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We all probably know that the most popular topic musicians deal with is love in all its wondrous forms. | Photo: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen (Unsplash)
We all probably know that the most popular topic musicians deal with is love in all its wondrous forms. | Photo: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen (Unsplash)
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Top 5 Most Common Song Themes

Money / honey, heart / apart, like fire and ice, come to me / I’ll set you free – these are lyrical clichés that we can joke about, but the sad fact is that we can hear them in so many popular songs. To write meaningful lyrics that reach deep into the human heart, render a complex emotional range in a single word or capture with laser precision a moment we all know so well is a gift that a chosen few artists possess. But what are most of the lyrics actually about? Let's look at the top 5 most common song themes.

1. Love in all ways

A theme that is inexhaustible. It is like an infinitely deep well from which the whole of humankind draws inspiration. Love also takes an incredible number of forms. You can love another person (preferably in a romantic style, where you rave with a longing that can never fail to be fulfilled in a Shakespearean-Goethean way), love yourself or love life. Love is that hidden force that the Jedi Knights constantly mention in Star Wars. Love surrounds us and without love, we cannot live.

That's why the songs that have the strongest message are those that deal with heartbreak, lost friendship, nostalgic feelings of forgotten old times (love for a certain lifestyle) and the recently popular theme of love for ourselves (self-empowerment anthems) when we look for strength and inspiration within ourselves.

2. Life and death

These are also my favourite themes. The existential angst of realizing that life is finite and the resulting need to find meaning. Um, is there any purpose in life? Do you believe in an infinite cycle and the reincarnation of souls, or are you a hard-nosed materialist who sees life as a combination of physical processes with clearly defined tasks of reproduction, survival and the search for the ideal ratio of effort and pleasure?

Music is the ideal vehicle for expressing these immensely complex questions, helping to quell our fears of existential paradox and providing a parallel universe to our escape when we can no longer tolerate the exhausting demands of reality.

3. Political and social themes

Are you on the wrong side of town? Do you feel that your skin colour is out of style? What about your views on the distribution of wealth and privilege in society? Start a band, grab an amp and shout all that injustice to the world. Music has always been connected to the pulse of the times, and there are always artists who must express what others are afraid to voice.

Revolution? Everybody talks about it, but nobody does it, and yet the music is one of the most powerful tools not only for toxic propaganda but on the other hand mainly for truth. What you can put into a few words, riffs or a melody can change the world. And that's why music with lyrics like these will always be with us, opening up all the wounds and pressing issues of the society we all ultimately live in.

4. Let's have fun

"Hakuna matata" is a Swahili phrase. Translated it means "no trouble", "no worries" or "take it easy". This cute-sounding phrase was brought to public notice of Western civilization thanks to the Disney animated film The Lion King. And the laid-back philosophy of life is the basis of many popular musical styles. Why worry unnecessarily when we only have a short and limited time on this planet? Let's have fun, let's dance away all the gloom and doubt, let's say, "Hey baby, let's have a good time."

Lyrics inspired by "hakuna matata" are appreciative, universally positive and always set the mood for an endless party. Sing simple rhymes and cute phrases and, most importantly, don't worry about anything. It will all work itself out and your only job is to have fun.

5. Nature

When Louis Armstrong's typical raspy voice comes on in "What A Wonderful World", few can resist a smile. With its "trees of green and clouds of white", it's a repellent for a bad mood and listeners can find themselves in a perfect place worth admiring the "wonderful world". Nature is medicine, it has a pure, universal and eternal energy. It was here before us and it will be here after us. If you sing about the beauty of waterfalls, the majesty of mountains or the fragrance of forests, you can't miss hitting the first signal of your audience.

The tramps knew it, all country artists know it, and so does Childish Gambino, who celebrates the much-loved arrival of summer in his 2018 hit "Feels Like Summer". But halfway through the song, you suddenly realize it's almost a lament for what's happening in our environment. The lyrics touch on the urgency of climate change and the need to change something in our behaviour towards nature. This is a modern twist on lyrics about nature, where the bucolic idyll is becoming a political and social issue. And rightly so, it must be admitted.

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Marek Bero
Bass Gym 101 books, touring & session bass player, football tactics aficionado.