Friday, August 30, 2013

American Dream (With Footnotes)

Here is the ninth in my series of lyrical examinations of the songs of my debut mixtape, "Core Nerd!"

As I say in the song Liquid Thunder, "My rhymes are so dense you're gonna need footnotes." Here they are...

This time, for the song "American Dream."

Another track with a strong core premise, this time it's the pairing of marketing slogans that were famous and kinda had that earworm thing going for them with military images and language. If you think about it, it's pretty obvious that the two things often come from, if not the same people, the same type of people. War is sold to us the same way that fast food and batteries are sold to us. This song just makes that more explicit.

You can Just Do It. You know I'm lovin' it.
You can just hurt it. You know I'm stabbing it

The first slogan is Nike, the second McDonalds.

A diamond is forever. A little dab'll do ya!
Armor piercing bullets'll run right through ya

The first is De Beers diamonds, the second is Brylcreem, a hair product.

Have it your way. Home of the Whopper.

Both of these are old Burger King slogans.

Get your batteries topped with the copper
They keep going and going and going and going
Our bombs keep blowing and blowing and blowing and blowing

Coppertop batteries are, of course, Duracell, while the "going and going" slogan comes from their competitor with the bunny, Energizer. I really liked the comparison here with the bombs "blowing and blowing."

It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
Keep on fighting, keep on kicking

The watch that keeps on ticking is Timex.

Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.
Kill the enemy like you're playing Rock Band

The candy that supposedly melts in your mouth, not in your hands is M&M's, but they always melted in my hands, which became covered with dye. The second line alludes to how much easier it is to kill the enemy with things like drones and long-range missiles where the soldiers sit in booths far from the enemy, effectively playing a war video game. This was something that George Carlin alluded to by calling them "Nintendo pilots," bring the video game reference full circle.

Raid Kills Bugs Dead
Knives kill kids dead
Guns kill men dead
Bombs kill countries dead

The hardness of the Raid slogan was easy to translate to bigger weapons and bigger results.

This is what you're dreaming of
This is what you wanna do
This is what you gotta do
This is what they tell you to
This is what they make you do

This is what you're dreaming of
This is what you wanna do
This is what you gotta do
This is what they tell you to
This is what they make you do

The chorus really gets at the main idea of the song, as you can't tell whether it's referring to the commercials or the war allusions. In reality, it's both.

GE, We bring good things to life.
But not today, hide your kids, hide your wife

The old GE slogan was an obvious one, but pairing it with the Antoine Dodson line was my second favorite line in the song and a little bit of needed comic relief in the middle of a dark song.

Bounty towels, The quick picker upper
Laser-guided bunker-buster

I really like the contrast of the two "problem solvers" mentioned here, from the really soft and friendly Bounty towel to the life-ending bunker-buster bomb.

Silly Rabbit, Trix are for Kids
Silly Rabbit, ak's are for kids
Silly Rabbit, claymores are for kids
Silly Rabbit, its all for the kids

Everything in politics is "for the kids," which makes an obvious connection to Trix and its famous slogan. The implied criticism here is that things that are really important, like war, don't take kids into account at all, whether as collateral damage or for the kids who lose parents in war. There is also an allusion to child soldiers here as well.

Think outside the bun
Think inside the gun

The "bun" slogan is from Taco Bell.

Give a hoot, don't pollute
You surrender, I'm still gonna shoot

"Give a hoot" is the first slogan here that isn't a corporate slogan, but was part of a PSA campaign. I remember it fondly and it helped make me a non-polluter as a kid. The second line is a reference to the fact that soldiers are so heavily trained to kill and that the enemy is so dehumanized that people end up dying even after they stop fighting.

What would you do for a Klondike bar
What would you do for a brand new car
What would you do for a MAC-10
What would you do to make sure that you win

Really the big philosophical question of the song is "what are you willing to do" to win and it is an easy tie-in to the Klondike slogan.

This is what you're dreaming of
This is what you wanna do
This is what you gotta do
This is what they tell you to
This is what they make you do

This is what you're dreaming of
This is what you wanna do
This is what you gotta do
This is what they tell you to
This is what they make you do

The chorus again.

Tastes great, less filling
More death, more killing

The Miller Lite slogan is inherently musical and was featured in a 2 Live Crew song, "If You Believe in Having Sex."

It's Miller time, It's killer time

Miller was an obvious rhyme with killer.

Obey your thirst, do your worst

Sprite wanted you to obey your thirst.

Got Milk? Snap! Crackle! Pop!
White phosphorus, Good to the last drop

This one throws three references in to two lines: the milk campaign, Rice Krispies (where the milk goes), and Maxwell House coffee, supposedly good to the last drop. Also, both the milk and the phosphorous are white.

Be all that you can be
Burn all that you can see

The first line here ties the song together well, since it's a advertising slogan, but since it's for the Army, it hits both of the songs component themes.

Two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun
Two hundred dead kids laying on the ground
Rough shots from my big bad gun

This is my favorite line in the song. The old Big Mac song from McDonalds is already a jingle, so very musical, but nothing contrasts more strongly with that song that kids used to sing all the time than the death of those kids.

Betcha can't eat just one
Betcha can't shoot just one
Betcha can't kill just one
Betcha can't drop just one bomb

Lays Potato Chips were the ones you couldn't eat just one of. And it was true, they were addictive. As is the killing and violence of war.

This is what you're dreaming of
This is what you wanna do
This is what you gotta do
This is what they tell you to
This is what they make you do

This is what you're dreaming of
This is what you wanna do
This is what you gotta do
This is what they tell you to
This is what they make you do

This is what you're dreaming of
This is what you wanna do
This is what you gotta do
This is what they tell you to
This is what they make you do

This is what they make you do

The chorus with a repeat until the end.

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