Posted by: dougery | December 19, 2011

Thoroughly Unnecessary Song Explication File #112: Selena Gomez & The Scene “Love You Like a Love Song”

Welcome to the Thoroughly Unnecessary Song Explication files. Maybe perhaps this ‘feature’ will be recurring. But I said maybe perhaps. because there are so many great pop songs out there begging to be unnecessarily explicated. First up, “Love You Like a Love Song.” For those unfamiliar with this song, you can watch/listen here. Let’s just jump right into the line-by-line analysis, shall we?

[Verse 1]

It’s been said and done /
Every beautiful thought’s been already sung /

Alright, okay *cracks lyric interpretation knuckles* let’s do this. So, this might just be me but I’d hesitate to open a song (or a short story, a poem, a film, an anything) with what is essentially “right, so, this is completely old hat.” I mean it is kind of ballsy in a Pop music sense to just come out and tell people “I ain’t got shit to say you ain’t already heard.” And to pair that with “Every beautiful thought’s been already sung.” Really, Selena? Every beautiful thing? Welp, humanity. Time to pack it in. S says we’re done. Nothing but ugliness from here on out. Sorry.

Also, rhyming ‘sung’ with ‘done’ makes me retroactively hear ‘done’ as ‘dung’. “It’s been said and dung.” It sure has.

And I guess right now here’s another one /

Way to take a confident stand, S. I mean, I guess so.

So your melody will play on and on, like the best of ’em /
You are beautiful, like a dream come alive, incredible /

We immediately shift gears here from ‘eh, I got nothing special to add’ to this song will “play on and on, like the best of ’em.” As if just the act of making a love song and getting some ginormo record company to flog it in all the right places is enough to cement its inclusion among “the best of ’em.” Followed by the second usage of “beautiful” in 4 lines (Do you need to borrow my thesaurus?) and the dubious statement that a “dream come alive” would be anything approaching beautiful and or incredible. Did we not learn the lesson of Buffy the Vampire Slayer S1: Ep10? Dreams coming to life would be scary, dangerous, embarrassing, even the ‘good’ ones. Incredible, maybe. Beautiful, yeah, I’m gonna disagree.

A centerfold miracle, lyrical /

uh, what? So, for most humans a “centerfold” refers to a spread in a magazine usually containing naughty pictures of scantily clad women. Say what you will about these kinds of photos, “lyrical” probably is not gonna be tops of the adjective heap. And a “centerfold miracle”! This just makes me think of something horrifyingly blasphemous. Like the Virgin Mary doing a photo-shoot for Maxim.

You saved my life again /
And I want you to know, baby /

57 words to get to a “baby”? For a pop song this is truly like some kind of miracle, centerfold or otherwise. I’m going to just read right over the banality of “you saved my life” (apparently, not even for the first time).

[Chorus]

I, I love you like a love song, Baby
I, I love you like a love song, Baby
I, I love you like a love song, Baby

More odd hesitation. I, I don’t know what to think about your uncertainty, baby. Although with the 3 more babies we’re at least evening out the USDA required pop song content percentage of the word baby (400% of your recommend daily allowance). But more to the point the central quibble of this entire song:

Does Selena love the object of her affection as much as she loves “generic love song” or
Does Selena love the object of her affection in the manner of someone in a love song professing their love, etc.

‘Cause there is a load of difference here. It’s a pretty shitty compliment to tell your boy you love him about as much as a Boyz II Men song. On the other hand linking your own plight to all of the countless troubadours of yore is a bit intimidating and oddly impersonal. History and pop culture are on your side, if only in so much as to crush your individual situation down to grain of sand importance.

And I keep hittin’ re-peat-peat-peat-peat-peat /

First off, when you actually listen to this song, it sounds like she’s saying “beep beep beep beep beep.” Like the Road Runner cartoon character or something. Or an alarm clock. Or an adorable yet cranky motorist. Turns out she’s saying “re-peat,” and, like, repeating it over and over. Odds are this is either the catchiest or most annoying part of the song for the average listener. I think it’s great. My wife smiles when this part plays on the Jeep radio.

Secondly, I’m confused. If Selena’s love is in fact “like a love song, baby” and she’s “hittin’ re-peat” does this mean she keeps dumping guys to reacquire this same feeling or, more worrisome, is she sabotaging this one perfect relationship, stifling its natural development by forcing the two of them to replay the same stretch over and over again?

I, I love you like a love song, Baby [x 3]
And I keep hittin’ re-peat-peat-peat-peat-peat /

[Verse 2]

Constantly, boy, you played through my mind like a symphony /
There is no way to describe what you do to me /

I probably would have gone with “through my heart”, what with this being a love song and everything. Mind seems a bit clinical to me. And the jaded, black-hearted cynic in me imagines the songwriter wracking their brain for synonyms for ‘song,’ landing on “symphony” and thinking ‘shit yeah! That rhymes with all kinds of things (interestingly enough not “do to me”) and its totally epic.’ Too bad it is completely undermined by the non-sentiment of “no way to describe what you do to me.” Unless songwriter is digging way deep and this is careening into some deconstructionist meta-commentary on the nature of language and its inability to describe reality or some other kind of Lacanian bullshit. Which it might be, don’t get me wrong. But let’s just say I’m skeptical.

You just do to me, what you do /
And it feels like I’ve been rescued /

Favorite line fragment of the whole damn song: “You just do to me.” Not even kidding. I love its nonsensicality. Its honesty. The way it makes the 6 year-old in me laugh when I hear ‘doody me’. Side question for the accompanied line: recused from what exactly?

I’ve been set free /

:: vomits from cliche overdose ::

I’ve been hypnotized by your destiny /

Wrong, I was wrong. THIS is my favorite line. For the exact same reasons. I absolutely love how this makes no sense whatsoever. I am trying so hard (and loving every minute of the exertion) to imagine what being hypnotized by destiny might actually mean. Love this, no joke. It is so goddam strange.

You are magical, lyrical, beautiful /

And that didn’t take long to u-turn our way back to Trite-ville, population (as of the 2010 census): banality.

You are… I want you to know, baby /

[(re-peat-peat-peat-peat-peat) Chorus]

[Bridge]

No one compares /
You stand alone, to every record I own /

To clarify, Selena’s boyfriend (or centerfold girlfriend, if the lyrics are to be read, well, literally) is both a unique snowflake that ‘does not compare’ as well as perfectly equatable to every other love song (or symphony) ever written. So, you know, pretty damn special.

Music to my ear that’s what you are /
A song that goes on and on /

“Music to my ear.” Really. As opposed to what? Music for your endoplasmic reticulum? Its bad enough when a cliche is just a cliche. Its another thing altogether when its a cliche that shouldn’t ever have been coined in the first place. Oh, and it is nice of songwriter to let the object of affection know that, not that we’re being clingy here, but this thing here between us? It is gonna go on and on, just saying. You know, until all emotion and sentiment is meaningless. Just giving you a head’s up.

[concluding Chorus]

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Responses

  1. This was awesome. Could you please also do the one where Britney Spears makes a whole song out of an old, bad pickup line? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJSm_QMO6zA

  2. The masked dude cyclopsing/hypnotizing the naked dude made this whole piece for me.


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