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?
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:
TODAY IN SLATE
Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.
The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly
How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.
A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently
How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully
On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.