Just because you can write excellent music doesn't mean you can write excellent lyrics to go along with it. Johnny Marr knew this when he collaborated with Morrissey, and Elton John knew this when he teamed up with Bernie Taupin. Here are six bands that should consider hiring new lyricists.
1. Smashing Pumpkins
Smashing Pumpkins is the band that inspired me to write this list; musically, the Pumpkins are one of the most precise and fascinating bands in alternative rock, but I wish I could sing along to "Zero" without having to sing, "God is empty, just like me."
The Replacement: Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse. There's a guy who can sing about God and inner turmoil and not sound like your high school's poetry club.
2. Depeche Mode
One of my favorite Depeche Mode songs is "Everything Counts," but Martin Gore's insistence on pairing "career" with "Korea" makes me cringe every time I hear it. The rest of the song is pretty dire too, as can be expected of a song about businessmen.
The Replacement: the ghost of Ian Curtis (Joy Division). He may have been mopey, but at least he never delved into idiotic wordplay.
3. Best Coast
I know I'm not the first person to criticize Bethany Cosentino's lyrics (for more on that, visit the Internet), but if she refuses to put at least a little bit of effort into writing them, she should definitely look into hiring a ghost writer. She's a great singer, but she just needs some better words to sing.
The Replacement: Whoever writes the lyrics for Tacocat (I'm guessing singer Emily Nokes). It's entirely possible to write fun surf-pop songs about trivial things while still being clever.
4. Red Hot Chili Peppers
While I'm not big on RHCP's white-boy funk, I do admit that most of the band is very talented. The huge exception is, of course, singer Anthony Kiedis, who is so detrimental to the quality of the band's music that I think they should do more than simply outsource the lyrics; they should replace him altogether.
The Replacement: Mike Patton of Faith No More/Mr. Bungle. The two have feuded over Patton's alleged mockery of Kiedis's style, but Patton is capable of much more than Kiedis. Plus, he's much handsomer.
Noel Gallagher is the alt-rock version of Gene Simmons, in that he was willing to do anything in order to become the biggest rock star in the world, even if it meant writing lyrics that don't mean anything but sound good when sung by thousands of people. Gallagher's not even entirely sure what "Champagne Supernova" is actually about. Nonsense is fine, but it's not even interesting nonsense.
The Replacement: Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker, or any other Britpop songwriter. Gallagher is clearly the least talented lyricist of the bunch.
Prog bands rarely ever write lyrics that aren't embarrassing, but Rush's Neil Peart takes it to another level of philosophical pretension. Writing lyrics inspired by Ayn Rand is already iffy enough, but a 20-minute song about discovering an ancient electric guitar is strictly Spinal Tap territory.
The Replacement: Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, who would bring some humanity and nuance to Peart's questionable philosphies.