Every year on April 23, literary and drama aficionados worldwide honor the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, one of the most influential writers in the English language. His legacy can be seen in countless ways, from the curriculum of our English classes to the everyday use of the adjective “Shakespearean,” and even to the lyrics in our favorite songs. That’s right, when we sing along to our playlists we may be practicing one of Shakespeare’s favorite poetic devices: iambic pentameter.
Lines written in iambic pentameter consist of ten syllables, with every second syllable being stressed (e.g., “Shall I comPARE thee TO a SUMmer’s DAY?”). Here are six of our favorite lyrics that follow Shakespeare’s beloved pattern:
6. “You gotta help me, I’m losing my mind”
Both England-based artists, it looks like Shakespeare couldn’t help but influence the boys of One Direction. The first line of the 1D family’s anthem “History” does, in fact, follow iambic pentameter.
5. “I ask myself, what am I doing here?”
We’re with you, Alessia Cara. Singing in iambic pentameter at a rager such as the one described in “Here” does seem out of place.
4. “But we don’t feel like outsiders at all”
We are the New Americana following Old English poetic structures! Just one more irony Halsey threw into this bold, satirical ballad.
3. “It’s just me, myself, and I/Solo ride until I die/Cause I got me for life”
One of the things that makes this song so catchy is Bebe Rexha’s powerful vocals….in iambic pentameter! In fact, much of the chorus of “Me, Myself & I” by G-Eazy and Bebe Rexha is sang in IP.
2. “So come on let it go, just let it be”
Shall I compare thee to a rainy day? “Let It Go” by James Bay is an iconic rainy day song, and falls into iconic iambic pentameter.
1. “I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, sha-ake”
Shake it off Shakespeare style. ‘Nuff said!
What are your favorite lyrics in iambic pentameter? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @CelebMix!