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Sunday, 26 June 2016

More Guided Reading through Music: Dj Snake- Middle vs James Bay - Let it Go

I love using music in the classroom! I have previously blogged plenty of ideas for using music in the classroom. Some of my favourites have been using songs to develop reading skills. Some of the most popular have been:
This blog post will share some more ideas for using songs and lyrics to develop key higher order reading skills. 

While I would encourage you to use these ideas and lessons, I think it is important to make clear there needs to be a balance between these shorter texts and longer whole stories. 

My work with John Murray has certainly inspired these posts, so please check his website out and also look at the READWRITEPERFORM resources for more of these ideas and strategies to teaching English. 

With this blog, I have chosen two songs that cover the same issue with a different outlook, I will break each song down and finish with some comparative questions.

DJ Snake - Middle 



Here are the lyrics with some questions to consider:

Play the song through once asking the children to listen carefully to the lyrics. Ask the children what do they think the song is about? A relationship that is on the brink of ending.


[Verse 1]
Staring at two different views on your window ledge
Coffee is going cold, it's like time froze
There you go wishing, floating down our wishing well
It's like I'm always causing problems, causing hell
I didn't mean to put you through this, I can tell
We cannot sweep this under the carpet

  • Read the first two lines, what scene do you picture? How many people are there? How do you know? 2 people in a room, looking in different directions not talking.
  • Why has the singer focused on the ledge in the room? What does this symbolise? It symbolises the fact their relationship is on the brink of ending.
  • Why is the coffee going cold? They are both deep in thought about the relationship
  • What does the phrase 'time froze' tell us about how long they have been there? A long time
  • What is a wishing well? Why has the singer used this as a metaphor? A wishing well is where you drop a coin and make a wish in hope it will come true.
  • What do you think the wish is?
  • Why has the singer chosen the word floating?  That this uncertainty hasn't been sudden has been coming for a while.
  • Who is to blame for the problems in the relationship? How does it make both the singer and his partner feel? What words are shown to emphasise this? He is to blame, the word choice 'hell' shows how hard it has been.
  • Does he make mistakes intentionally? How do you know this?
  • What is meant by the last line? Sweeping something under the carpet is to ignore a problem.

[Chorus]
I hope that I can turn back the time
To make it all alright, all alright for us
I'll promise to build a new world for us two
With you in the middle
[Break]
(With you in the middle)
(With you in the middle)

  • What does he hope to do when he says 'turn back the time?' Start the relationship over from scratch.
  • On a scale of 1 - 5, how confident is he that he can do this? Not very due to the word 'hope'
  • Will he try his best? How do you know? He promises
  • What does he mean when he puts his partner in the middle? She will be the focus of everything
  • Why does he repeat this phrase?

[Verse 2]
Lying down beside you, what's going through your head?
The silence in the air felt like my soul froze
Am I just overthinking feelings? I conceal
This gut feeling I'm tryna get off me as well
I hope we find our missing pieces and just chill
We cannot sweep it under the carpet


  • Read the first two lines, what scene do you picture? Lying down in silence with the singer thinking and worrying about his partner and her thoughts.
  • How does he feel? Worried and anxious 'soul froze'
  • Why has the singer used the word 'soul?' His whole being, everything about him is worried.
  • Why did he use the metaphor 'froze?' Linking weather creates the feeling of coldness which the situation has created between the two. 

[Chorus]
I hope that I can turn back the time
To make it all alright, all alright for us
I'll promise to build a new world for us two
With you in the middle

[Break]
(With you in the middle)
(With you in the middle)
(With you)

James Bay - Let it Go


Play the song through once asking the children to listen carefully to the lyrics. Ask the children what do they think the song is about? The singer is trying to end a relationship. 

[Verse 1]
From walking home and talking loads
To seeing shows in evening clothes with you
From nervous touch and getting drunk
To staying up and waking up with you

  • What does the singer explain in the first verse? The progression of the relationship. 
  • What things did they do as a couple? Go to shows, go out drinking
  • Why did the singer describe the touch as a nervous one? It was early in the relationship, he wasn't sure whether she wanted to hold his hand.
  • The last line infers they have spent the night together. You may want to skip past this or it could be inferred that they have travelled or been on holiday together. 


[Pre-Chorus 1]
Now we're sleeping near the edge
Holding something we don't need
Oh, this delusion in our heads is gonna bring us to our knees

  • What does the edge symbolise? Being close to the end - make links to the previous song.
  • Why does he say they are sleeping there? This can show that they have been near the edge for a long time.
  • What are they holding? Why don't they need it? The relationship, it isn't working for both of them.
  • Could you think of a more powerful word to use than holding? Clasping, clutching
  • Why does he describe the belief in the relationship as a delusion? 
  • What does the phrase 'bring us to our knees' mean? It is an idiom to show you're defeated.


[Chorus]
So come on, let it go
Just let it be
Why don't you be you, and I'll be me?
Everything that's broke
Leave it to the breeze
Why don't you be you, and I'll be me?
And I'll be me

  • What is he asking her to let go? The relationship
  • Why? Because it is changing them as people, they are not the same as they were at the beginning. 
  • What has broken? Why does he suggest leaving it to the breeze? Problems in the relationship and the breeze will take them away and be forgotten about. 
  • Is this line grammatically correct? Can you correct it?
  • What do we learn about the characters and what the relationship has done to them? 
  • Why does he repeat the phrase "And I'll be me?" To emphasise his belief that he is making the right decision. 


[Verse 2]
From throwing clothes across the floor
To teeth and claws and slamming doors at you
If this is all we're living for
Why are we doing it, doing it, doing it anymore?

  • What is happening in this verse? They are fighting, throwing clothes - sorting belongings.
  • What does the phrase 'teeth and claws' tell you about the fighting? It is aggressive and nasty. 
  • What question is the singer asking? What is the point
  • Why do you think he repeats 'doing it'? It happens a lot and is becoming tiresome. 


[Pre-Chorus 2]
I used to recognize myself
It's funny how reflections change
When we're becoming something else
I think it's time to walk away

  • What has this relationship done to the singer? Made him change, he has become a different person and lost confidence in himself. 
  • Does he like his reflection? No, which is why he wants it to end.
  • Does he think his partner has changed? How do you know? He uses the contraction "We're"


[Chorus]
So come on, let it go
Just let it be
Why don't you be you, and I'll be me?
Everything that's broke
Leave it to the breeze
Why don't you be you, and I'll be me?
And I'll be me

[Bridge]
Tryna fit your hand inside of mine
When we know it just don't belong
Cause no force on earth could make it feel right, no no
Tryna push this problem up the hill
When it's just too heavy to hold
I think now's the time to let it slide

  • Can you correct the word in the first line?
  • Why do you think her hand doesn't fit? It is a metaphor for their relationship. 
  • What point is he trying to make when he says 'no force on earth'? It will never fit no matter what happens.
  • Why has the singer used a hill as a metaphor? To show how hard this problem is to solve
  • What picture do we imagine of the problem and how it makes the singer feel? Under a lot of pressure
  • Why has the singer used the adverb 'too' when talking about the heavy problem?
  • Why does the singer choose the word slide? How does it contrast with the hill? 


[Breakdown]
So come on, let it go
Just let it be
Why don't you be you, and I'll be me?
Everything that's broke
Leave it to the breeze
Let the ashes fall
Forget about me

  • Why does the singer use the word ashes? To symbolise the death of their relationship


[Chorus]
Come on, let it go
Just let it be
Why don't you be you, and I'll be me?
And I'll be me


After deconstructing both songs, it would be useful to compare and contrast and try to identify the similarities - subject matter, reference to edge etc and the differences - trying to keep the relationship together compared to ending it. You could then discuss why both songs are popular as people can relate to the subjects, why both singers wrote the songs? From personal experience. 

I would love to hear from you if you use these ideas in class and link any writing to it. Please do email, tweet or comment on facebook. Thanks!

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