It’s hard to argue with the uber-talented Vampire Weekend, especially since they keep creating such catchy music like their sophomore effort, Contra.
However, we most definitely have a bone to pick about a song that hangs up on a punctuation mark from their self-titled debut album. In marketing communications, the devil is always in the details. And an Oxford Comma is often all that separates clarity from anarchy.
The Oxford Comma, sometimes known as the Serial Comma or the Harvard Comma, is an optional punctuation mark used before the conjunction in a list of three or more. Those, like Vampire Weekend, who express casual disdain for it risk a pile-up whenever there’s a complicated construction.
Exhibit A — this sentence about the music industry:
When considering great groups and duos, you need to include Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Simon and Garfunkel, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.
Remove the optional Oxfords and you’ve got:
When considering great groups and duos, you need to include Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Simon and Garfunkel, Peter, Paul and Mary and Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
So, while we are all for style, which Vampire Weekend delivers effortlessly, we highly recommend considering a reliable reference guide when producing written communications that you want your audience to read and understand.