“I was all right for a while, I could smile for a while
But I saw you last night, you held my hand so tight
As you stopped to say Hello”
That’s good mush, even if it does rhyme while and…while.
And it was recorded by Roy Orbison, a man who possessed one of the greatest, most expressive voices in the history of popular music. Orbison is featured often on my show.
But there’s a fine line between good mush and sickly sweet crap.
Songs I consider to be good mush: One Summer Night by the Danleers, Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel, Cupid by Sam Cooke, Something by The Beatles, Waiting For a Girl LIke You by Foreigner and most ballads by The Scorpions.
And, in the sappy shit category: MacArthur Park by Richard Harris (some of the silliest lyrics ever), You’re Beautiful by James Blunt, Amazed by Lonestar (unless it’s last call and you’re hammered but even then…), I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith, any ballad by REO Gag…uh, Speedwagon and pretty much the entire output by Celine Dion.
What’s the difference?
Emotion. A great love song should move you in a way that’s relatable. I’ve been there. I’ve felt that. With the SSC category the main emotion triggered is anger. You want to throw something at the radio. Make it stop! Quit whining. You had your chance, James. She’s gone (and in real life Blunt is a party animal who probably gets more action in a week than most of us will have in a lifetime).
Meaningful lyrics. Celine Dion has a great voice and I suppose fans can enjoy that and not be too concerned that most of her songs sound like they came from Hallmark greeting cards.
Belting it out rather than selling out. If I could go back in time I’d prevent Aerosmith from ever meeting Diane Warren. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry wrote Dream On, Sweet Emotion and Love in an Elevator. Okay, the last one isn’t really a love song but it has love in the title. Diane Warren created the overwrought, saccharine piece of dreck that is I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing. She also wrote Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now and penning a song for Starship should have killed her career on the spot but somehow Warren survived.
And I didn’t even get to the sentimental schlock foisted upon us by Phil Collins, but that’s a blog in itself.