1. “Time” by Mary J. Blige is essentially about the flaws of the world and how counterproductively people use their time. Mary expresses people for their judgmental nature. She also touches on the issues of jealousy, murder, and madness. She sings about how “people nowadays so shady” and “always wanna condemn” and reminds us that “time is not on our side.” Mary’s message here is simple: value your time to value your life because it could end any minute. The song is one of the highlights from her 1999 album, Mary.
2. “Time” by Musiq Soulchild is an ambiguous song. It appears on the surface that he is addressing “the one that got away,” so to speak, or just someone from his past. However, a deeper examination of the lyrics finds that he in fact is singing this love song to “time” itself. The most telling verse is perhaps the last one:
“So for a while now, I’ve kept in mind
Cause what they say is true
That you are of the essence
Down to the very last second
And I’m so glad that I’ve grown to
You know what they say, “time is of the essence.” Here, Mr. Soulchild gives the metaphor away.
3. “Time” by Ne-Yo is written from the third person perspective, with Ne-Yo acting as a narrator in a way, assessing a relationship between another man and woman. Ne-Yo is letting this other man know that he’s lost his woman because he couldn’t ever give the woman the time and devotion she deserved. This song teaches a lesson that many have to learn the hard way: when it comes down to it, people make time for what really matters to them. Here, Ne-Yo is letting dude know that he failed at showing the woman know she mattered to him. The song has always left one question in my mind, though: how does Ne-Yo know? Where does he fit into this story? My inclination is that he is writing from the perspective of the “someone who takes the time” that she’s “moved on” to. A little shady of you, Ne-Yo. Then again, he’s always been sassy with a pen…