Song Dissection: Bad List

BAD LIST
From the CD: Hearts For Bullets
Music programming, lyrics & vocals: Jennifer Parkin
Production, mixing, mastering: Sebastian Komor

Lyrics:

Somehow it feels I’m getting more frustrated
With every tongue tied, wild eyed, overrated
Narcissistic self absorbed spawn of a generation bored

Want to see you vulnerable
I am not your equal
Ruling with an iron fist
And you are on my bad list
A routine casualty
Razor sharp beauty queens
Bridges built are bridges burned
You will get what you deserve.

And now I think I’m done caring
Too many mindless self obsessed overbearing
Misogynistic, plastic hearts. Can’t wait to see you torn apart.

What did they do?
Made you so awful
Why do you say?
The stupid things you do
The ones you’ve hurt
I hope they hurt you too
The things you’ve done
Will eat away at you

You’ve made this list
You won’t be missed
You’ll have to learn
Some things you don’t deserve

The Dissection:

I was actually surprised when I went back through all of the working files for this song to realize that it took exactly one year from it’s beginning to it’s glorious finish.  That may seem like a long time to finish one track that comes in at just under 4 minutes but during this period,  I was working full time, trying to work on music in the evenings and any spared moment I could find, and also went on 3 different tours that took me to faraway places such as the U.S.A. and Europe!  When working on music, I tend to work on lots of songs simultaneously meaning the full “Hearts For Bullets” was all being worked on in various stages, all taking about 2 years to complete every detail.  I use a draft approach where songs will go through various lyrics and structure tweaks until I’m happy with them. I can’t create a song in one day.  I need to step back, sleep on things, listen again, re-work and re-peat the cycle.

“Bad List” is one of my favourite songs from this CD and that’s why it’s placed as track #1 on “Hearts For Bullets”. There is a science to ordering songs on a CD. I guess this concept has become less important in this digital age as listeners don’t often hear a full CD in order anymore.  Hearing single songs is more the norm now, which is fine, but I miss the days when you’d put a CD in and listen to it start to finish, anticipating each track.   So, back to the science of old-school track ordering:  track #1 should be a strong and immediate song that will instantly grab the listener and draw them in.  I personally felt that this was THE one.  Musically, It blends so many elements that I personally love including a strong gritty bass synth line, a big beat, loud crunchy snares and vocals somewhere between chanty but slick enough that you can hear them. I know it’s not one of my more complex songs lyrically, it’s fuelled by anger, frustration and a bit of good old fashioned passive aggressiveness but I thought the very straightforward lyrical approach was effective for this song to make it catchy.

Who is on your Bad List?

We all have a Bad  List. Don’t’ lie I know you do! It’s a list of those jerks that have done you, or the world around you wrong.  It’s those individuals that, if you could, you’d just like to smack and say “what’s wrong with you?”, or better yet, you’d love to sit back and watch their world come crashing down around them in a big mess and it would be totally what they deserve.  Now, if you’ve met me personally, this all sounds very shocking coming from sweet little me!  I’m not a mean or spiteful person, I swear! But I do like to express my darker self through music occasionally and  this song simply allowed me to vent some frustrations using a simple concept of having a “Bad List” but to avoid getting myself into trouble, I’m not going to print names… ;)

Lyrics & Words (plus a bit of venting..):

“Generation Bored”:  This was the original working title for this song which is from a lyric in the song “You’re all spawn of a Generation Bored”.  This became my term for those negative individuals (usually hanging out online) participating in circular arguments, ripping each other apart, being rude and mean to each other,  doing nothing seemingly positive or good with their time, etc.  It occurred to me how bored our generation must be for this to be a regular acceptable way of life.  The other title I now give this this song is “sound-check song!”  It’s the song I always check levels with on tour because of the dynamics.  I also have great tour memories associated with band members of The Cruxshadows singing along to this song , making up dances and even doing a surprise guest appearance with me on stage in Hannover and Hamburg, Germany in December, 2009.

“Misogynistic, self absorbed”: One of my pet peeves is to hear a comment like: “I hate female vocals in electronic/industrial/<insert hip genre classification of the moment here> music!” These people are on my bad list.  It’s unclear what they hate exactly, is it ethereal vocals, gothy, rock style, contemporary  pop styled, distorted or effected until it sounds like a man, cookie monster or killer alien robot from another planet? Or do they hate that it’s a woman singing at all?  It’s a big category to hate, it’s sexist and it bugs me.  Anywyas, to focus on the positive: the musicians, artists, awesome people I’ve worked with and met over the years have been such creative, talented, passionate, and open minded people. I respect them not because they are men, or women, that shouldn’t matter. They are on my “Awesome List” which is longer than my “Bad List” ;)

The rest of the lyrics, I think are pretty self explanatory but if you have questions about the meaning or motivation behind a specific lyric, please just comment here and I’ll reply to you!

Creative Process:

I want to share how do my lyrical brainstorming.  For every CD I work on, I buy a pretty little notebook (or two) that I use to jot my thoughts, ideas and eventually attempt structuring my final lyrics for a song. Yes, I’m old fashioned and I find actually writing with a pen and paper helps me stay outside of the lines!  I found some ramblings that eventually became some of the lyrics to “Bad List”. I know it’s hard to read. My hand writing is terrible at best but I thought it was kind of neat to share this part of the process that never gets to see the light of day and (big surprise) there’s even stars in my brainstorming. So predictable.

My Beautiful Mess of rough lyrics

My Beautiful Mess of rough lyrics

My Beautiful Mess of Words Part 2

My Beautiful Mess of Words Part 2

Production:

The produced song used some of the the origianal synths and demo elements, but Seb of course used his studio magic to make things sound bigger and better.  Here are clips of  the two main incarnations of the demos along with a clip of the finished produced version:

This was my very first demo file of this song.  It captured the main loop of the gritty synth that the rest of the song was based on:

[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/Bad-List_ROUGH_DEMO_STOMPY1.mp3[/podcast]

This version was a bit more flushed out.  I got my good friend and keyboardist Joe Byer from the band v01d to help me add some sweet moog synth and other sounds. The vibe was a bit more electro-y.

[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/Bad-List_ROUGH_DEMO_ELECTRO1.mp3[/podcast]

I wanted the song to be somewhere between the above 2.  Here’s the final produced version that captured the perfect blend of stompy and electro.  You can hear the chorus in here too. Seb worked on creating a layer of synth sounds for the chorus that would lift  it up a notch and make it stand apart from the bass synth in the verse that runs through most of the song:

[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/Bad-List_Produced_verse11.mp3[/podcast]

Ending Thought:  “The things you’ve done, will eat away at you”

If you’ve enjoyed reading this, and want to contribute to my 2010 journey and mission, as a musician working towards finishing the new CD, please check out my shop (I personally ship & sign anything you want)

OR you can purchase the mp3 of “Bad List” from iTunes for a mere dollar here:

Next Friday I’ll post another song dissection but I’m not yet sure which song I’ll do.  If you missed the first one, check out “1000 Transmissions” from last week!

So, what type of people or behaviours make your Bad List?

Jennifer

36 thoughts on “Song Dissection: Bad List

  1. :O God bless you for posting demos! haha I have a fetish for demos ;) i love seeing (or rather, hearing) the differences between the demo and the finished versions :)

    basically, anybody who eats loudly makes it onto my bad list haha my brother is right at the top of the list actually ;)

    Oh and I agree about the thrill of buying a new album and listening to it beginning to end! I agree that its totally lost on my generation (Im 16) :( But great bands like you with amazing artwork make buying a whole album so worth it!

  2. Bad List is my favorite! I was hoping you would do this one soon! I think this one is my fav cause it was the first song I heard live, and it just brings back that show. I know exactly what you mean about listening to a CD and anticipating the next song. When ever this song ends, I can practically hear Insect Calm starting! Thank you so much for taking the time to share this!
    `DAN`

  3. Jennifer:

    I simply adore and love that you are doing this. To get the behind the curtain look to one of my favorite artist/performer and to see what goes into making the music come together astounds me to no end.

    I am glad you do take the time to have your songs ordered. Listening to CD’s end to end is something that I do enjoy. You can occasionally hear that gem at the right time and incite a feeling that needed to be drawn out.

    Thank you again for doing this. I will see you in Texas ;)

    PS. I do have a Bad List. Damn fake people who have nothing but false affection or compassion for others.

  4. I am so loving reading these lyrics dissections of yours! I’ve always been interested in hearing the stories behind the creation.
    I have to admit, in the past I have been a “I don’t like female vocals” sort of person, mostly because what got popular just didn’t resonate with me and it seemed female vocalists often try to overcompensate for…something. However, I’ve grown up a lot and it was only a matter of time before I found female vocalists I enjoyed (most of them I found by way of Arjen Lucassen’s metal operas, because he picked women who had amazing voices and they knew what they were doing, and he worked with these women in really bringing out the best of their vocals instead of what I’m guessing is usually a record label’s approach to female vocals on albums)
    The first time I heard you was the first live show you did here in Raleigh, and I was very taken with your stage presence. I bought your albums in the merch booth that night and listened to both of them in order (I rarely ever did that even before the digital age, LOL) and I realized what I loved about your music is that you have this approach of “Yeah I’m girlie, but I can kick ass too!” So I see you as definitely a positive figure for the feminine. i have your signed poster up on my wall from “The Gun Song”, and when people ask, I tell them “That’s Jennifer Parkin of Ayria…and I just love how she has a sparkly gun, it’s all pretty and shiny but it’s not meant to be messed with!”
    I think I am definitely your biggest fan in Raleigh. I hope to see you come through this way again :)

  5. Have to agree with Dan C. listening to a CD start to finish and the artwork is what makes an album for me….not a cheap thrill (as a favourite artist of mine likes to call it) like everyone else I know does.

    I can’t imagine any other song opening Hearts for Bullets in the perfect way that Bad List does….I wish there was more female fronted electro/industrial.

    Also your demo’s always sound really good and its nice to hear it in different stages. Can’t wait to read the next dissection :)

  6. Wow you guys! All of you above. I’m really moved by the depth and detail in the comments you guys are leaving. Thank YOU ALL for sharing your experiences, memories, and who’s made your Bad List! I guess I’m used to the short little comments allowed by other social media sites, but this is wonderful!! I honestly didn’t know how these song dissections would go and to be honest, I still get insecure, not really knowing who’s going to care about me going into this level of detail or depth as I just put it out here.. some times I wanted to even cut or hold back, but knowing you guys are actually getting something out of this and enjoying it, I promise to try and not hold back and come up with other interesting tidbits to share wit each song!

    Also, “Razor Sharp Beauty Queens” are catty girls, on the list ;)

    xo
    Jenn

  7. Bad List is a f*cking great song that grabs you from the very first second. I played this for my son when he was 1 and just getting into dancing to music. This song would get him dancing from the first beat.

  8. You are truly an inspiration and an awsome person. Thank you so much for letting us take part in the song writing process and even letting us listen to the demos. I am soo glad that I found you on myspaca back in 2005. You are my favourite artist and a great person as well, taking time to interact with the fans. Amazing!

  9. As others have said, I also thank you so much for posting these song dissections – you could never post too much detail, we eat it up! The more we know the more we can appreciate your awesome music (if it’s even possible to love it even more than we already do). Thank you so much, Jennifer! And Bad List, besides being an awesome track, joins so many of your other songs in expressing things we all feel at some level.
    May I ask two questions?
    1) When you say “I am not your equal” I take it to mean you are superior to those who are narcissistic (good vocab, J!), self-absorbed, etc. To which I whole-heartedly agree, that you are superior to them. But is that what you meant?
    2) One of my favourite little gems (you have so many in your songs) is the little laugh you do right after “mysoginistic” at 1:26 into the song… it’s so perfect somehow! Is there a reason it’s there? It just gives me shivers, for some reason. hehe.

    Thanks again! – John

  10. Love this song! (And it was an inspiration for a comic I made for a fundraiser – if you recall I had tagged you with it on your Facebook page.) This song was definitely awesome to listen to when I get frustrated with certain people. It’s great that every lyric you write has meaning and isn’t a throwaway line that simply sounds cool.

    I’ve always gravitated more towards female vocalists, as male vocalists can generally get boring in the industrial genre – the mid-to-late ’90s were especially bad when every other band were FLA/Leatherstrip-wannabes.

    Some artists (like you) definitely make great albums that can be listened to from start to finish; others are probably better off just putting out singles and EPs more often. Those days of albums with 1-2 good songs and the rest being filler are definitely over.

  11. I love this track, despite the fact that I really have no bad list :) I can’t wait to read more of these in the future as the first two have given me some great insight into what you were thinking when you wrote them and how they were constructed. Thanks for taking the time out to share this with us.

  12. Again everyone, that’s for your comments! So very inspiring to me! <3

    John, you asked two questions so I'm going to answer them:

    1) Yes, the “I am not your equal” I was trying to imply that I've risen above those who's behavious I find appalling and those who put me down, etc.
    2) Wow! You are so very observant and I can't believe I forgot to mention something about that little laugh that you can hear after “mysoginistic” at 1:26!! Good call pointing that out! Ok, in the song, it sounds very flippant and maniacal and intentional, but it actually wasn't the intention. It was Seb that added it in there during production. What happened was, I passed Seb the raw vocal files to insert and produce in the track, I provided him with several different takes, but I hadn't noticed that I forgot to edit one of the vocal takes where I had messed up while singing and had laughed… kind of like a "blooper reel". He found that, decided it could be useful in the track, and placed it in there. I heard it, and loved it!! ;)

  13. Well you have an adorable laugh. :P hehe.

    The kind of people that are on the top of my bad list are those kinda boys and girls who pretend to be something they’re not just so they can fit in with the crowd and be popular- I especially despise when they make individualists feel bad for being themselves.

    “Bad List” is easily one of my favourite tracks from the album. It’s so edgy and angry but at the same time has a really cool light-heartedness element to it. And it’s damn catchy!

    I love the term “generation bored” as well, it’s very fitting. :D

    I look forward to reading your future dissections! x

  14. Wow. Thanks so much for the in-depth peers jen! :)
    The fat bassy synths of “Bad List” have always romanced me. And anything moog-ish is beautiful. “Hearts for Bullets” is actually one of the albums that immediately influenced the last record I wrote and am currently recording. “Analog Trash” especially. That song is really wicked/sweet. The drums made me so happy, as did the synths in it. I really found this record of yours to be a real monument to ingenuity. I mean, I love your other works too but this album is just so catchy and cohesive. Anyway, point being that yes, like you, I too lust after fat synth lines and the stompy atmospheres. :) Are the lyrics easy for you most of the time? I know Sarah McLachlan has stated that for her, writing lyrics is like drawing blood from a stone and I know I am completely the same way. Is it that way for you also? And also, I misspoke earlier. Yes, Hearts for Bullets as a record did greatly influence me since day one, and bare with me here…k? Bad List was the first song to inspire me from this record. I tried incorporating the lessons in the song’s musical structure and learning from them, but i wasn’t capable yet. A few months ago though, I took a long hard look at Analog Trash and really tried to dissect it. and I did. :) From that one song, you really taught me so much. It really helped me find my own true to self sound. Anyway, I wanted to thank you for that. :) And this entire record really. Its one of my favorites period, and you’re competing with the likes of Bjork, GaGa, Tori Amos, Alanis, etc, so that’s no small thing in my book. :) Sorry for the novel btw. lol. When the record’s done and available for sale, I’d really like you to hear what you inspired in me. What that be alright or in any way possible? Hope your day’s rocking & thanks for giving us all these wonderful inside glimpses. :) Take care jen.

  15. :D:D:D

    I love this song and it really does open the CD very well. I prefer buying the actual hard CDs and listening straight through from beginning to end, so know that your science is far from wasted. ;)

  16. Jen,
    Thank you very much for answering my questions! Everything about this song is so brilliant! Would love to hear more of your “outtakes”, since they (like the laugh) are so wonderful too! Great laugh! =) Thanks again! -jc

  17. Hi Jennifer – This is a great idea and thanks for sharing your workings. I love your work and have some of your tracks via iTunes. So I guess I’m a supporter and fan as well. Keep this up, but you know what you have started – you will have to write a lot more material now (ha ha) to do this every Friday.

    Much respect – Dent

  18. I love seeing the written out detail of the meaning of your songs. When i find myself irritated i listen to that song or the gun song. I was actually irritated at work and after i put that song on and felt so much better. I’ve met you in minnesota last year and since then I’ve just been more inspired by you. You are a wonderful person and one of the greatest people/artists i’ve met. I hope to say hi to you again when you come back! Thank you for sharing your input. Oh yes! And thank you so much for singing “Happy Birthday” to me last year! It was the best gift of all :)

  19. Thank you so much for posting these dissections. Could you post more technical information for us aspiring musicians. Like how you choose your note or chord progressions, midi, synthesis, maybe what vsts you use. Even if they are just examples and not the actual ones you used. Even if it’s just on one song I think it would teach us so much to see a professional song from start to finish.

  20. I agree with previous poster(s); thank you for posting these song dissections. Keep up the good work, can’t wait for the next post! ;)

    xxx
    Anny

  21. Hi John, thanks for commenting! While I may occasionally speak about tech stuff, overall, my main purpose for doing this, was more about the journey of the song for me. I worked with a producer for the final outcome of the songs, who would be a better authority on sharing the technical details. To be honest, there are a million gear/tech sites out there for aspiring musicians to read up on software, VST plugins, etc. so I was hoping to offer a different angle on things, but I’ll see what I can do. I hope you understand ;)

    P.S. I use Cubase for recording synth and vocals, and I use Reason for all sequencing and percussion loops. I 95% use softsynths for writing demos, I have tons of Reason instrument and sample packs that I cycle through. There’s a start ;)

  22. Thanks again to everyone posting above, I can’t express this enough!! I’m working away on this Friday’s post.. while devoting my afternoons to working on new stuff, of course!!! I have no creative will until the afternoon, so morning is for emails, business, and blogging now! ;)

    Dearest Kali Co. – thanks for the long entry. You’ve compared me to amazing women!! You are doing what I do to other songs! I study them, I study melodies, how they make me feel, how awesome songs are structured, and how I can incorporate this into my own art to express myself! The new CD is progressing quite nicely! The lyrics are increasingly becoming the hardest part now though… what happens when the teenage angst starts to run out? My newest dilema in life and art.

  23. lol I believe (just as you know ^-^) that you’ll do just fine lyrically. :) And truly, it is a scary thing when the wells you’d usually visit for inspiration or flame seem to miraculously dry. My 18th year was flooded with angst and made for 30 something songs but now at 20? Haha, the songs have left my party and I really have to scour the emotional metropolis in my head for the songs in hiding. lol. Anyway, can’t wait to listen to your new material! I assume you’ll be hitting TX or GA on your next tour, so hopefully I’ll see you then. Thanks so much for responding to all of us!

    Cheers mate ;)

  24. Yay! I ♥ this song :) And I personally LOVE female vocals and prefer them over male vocals in any given genre. I’m not sure why, perhaps because it’s easier to relate to other women, I really don’t know. I’m also struggling with being uninspired now that my teen angst has dwindled away to pretty much nothing, haha. ;) I can’t see you this tour since the Pittsburgh show is 21+ :( But hopefully everyone will be so nice to you that you’ll want to come back and do an all ages show :)

  25. Thanks for doing this – it’s so interesting. I’m not particularly musical, so it’s neat to find out what goes into it all.

    People who are mean to animals are on my Bad List!

  26. Funny that you mention the female singing for electronic music, since the guys singing is what bores me. :P To each their own!

    This is definitely a fun song to sing along with, just gotta remember that moving hands to song while driving is a no-no…haha

  27. Hey Jen!
    I have requested this on FB a few times but have never gotten a response…. Is there any possibility u would consider releasing a karaoke version of this song? I’d love to be able to sing it. It’s a great song.

    I recently discovered Zombie Girl & thought, “Gosh, this sounds alot like Ayria”. Now I know why! Cause it’s Seb’s wife & he did all the mixing on it too! LOL I wish they were still together cause I’d love to see them live. Her voice actually sounds more like Sheri Moon-Zombie than yours but the music is very similar to yours. :)

  28. I do agree with all of the ideas you’ve presented in your post. They are really convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are too short for novices. Could you please extend them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

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