When I was a teenager, listening to music helped me a lot in order to boost my confidence in speaking and to improve my listening. Usually people tend to listen to some music over and over, because they are their favourites. That means they end up memorizing some songs and those can become a very good guide to expand your abilities in those two skills.
In this post I am going to use as an example one of the most popular artists in pop music these days, Katy Perry. She is probably the artist who has made most official “lyric videos” (as they are known). You can find many of these videos for many artists, but they are usually made by fans. For each of them, there is a conventional video, of course.
PART OF ME
The first video is for the song “part of me”. The conventional video features a story about a girl who finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her and leaves him to start a new life… as a Marine! The lyric video transmits the energy and determination which can be found both in the lyrics and in the story told in the video.
- To drive away: to go away, to leave a place driving a car. Other similar phrasal verbs include sail away (by boat), fly away (by plane or helicopter…), run away, and many other possible combinations with similar meanings.
- Shadow: it is easy to confuse shadow and shade. Shadow is the shape projected by something which stands in the sun or any other source of light. Shade is the effect created by a shadow or also a reference to very small differences in colours. See “50 shades of Grey”. Check out the word nuance, with a similar meaning.
- To fade: to disappear gradually.
- To chew up: to chew (break in pieces with your teeth) something completely. Here in the song she is referring to how she felt her boyfriend treated her. There are probably hundreds of phrasal verbs in which “up” creates a similar meaning (doing something completely or with great intensity).
- To spit out: to expel from the mouth. Spit is also the liquid we produce in the mouth to prepare food for digestion. Someone or something which is nearly identical to another thing or person is said to be its “spitting image“. By the way: it is an irregular verb: spit-spit-spit or spit-spat-spat.
- Like I was: In red because you need to be careful. This is a colloquial way of saying “As if I were“. Feel free to be colloquial, but be aware of it!
- You drained me down: the lyric video effect at this point is perfect, because to drain down means to extract all liquids from a place or thing. What a vampire would love to do with your blood, actually!
- To take away: extremely common phrasal verb. Also found as a noun: tonight we are having Chinese takeaway; or as an adjective as in “Chinese takeaway food”.
- Throw your sticks and stones: a reference to a nursery rhyme in english “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. The meaning is that if you are insulted that does not really hurt, only physical violence.
- Throw away: another phrasal verb. Get rid of something by putting it in the garbage bin.
- Find out: another phrasal verb. I lost count, honestly!
- To rip someone off: To rip means to separate two things which are naturally connected. For example to rip a piece of clothing in two pieces. To rip someone off has the meaning of making someone pay an abnormally high price for something which should be much cheaper. In this case the price is not money, but the singer’s unhappiness.
- Tearing at the seams: this means that something is at full capacity and a little more. Seams are the connections made with thread between pieces of clothing, for example at the side of a pair of trousers. So if something is tearing at the seams, it is probably near breaking.
- To let down: to make someone unhappy because they expected something better from you.
- To put out: to extinguish a fire.
- It don’t mean nothing: again a colloquial, grammatically incorrect expression. It should be “it doesn’t mean anything.
- I’m wide awake: it means that you are completely awake, not sleepy and your eyes are wide open.
- I was in the dark: I was completely ignorant.
- To read the stars: to be able to predict the future or to find which way to go, as sailors do.
- ain’t: this verb form is colloquial and it is used instead of “aren’t”, “isn’t”and “am not”.
- to dive in: Literally to jump head first into the water. Instead of water it could be any kind of situation.
- to bow down: to lower your head showing submission or respect.
- falling from cloud 9: cloud 9 means a place or situation of extreme happiness. So to fall from cloud 9 is very bad, isn’t it?
- I’m letting go tonight: to let go means to eliminate self-control.
- to lose sleep: as in spanish, it refers to the idea of not sleeping for an unimportsnt reason.
- to pick up every piece: after something falls to the floor and breaks, you pick up every piece. In this case, it must be her heart.
- To land on your feet: what cats are supposed to do when they fall! See here.
- born again: after some traumatic experiences, people feel they are born again.
- the lion’s den: where a lion and his family sleep. A very dangerous place.
- thunder rumbling: the sound of thunder.
- castles tumbling: to fall rolling on itself. So a combination of rolling and falling. Also what ice cubes do in a tumbler, which is a kind of glass used for drinks such as whiskey. After you wash your clothes, you can put them in a tumble dryer, and they will come out all warm and dry. Your clothes tumble inside it. For an example of a building (not a castle) tumbling down, see here.
- To hold on: to stay in a position or situation, for example on the phone.
- To see the bright side: to be optimistic. See the expression “every cloud has a silver lining”. (Lining, the inside protection layer of some clothes like jackets, coats, etc. )
This one, “roar”, is a bit tricky. The “emoji” icons from the well known app “whatsapp” are used but you can still follow the meaning. As with the other videos we can discover or review a number of useful words and expressions.
- To bite my tongue: exactly the same as in Spanish. What you do when you would love to say something but if you say it the effects will be negative.
- To hold my breath: to stop breathing. For example under water. Here it is a figurative meaning.
- Rock the boat: to rock means to move from side to side. If you rock a boat what happens? And this is a rocking chair.
- To make a mess: to make something dirty, disorganized, chaotic or create a problem which is difficult to solve.
- To push someone past the breaking point: to annoy or make someone suffer so much that they can’t stand it anymore.
- To stand for something/anything/nothing: to defend something, to show that you are in favour of it.
- To brush the dust: Usually when you fall to the ground, you get dirty and you need to brush the dust from your clothes. If you fall in a metaphorical, non-physical way, when you recover you brush the dust too.
- The eye of the tiger: from a song in the 70’s which became famous for being part of the film “Rocky”. It means absolute focus.
- Stinging like a bee: bees have stings at their back, so they can defend themselves or their beehive (colony).
- To earn your stripes: the expression comes from the military. The more stripes you have, the higher ranking you are and the more merits you have made to achieve it. Also, bees have stripes and fight (a reference to the previous expression.