Thursday, February 16, 2012

Song Wars (2)

Song Wars is where I compare two songs with similar titles, meanings, or lyrics, different versions of the same song, or an original song and the covers that have been made of it. I'll discuss what I like and dislike about both songs, then decide which one I like better. 

This Week
"For the First Time" by The Script vs. "These Hard Times" by Matchbox Twenty

What They Have in Common: Almost identical meanings, somewhat similar lyrics

Title: The titles of these songs are pretty straightforward, and you could probably guess the name just by hearing the song. That's not a bad thing, but because neither title has anything especially interesting about it, it also makes it harder to decide which one I like better. In the end, I'm going to have to go with "These Hard Times" because I think it fits the overall meaning of the song much better than "For the First Time" does. 

Lyrics: This part of the comparison is interesting, because I like different parts of both of these songs. The verses of "These Hard Times" are really descriptive and create a beautiful image that I'm able to see and relate to very clearly. I don't like the verses as much in "For the First Time", but I love the chorus - it's the main reason I like the song. I also like the lines leading up to the chorus in each verse - "How we got into this mess, is it God's test? Someone help us, cause we're doing our best" in the first verse and "How we're gonna make it work when it hurts, when you pick yourself up you get kicked to the dirt" in the second. Each song does a really nice job of creating an atmosphere, but overall, I have to say that I like the descriptive verses of the Matchbox Twenty song slightly more than the intensely catchy choruses of the song by The Script, so they win this round. 

Music: This was a tough category. Neither song has particularly standout music. The beginning of "These Hard Times" is instantly recognizable, but for the most part it has the same sort of sound throughout the song. "For the First Time" is more layered, I think - you can hear several instruments distinctly and they don't blur together the way they do on the other song. There's also some lovely strings in the last chorus, which I can't get out of my head because they're so perfectly place. More than anything else, when I heard the music to this song, I wanted to learn how to play it, and "These Hard Times" just didn't have the same effect, so The Script is the clear winner here. 

Singing: Both songs are really well sung, in my opinion. The tone, the emphasis, the dynamics, everything about how the singers sing each part of the song fit perfectly with the lyrics and music. I just like the sound of the lead singer's voice in The Script more than in Matchbox Twenty - not for any real reason other than a personal preference. Either way, "For the First Time" wins this category to become tied with "These Hard Times." Looks like the next category may be the deciding factor...

Meaning: It's really hard to decide between the meanings of these two songs because they're just so similar. Listening to both songs, I've managed to locate a few differences. "For the First Time" is obviously about a couple, while "These Hard Times" could be about almost anyone - a couple, a group of friends, a family - anyone. "For the First Time" also conveys more of a message of, "Somehow we're going to get through this," throughout the whole song, and "These Hard Times" doesn't. Normally, I would be drawn towards the more hopeful meaning, but "These Hard Times" covers a broader spectrum of emotions and could apply to a lot of situations, making it easier to relate to and my choice for the winner of this round. 

So "These Hard Times" by Matchbox Twenty wins, though the two songs are still close. It's hard to beat the imagery in this song, and while "For the First Time" came very close, it didn't quite make it. 

Which song did you like better?

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