Stephen Sondheim has a new book out - actually just part one of a two part story of his life and career.  Although I was a Glee kid in high school, I’m not terribly familiar with the work of Sondheim.  But listening to him being interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR, I was impressed by his intelligence, and the intricate process involved in building a musical.  His lyrics?  Complex and brilliant.

So it was especially depressing to flip through the radio dial after Fresh Air was over, only to land on Kelly Clarkson’s song “My Life Would Suck Without You.”   The tune is catchy, but the lyrics are uninspired and literal at best.   

Maybe I was stupid for telling you goodbye
Maybe I was wrong for tryin’ to pick a fight
I know that I’ve got issues
But you’re pretty messed up too
Anyway, I found out I’m nothing without you
Cuz we belong together now
Forever united here somehow
You got a piece of me
And honestly
My life would suck without you
Being with you is so dysfunctional
I really shouldn’t miss you, but I can’t let go
Oh yeah

More psychobabble is found here, in pop hit “The Truth” by Kris Allen:

“It’s the elephant in the room

And we pretend that we don’t see it

It’s the avalanche that looms

Above our heads, but we don’t believe it.”

Dysfunction.  I’ve got issues.  You’re messed up too. It’s the elephant in the room.  Has songwriting really become so bankrupt that lyricists must turn to psychobabble?  These would be great anthems to play at the American Association of Psychiatry’s annual convention, maybe, but the thought of kids singing along to such lyrics is just bleak.

Thank heavens for Stephen Sondheim.   A perfect antidote to Kelly and Kris.

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