Originally, this blog was intended to be about Really Awesome Things, but today is the first installment of Things That Are NOT Awesome. There are lots of awesome things I love, but that are also some un-awesome things that I just feel like complaining about.
In the last two weeks, I have heard and read several words being used incorrectly, so let me take the time to remind the English speaking world what these words really mean.
a cappella – without instrumental accompaniment
After Michael Jackson’s death, there was a surge of old Jackson 5 songs on youtube. Several of them were incorrectly described as a cappella. A stripped down version of a song (a la MTV’s Unplugged) is NOT a cappella. If instruments are used, it is not a cappella.
acoustic – a performance using acoustic instruments (such as an acoustic guitar, as opposed to an electric guitar)
John Mayer’s performance of “Human Nature” at Michael Jackson’s memorial service was described by several sources as acoustic, but he used some kind of electric guitar, NOT an acoustic guitar. I think that people meant to say that it was a primarily instrumental performance (one of the background singers briefly sang the chorus), but instrumental is not the same as acoustic.
syllable – a portion of a word
There are three syllables in the word syllable: syl-la-ble. On last week’s episode of So You Think You Can Dance, Tabitha and Napoleon said that they had choreographed a dance to the Beyonce song “Halo” and that there was a move for every syllable. That is pretty common for songs with lyrics because it allows the dancers to move with the words. Watching the dance, however, revealed that Taboleon (or Nappy Tabs, if you prefer their self-chosen pairing portmanteau) does not know what a syllable really is. They choreographed to the beat of the song, but not to the syllables of the lyrics.