Well, it’s poetry isn’t it?

May 28, 2008

amy.jpgIt’s not the first time lyrics of popular songwriters have gone under the academic microscope.

Bob Dylan’s verses virtually spawned a faculty on their own in some colleges as students pondered what the great man meant by some of the more obscure gems like Einstein sniffing drainpipes or the kings of Tyrus with their convict list.

Dylan in turn called Smokey Robinson, author of “Ooh Baby Baby”  one of America’s greatest poets.

But Cambridge University turning to Amy Winehouse’s “Love is a Losing Game”  and asking students to compare the lyrics with verses from Elizabethan poet Sir Walter Raleigh has been criticised for dumbing down.

Do you agree? Are there are any song lyrics worthy of study by university students?



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Her life story does compete neck to neck with that of the French decadent movement and she could be Rimbaud’s alter ego without any stretch of imagination.

Posted by Ana T. Doña Vial | Report as abusive

One can only conclude that this is “dumbing down” if one assumes that the “best” answer to the question would not be a devastating critique of the lyrics of “Love is a Losing Game”. By analogy, would it be “dumbing down” to ask Music students to compare the works of a certain Macca to those of a certain Mozart? I think not.In either case, a normal mortal might conclude that there are no points of comparison whatsoever, but wouldn’t that simply make the question harder to answer?I never thought I’d say this, but “well done Cambridge”. (And for what it’s worth, I think “Love is a Losing Game” is a great song).

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

The dons have been a bit sneaky with this one.Some people might say something on the lines of “How can you compare that meaningless repetitive rubbish with real poetry?”.Exactly. If you go to Cambridge you are supposed to be clever enough to do just that.

Posted by Mike T | Report as abusive

[…] Note: audience members will be tested afterwards. Notetaking is highly encouraged; group work will not be accepted despite the c… […]

Posted by Imaginary Readings :: Amy Winehouse Sings Sir Thomas Wyatt :: May :: 2008 | Report as abusive

When I sat my English poetry exam at U of Sussex in 1972, we had an excellent question referring to the lyrics of Gates of Eden by Bob Dylan. It asked candidates to consider the very process of writing poetry in a way that I found sufficiently challenging to avoid, despite knowing ALL Dylan’s lyrics by heart! Now Amy Winehouse’s lyrics are a little LESS challenging, but the question is still a good one …

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive

…there’s only ONE kind of poetry, it has to fit in the box, and song lyrics DONT COUNT.rubbish!

Posted by CJ | Report as abusive

There is only one singer-songwriter on the planet whose lyrics rise to the occasion of poetry, Leonard Cohen. The rest is dross and, generally, grossly over-rated to the nines. Leo’s in a class of his own, one where the sky’s no limit. Beyond a shadow of a clout, he’s our contemporary Shakespeare and there’s nothing on or off the mark/et that makes this more than eloquently clear.

Posted by Cogito Ergo Doleo | Report as abusive

I think this is a good debate, I think all music lyrics should be considered poetry or at least a form of poetry. Both are expressions of emotions and descriptions of our surrounding etc so why not Amy Winehouse’s Love is a Losing game – although I did prefer Shelby J’s version sung on several occassions over the purple 21 nights at the 02 last summer. Which brings me neatly to Prince – a prolific lyrisist – perhaps Cambridge should delve into his works to dissect there is plenty there to work with and of great interest no doubt !!! food for thought perhaps

Posted by Littlenicci | Report as abusive