Here's what I have so far on the article I'm hoping to get Cracked.com to run. If I understand the process correctly, the editorial board meets on Friday to decide which ones they want people to finish. Comments and suggestions appreciated. (Locked because I suspect Cracked won't want it publicly visible here if they decide to use it).
Any musician or songwriter's body of work will include common themes based on musical genre, pet causes, and personal experience. There's nothing wrong with this, and in some cases a handful of tried-and-true topics can help an artist's career immensely. Unfortunately, some artists insist on singing about the same damn thing over and over again, and quite frankly they need to stop it.
Too many songs about: How awesome it is to be Jimmy Buffett.
Typical Example: "Jamaica Mistaica," a song about Buffett's plane being shot at by Jamaican soldiers. At first listen, the song seems harmless. Jealously only starts to kick in when you notice the reason for the Jamaican expedition--to get some good chicken. Since most people (as in, "everyone who isn't Jimmy Buffett") can't just hop on our sea planes and fly to another country whenever we start craving the local cuisine, the song doesn't really resonate like "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw" or "Margaritaville."
Why it needs to stop: It's starting to feel like he's just rubbing it in our faces. Since you're supposed to write what you know, we realize that Buffett will inevitably write songs about drinking, hanging out on the beach, and having wacky adventures in the Caribbean, but sometime in the mid-90s Jimmy's songs started getting a little too autobiographical. After hearing a dozen songs about how great it is to be a globe-trotting millionaire rock star with his own plane and friends who sound like extras from an Indiana Jones movie, most people will feel that their lives are woefully inadequate. Eventually, the masses will rise up and destroy Jimmy. When this happens, a lot of soulless middle management type "parrotheads" will have to find something else to cling to in order to convince people they have an actual personality.
Other Examples: Pretty much the entire Banana Wind album.
Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show
Too many songs about: Sex, Drugs, & Rock n' Roll.
Typical Example: The worst offender is also the band's most recognizable hit: “On The Cover of Rolling Stone.” In addition to the theme of being an under-appreciated rock band, the song features “all kinds of pills to give us all kinds of thrills” and “a lot of little teenage blue-eyed groupies who'll do anything we say,” along with Cocaine Katie and a bunch of other stuff that makes this song the ultimate example of self-professed rock star decadence.
Why it needs to stop: Because Ray Sawyer looks like Santa Claus (and sounds like a crazy old prospector). Shel Silversteen's freaky, druggie, super-groovy lyrics worked great in the 70s when they were coming from a guy who looked like a pirate turned cowboy, but time (and The Medicine Show) have left Dr. Hook far, far behind. Today, we suspect that “anything we say” involves switching the TV over to “Matlock,” but we still can't shake the creepy image of Ray asking some teenage groupie to sit on his lap and tell him what she wants for Christmas. Also, we suspect that the “teenage groupies” would now be more accurately described as “over-the-hill road whores,” and that's just not pretty.
Other Examples: “I Got Stoned & I Missed It,” “Roland the Roadie,” “Freakin' at The Freaker's Ball,” “Lookin' for Pussy”
Too Many Songs About: What a total bad-ass Kid Rock is.
Typical Example: “American Badass” is probably Rock's most self-indulgent tune, but at least half of his songs have a few lines about Kid's musical talent, sexual prowess, and overall awesomeness.
Why It Needs To Stop: We realize that adolescent posturing is a major component of the rap genre, but come on dude. You followed Tommy Lee's act. You have absolutely nothing to prove. And while we're at it, Kid Rock needs to stop trying to pretend he's from the South. Last time we checked, Michigan was up near Canada. While we have no doubts as to Rock's trailer trash credentials, the constant shout-outs to David Allan Coe, Johnny Cash, and Hank Junior are starting to get old.
Other Examples: As we said up front, most Kid Rock songs are guilty to some extent, but “Cowboy,” “You Never Met A Motherfucker Quite Like Me,” and “Devil Without A Cause” are a few that go farther than the rest.
Too Many Songs About: The common man.
Typical Example: “Atlantic City.” After a little background about the crime-infested hellhole in which the lead character (who we'll call “Bruce”) lives, we find out that Bruce is having trouble making ends meet because he has “debts that no honest man can pay.” It's gotten so bad in fact that he's going to “do a little favor” for somebody—the clear implication being that the employer is a mobster and the favor is something criminal. Despite the desperation of the song, the chorus, in which Bruce implores his wife/girlfriend to meet him in Atlantic City, offers a just a hint of hope.
Why It Needs To Stop: Because it's completely disingenuous. Even if we accept that Springsteen was once just an average working man, that was a long time ago. Worse still, Bruce continues to let the people of New Jersey worship him as a hometown boy whose music celebrates the common man of the Garden State. In reality, most of Springsteen's songs are about getting the hell out of New Jersey. Since Bruce did exactly that, we can't help but suspect that somewhere deep down he's laughing at the rubes whose adoration helped him escape the smokestack wasteland.
Other Examples: “Born In The USA,” “Hungry Heart,” “Glory Days”
Other potential targets, some of which may be too dated to use (and what they have too many songs about):
Toby Keith (The amount of ass the U.S. military kicks)
Three Doors Down (How much [lead singer's name] misses his girlfriend)
Train (Weird chicks)
Corporate Avenger (Being pissed off Libertarians)
Hank Williams III (The fact that country radio sucks balls)
David Allan Coe (Being the meanest, nastiest, shit-kickingest redneck you'll ever meet)
Alice Cooper (Creepy horror movie type stuff)*
Counting Crows (not really a theme, but we're tired of hearing about Maria)
Garth Brooks (The triumph of the fucking human spirit)
Tom Petty (Smoking weed)
*Not a problem 30 years ago, but kind of hard to take seriously coming from a guy in his 60s who votes Republican and plays golf with Glenn Campbell.
(edit 11/22/09: Unlock)