One of the useful things about the internet is that you can find almost anything and that also applies to sources of information and learning materials, whatever your needs might be. If your needs are learning about your favourite artist’s lyrics, no matter how bizarre they are, you can find that out too!
The first source of information is obviously the artists themselves: lyrics still come with the CD, don’t they? But if you like an artist and you don’t have the CD… there is still hope for you!
One of the trends for artists to promote themselves has been to create lyric videos: it is cheaper and you help your fans or potential fans learn your lyrics which may bring them to attend your concerts. Let’s face it, concerts bring the money today, not selling records.
Anyway, in order for a lyric video to be successful you need to mix two ingredients: appealing lyrics and good visuals.
Some artists like Katy Perry have taken this seriously. Others have great material… but they did not do it themselves! It was the fans instead. This is the case for Nicky Minaj’s song starships. A fan made this video, which I think is visually great. Judge for yourselves!
Now this is real fun, isn’t it? It also helps you teach some stuff:
1) Lyrics are well timed with the sound so you can use them to work on stuff like vowel length or even intonation.
2) If your students often whine about not learning “real English” and fancy themselves streetwise, this is something you can retaliate with.
Now about the lyrics themselves, as you may have noticed there is a couple of problems: first, non-standard spelling (you can also use that to teach pronunciation as well as to emphasize how there is a place for bad spelling but out of it you should use the correct one!). Besides, you can challenge your students to find out where the video-maker went wrong with the lyrics: at some point in the lyrics he writes nigga, where Ms Minaj says “my name is Onika, but you can call me Nicky”. A great example to work on the difference between /k/ and /g/.
Additionally you can use the contents you will find on Rapgenius:
This is an interesting source for both teachers and students: it is a kind of wikipedia for lyrics. There is a lot of debate between comments and that is a great excuse for discussion in class.
Now, sit back and enjoy!