Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Taking a Page from the 'N Synch Dictionary

Taking a Page from the 'N Synch Dictionary...

... or NOT?!??

What's that line about tripping into geezerdom? You know your generation is out of touch when it doesn't understand the current generation's music?

Well, young grump that I am, I don't buy it. I believe that some stuff is better than other stuff, and always will be, and that most of the commercial sludge we are subjected to in the early a.m. hours on VH1 and MTV (which are more about Scott Baio and crazies like New York now anyway), is not designed to last, or mine the more meaningful depths of musical expression, but alternately titillate, puzzle or disappoint and then fade away, leaving a trace less gripping than a graze of the fingers, a peck on the cheek.

How else do you explain Britney Spears's popularity, and the fact that I can't remember a single song lyric of hers beyond her breakout "Hit Me Baby (One More Time)", which owes a great debt to the sight of her cavorting in a Catholic school girl uniform. Or maybe I really am out of touch.

I didn't used to think so. But then, instances like last night's post-wifey-gone-to-bed lounging-before-the-TV start to crowd up on me like so many gum-snapping teenyboppers. (Wow, now THAT'S an old expression.)

I was quaffing my Leinenkugel's Big Butt Doppelbock, propping my feet atop the coffee table, and clicking from the History Channel (old guy staple) to VH1 (lingering affection for) to, for some reason, the Disney Channel (54 must feel good under the fingers). There, I caught the ending strains of the video "Like Woah" from sister act Aly & AJ. (They AREN'T twins, as several lisping teeny bloggers will tell you. Man, why am I still a sucker for research? Especially on this?)

Now, live and even simulated music still has a magical-trance effect on me. I watched the thing until the Mouse came on and told me to tune into Cory and Cory, or Zack and Cody, whatever. And I could have sworn, in the manner of so many Justin Timberlake odes, I caught the pronunciation of "me" come out "mae." What's worse, I heard the next rhymed line as ending in "brain."

You know the ways of wunderkind Timberlake and his former dancemates. Fa la la la la... "It's gonna be (bae) me (mae)."

I used to amuse all but one of the grizzled denizens in the Sandusky Register newsroom by wondering, aloud, whenever our biz reporter and Justin-freak Beth Naser played the tune, "Who's Mae? Why's it gotta be her? What about Aunt Bea (BAE)?"

Or something to that out-of-touch effect.

So, I thought I was witnessing the evolutionary implication of Justin's mangled diction in the lyrics of the A&A sisters. "Something something something ME (MAE) / and it's something something BRAIN (BRAIN)." Egad! At least, for the unimaginative songsmiths out there, it's another word with which to rhyme insane.

Ah, but then I looked up their lyrics today. Yes. Did a google search of the Bobsey Twins and Disney Channel, etc. etc. and clicked to their web site, where I learned how to pronounce "Insomniatic" (uh... no), and found handy lyrics to the song in question.

Apparently, the only place brain and "mae" pop up are:

"Life is good I can't complain... Your image overwhelms my brain..."

So why did I hear "mae" rhymed with "brain"? Well, I have been guilty of imaginative lyric manglings before. I used to think Bon Jovi sang "I want to be just as close as... Holy Moses..." in the song "Bed of Roses." And there are other mismanagements of the aural evidence I'm sure my wife can indict me on.

Still, I'm not convinced I'm the crotchety old-timer just yet. Maybe they DID sing it. Maybe.

Ah, who am I kidding? I don't even own an iPod. I still play my tunes the old new-fashioned way, via CDs, singing along in the car or throughout the house, and that crotchetiest of crotchety Old School methods: performing it myself.

And maybe that's the ultimate test of being out-of-touch. You won't find me juke-stepping around my son's spilled blocks, making like Timberlake. Or fretting over my lovesick brain like A.J. and Aly. Nah, I'm liable to jump on the home piano and break into Ben Folds or some classic Cat Stevens, maybe do a Harry Nillson impression of an Irving Berlin standard as filtered through the vocal stylings of Rufus Wainwright.

And I still get goosebumps when Liz Phair growls into "Never Said" circa 1993. (FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, fellow oldtimers). But can you really stack up two Aly & AJs to one sultry Liz?

Uh, no way.

'Nuff said.

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