11 Points

11 Fantastically Outdated References in Songs
written by Sam Greenspan

This was inspired by a conversation over the weekend about pay phones, newspapers and Discmen.

I set out to find references in songs that fall into that "totally outdated" category. It was tougher than I thought, but I did dig up 11 fantastically antiquated lyrics...

  1. Kronkite talked all about the pay phones last night on the evening news.
    "Happy Together" by The Turtles. This one is antiquated two times over.
    If I should call you up,
    Invest a dime.
    When the song came out in 1967, pay phones did charge a dime for calls. When they went up to 25 cents, this became outdated. Then they went up to anywhere from 35 to 50 cents. Then pay phones all but disappeared, and now the only people you ever see talking on pay phones are weird skinny guys with long beards and puffy jackets who drive big vans.

  2. "I Just Wanna Love U (Give it 2 Me)" by Jay-Z. Rappers are generally the worst offenders at shouting out the technology du jour in their songs. Jay-Z hit a great, obscure one here.
    Only way to roll,
    Jigga and two ladies.
    I'm too cold,
    Motorola two-way page me.
    If you don't remember, two-way paging existed in that brief period when everyone had cell phones but no one was text messaging. So people would strap these fairly gigantic silver two-way pagers to their belts so they could type back and forth with their friends.

    Of course, at this point, we're getting to the point where text messaging is almost antiquated too. (I almost exclusively use BlackBerry Messenger at this point and if I'm doing it then I've got to assume The Kids are doing it even more aggressively.)

  3. "Bust a Move" by Young MC. This one is so antiqued it might not have even been true back when he wrote this in the '80s.
    Your movie's showin', so you're goin',
    Couldn't care less about the five you're blowin'.
    Over the weekend I paid $13 for a movie ticket. Even worse: It was to see "Seven Pounds". Disaster.

  4. "Get the Party Started" by Pink. This one's weird since it was clearly a few decades dated when the song came out...
    I'm your operator,
    You can call anytime.
    I'll be your connection to the party line.
    Phones stopped requiring operators sometime in the '60s. Dialing "0" for an operator on the phone disappeared sometime during the '90s. And party lines were big in the '80s, but now if you want to go engage in pithy sexual dialogue with 24 men and one woman who's making $3.15 an hour, you do it online.


  5. PrimeCo?
    "Wanna Be a Baller" by Lil' Troy. This captures a brief, brief, brief, brief moment in the cell phone era.
    I gots to get better, man,
    I gots to move on.
    Switched from Motorola to a PrimeCo phone.
    I vaguely remember PrimeCo, which managed to make a tiny splash into the early cell phone boom back around 1999. Apparently, just as they were making their tiny splash, Lil' Troy was cooking up his one and only hit.

    Even better, Motorola is still going strong in the cell phone business. PrimeCo hasn't been around for a decade.

  6. "Hey Ya" by OutKast. Sadly, this one is about to be outdated.
    Shake it, shake, shake it,
    Shake it like a Polaroid picture.
    Last year, Polaroid announced it was discontinuing all of its instant film. Plus, you're not really supposed to shake the photos.

  7. "Juicy" by Notorious BIG.
    Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis,
    When I was dead broke, man, I couldn't picture this.
    I decided to go with that quote from "Juicy" as the outdated one and not "Time to get paid / Blow up like the World Trade" since the song did come out right after the first World Trade Center bombings (several years before 9/11).

    And because I didn't want to be a dick.


  8. Dreamcast in your car = baller.
    "Shine (Hot Boys)" by Cash Money. Until Lil' Wayne finally broke out and became the biggest thing in hip-hop, all he and the Cash Money crew did was rap about how rich they were. (Not sure what they rapped about in order to make the songs that got them that money. Probably politics or math.)

    Anyway, when you have dozens of songs shouting out all the cool, expensive stuff you've got, eventually you're going to shout out something that's dated.
    You don't wanna put your vehicle next to us,
    'Cause all of our vehicles, we dress 'em up.
    With television, Dreamcast, DVDs,
    Nice sounds, buttons, it's twenties.
    That particular rhyme comes out of the mouth of BG, whose only solo hit ever was the song "Bling Bling".

    I chose to include this Dreamcast shout out and Biggie's Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis shout out from an entire wealth of video game references because, in both songs, this is a rapper referencing a (now) horribly outdated video game system as a status symbol.

  9. "It Was a Good Day" by Ice Cube. Here's one that just went dated in 2008...
    It's ironic: I had the brews she had the chronic,
    The Lakers beat the Supersonics.
    Somehow I don't think anyone would be excited if the Lakers beat the new incarnation of the Seattle Supersonics... the Oklahoma City Thunder. Because, ya know, everyone beats the Thunder. Also, as best as I can tell, Thunder doesn't rhyme with any of the 8.5 trillion synonyms for marijuana.

  10. "You Be Illin'" by Run D.M.C. "You Be Illin'" came out in 1986, and, from what I can remember, the price they give here was outdated even then...
    He asked this old lady, "Yo, yo, um... is this Kentucky Fried?"
    The lady said "Yes," smiled, and he smiled back,
    He gave a quarter and his order,
    "Small fries, Big Mac!"
    Besides trying to buy fast food for a quarter (did Run D.M.C. write this on the way to a sock hop where they could tell Biff to get his damn hands off her?), KFC has spent the better part of the last 20 years trying to get people to forget that their initials stand for Kentucky Fried Chicken. So referencing that could also come off as dated.

  11. "Changes" by 2pac. Don't listen to what the Liberal Media tells you. Obama ruins everything. Even legendary 2pac lyrics.
    And although it seems heaven sent,
    We ain't ready to see a black president.
    In "Changes" he also makes a reference to people being "jealous when they see you with your mobile phone." He's really going to need to put an updated version of this song on his next album.


This post was originally published on Monday, January 5, 2009 at 10:01:00 AM under the category Music.

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