It's a good thing many of us don't pay attention to the lyrics of our favorite songs. If you dissect some of our favorite classic tunes, you'll notice that they refer to technologies we just don't use anymore. Whether its Donna Summer crooning about her "old Victrola" record player or Beyonce hoping "you'll page me right now," none of these songs would be written the same way today.
Here are a dozen dated ditties with timeless subject matter -- love, loss, video games -- that would need just a few small tweaks to remain relevant in 2012.1. 867-5309 / Jenny by Tommy Tutone (1981)
While people still have phone numbers (for now anyway), we just don’t give them out anymore, particularly on bathroom walls. And who makes calls anyway? In 2012, it’s all about social media.
If this song were written today, it would be about a twitter handle:
I got it. I got your handle on the Facebook wall.
I got it. I got it. For a good time Tweet.
Jenny, I got your handle
I need to send you mine
Jenny, please check your Mentions
Read More: 20 Twitter Tips for Beginners and Pros2. Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles (1979)
The first song ever played on MTV was all about the rise of music videos and the way they changed music from a purely auditory experience into a visual one. But that was in 1981. Today, the only people still watching music videos on a regular basis are Beavis and Butthead. Instead of sitting on the couch, and wondering why a pack of ninjas just appeared behind Bonnie Tyler, we sit at our desks and marvel at how that YouTube cat was able to say “Oh, long Johnson” over and over again.
Today, the Buggles would have to rewrite their hit to focus on YouTube instead of MTV:
In my browser and on my phone,
we can’t click back, we’ve gone too far.
Streaming came and broke your heart.
Put all the blame on MPEG-4
YouTube Killed the Video Star
YouTube Killed the Video Star
This 1969 ditty about a man who catches his wife cheating on him and then goes to the office and dictates the breakup letter to his secretary, Maria, times out on a couple of fronts. First, nobody sends letters; they send texts or maybe emails. Second, unless you’re Sumner Redstone, you probably don’t have a personal secretary ready to take dictation. However, you do have voice recognition.
If written today, the chorus for this song would have to be:
So compose a text, Siri, address it to my wife
Say CYA, I gotta GAL.
Oh compose a text Siri, address it to my wife
CC my lawyer, I gotta start a new life.
Read More: 10 Tips to Become a Siri Power User4. Area Codes by Ludacris (2001)
Though not that old, Ludacris’s ode to male promiscuity just doesn’t make sense in the era of number portability and Google Voice. When he croons that he has “hoes in different area codes,” the rapper clearly means to say that he has female companions in many different areas of the world. However, if you want to brag about your vast number of acquaintances in 2012, you’d be better off talking about social networks than area codes.
New lyrics for this song would have to be:
I’ve got friends on different social networks.
Now you thought I was just Facebook
And Twitter. I’m web-wide. Don’t act like y’all don’t know.
It’s the abominable “Orkut” man
Google+-circle post man
Foursquare mayor man
Pinterest boards, Myspace walls,
I send Geocities and Live Journals I-O-Us
Read More: 26 Tips to Cover All Your Facebook Needs5. Rikki Don’t Lose That Number by Steely Dan (1974)
Remember those horrible days of yesteryear when you might get an important phone number, put it on a piece of paper and then lose it forever, effectively losing touch with the cute guy or gal you just met?
Nowadays, smartphones, caller id, and cloud storage make it nearly impossible to lose contact info. Today this song would have to be rewritten to reflect the new era of online backup:
We hear you’re logging off, that’s ok
I thought our little VoIP chat had just begun
I guess you hit a bandwidth cap, you turn and run
But if you have an SMS plan…
Rikki, don’t lose that number
You don’t wanna text nobody else
Send it off in an email to yourself
Rikki, don’t lose that number
Make sure you sync your phone
You might call it over Wi-Fi
When you get home
This 1967 song about a man who gets a letter from an ex-girlfriend and hops on a plane to return to her just doesn’t make sense in 2012. First of all, nobody sends love letters via snail mail anymore, because by the time they arrive, your beloved will have already found someone else, someone with a computer. Second, few of us use printed tickets to board a plane.
If this song were written today, it would have to go something like this:
Give me an eticket on my smartphone
Ain’t got time to print a boarding pass
Lonely days are gone, I’m-a-goin home
‘Cause my baby just sent me an email
Read More: 5 Essential Tips for Using Inflight Wi-Fi7. Beepers by Sir Mix-A-Lot (1989)
It seems like another age, but up until about 15 years ago, people used pagers to get in touch because cell technology was either unavailable, too heavy or too expensive. Back in the 80s and early 90s, having one of these tiny boxes and receiving messages on it from the ladies was a status symbol. However, today, you’d be better off sending messages in morse code via telegraph, if only for the retro chic aspect of it all.
It’s hard to even imagine a way to salvage Sir Mix-a-Lot’s beeper ballad, but if he wanted to update it with today’s hottest communication gadget, he’d be talking about a smartphone that gets IMs.
I’m rollin like a Playboy chime, chime, chime
Just another instant message, from another Google+ friend
Ah huh, that’s it baby
Chime diddy chime, will I message you maybe
Samsung Galaxy S III looks like a phaser
That’s the phone of a Gtalk player
Hangouts on Air, I got a show
Chillin like a champ with my Android in the limo
Read More: Samsung Galaxy S III Review (Verizon)8. Photograph by Def Leppard (1983)
This hit song is about a man who obsesses over a woman whom he only knows through her photographs. While that’s still technically possible today, most of us would know someone through digital images rather than printed ones. In 2012, Def Leppard would probably find the image of a beautiful woman on a website instead and wonder how much it had been modified.
I’m outta luck, outta love
Got an Instagram, picture of
Kelvin filter, you’re too much
You’re the only icon I wanna touch
I see your face always on my stream
Retouched with an old-fashioned color scheme
Such different lighting than reality
A faded look from 1970
Oh, look what you’ve done to this social media clown
Oh, look what you’ve done
Instagram – I don’t want your
Instragram – I don’t need your
Instragram – All you’ve shot is your Instagram
Read More: 6 Best Instagram Alternatives9. Please, Mr. Postman by the Marvelettes (1961)
The Marvelette’s 1961 musical plea to the neighborhood mail carrier to double-check his satchel for a long-awaited love letter is outdated, because of the snail mail reference. When we see the postman today, we want to run and hide because he’s usually delivering an annoying combination of bills and junk mail.
Today, if you were waiting with baited breath for word from your significant other, you’d be sitting in front of the computer hitting the send/receive button over and over again in your email client. If you were to plead with anyone for help getting the message, it would be your sys admin.
The Marvelette’s lyrics today would have to change to:
Please Mr. Sys Admin, look and see
If there’s an email in message the queue for me
Please, Please Mister ISP
Why’s it Takin Outlook Such a Long Time
To poll the server for this message of mine.
The luddite lyrics speak about a woman who is having trouble reaching her lover, who lives on the other side of the Atlantic. This chronicle is covered in cobwebs, not only because she is dialing her man friend on a landline and finding out that he’s not home, but because she’s using operator service to place the call, something nobody under the age of 90 does in 2012. Even in 1983, who said “Operator give me Transatlantic?”
If Sheena Easton were penning this tune today, she’d talk about a lover who was untrackable because his phone’s GPS radio was always set to off.
I’ve been offline for far too long
Not knowing where you are makes my heart go frantic
I wanna see where you’ve been checking in
Siri, launch the “Find My Friends” app
I sit alone as the night goes by
Stare at the screen and wait for an alert
No GPS-disabled love affair
I can’t find you anywhere
I try to track you on my smartphone
But you don’t share location where you roam
I gotta get an IM to you
I wanna tell you what I’m going through
Read More: Look Who's Stalking - 10 Creepiest Apps11. Pac-Man Fever by Buckner & Garcia (1982)
What could be more outdated than a song about using quarters to play an old arcade game? Except for a few nostalgia joints, nobody goes to the arcade anymore and, if they do, chances are that the games will cost a bit more than a quarter. Even in the 1980s, most arcades stopped using quarters and transitioned to tokens.
If one-hit-wonders Buckner & Garcia wanted to write a tune like this today, they’d need to get another kind of fever:
I got a pocket full of hotspots and I’m logging on with 4G
I don’t have a lot of money so I must avoid the overage fee
I’ve got a sore clicking finger and my butt’s turning blue
I’m gonna earn farm coins by tending friends’ crops too
‘Cause I’ve got FarmVille fever
It’s driving me crazy
Who can forget the days of the jukebox, when you spent hours flipping through an endless array of Conway Twitty songs, just to find the one rock tune you were looking for and then had to wait an hour for the song you picked to finally come on? When your song stopped playing in the middle, you’d have to call the Fonz over to whack the machine.
Fortunately, today most of us do our music listening online, not at the diner. And most of the best new music is made electronically. If Foreigner were writing a song now about a young man who buys an instrument and becomes famous from playing it, they’d sing:
Bought a beatup MacBook in a secondhand store
Didn’t know how to use it, but he knew for sure
That one application, looked good on the screen, didn’t take long, to understand
Just one application, and the price was low
It’s called Garage Band, and helps you put on a show
So he started mixing, ain’t never gonna stop
Gotta keep on mixin’, someday gonna make it to the top
And be a VEVO hero, he’s got likes on his page. He’s a VEVO hero.