By Giliann Karon
I love it when lyrics leave a sweet taste in my mouth. There’s something amusing about a line that’s witty enough to sit with you for a little while, whether because the melody was original or the lyrics themselves were sharp enough to stick out. That said, here are 8 of my favorite examples.
Favorite line: “97 speaks and now I'm there, fuzzy socks and shampooed hair/Cyst acne bare, I’m eating healthy, watching Ina cook for Jeffrey”
On No Dogs Allowed, Sidney Gish sardonically captures wading through early adulthood, not knowing if you’re doing anything right. She seals her tongue-in-cheek lyrics with whimsical, snappy riffs and “Mouth Log” finds her at her wittiest when she croons about the post-grad slump, meme groups, and Ina Garten.
Favorite line: “But I like the bus/I can be whoever I want to be”
Millennials have transformed public transportation into both a meme and a detailed policy demand, so “The Bus Song” bears cultural significance for Bernie supporters with Doc Martens. Through dreamy vocals and delicate guitar, Jay Som (aka Melina Duterte) tells the story of an unraveling relationship with the tune. One of the reasons for their split is their disagreement over taking the bus — she finds it freeing, but her partner hates the smell. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard the line, “But I like the bus!,” in my head as the bus pulls up to my apartment.
Favorite line: “Check out that rack of his, look at that row of guitar necks/Lined up like eager fillies, outstretched like legs of Rockettes”
Fiona Apple breaks all conventions on Fetch the Bolt Cutters, an explosive album that scorns both the traumatic and the mundane. On “Rack of His,” she subverts language used by men to objectify women, while also comparing guitars to Rockettes, the subject of the male gaze. She writes her songs from an overtly female gaze, shaking the table in a predominantly male industry and reckoning with her past.
Favorite line: “Mixing Zoloft and Smart Water to make NyQuil for the soul”
Cheekface sounds as if Parquet Courts had a few too many beers. Greg Katz is Andrew Savage’s looser, mellower counterpart, who is more concerned about creating tongue-in-cheek poetry than nailing down a funky riff. In an Instagram post, the band discussed the meaning behind this song in particular, saying that they’re a little confused when singers incorporate vocal runs to make the national anthem sound “sexy,” when the song is about the bombing of the Capitol in the War of 1812.
Favorite line: “Ripped the hem of her skirt as she ran/Panicking and weaving through the crowds on Oxford Street”
Arlo Parks’ signature breathy vocals transform “Caroline” into 3 minutes and 36 seconds of ethereal beauty. Her unique songwriting skills transform a simple concept – watching a couple fight, from a distance – into a breathtaking masterpiece. Breezy calls of “Caroline, I swear to God, I tried” will buzz in your head for the rest of the day.
Favorite line: “Getting naked and playing with guns/There's a gerbil in the microwave, a baseball bat in everyone”’
Sean Bonnette and co. are the kings of existentialism and sarcasm. With this track, AJJ explores socialism, existentialism, and the human condition through surreal imagery and bitingly cynical lyrics. Lyrically, “Getting Naked, Playing with Guns” is a morbid Dr. Seuss story, set in a dystopian suburb where the characters build a bomb and “set if off like Microsoft in ’94.” More experimental and pop-driven than their jangly folk albums, Christmas Island overflows with colorful, outlandish lyrics.
Favorite line: “What's all the hype with cold brew coffee and kissing in public?”
Sarah Tudzin knew no bounds on Kiss Yr Frenemies, illuminati hotties’ first album. In “Pressed 2 Death,” she pairs homemade fart noises alongside timeless reflections about the unraveling of a relationship. Like the rest of the album, the track is boundless, erupting in spunky crescendos and spliced with soft-spoken interludes.
Favorite line: “The milk is sour/With olives on my thumbs and I’ve been out full”
I loved putting black olives on all my fingers as a kid, so that line is especially nostalgic. Haley Heynderickx’s raw, scrappy voice captures young adult chaos while evoking themes of childlike curiosity and simplicity on this track. She forgoes a backing band and just plays a guitar by herself, utilizing a unique finger-picking style, which appears on most of her songs. Unadulterated and introspective, she graciously articulates the madness and uncertainty that comes with being a young twenty-something.