Lyrics are supposed to be an avenue for songwriters to, among other things, expose the most unsavory corners of their personal lives. Music is a medium that’s built on a mutual trust between artist and audience, a trust whose foundation is candidness and honesty. It’s a given that the truth is sometimes ugly, and as listeners, we accept – and even embrace – that fact. Sharing an artist’s embarrassments, misfortunes, and traumas allows an audience to empathize, creating a bond that runs deeper than the music.
Sometimes, however, musicians exploit this delicate balance by taking things too far. An overshare, by definition, is not simply a shocking or disgusting statement but an unscrupulous excess. TMI. A drop of sour that curdles the milk of human decency. Certain specifics aren’t polite for any company, and these are some of the most egregious violations of that social contract.
10. Eminem – “Role Model”
From The Slim Shady LP (1999)
Overshare: “I got genital warts and it burns when I pee/ Don’t you wanna grow up to be just like me?”
This is far from the most outrageous thing ever uttered on an Eminem track, but goddamn if it doesn’t feel so real. In this twisted bit of sex ed from The Slim Shady LP, Em gets unpleasantly clinical about the distressed state of his urethra, blurting out his symptoms right in the song’s chorus. No, it’s not as repulsive as when he vividly defined “felching” in a verse, but the earnestness in Shady’s voice is what needles the most. Eminem’s lyrics incorporate an exhausting gamut of taboos – everything from overdoses to animal rape – but these are mostly theatrical devices. Here, the (relative) mildness gives way to unsettling plausibility. Be it a manic Slim Shady episode or a sincere disclosure, “Role Model” is as unseemly as it is desperate for penicillin.
9. The Hold Steady – “Your Little Hoodrat Friend”
From Separation Sunday (2005)
Overshare: “I was waiting for my ride, and I got jumped from behind, and I got punctured/ I got stopped by the cops, and they found it in my socks, and I got probed”
Craig Finn is a born storyteller, and the idiosyncratic frontman has an encyclopedia of lyrics to back that claim up. Finn’s writing style bares plenty of meat for his fans to sink their teeth into, and he’s usually very graceful about skirting the crude particulars. Usually. “Your Little Hoodrat Friend” is a signature Hold Steady/Lifter Puller jam about misguided, narcotic romance that tumbles into a pair of bleary confrontations. First, Finn (or whoever is narrating this one) gets beat up and “punctured” – which is a really specific, surface-tension-rich way of describing a stabbing – and afterwards he gets “probed” by the police. Probed. Probed where? Probed how? It’s a bit obtuse, but Finn’s word choice here is very deliberate. Chances are it’s not just your mind awash in the gutter.
8. Cage – “Lamb of Nothing”
From Kill the Architect (2013)
Overshare: “Took a dump last night, now I’m on some next shit/ Fucked a girl last night, she might have been infected”
As with Eminem, it’s often hard to delineate truth from fiction in Cage’s music. His zonked-out psychosis narratives dwell in a gray area between his troubled history and the gory haze of his Cage Kennylz persona. However, on his latest record, Kill the Architect, the Weathermen rapper and one-time Slim Shady rival chucks up a couplet that, factual or otherwise, definitively crosses the courtesy line. In boasting about his futuristic skills, Cage goes well out of his way to work in a poop joke, following it up with a blindsiding non sequitur about probable STDs. Really, these lines don’t accomplish anything, especially given that they’re intended as a sort of perverse call-and-response that outros the song. Which is a shame, because it sullies one of the only worthwhile songs on what was an album that promised smut and gore and delivered garbage pail filler.
7. Radiohead – “Thinking About You”
From Pablo Honey (1993)
Overshare: “Been thinking about you, and there’s no rest/ Shit, I still love you, still see you in bed/ But I’m playing with myself, and what do you care?”
Over the years, plenty of songs have been written about masturbation. Everyone from Prince to Tori Amos has penned a tune about the joys of diddling yourself, but few have done so with the flattened gusto of Thom Yorke. The Radiohead frontman pulls no punches on “Thinking About You”, off 1993’s Pablo Honey. Yorke begins with a standard-issue level of opacity, but when he drops the conceit and just outright declares that he’s “playing with myself,” it all seems for naught. In the event you hadn’t deciphered the opening lyrics about fantasizing over a past lover whilst alone in bed, Yorke makes it painstakingly clear exactly what’s going on between his sheets. It’s not that we don’t care, Thom. It’s that your sudden lack of tact is kind of abrasive.
6. Plies – “Get You Wet”
From 30 Days (2010)
Overshare: “I can’t fuck you when you dry, ’cause that’ll turn me off/ If I can smell it, then baby I don’t put it in my mouth”
Plies wants you to know what his kinks are, and he’ll spare no romanticism to make sure it sticks. For this reason, “Get You Wet” is one of the most unlistenable songs ever recorded. Amidst 32 bars that read like the Florida rapper’s Pornhub search history, Plies matter-of-factly drops this skin-crawling sexual preference. It may sound Puritan, but knowing that the Big Gates Records founder gets off when his sex partner is so aroused that it feels “like she pissed on herself” is enough to leave a permanent scar. For some reason, Pretty Ricky also did a version of the song, but thankfully neither cut is widely available on a studio album.
5. Why? – “By Torpedo or Crohn’s”
From Alopecia (2008)
Overshare: “Today after lunch, I got sick and blew chunks/ All over my new shoes in the lot behind Whole Foods”
Yoni Wolf, lead singer of Why?, has no shame when it comes to his lyrics. The much beleaguered frontman has brazenly gone to wax with his male-pattern balding (“Light Leaves”), swollen testicles (“Jonathan’s Hope”), and inadequacy at cunnilingus (“Gemini (Birthday Song)”), but this excerpt from 2008’s Alopecia lacks the self-deprecating poetry of Wolf’s other admissions. The graphic diction of “blew chunks” evokes a particularly visceral reaction, especially when he rationalizes it by rapping, “Seems just as a kid I did not shit my pants much/ Why start now with this stuff?” This verse was born from a particularly dark period of Wolf’s life where both his mental and physical health were in fragile straits, but that fact doesn’t make these lines more palatable.
4. Lil Wayne – “Gettin Some Head”
From Dedication 2 (2006)
Overshare: “I’m a fly-ass nigga, take a look at me bitch/ Now go and tell the cops I got a crook in my dick”
Just in case you ever needed to pick Lil Wayne’s penis out of a lineup, “Gettin Some Head” from Dedication 2 elucidates a distinguishing feature of the Louisiana rapper’s lower anatomy sure to worm into your brain’s visual cortex forever. The song, which reworks Shawnna’s platinum devotion to the gag reflex, contains plenty of euphemisms, but when Tunechi gets into the trigonometry of his genitalia, that’s when things get awkward. It’s the ultimate answer to an unasked question, though it may not be as incriminating as Weezy supposes.
3. Kimya Dawson – “The Beer”
From My Cute Fiend Sweet Princess (2004)
Overshare: “Then I peed my pants and you stole the groom’s cigar/ And some old man made me watch him masturbate locked in his car”
Kimya Dawson is a sharer. She told us as much in “Looking Out the Windshield”, warning us not to add her to our blogroll unless we’re prepared for toilet bowl snapshots and menstruation poems. But still, “The Beer” catches most off-guard. As Dawson unwinds her tale of fear and loathing, you expect a sudden turn for the worse. You expect deterioration. In the payoff moment, however, the anti-folk songstress leaves her audience absolutely breathless with a nonchalant retelling of sexual exploitation. Piss-soaked and held against her will with a pervert, we feel horror that Dawson glosses over. What’s even more unsettling is the way that she doesn’t elaborate on the episode – making this an overshare that is both too much and not enough.
2. Sun Kil Moon – “Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes”
From Benji (2014)
Overshare: “Got a nagging prostate, and I got a bad back/ And when I fuck too much I feel like I’m gonna have a heart attack”
Sun Kil Moon’s Benji is a rambling confessional that makes the best of Mark Kozelek’s habit of oversharing. Every verse is crammed with unrelenting detail, especially “Dogs”, which viscerally runs through his sexual history. But Kozelek’s penchant for detail is what makes Benji such an intimate album. That is, until you arrive at the back end of “Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes”. Amidst Kozelek’s dismay at the Night Stalker’s peaceful death, he examines his own waning health in this awkward sequence of anecdotes. The image of an aching Kozelek humping while he beads sweat and holds back the need to piss is enough to snap you right out of the album’s folksy spell. Recently, during his set at Newport Folk Festival, Kozelek cleared up any ambiguity shrouding those lyrics, saying: “I’m at a point in my life where my dick wants to do all these things my body can’t follow.” Thanks for the clarification.
1. Cam’Ron – “I.B.S.”
From Killa Season (2007)
Overshare: “And that’s irritable bowel child, I had to spit it y’all/ Kick to y’all, so it ain’t my fault if I shit on y’all”
Killa Cam has long been a punchline in the hip-hop community, and “I.B.S.” is a perfect example of why. The pivot track from Cam’ron’s 2007 LP Killa Season, “I.B.S.” chronicles Cam’s struggle to stay healthy and keep hustling while succumbing to symptoms of, you guessed it, irritable bowel syndrome. The concept is cringe-worthy, but the execution is exponentially more so. Though “I.B.S.” waits until the closing line to get into the Dipset founder’s incontinence, he isn’t so shy as he excruciatingly details his vomit: “Regurgitating green, yellow, burgundy, boom.” Boom indeed. Insensitive as it may seem, it’s impossible to sympathize with the man’s digestion woes when there’s such a glaring lack of subtlety. Even Cam’s gastroenterologist would balk at this one.