Pet Peeves: A Girl in the World with a Life of Strife
Few lyrical tendencies irritate me quite so much as the persistent but ultimately fruitless attempt to pretend that “girl” rhymes with “world.” It doesn’t. “Girl” rhymes with “curl,” “pearl,” “whirl,” and “hurl,” plus a handful of others. If none of those suit your purposes, then you might want to give consideration to not ending a line with a word as dull and exhausted as “girl.”
Even pop lyricists I quite admire, like Billy Joel, have on occasion been guilty of this offense. But the rhyme, apart from offending the ear, is simply lazy. No matter how noble your intentions, you are still resorting to a rhyme that has been used countless times before, never to great effect, and that is not actually a rhyme, for no better reason than that “girl” is hard to rhyme with. If it is indeed that hard to rhyme with, then at least have the good sense not to use it.
Similar rules apply to “life.” It’s no use complaining that “life” is hard to rhyme with. As a lyrical device it is vague and meaningless, a vain attempt to invest more grandeur in an idea than it truly merits. If none of the rhymes for the word (knife, rife, wife, etc.) suit your needs, do not bend over backwards to make the most abused rhyme (strife). Instead, reconstitute what is obviously a flawed lyrical line until it no longer ends with a word as utterly insipid as “life.”
Also try to avoid using the following: “heart,” “soul,” “fun,” “I love you,” and really just the word “love” in general. In fact, try avoiding the concept of love wherever possible. There are other, far less distasteful emotions out there. Try one.