I hadn’t heard “These Words” by Natasha Bedingfield for years…until it popped up on the car radio the other day.
This is the main reason I listen to the radio in the car instead of a streaming service…you never know quite what the next song will be and, every now and again, you get a delightful surprise. A fond reminder of a song you haven’t heard in far too long.
“These Words” was a UK Number One in 2004 and went Top 20 in the Billboard Hot 100. While not her only hit, it was the biggest hit of Natasha Bedingfield’s career to date.
I really like the quirkiness of “These Words”. It’s got a somewhat loose structure, although it does have a segment we might recognise as a chorus to help anchor the song in our brains. Away from the chorus, Natasha Bedingfield half-sings, half-raps her way through the song in a style that keeps us fully engaged with the story.
But more than anything I love the lyrics of “These Words”.
They were inspired, apparently, by Natasha Bedingfield’s struggle to write the lyrics for her album, and they play off the idea that she’s been trying all sorts of clever ways to write a love song, but in the end, the words she’s written just come down to “I love you”.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I reckon about 95% of popular music is about love — the songwriter who wants to be with someone who doesn’t love them, the songwriter who just fell head over heels in love with their perfect partner, and the songwriter who’s heartbroken that the love of their life has packed up and left them to be with someone else all being particularly popular genres.
It’s pretty tough coming up with a new way of saying something that’s been said a gazillion times before. A great songwriter’s skill in finding new ways to convey age-old concepts is why I’m mildly obsessed (Ed: a lot more than “mildly”) with song lyrics.
Getting an age-old feeling across in a completely new way, in under three minutes, using only a handful of words, is an amazing skill to have. And Natasha Bedingfield’s playfulness with that concept is what makes “These Words” such a charming song…
Threw these chords together
The combination D-E-F
It’s who I am, it’s what I do
And I was gonna lay it down…