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Inventory: Seven Songs With Factual Or Logical Mistakes In The Lyrics

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1. U2, "Pride (In The Name Of Love)"

It's probably difficult to work the assassination of a civil-rights leader into a song––but if anyone can do it, Bono can! Unfortunately, he fudges the facts a bit in the last chorus of this song, when he sings about the killing of Martin Luther King Jr., "Early morning, April 4 / Shot rings out in the Memphis sky." King was actually shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel at 6:01 p.m., which makes Bono off by about 10 hours. But he did get the date and the city right. Oh, and the pride part. Which isn't bad for a Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

2. Young MC, "Bust A Move"

Though Young MC is completely logical throughout most of this song––he's absolutely right, in most situations, you should bust a move––things get a little confusing in the last verse. He raps: "Your best friend Harry / has a brother Larry / in five days from now he's gonna marry / he's hopin' you can make it there if you can / 'cause in the ceremony you'll be the best man." Now, why would your best friend's brother choose you as best man over his own flesh and blood? Is Harry just going to be a run-of-the-mill usher at his brother's wedding while you're toasting and keeping track of the rings? Also, why would Larry inform you of his family-shaking decision a mere five days before the wedding? It doesn't make sense. Fortunately, Young MC totally compensates for any logical gaps in the next line, when he rhymes "neato" and "libido."


3. 'N Sync, "Digital Get Down"

On the surface, 'N Sync's "Digital Get Down" is just another song about mutual masturbation facilitated by webcams, but there's a geography lesson hidden underneath all the "Baby, we can do more than just talk" talk. Turns out the lesson is that 'N Sync doesn't know anything about geography. In the chorus, they sing, "Digital digital get down just you and me / you may be 20,000 miles away, but I can see ya / and baby baby, you can see me." Really? Twenty thousand miles? Well, since the Earth is round, and its circumference is roughly 24,000 miles, that means that at 20,000 miles away, 'N Sync's digital girlfriend would also be, at most, 4,000 miles away. Unless, of course, she's in space, which would make Lance Bass really, really jealous.


4. Paper Lace, "The Night Chicago Died"

Paper Lace was a British band, so when this song about a fictional Al Capone police shootout hit the top of the charts in 1974, there was some question as to whether the group had ever been to Chicago––especially after people heard the song's first line, "My daddy was a cop on the East Side of Chicago." Although Chicago has a South Side, a North Side, and even a West Side, it doesn't have much of an East Side, unless you count the waters of Lake Michigan. There is, in fact, a tiny slip of land known as the "East Side" along the border of Indiana, but a cop patrolling that area would see little action from Al Capone's gangsters, fictional or otherwise.

5. R. Kelly, "Trapped In The Closet (Chapters 1-12)"

When he started to write his ridiculous hip-hopera, R. Kelly probably had no way of knowing that the thing would stretch out to 12 chapters' worth of guns, affairs, leg cramps, well-endowed midgets, and sirens that go "Wooo wooo wooo." Still, he should have kept better track of who was actually telling the story. In Chapters 1-7, Kelly relays the action in the first person ("I pulled out my Beretta," "I'm sweating like hell," "I said 'Baby, get off my leg'"). But around Chapter 8, the "I" turns into "Sylvester," and a narrator is introduced in the form of the all-knowing R. Kelly, who sings keen observations like "Then he continues to rough up the midget / as if the midget was under attack." But in Chapter 11, both R. Kelly/the narrator, and I/Sylvester are telling the story. Simply put, this song is a nightmare for any student of English, just like most R. Kelly fantasies.


6. Willie Nelson, Michael Jackson, Huey Lewis, Steve Perry, Dan Aykroyd, and others, "We Are The World"

"We Are The World" was a very important song, both to starving Ethiopians and to comedy writers looking for an easy parody. But when the song tries to hammer home the preachiness, it ends up misquoting the Bible. Willie Nelson sings, "As God has shown us by turning stones to bread…" Biblically speaking, that never happened. In Matthew 4, the devil tries to get Jesus to turn some stones into bread, but Jesus refuses, saying, "One does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God." So the bread/stone miracle never happened. Also, in spite of what the song says, we are not the world.


7. Jennifer Lopez, "Jenny From The Block"

This is one of those rare songs where every other line contradicts the one before it. For example: "I love my life and my public / put God first and can't forget to stay real." Yes, you're right, J. Lo. "Real" people always remember to love their "public." Or: "I stay grounded / as the amounts roll in / I'm real I thought I told ya / I'm real even on Oprah." Translation: "I'm so down to earth. Seriously though, I'm making truckloads of money and getting TV gigs." And, of course: "Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got / I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the block." Sure, Jennifer Lopez is just another multimillionaire from the Bronx, just like Gisele Bündchen is just another beautiful model from the slums of Brazil, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is just another huge action star/California governor from a tiny town in Austria. Never mind us, they are the world.