About LLS:

Throughout my career, I have received thousands of questions regarding languages and I have finally decided to answer them objectively with no strings attached. If you have any questions or feedback, please leave your comments below.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Is music a good tool to help you learn English?

Back in the days, words and literature established the music industry, but nowadays it seems that the industry invents words as it slowly descends into madness. I don't claim that modern music is bad, but there is visible decline in what musicians had to do to stay on top of the charts in comparison to today’s listen and forget one hit wonders. Despite of our current times being as they are, I can still come across some decent music which clearly had some talent behind it.

Let's compare two famous artists from different eras; Richard Marx and Justin Beiber. Mr.Marx is an avid composer and multi-talented pianist, singer and song writer while his counterpart Mr.Bieber needs the assistance of an entire team to aid him in his career.

I wouldn't be surpised if his mother sang the chorus.

Now let's look at the lyrical value to see whose song would be more educating and might improve our vocabulary.

Richard Marx - Right here waiting for you:

Oceans apart day after day
And I slowly go insane
I hear your voice on the line
But it doesn't stop the pain

If I see you next to never

How can we say forever

Wherever you go

Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for you
Whatever it takes
Or how my heart breaks
I will be right here waiting for you

Justin Bieber - Baby Baby:

You know you love me, I know you care
Just shout whenever, and I'll be there
You are my love, you are my heart
And we will never, ever, ever be apart

Are we an item? Girl, quit playin'
"We're just friends," what are you sayin'?
Said "there's another," and looked right in my eyes
My first love broke my heart for the first time

And I was like baby, baby, baby, oh
Like baby, baby, baby, no
Like baby, baby, baby, oh
I thought you'd always be mine, mine

Before you say anything, keep in mind that I am only giving my opinion. I am pretty sure that some of you enjoy contemporary music and perhaps my taste requires a bit more tuning. Who knows? The fact remains, if you compare those timeless hits which were released before the 90's, there are some obvious reasons why modern music is no match for the genius that took place once upon a time. Hip hop was clean without cursing and most rappers actually talked about meaningful things rather than chauvinistic and simple minded rhymes. Sadly, other musical genres suffer the same fate as we progress further into the 21st century.

Can I still listen to modern music to learn English words?
Believe me when I say that I still have problems understanding certain songs after hearing them on the air regularly. Firstly, most songs lost their deeper meaning; it’s almost impossible to find a second layer behind the initial message of the song. The artists are so focused on boasting about their ability to attract women and make money that anything apart from that; simply isn’t worthwhile. Now, don't get me wrong, i still enjoy some modern bands even if they are hard to find. My advice is to listen to gold classics from Micheal Jackson to The Rolling Stones; As long as it doesn't involve heavy slang and curse words. I have also noticed that bands from the 60s, 70's, 80's and 90's are easier to understand because the singers actually cared about proper pronunciation.

Whats wrong with the music?
The lyrics of most songs are predominantly composed of typical party keywords such as “tonight, forever, baby and love” which make all the songs sound the same. It isn’t strange to meet someone who listens to music for the melody rather than to analyze what the composer tried to share. I could literally listen to the radio for hours and barely see any differences in the lyrics between most songs, only to catch myself humming them later on without knowing why.
Another reason why it’s so hard to understand are techniques called word bending. The artist bends the spelling of words as to match more rhymes together. An example of word bending would be to take a word like “dance” and to match it to “science” by changing the tone of the ending. I don't know if its due to laziness, but quickly recorded songs without any additional content to offer, seem to be the way to make big bucks nowadays.

Money is making music when music should be making money.

If you take this famous song and compare how Mr.50 matched the rhymes you can actually see my point.

50 Cents - In da(the) club:

You can find me in the club, bottle full of bub
Look mami I got the X if you into taking drugs
I'm into having sex, I ain't into making love
So come give me a hug if you into to getting rubbed

Supposedly, "bub", "drugs", "love" and "rubbed" rhyme. Stay as far away from modern music if you wish to learn to speak English, unless you are into hardcore street slang and poor diction.
Yo! Karl! What can I rhyme biatches with?

What should I listen to?

Here is a list of bands which have very clear English, a limited use of slang and seem to have something more to offer than what makes the charts nowadays. Not to appear bias, i have decided to mix from different genres.

- The Doors
- Depeche Mode
- Simply Red
- Eric Clapton
- Nas
- Notorious B.I.G
- R.Kelly
- Bob Marley
- Seal
- Sade
- Micheal Jackson

and the list goes on. Just take a look at the past!


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LanguageLearningShortcuts! by Peter Masalski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://languagelearningshortcuts.blogspot.com/.
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