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Photo Illustration by Korbl Klimecki

Alisha Kirby and Alisha Kirby

Remember the old adage “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? Lets change it up. Maybe something like “If you don’t have anything real or different to sing, just stick to writing instrumental songs”?

As of this writing, Katy Perry’s latest single “Roar” is number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

That’s to be expected. These empowerment anthems have been major successes for years for pop stars and their teams of songwriters. It’s worked for Perry before as well. “Firework” was a huge hit from her last album, and thematically it’s no different than “Roar.”

It’s unfortunate how often lyrics are rehashed. The English language is constantly expanding so much so that even Merriam-Webster can’t say for sure how many words exist. Surely there’s another way to get a point across than twisting the chorus of “Eye of The Tiger.”

“I think we are missing out on more depth when it comes to lyrics nowadays,” said automotive major Daryl Hudson. “Stories of both uplifting joy and tragedy provide a real sense of feeling that the listener can relate too. Bands like La Dispute put a great deal of thought into their lyrics and that is why many people like them.”

La Dispute is actually a good example of how important lyrics can be. It’s a melodic post-hardcore band – so not necessarily something a general audience would usually enjoy – who’s last album “Wildlife” landed at numbers 135 and 6 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and U.S. Heatseekers respectively.

Three songs on “Wildlife” are especially loaded with emotion: “King Park,” a narrative recounting a drive-by shooting in the band’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich., where a child was shot and the 20-year-old gunman took his own life later. “Edward Benz, 27 Times,” the story of a father who deals with the physical and emotional scars after having been attacked by his son who was experiencing a schizophrenic episode, and “I See Everything,” which describes a family coping with the loss of a seven-year-old son to cancer.

Not every song needs to be heavy or heartbreaking, but is should be able evoke some sort of actual emotion.

“(When) the lyrical content isn’t well articulated, (it’s) almost as if it is one dimensional,” said Hudson. “When bands don’t have that genuine feel from the lyrics in their songs it feels like there is a certain element missing.”