Shall I Compare a Pop Song to a Shakespearean Sonnet?

Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 29 2014 12:15 PM

Shall I Compare a Pop Song to a Shakespearean Sonnet?

Shakespeare
We think The Bard himself would be fill'd with delight by Magic's "Rude" in sonnet form.

Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Shakespeare’s works are frequently cast in modern form, but Erik Didriksen, the man behind the Tumblr “Pop Sonnets,” has reversed this formula, rewinding the clock on current pop songs to render them in the form of Shakespearean sonnets.

The Shakespearean sonnet form, to which Didriksen meticulously adheres, consists of three quatrains and a couplet, with the rhyming pattern ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. Didriksen also recasts modern idioms into Shakespearean diction: Stacy’s Mom, of Fountains of Wayne fame, doesn’t “got it goin’ on,” but instead “beckons like a Siren’s song.” But as that example demonstrates, the subjects of modern pop lyrics are not far from those that interested the Bard: Is the frustration in Magic’s “Rude” concerning the protestations of a lover’s father really so different from the yearning of a Montague for his forbidden Capulet?

Advertisement

Didriksen explained in an email that he was inspired by a Shakespearean treatment of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop.” He admits that properly conjugating the verbs after “thee” and “thou” required some research, but his background in music helped him attend to the sonnets’ rhythms.

Below are some of our favorites, paired with the songs they reimagine:

call_me_maybe
party_in_the_usa
single_ladies
two_princes
fresh_prince

Eliza Berman is an intern in the culture department at Slate.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 22 2014 8:07 AM Why Haven’t the Philadelphia Eagles Ever Won a Super Bowl?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Science
Sept. 22 2014 8:08 AM Slate Voice: “Why Is So Much Honey Clover Honey?” Mike Vuolo shares the story of your honey.
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 7:47 AM Predicting the Future for the U.S. Government The strange but satisfying work of creating the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends report.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 22 2014 5:30 AM MAVEN Arrives at Mars
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.