Language · Lyrics

“No Pressure”

At least one of the following things happens every day of my life: I notice yet another song on TV, radio or a playlist that rhymes “heart” and “apart”; I have to type a whole word on my phone that has not been anticipated by predictive text; I hear someone say “No pressure” in an ironic way. The latter now seems to happen most often.

I noticed it in the autumn, catching a few minutes of BBC Breakfast TV before leaving the house one morning. Sir Lenny Henry was visiting a school later that day to see some of the pupils perform on stage. The presenter, interviewing one of the students, said something like, “So, you’ll be performing for Sir Lenny Henry later today … no pressure then.” A day or two later Tess Daly said it to one of the contestants on “Strictly Come Dancing”. It might have been Lesley Joseph, about to undertake some kind of ballroom dance with her partner Anton Du Beke. “So, you’re about to dance the Argentine tango with the king of the ballroom himself, Anton Du Beke … no pressure then.” Chris Evans used the phrase this morning during an interview with a butcher’s wife, sometime before 8am. Ken Bruce used it recently on Pop Master. Bradley Walsh has said it on “The Chase”. Ten or fifteen years ago you couldn’t get through a day without hearing the expression “At the end of the day”. Either I don’t notice it any more or people have finally stopped using it, and replaced it with “No pressure”.

There are so many songs that rhyme heart and apart that I created this Listicle for them last year. I haven’t added to it lately but if I noted down every example the list would be well into three figures. When I hear a previously unnoticed instance of this rhyme I am usually driving, or otherwise unable to make a note of it, and the song disappears from my mind. Until last weekend I couldn’t think of anything written by Lennon and McCartney that used the rhyme, but then heard Cilla Black’s recording of “Step Inside Love”. (You can hear it here.) It contains the lines, “When you leave me / Say you’ll see me again / For I know in my heart / We will not be apart / And I’ll miss you till then”. This example has stuck in my mind. For the record, I can’t recall any examples from Bernie Taupin’s lyrics that rhyme “heart” and “apart” but if there is one I’d expect it to stick in my mind too and I’ll make a note of it here. I’ll also keep listening out for examples of “No pressure, then”. If the history of “At the end of the day” is anything to go by I would expect it to cross over from TV and radio into general usage very soon, and we’ll reach “peak” “No pressure” sometime next year.


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