caricatured relationship. The song is soaked in irony of both the narrator and his conquered mistress. Not to mention love in general. And this sort of irony is story telling at its finest. Thus this song deserves it place here.
That's it for now. I'll be back with more delicious lyrics.