You might’ve learned about literary devices in school, but did you know that these aren’t just for poets and professors? Many popstars also use these techniques to give your favorite anthems some extra punch.
Below are some literary devices that are used in pop music. Please feel free to sing along as you read.
Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in close proximity (and is frequently used in pop music). You may have never noticed, but Rihanna and Eminem use assonance to create lyrical gold in two of their hit songs. Perhaps their penchant for literary devices aided their collaborations, “Love the Way You Lie” and “The Monster.”
- The “eye” sound in “Diamonds” by Rihanna:
“Shine bright like a diamond.”
- The “oh” sound in “Lose Yourself” by Eminem:
“Oh, there goes Rabbit, he choked
He’s so mad, but he won’t give up that easy? No.”
Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the middle or end of a word. While consonance is generally used less frequently than assonance, divas (and boy bands) still utilize consonance to create catchy lyrics.
- The “n” and “shun” sounds in “Single Ladies” by Beyoncé:
“I need no permission, did I mention
Don’t pay him any attention.”
- The “Ur” sound in “That’s What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction:
Don’t know what for,
You’re turning heads when you walk through the door.”
Alliteration is the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of closely adjacent words. Alliteration is used in many popular songs, and we hope you don’t have any bad blood with your favorite artists because they use it.
- The B’s in “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift:
“Baby now we got, bad blood.”
- The W’s in “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay:
“Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world.”
Who knew that Eminem was a modern day Shakespeare? Listen to pop radio for a few minutes and you’ll start to hear how often artists use these techniques to add some extra snap, crackle and pop to a verse.
As a test, check out the following three songs and let us know which literary devices the artists use at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Note: there may be more than one right answer for some of these songs!)
- “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus
- “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift
- “Let It Be” by The Beatles
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Source: All song lyrics from Google Play Music