Summer Songs: Week in Review

           Friday Dialogue from                

                                      Your Two Favorite Educators 

As Emily and Aubrey look back over the week they use their razor sharp wit to LMFAO vs. Foster the People.


1.  What value is there in examining trends, specifically music trends, in the English classroom?

What does Emily say?Emily:   I think they definitely serve to engage the students, but I’m not sure how much academic value there is.  I think it really depends on the complexity of the trend.  If studying music as a text it often isn’t rigorous enough to warrant replacing challenging pieces of literature.  However, I don’t think it is bad, I just question how much emphasis should be placed on trends.

Aubrey: I think studying trends of any kinds has a lot of classroom potential.  You do have to lead students.  They often look at these trends from very basic Is Aubrey right?levels and it’s not enough to simply say, “There’s always a summer which means we must like fun music.”  Maybe this is because I’ve read at least 300 articles about the art of the summer song but we have to help students discuss complexity and implication in pop culture.  They can’t get there alone.  

2.  What challenges present themselves when employing music in classroom lessons?

Emily: I know this is silly, but one challenge is balancing the time and the curriculum.  One thing I struggle with is how much time to devote to the music in the classroom and not the actual material.  Is it used only as a hook?  Does it play in the background when they are working? Do you play the 4-minute song and then analyze the song for 20 minutes? I think some teachers don’t know how to truly use songs in the classroom to aid student learning and instead devote too much time to songs because it aids student engagement.

Aubrey: It’s hard to find the time and often it makes me feel guilty.  And yes, a lot of us don’t actually do it well.  I remember using a lot of poorly chosen songs for hooks (i.e. The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” to teach Transcendentalism).  Sometimes they just don’t work.  Novelty can’t be the sole motivation.  

3.  Name your favorite summer song of all time.  Provide context as to why this is the song.

What does Emily say?Emily: I might be dating myself, but the best summer song of all time is–without a doubt–Will Smith’s “Summertime.”  I know it is old, but it is good.  So good.  There is an unwritten rule that forces people to roll down the windows and turn the volume up every time the song is heard.

This was going to be my song.  Now I am mad because you took it from and clearly I am old too.  

4.  Of all the parodies of Gotye and Carly Rae Jepsen which is best for classroom use?  Which one is your favorite?

Emily: This is tough because I love the artistry of the Gotye video, but I also love the catchiness of the Carly Rae Jepsen song.  I think for the classroom the Gotye video probably offers more opportunity for rich and deep analysis.  The song is rather complex because of the shifting viewpoints, but, more than anything else, the video represents a larger, more existential view of life.  I think it gives teachers more to work with.

Aubrey: Agreed.  Carly Rae is delightful but the Gotye video and parodies are the best.  I mean that bit about Puritans being boring from the College Humor video is hilarious even though I teach The Scarlet Letter and iambic pentameter.  

5.  Last summer, LMFAO or Foster the People?

Emily: Even though I would prefer Foster the People because I think the LMFAO guys are just so obnoxious, I think they probably took top prize because they just had so many songs on the radio.  Their hair is all kinds of horrible though.

Aubrey: You are wrong.  Foster the People stands alone.  Anybody that can make a song with semi-threatening lyrics seem catchy and singable is an evil genius.

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