The subject of lies and deception, perhaps not unexpectedly, unleashed a torrent of potential songs for this week – even if I covered Betrayal a few years ago. Indeed there are so many songs that I could have featured that I could probably do a second ten sometime.
There are of course many types of lie, too – Wiki lists at least thirty, and I would think that there are many more than that. Either way, it’s a subject that lends itself well to song, and also allows for a fairly diverse set of songs, too.
This is pretty much the only Rollins Band song I recall of the second incarnation of his band, and it’s by far his best-known, I’d think, too. Like all of his material, it’s full of self-examination and questioning of self – but unlike his standup material, this is deeply reflective and lacking in humour somewhat (although the striking video helps make up for that). The jazzy, mellow accompaniment to the verses are blown away by the primal roar of the chorus, where Henry Rollins admits to being a waste of time, a liar, a failure. And when he then asks for forgiveness – he’s lying again anyway…
I Jus’ Lie
A short-lived band whose promising rise through the metal ranks in the late 90s was abruptly halted by the death of Lynn Strait, the singer. Their frequently full-throttle punk-ish metal was often a world of fun – with silly boasting (their eponymous moshpit anthem Snot), frankly quite scary visions of the future (Joyride, where the Strait crashes his car – he actually died in a car crash), and some snarky pokes at punk legends (Mr Brett takes aim at Brett Gurewitz) – but there were much darker sides too, such as this song, where Strait admits that frankly, he’s a bit of a shit to women in that he lies through his teeth to get whatever he wants, particularly for sex.
Tango In The Night
Two of the biggest acts of the seventies – Fleetwood Mac and ABBA – reached their greatest heights when riven by deceit, jealousy and lies between the somewhat unstable relationships that existed within both bands, so needless to say at least one of them had to be featured here. This song actually comes from the late 80s (their resurgence with the mega-selling Tango In The Night), but the bitter core remains amid the sweet interplay of the vocals and that monstrous chorus.
Born to Lie
Mesh are one of those bands who made poppy, anthemic synthpop but with a brutally caustic edge once you dig that bit beneath the surface. So songs about lies and failures in relationships are pretty much par for the course – but this perhaps takes things to another level. Something of a vicious character destruction of a lying, cheating (presumably ex-)partner who does anything in their power to tip the balance in their favour.
Annie, Would I Lie to You?
More synthpop, a genre that seems to lend itself well to this subject. Iris have been a bit quieter in recent years (although with their first album in four years apparently due sometime soon), but this is their breakthrough single from some time back, and it’s another account of a relationship where the perception is more important than the reality, with the titular Annie refusing to believe that her partner really isn’t lying. Or is he? Either way, this is still a cracking synthpop song that has perhaps dated a little bit…
The Bones of What You Believe
The last synthpop entry in the list is rather newer, the breakthrough song from Scottish band CHVRCHES that turned all the heads in the first place. Like many of their songs, it’s twin weapons are an astonishing way with a pop hook, accompanied by barbed lyrics that confirm that little here is sweetness and light. This track appears to be a demonstration of immense power in a relationship, a woman having total control over the emotions of a weaker man who needs to be made to feel he is loved, he is wanted, and she does it by simply feeding him lie after lie – but it’s what he wants to hear. Whether it’s the right thing is a question never addressed…
The It Girl
Songs by Sleeper detailing the failures in human relationships were basically their specialist subject, so I had a few choices here. But this one is perhaps the most appropriate choice – where an insecure man doesn’t trust his partner one bit, and frets and panics over what she is doing elsewhere. But what happens to the relationship when the lie detector test confirms that she is telling the truth when she denies it?
The Greatest Band of All Time
Away from relationships now, and onto other types of lying – and any excuse to feature The Greatest Band of All Time (TM) – of their various, umm, Austrian folk tales that were later made into Hollywood blockbusters, this one fits the bill nicely. A story of double-crossing, double-identities, and lies – and kick-ass punk-metal. The film that resulted wasn’t bad, either…
Pretty Hate Machine
Further away, to questioning belief – where in one of Trent Reznor’s earliest songs (and a live staple still, twenty-five years on), he unleashes a jagged, furious tirade at an apparently uncaring God, seething at the “lies” in a supreme being that allows war, destruction and pain to run rife. It’s a pretty blunt way of questioning belief – and a fairly common one – but the sheer force of this track is really what makes it endure.
Finally, trust Clawfinger to tell it like it is, asking their lying shitbag political leaders to shut the fuck up, stop lying and tell The Truth. The frenzied, furious rapping, of course, is backed up by shit-kicking riffage and a thundering rhythm section, too (and unexpectedly went down a storm as the closer to my Monster Truck DJ set the other week), and while the music may have dated just a little bit, the message certainly hasn’t. I can think of at least one politician that could do with heeding this message, and there are many, many more. And not just in the UK, either.