Crosswords, Movie Snobbery, and a Shrek 2 Soundtrack Reference

Noah Baumbach, writer of such great movies as The Life Aquatic and The Squid and the Whale, made a movie in 1995 entitled Kicking and Screaming. Unfortunately, it had nothing to do with youth soccer or Mike Ditka but was somehow still a remarkable movie. In a notable scene, the character Max comments on what lovely eaves a building has. The response is, “oh, you do the crosswords, too.”

“Eave,” a four letter word for the edge of a roof that usually projects beyond the side of the building generally to provide weather protection, is one of those conveniently short terms that get crossword puzzle makers out of jams. The word “eave” hardly even exists outside the realm of crosswords.

Just as unordinary, uncommon words are used by Scrabblers and crosswordsmiths, some words seem to exist only in the realm of pop songs.

The most prominent of these words in my mind is “jaded.” Not the most used word in pop music (what with pronouns “love” and “all”) because it is by far the most OVERused word. That Aerosmith, Green Day, and Mest all have songs with that very word as their title is an indication of how ingrained into modern music this term is. “Jaded” is an adjective meaning “worn out, cynically, or pretentiously callous.” It makes sense that a lot of songwriters feel this way, but why do they tend to dwell on this feeling?

A large reason may be the ease in which a chorus can be written around the word. Half of one of those archetypal songwriting rhyming pairs (i.e. fire/desire), “jaded” is forever tied to “faded.” The two words make a catchy couplet with the cohesiveness of a hydrogen bond. Counting Crows version of “Jaded” simply repeated the two words and made a chorus. How can you resist accidentally falling in love with that genius simplicity?

On Kelly Clarkson’s brand new record’s third track, “Hole”, she has a prominently placed J-bomb as well. It is her first album where she has completely written the songs, so I understand why she might have felt the need to fall on that crutch; but I really think it’s disgraceful to use that word any longer.

Society is jaded by the word “jaded.” We are callously indifferent to that word and all that it means. “Love” and “fuck” have been reduced to mere fillers in contemporary songwriting, void of any power they used to once carry. “Jaded” is the same. Maybe that’s the point, though. These songwriters are so sick and fed up with the whole “everything you can do is already done” paradox in art and expression. Nothing is original. Disillusioned with the creative process, it is not an easy out for fitting a meter but a means for true expression. They are so jaded they don’t have the will to express themselves in anyway but the clichÇ.

By totally submitting to the trappings and constraints of major chord 4/4 timed radio hits, it’s a form of rebellion. Like Blur ironically repeating “woo hoo” on the movie trailer staple “#2”, maybe these “meritless” artists are just misunderstood by critical top hat intellectuals. That’s probably not the case, but wouldn’t it be great to rationally present an argument for liking Mest?

Brian spent an hour trying to find a Linkin Park song that used today’s featured word. He is still pretty sure there is one and is offering a prize for anyone with any helpful information. Reach him at

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