I grew up on ballads. No. Don’t wince. There are guys out there like me. We live in the shadows and speak in whispers. You can identify us mouthing words every once in a while and then looking off into the distance as if remembering some deep-seated memory. But if you confront us about it then we will vehemently deny it. (Should have thought about that before I posted this on the internet. I’ll still deny.)
We shunned the tough-talking, crotch-grabbing hip-hop trends of the nineties and even resisted the ‘I’m so deep but wanna cut myself’ teenage angst of the same period’s time scene. We whispered the lyrics from love songs to unwitting girls and they swooned at the deep words unaware that we had ‘borrowed’ them from Brian McKnight, Boys II Men and Backstreet. (Never Westlife by the way. There are lines we could never cross.)
But as I grow older I find that I look at the ol’ love song a bit differently from how I did back in the day. It’s pretty weird. But then again growing up does that to you. All of a sudden the sweet words of the ballad have taken on a very misogynistic angle. If you have no idea what I’m talking about then sample some of the greatest hits.
a) You say it best when you say nothing at all. Intended meaning? It’s so lovely to have you around that even when we sit quietly we could have the deepest conversations ever. Real meaning? Shut up. Just shut up please!
b) I could stay awake just to hear you breathing. I honestly don’t trust you at all. In the middle of the night you might get up and rob me so I’m gonna stay up so I know where you are at all times. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
c) You cut me open and I keep bleeding love. Did anyone notice that the song came out at about the same time that Onyancha was doing his best work? Him and Leona Lewis were rumoured to have had an affair gone sour and thus the Brit decided to tip off the cops about his …(how do I put this delicately?)…tendency to trip and stab women. Pity the cops never caught on.
d) If I hurt you then I hurt myself, hate you then I hate myself. If I kill you, I kill me. A threat was never made to sound sweeter. Alaine went all out with this gem right here and told all about how she was gonna go all psycho on the potential paramour. Sounds like something the First Lady would sing to the president about a certain Nyeri activist.
e) I’d catch a grenade for you, throw my head on a plate for you. I am a suicidal idiot who doesn’t know when I’m not wanted. And this chic I’m after is being sought by both the KGB and CIA which is why she is having projectiles thrown at her from every which way. This is Bruno Mars’ answer to Alaine and I’m expecting an explosive ‘death pact’ single.
I’d go on and on but then I might spoil those special songs people have held dear so long. That song played at your wedding, the first date, the first anniversary. But then again it’s all about perspective.I mean R.Kelly sings ballads about doing some really random things to girls with an R & B tune plastered all over it. My last thought goes out to Easy FM who are rumoured to 'play the best Blues and R & B'. Just wondering...what does the B stand for in R & B?