This week’s blog post is going to be a little different from previous weeks’ posts. With the state of the world right now, I just feel like we all need a good laugh, so hopefully this post will at least make you chuckle! And because I like laughing so much, I think I might just make this a series! So, stay tuned for more posts about the weirdness of the English language!
For the first chuckle, I’d like all of us to take a trip down memory lane, all the way back to 2014 (which, I know, isn’t that long ago). I had just graduated college and was on the prowl to find my first English teaching job when “Weird Al” Yankovic dropped his classic video “Word Crimes” which highlights all the standard mistakes we, as English speakers, make.
If you don’t know “Weird Al” he’s known for taking pop culture songs, changing the lyrics and subject of the song, and rerecording them. Most times, he keeps the original chord progressions, rhythms, and musicality. Often times, they make the listener crack up!
Of course, as I was on my hunt for my first job, I laughed way too hard when I first heard this song. I immediately thought, “This song HAS to make it into a lesson in my future classroom!!” Unfortunately, due to the “Everybody shut up” lyric at the beginning and the original inspiration for the song, it never entered my classroom. Regardless! It’s still a funny song!
“Word Crimes” is based on another song from the time. Released in March of 2013, “Blurred Lines,” recorded by Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and T.I., became an instant sensation and according to the L.A. Times, it “went on to become the biggest song of 2013.” Its disco/R&B feel made it easy to dance to and its lyrics were easy to learn and sing.
Unfortunately for the singers, just two short years after the release of this song, they were found guilty of plagiarism (a hot button word in the English field) as they had copied Marvin Gaye’s chart-topping 1977 hit, “Got to Give You Up.” The singers were forced to pay “nearly $7.4 million in unpaid licensing fees and a chunk of the song’s profits,” (L.A. Times). When thinking about this, it’s slightly ironic, because in an interview with GQ shortly after the song’s release, when asked “What’s the origin story behind your new single, Blurred Lines?” Robin Thicke responded, “Pharrell and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favorite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It Up.’ I was like, ‘[Dang] we should make something like that, something with that groove.’ Then he started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half hour and recorded it. The whole thing was done in a couple hours—normally, those are the best ones.”
Lesson of the day? Don’t plagiarize, kids!
Anyway, here’s “Weird Al’s” “Word Crimes!” Have you committed any of these “crimes?” I know I have…
I think the “crime” that really rubs me the wrong way is misuse of apostrophes! I get it. It’s difficult to know when to stick an apostrophe in a word, but I still just shake my head when people use them incorrectly. Oh, that and the overuse of the word “literally.” I can’t stand that one either!
Drop us a comment and let us know which word crime tickles your feathers!!