Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Chemical Overanalysis of Catching Grenades

I had the fortuity Monday morning to find the power button on the radio in my bedroom (without looking - booya) and hear a little tune called "Grenade" by Bruno Mars, released last October for those scolding me for being behind the times. The lyrics caught my morning-subdued attention:

I'd catch a grenade for ya
Throw my hand on a blade for ya
I'd jump in front of a train for ya
You know I'd do anything for ya

I would go through all this pain
Take a bullet straight through my brain . . .

--Lyrics pinched from "", which really should be an "enough said" situation, but that's not really my thing.

While modern society provides few opportunities for exhibitions of such formidable self sacrifice, this is basically a tune about dying for a chick (or whomever may be the current love interest of Bruno). If you think I'm jumping to conclusions about the songs meaning, here is one previously omitted lyric "Yes, I would die for you, baby/ But you won't do the same". Sadly, it appears, these violent, self destructive tributes are unrequited.

I'm concerned a bit for Bruno, his proclamations and his ability to carry them out. I've run this question by several people: Should Bruno really make these kinds of promises?

There are few available avenues where promises such as "I'd catch a grenade for ya" can be cemented. It's true there are several conflicts and wars raging at this very moment throughout the globe, but Bruno is unlikely to find himself in any of them. Fulfillment of this promise would be two fold: Given a situation in which a grenade, hurled at the lover of Bruno Mars (for whatever reason we can only speculate), Bruno would need to be there to intercept and have the fortitude, in that moment, to make a life altering (and most likely one time only) decision to do so. It's easy to say I would intercept a grenade for someone, but put in that exact situation (which the presence of all of my limbs and a lack of tissue filled shrapnel can attest I have not been in), who is to say I wouldn't cross my arms over my head and scream "Holy crap, something like a rock is flying right towards us."

The second fold in the origami of Bruno's grenade-centered libretto is this: you have one chance to make that catch. True, it's close to the size of a baseball. But you don't have a glove. It's not coming towards you, exactly, but instead a lover, who, by Bruno's account, won't be too close by considering the implied indifference. And, you haven't had the chance to warm up at all. Finally, what if the sun is in your eyes. And, not to put to fine a point on it, but if you successfully catch the grenade, assumably in your hand, does your hand really have the bulwark or stopping mass at all to prevent the intended target from meeting with lethal harm?

Consider also, the rhyme pairing of the chorus provided above. Ya is rhymed with Ya. Several times. The Ya rhyming has an unhealthy degree of rhyme saturation. The formula for determining verse saturation (similar to Carbon-Hydrogen saturation) is:

Cn + Rn

in which C is Couplets and R is the number of Rhymes and n is the number of couplets.

So you can imagine if you have 4 couplets you will have 4 rhymes. C4 + R4

Here is a structural diagram:

*This use of C4 is just a coincidence and not an attempt to continue the explosive themes started by the grenade.

A typical song will keep with this formula, though some will push a more saturated formula (typically rap) in which multiple rhymes will occur within a couplet. The formula for that is

Cn + Rxn

in which x stands for the number of rhymes within a line.

So you can imagine if you have 4 couplets, each containing 2 additional rhymes (x=2), you will have C4 + R(2)4 = C4 + R8 providing increased stability and unity throughout.

Bruno Mars has here, has initiated an unstable synthesis by rhyming the same word times itself, repeatedly. The dangerously unstable rhyme formula, based on 12 lines all rhyming with the same word, is

C6 + R1

What a mess! The diagram is completely reversed. Not since Charlie Sheen's acoustic cover of Rebecca Black's "Friday" have we seen such instability. You'll recall that "Friday" is a catchy little tune sticks with you with it's eclectic lyrics such as:

Partyin Partyin yea
Partyin Partyin yea

Lyrics pinched from

I'm not even going to try to write the formula for that one. And we all remember the last time rhyming this dense was used, which I suspect has the same perpetrators. You'll notice that the writing of "Friday" has the John-Hancock-style-signature of it's authors --Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. Recall some of their other lyric endeavors:

I wanna rock and roll all nite
and party ever day

Lyrics pinched from excess skin around the neck of Gene Simmons.

My final critique comes from the sound of Bruno Mars voice, which I think sounds like Foreigner. If you don't know who Foreigner is, you're in pretty good shape. If you do and you just got one of their songs in your head, I'm terribly sorry! But if you don't know what Foreigner sounds like, you'll have to imagine Don Henley (formerly of the Eagles), stretched back in a giant, human-sized slingshot, kicked in the groin and launched and asked to sing while in the air. That's Foreigner. Full disclosure:

Bruno Mars seems like a nice, talented young man.
I hate Foreigner. They are from the '70s.

I leave you with the conspiratorial scale coincidence of an album cover, from a seemingly unrelated musical venture. This final image could easily be used for Bruno's song, which lends to this criticism the validity of a Glen Beck chalk board (and also loosely describes Glen Beck):

Grenade. Caught.

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