Analyzing pop song lyrics as if they were real poems

Have you ever heard a song on the radio, perhaps even sung along to it once or twice, when a questionable lyric caused you to furrow your brow in confusion and stop to say aloud, “What is this song even about?”

I have. And because I am confident that the vast majority of the world is almost exactly like I, I know that you, Internet, have too.

In my free time, which is actually most of my time, I like to entertain myself by putting my degree in English Studies to use by analyzing the lyrics found in today’s popular music.

Often, it would seem, the lyricists of today pay little or no attention to elements of poetry such as meter. And why should they? After all, they are not really writing poetry, right? Did the individual who penned Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.” sit down and say to him or herself, “This is it. This is my masterpiece. I have utilized just the right amount of poetic devices to provoke thought. My diction is perfect. The intellectuals of the world will understand that this is actually a critique of the American democratic system. However, for those who are less scholastically inclined, my words will ring out with another message entirely. People everywhere will be brought together by my work and will rejoice. They will party in the U.S.A.!”

My favourite song, to date, to examine has been “London Bridge,” notably sung by Fergie of Black Eyed Peas notoriety. Why does this song intrigue me so? Because I in no way comprehend the analogy the writers of the song were making. What is being referenced with the words “london bridge.”

If you are at all familiar with history, you will recall that London Bridge has actually fallen down many times and has even been the site of multiple tragedies. In 1091, the original manifestation of the bridge was destroyed by a tornado. And then it caught fire in 1136 and again in 1212. It was during the 1212 fire that approximately 3,000 people died tragically after fires broke out on either side of the bridge and trapped them in the middle.

After taking these historical events into consideration, I can only presume that the lyricists behind Fergie’s gem wished to convey that, every time the subject of the poem (the “you” who, according to Fergie, often comes around) is within the speaker’s vicinity, the speaker is overcome with the desire to end many innocent lives and destroy property of the British government.

Whatever. Who am I to judge?

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2 Responses to “Analyzing pop song lyrics as if they were real poems”


  1. 1 Daniel December 25, 2009 at 3:09 am

    Megan,
    1. Let’s be friends, I think we’re the same person.
    2. I thought you’d like this! Don’t worry, just a bunch of crazies thinkin’ they found Jesus in their toast, among other places.

    http://www.sphere.com/nation/article/the-face-of-god-has-appeared-in-strange-places-this-year/19290209?icid=main|main|dl2|link3|http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sphere.com%2Fnation%2Farticle%2Fthe-face-of-god-has-appeared-in-strange-places-this-year%2F19290209

  2. 2 Megan December 27, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    I will be your friend. But I suspect that we are not in fact the same person as I do not recall having left this message for myself.


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