“What?” you say. “Andrew Bird and the Beastie Boys have nothing in common! Bird makes charming, austere indie-pop ditties with literate lyrics, and the Beastie Boys created the misogynistic ‘Girls’ and are almost obsessively annoying! The only thing they have in common is their whiteness!”
To this, I disagree. In fact, the fact that both Bird and Beastie Boys employ lyrics as their main argument puts them in a boat together much quicker than many other people. It’s true that Andrew Bird writes some good songs. But his lyrics are the bread and butter of the songwriting; they’re clever, witty, literate and well-thought-out. The fact that he’s a great whistler, violinist, vocalist, and guitarist take second place to the fact that he’s a really freaking great lyricist. I mean, anyone who can think up and compose this:
“Tenuous at best was all he had to say
when pressed about the rest of it, the world that is
from proto-Sanskrit Minoans to Porto-centric Lisboans
Greek Cypriots and and harbor-sorts who hang around in quotes a lot”
should be receiving praise for that, not for his musical composition (this does imply that one is better than the other, always. I will stick by this statement.). This is not to say that “Tenuousness” is not great; it’s one of his best tracks. But it’s still the song that’s there for the lyrics, and not the other way around.
In this manner, the Beastie Boys are not all that dissimilar. Sure, their lyrics may not always match up with Bird’s: