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My Bloody Valentine criticise Spotify for showing ‘fake’ lyrics to their songs

My Bloody Valentine have criticised Spotify for showing “fake lyrics” to the shoegaze band’s famously cryptic songs.

In November 2021, Spotify launched a feature allowing users to read along to the lyrics while they listen to any song.

“Just noticed that Spotify has put fake lyrics up for our songs without our knowledge,” the band tweeted. “These lyrics are actually completely incorrect and insulting. We’re not sure where they got them from, probably one of those bullshit lyrics sites on the internet.”

The offending lyrics appear to have been removed from Spotify as of 21 January but they remain on Musixmatch, the site Spotify partnered with for lyrics integration.

My Bloody Valentine were holdouts to the world of streaming, finally uploading their catalogue in March 2021 when they signed to Domino Records.

The group, led by Kevin Shields, have never clarified the largely inaudible lyrics to their songs, even within the liner notes of their own records, a mystery that has added to the group’s mythology.

In 1990, Shields teased NME with the fact that the lyrics were often “pretty sensual”.

“It’s not hard, industrial music or anything like that. It’s very human. People who experience the pleasure of any sexual thing will find something there, I think. Our lyrics are quite explicit occasionally but it’s all real. There’s nothing there that ordinary people don’t say to each other when they’re alone.”

My Bloody Valentine: Loomer – video

They tended to emerge from his subconscious, Shields told Melody Maker in 1990. “When you know you really have to do it, you just forget everything and you do it. If you try to be clever and wordy, unless you’re really clever, the chances are you’ll fall flat your face. If you just write whatever’s in your head at the time, it’s your subconscious. Your conscious – mine, anyways – doesn’t know what’s going on.”

An earlier, indie-pop incarnation of the band had been more focused on writing “perfect pop songs with sick lyrics”, as an NME journalist wrote in 1988. That was down to original vocalist David Conway – now a published science fiction novelist – Shields explained. “The idea of composing a sweet pop song that sugar-coated some lyrical horror and sending it hurtling up the charts appealed to our sense of humour. Also it was fresh after having made pure noise earlier.

“Once we’d mastered the art of writing snappy pop songs with our eyes and ears closed the whole project started to become boring as hell,” Shields said. Conway departed the band, which lost its inclination towards pop, they signed to Creation Records and returned to their noisy roots, producing the era-defining albums Isn’t Anything (1988) and Loveless (1991).

Even the label remained in the dark about the band’s true lyrical content. In 1991, Shields told the late music journalist David Cavanagh that he wouldn’t even write out the precise lyrics for the group’s music publishers.

“I give them the titles,” he said. “Then a girl at Creation [Records] listens to the songs and writes down what she thinks I’m singing. And that’s what she gives them. They’re actually more her lyrics than mine. And some of the discrepancies are hilarious.”

The rise of lyric sites online led to a lot of amateur guesswork at the content of Shields’ lyrics. In 2021, he told the Guardian that “30-50%” of those guesses are “completely wrong, sometimes in really key areas”.

“Part of me really likes the folk song element of that – people changing things, having their own version of reality – and part of me thinks I should go through them like a teacher, correcting them.”

My Bloody Valentine released their long-awaited third album, mbv, in 2013. Shields has promised a follow-up this year – but fans may know better than to hold their breath.

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