Les Miserables vs. Justin Bieber (smackdown)

As Janese and I drove home from watching the movie, “Les Miserables”, I turned on the radio to listen to some music. I always sing in the car. But this time I had a struggle finding any music to sing to. After being moved by the music and (especially) the lyrics of Les Miserables, I was feeling quite a bit of “let down” by the lyrics I was hearing on the radio. I’ve never noticed, but almost every song on Top 40 radio is so mind-numbingly stupid. So I decided to compare the lyrics from Les Miserables to Justin Bieber’s “Baby”.

First, Les Mis. Here’s Marius, singing to Eponine. Eponine has just made the ultimate sacrifice to bring Marius a message from his newfound love. She came to the heat of the revolutionary battle and was shot and is dying in this scene. This is half-song, half-prayer:

But you will live, ‘Ponine – dear God above…
If I could heal your wounds with words of love…

Now, here’s Justin, singing to every 12 year old girl in the universe. He’s afraid of losing his first girlfriend:

Baby, baby, baby oooh
Like baby, baby, baby nooo
Like baby, baby, baby oooh
I thought you’d always be mine

They’re both really good. I mean, this is probably a tie.

Here’s another. Here’s Les Mis. The Rebels are realizing that there is a need to revolution. The men in the city are coming to a team and are about to express the desire to fight, and die, for the cause:

Do you hear the people sing
Singing the song of angry men
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes

Ya, that’s ok I guess. It lacks something. But here’s Justin Bieber. He is expressing his desire to give anything, even a ring, so keep his 14 year old girlfriend:

Oh, for you I would have done whatever
And I just can’t believe we ain’t together
And I wanna play it cool, but I’m losin’ you
I’ll buy you anything, I’ll buy you any ring

Can’t you just feel the emotion, the pain, the longing in Justin’s words? The way he throws the word “ain’t” into this verse. And “I’m losin’ you”? The vocabulary is spot on…

One more will suffice. Here’s the scene where Cosette’s adopted father, Valjean, is slowly dying. He, out of loving duty, has raised Cosette in the absence of her mother. He is sharing a few last pieces of information with his daughter about her deceased and sacrificing mother, who paid a high price to keep her daughter alive:

Yes Cosette, forbid me now to die
I’ll obey, I will try
On this page, I write my last confession
Read it well, when I at last am sleeping
It’s a story of those who always loved you
Your mother gave her life for you 
Then gave you to my keeping

I mean, who wrote this stuff? A ten-year-old? Compare that drivel, that beggar’s fare, to JB. This is a repeat of an earlier example, since it is so powerful:

Baby, baby, baby oooh
Like baby, baby, baby nooo
Like baby, baby, baby oooh
I thought you’d always be mine (mine)

When Bieber sings that last “mine”, there’s hardly a dry eye in the room. Hearts are stirred. Feelings are touched. On the other hand, when you are listening to the cast of Les Miserables, you can’t help but thinking “This is written for sixth graders…”

Anyway, there you have it. A side-by-side review of two very popular examples of music. One is probably just a fad. The other will last decades, and the story will last centuries…


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