Songs of the Soul

It seems as though every project we do focuses a lot more on the socials side of humanities compared to the English side of it. This project was going to be no different, but because of the extra week off we got after winter break, our project focused solely on English. Specifically, on poetry, songs, and the literary devices used within. The driving question itself was “How might we use music to represent ourselves and text?” The way we were to answer that was to find five songs that we connected with to analyze using the literary devices we learned in class then to present our songs to our peers. You can find the playlist for the song below or find the YouTube playlist here.

  • Annotation of You Take My Hand by Margaret Atwood
  • Annotation of Lodged by Robert Frost

Now, I’ve never been very privy to picking up on the small nuances of poetry and connecting seemingly unrelated poetry terms to the message that the author is trying to convey. That much is quite evident in my poem analyses from the start of this project. However, what really helped me begin to understand how things like rhyme scheme and rhythm can really help contribute to your understanding of the text was analyzing songs as if they were poems.

Oh No! by MARINA is a song that follows the subject as she explains how she has disconnected herself from human desire to just chase after success. This theme of disconnection from one’s self is shown many time throughout the song with lyrics like “Don’t do love, don’t do friends, I’m only after success”(0:08) and “One track mind, one track heart”(0:53). The tone itself also has a disinterested and fake happiness connected to it which doesn’t change at all within the song even as she sing “I'm gonna live, I'm gonna fly, I'm gonna fail, I'm gonna die”(1:54). There are also many couplets throughout the song, with many of them feeling like reminders to the subject of how they must act to gain the success they so desperately want.

I connect to this song in two different ways, both by the lyrics and by it’s personal meaning to me. Firstly, when it comes to the lyrics, I know the exact feeling of wanting to push everything aside just to guarantee your success. The line “If I fail, I fall apart”(0:57) is extremely reminiscent of how I approach school and grades, it’s not healthy but it’s what you do to be successful. The other way I connect to this song is because it was one of the first songs I would dance to on my first just dance game. It has an incredible amount of nostalgia connected to it since just dance is one of my favourite games to play. 

Voilà by Barbara Pravi is a French song that follows a up-and-coming singer as she fights to be taken seriously. The tone throughout the song gets more and more confident as it goes on, just as she gets more and more confident with herself as a good artist that deserves to be heard. To compare, at the start she sings “Écoutez moi”(0:02) in a very timid and small voice which echos her own insecurities with getting the respect she wants. However by the end she is screaming “Regardez moi enfin, et mes yeux et mes mains”(2:22) finally demanding the respect she deserves. The repetition of the chorus in this song also plays a part in showing this growth, as she sings it over and over again she becomes more confident each time. This creates a very nice parallel between each of the choruses for the listener to latch onto. The phrase “C’est ma gueule c’est mon cri”(1:18) also uses cacophony to help illustrate her disinterest is staying silent and pretty, she wants to stand out to the world.

My connection to this song comes wholly from my want to be like the subject in this song. The want to be heard and ability to decade that attention is something that I strive for within my everyday life. Adding onto that, I also really connect to the journey of confidence throughout the song that she goes through since that gaining of confidence is something that I have experienced as well.

Up above you can see read a couple of my song analyses that I had written for this project and as you can see I referenced the tone a lot in them. The reason for this is because, for me, I have a hard time picking up on tones when I’m just reading something which means I lose what the author is trying to convey since we rely on tone so much in communication. However, when it comes to songs there is a recording done by the actual creator of the music, giving the exact tone intended for the song. It gives a great foundation to build your analysis off of. It also helped me get better at analyzing poems as well.

Now that I was looking at these songs and analyzing them I started to pick up on where different terms were used and how they helped express the creator’s message. So when we did another poetry analysis assignment, I was a lot better at finding these terms and identifying how and why the author used them.

  • Explaining my analysis
  • Playing Just Dance for educational purposes
  • My Slideshow

Soon enough though, it was time for use to present our songs to our peers. The three songs I chose to explain were Oh No! By MARINA, Voilà by Barbara Pravi, and Karma by AJR. I ended up creating a short slideshow with the name of the song and the album cover on it so there would be something to look at while I was presenting, but I wanted the focus to be on what I was saying not what was on the slides. We presented twice and I think I really improved from the first to the second time since by then I had all my thoughts in order and knew what I actually wanted to say. However, during the first presentation I did also have the two I was presenting to play Oh No! on Just Dance since that was where I had originally found that song when I was really young.

To end, I think that throughout this project I really challenged myself with the analyses of these songs and poems even though it was something I used to really struggle with. And thanks to that, my knowledge and ability to analyze has improved exponentially. And to answer the driving question, music can convey parts of ourselves in many different ways and it is up to us to figure out where those connections exist.

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