I’ll admit it. I listened to Janet Jackson’s “That’s the Way Love Goes” on an infinite loop during the summer of 1993. Keep in mind, infinite loop meant hitting the back button on a CD Walkman. This statement dates me. Right now my students are listening to Carly Rae Jepsen or One Direction. Last summer they were listening to LMFAO’s “Party Rock” and Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks”. But Janet Jackson? I’m not even sure they remember her wardrobe malfunction.
There’s something about a good catchy pop song, especially during the summer. I can pinpoint exactly what I was doing while listening to the great ones (i.e. Whitney’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”) and the horrible ones (i.e. Los Del Rios’ “Macarena”).
Whether you find the “it” song of summer better every time it’s played or so annoying that you change the station, you know them and so do your students. It can be hard to find a topic, any topic that so vividly inspires debate in students as defending or defiling the summer song.
So make use of it. With very little prep work you can listen to a little music, engage in a bit of critical thinking and ask students to create their own “essential” questions about how these summer music trends reflect upon our culture.
Below is a list of articles that highlight songs from past summers and predict this summer’s biggest hits. Have students read or listen to several. Then ask that they construct levels of questions for the best one. The goal: identify big picture issues at stake when it comes to culture and the song of summer.
I’ve attached an easily modified Levels of Questions Model that uses the novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close as an example. It’s an easy assignment to translate for any passage analysis, documentary film study, editorial, etc. They simply need to have a model before they prepare their own level 1, 2, and 3 questions.
Articles: Songs of Summer
Articles fromNPR, The Washington Post, Vulture and Yahoo Music.