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Translating Billboard’s top five songs

Like last time, I have translated the lyrics of the top five singles. My interest in doing so is more about seeing if anyone lives up to the term “artist” that’s so loosely thrown around today, despite the frequent and unnecessary use of four-letter words and lack of poetic depth.

The Top 5 songs currently on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart are pretty diverse. In December, rap and hip hop seemed to dominate the top spots, but now there’s a mix of pop, rock and hip hop at the top.

The rapper Akon, who had two Top 5 songs in December, is back again performing with Gwen Stefani. He sang with Snoop Dogg and Eminem on the other two tracks and apparently performs with so many people I’m thinking he should plan a Frank Sinatra-style “Duets” album.

Here are the top five songs Americans are currently listening to:

song11. “Irreplaceable,” performed by Beyonce: This song has been on the Billboard chart 16 weeks, and is now number one. According to the lyrics, Beyonce believes the guy she’s with is stupid and tells him to get his bags out of the Jaguar she paid for. When he tells her she’ll never find a man as good as him, Beyonce sets him straight, telling him he’s replaceable. Basically, it’s an anthem for women who need to kick their man to the curb.

song22. “Say it Right,” performed by Nelly Furtato: This song has a catchy chorus, but I couldn’t really pinpoint what it means. Throughout the song, Furtato sings: “You don’t mean nothing at all to me.” Apparently she missed English 101 the day they explained that double negatives are frowned upon. Furtato seems to be informing someone that they don’t currently mean anything to her, while at the same time telling them they could mean everything if they became a couple. In other words, she’s playing hard to get.

song33. “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race,” performed by Fall Out Boy: This is another song difficult to lyrically decipher. The singer says he’s an arms dealer and his weapons are words. Thinking that the video might offer more of an explanation, I watched it, and it seems like a rock-goth display of celebrity and death. I just didn’t get it.

song44. “It’s Not Over,” performed by Chris Daughtry: American Idol Season 5 contestant Chris Daughtry seems to be saying he’s been in a bad relationship with a woman and feels dead because of it, but can’t imagine himself with anyone else, so he wants to make it work despite the fact that he suspects he might be wasting time trying.

song55. “The Sweet Escape,” performed by Gwen Stefani and featuring Akon: This song almost lost me with the following lyrics: “Cause I’ve been acting like sour milk fell on the floor; It’s your fault you didn’t shut the refrigerator.” Now that’s deep. When you convey irresponsibility and fault using a refrigerator and coagulated milk as a metaphor, you’ve taken it to a new level.

The song seems to be about a girl who’s been imprisoned in a relationship and lost her identity. She needs to escape to find it, but “the sweetest escape” would be if the couple was together again and everything was perfect. In the video, Stefani is a prisoner and Rapunzel trapped in a tower. Despite the simplistic read of this song, you have to give Stefani credit for being pretty original most of the time.

Got a comment? E-mail me at or Tweet me at @lareecarucker.


This entry was posted in: MUSIC


  1. I always enjoy these columns. Did you see Office Space? That’s one of my favorite movies. I’d like to hear your translation of ‘Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta’…

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