English Idioms In Iconic Songs Ep 708

An image of a vintage radio playing classic songs with musical notes floating around. Explore idioms in iconic songs!

📝 Author: Hilary

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💬 3343 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 17 min

📥 Download MP3 & PDF 11.0 Mb ▪️ 👓 Read Transcript ▪️ 🎧 Listen to Lesson

Enjoy English Idioms From Famous Songs

Lady Gaga's 'Poker Face': A hidden lesson in emotional intelligence? Kanye's 'Gold Digger': Misogynistic or a mirror to society? We have another interesting English lesson today, taking some world famous English music and unravelling the idioms as the heart of the songs.

Today's lesson will help you learn all about musical idioms in popular songs, while enhancing vocabulary and listening comprehension skills.

🎶 Unlock the Rhythms of English with Adept English! Dive into our vibrant lesson where music meets language. Master idioms through iconic English songs.

  • 🎵 Blend joy of music with effective language learning.
  • 🌍 Cultural immersion in English through international hits.
  • 🗣️ Improve conversation skills using everyday idioms.
  • 🎧 Listen and learn - perfect for on-the-go learning.
  • 📈 Tailored for all levels - from beginner to advanced.
  • 📝 Practical tips for mastering English in a fun way.
  • 👂 Enhance listening skills with real-world examples.

✔Lesson transcript: https://adeptenglish.com/lessons/learn-british-english-popular-songs-idioms-language-learning/

Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand.
⭐ Stevie Wonder

In this lesson, you're embracing a powerful way to learn English. It's not just about grammar and vocabulary; it's about connecting with the language through something as universal as music.

By exploring idioms in song titles, you're learning how English speakers express themselves. These idioms are more than phrases; they reveal cultural insights and nuances that typical language lessons might miss.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.
⭐ Dr. Seuss

🌟 Join us at Adept English for a harmonious journey to fluency. Get ready to groove your way to English fluency! 🚀💬

More About This Lesson

Discover the Rhythm of English with Iconic Songs! - Embark on a captivating journey with Adept English to learn idioms through famous English songs. Jump into the heart of English fluency in a way that's fun, memorable, and deeply engaging!

Songs are a way of telling stories and making people feel a certain emotion.
⭐ Dolly Parton

Why Tune into This Lesson? This unique approach to learning English has a lot to offer:

  1. Learn idioms from popular songs, enhancing vocabulary.
  2. Discover cultural insights through UK/US music.
  3. Improve listening skills with English audio.
  4. Engage with English in an enjoyable, musical context.
  5. Understand idiomatic expressions in real-world scenarios.
  6. Gain exposure to different English accents and pronunciations.
  7. Connect language learning with personal interests in music.
  8. Strengthen memory and retention through song lyrics.
  9. Enhance comprehension of English spoken at natural speed.
  10. Access to a unique, entertaining method of learning.

Benefits of our listen & learn approach to learning

  • Idioms in Action: See how idioms are used in everyday English.
  • Cultural Connections: Learn how songs reflect cultural nuances.
  • Pronunciation Perfection: Sing along to perfect your English accent.
  • Memory Magic: Remember phrases easily with the help of melodies.
  • Confidence in Communication: Build confidence in using idiomatic English.
To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world.
⭐ Tony Robbins

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Turn your language learning into a melodious experience. Tune in now and let your English skills soar with the rhythm of music! 🎧📚

Frequently Asked Questions About "Idioms in Iconic English Songs"

Diving into this English lesson is like embarking on a musical treasure hunt. Each idiom explored is a gem unearthed from the rich soil of iconic English songs, illuminating the path to fluency. It's an adventure with Adept English, where each lyrical discovery is a step closer to mastering the English language.

  1. What is the significance of using songs to learn English idioms? Songs are a powerful tool for learning idioms because they are memorable and engaging. By exploring idioms in songs, you connect language learning with culture and history, making it easier to remember and understand the idiomatic expressions used in everyday English.
  2. Can you explain the idiom "Heard It Through the Grapevine" as used in the song by Marvin Gaye? "Heard It Through the Grapevine" means to learn about something informally and unofficially, typically through gossip or rumour. In the context of the song, it refers to learning about a breakup through others rather than directly from the person involved.
  3. How does understanding idioms enhance English fluency? Understanding idioms is crucial for fluency in English as they are frequently used in everyday conversation. They add colour and expressiveness to the language and often carry cultural significance that helps learners understand the context and nuances of English.
  4. What is the meaning of "Poker Face" in the song by Lady Gaga? In the song "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga, the term "poker face" refers to an expressionless face that reveals no emotion. This idiom originates from the poker game where players try not to reveal anything about their hand.
  5. Why are some old songs still relevant for learning English today? Old songs remain relevant because they often contain timeless language and expressions still used today. They also provide insights into the cultural and historical contexts of the language, making them valuable resources for learning English.

Most Unusual Words:

  • Idiom: A phrase where the words together have a different meaning than the individual words suggest.
  • Grapevine: Informal communication network, often used to describe how rumours or news spread.
  • Poker Face: An expressionless face that gives no hint of a person's thoughts or feelings.
  • Troubled: Experiencing difficulty or distress.
  • Surrender: To give up or admit defeat.
  • Gold Digger: A person who forms relationships for money rather than love.
  • Prolific: Producing much work or many results.
  • Bohemian: Unconventional, often in the arts.
  • Champion: A person who has defeated or surpassed all rivals in a competition.
  • Podcast: A digital audio file available on the Internet for downloading, typically as a series.

Most Frequently Used Words:


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Transcript: English Idioms In Iconic Songs

Hi there. Today let’s combine the joy of music with language learning by exploring idioms in iconic English song titles. These songs are all in English and are songs by UK or US artists. Music is, I think, one of the UK’s best exports. It amazes me when I travel to other countries and they’re playing songs in English by British Artists. No matter where you're from, you may have sung along to some of these songs. So, let's combine our love of music with a juicy podcast today on idioms! Six songs with English idioms in their titles. See how many of these songs you know and enjoy a bit of ‘popular culture’ together in English!

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Firstly, if you're new to Adept English and you’ve just started listening to the podcast, or you’re at that stage of learning where you can understand quite a bit of English but it’s difficult to speak, our Most Common 500 Hundred Words Course will really help you. This course is a ‘Listen&Learn’ course and it makes sure that you’ve got all the essential English vocabulary. On our website, adeptenglish.com.

Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.

Can songs teach us English idioms?

Now, let me share a personal story. During a six hour drive to see family over the Christmas holiday, my daughter and I were singing along to classic songs on a UK radio station - ‘the Greatest Hits Top 100 of all time’. It struck me how songs connect generations. I’m always amazed by how my children and their generation know all the old songs. And like me, they don’t necessarily keep on top of what is currently in the music charts. So old songs are no longer just for the old! I was going to say ‘we listened to the ‘Greatest Hits Top 100 of all time’ - but actually there was probably more singing than listening going on. But it made our journey more enjoyable. And as often happens - an idea for a podcast crept into my mind! Let’s learn English idioms with songs that are known across the globe!

So what popular songs use idioms in their titles? See how many of these you know - and whether you knew the meaning of the song title before this. All of them are on YouTube, if you need to jog your memory, if you need to hear them to recognise them! Or, I guess, also if you’ve never heard them.

Is 'Heard It Through The Grapevine' still relevant today?

So one of the most famous song titles that’s an idiom ‘Heard It Through The Grapevine’ by Marvin Gaye. This is a very old song - originally recorded by Gladys Knight and the Pips - the song was recorded by Marvin Gaye in the US in 1967, so it’s a real classic. Have a listen on YouTube, if you don’t recognise it from its title. It doesn’t matter that it’s nearly 60 years old - it’s still good! And the meaning? If you ‘hear something through the grapevine’, it means that you’ve heard some news unofficially, not from the expected place. And the ‘grapevine’? Well, a vine, VINE is the plant that grows the fruit ‘grapes’, GRAPES. And of course vines are planted in rows. So ‘through the grapevine’ is an idiom for information passing from one person to the next, to the next, to the next etc. as though along a row of vines in a vineyard. So here Marvin Gaye has ‘heard through the grapevine, no longer will you be mine’ meaning that he’s heard from other people that his woman is returning to her previous lover. And naturally he’s very upset about it - as you would be!


Boost vocabulary with popular songs. An image of a timeless vinyl record player with classic albums around it.

©️ Adept English 2024

Why is 'Poker Face' not just about cards?

The next song is a bit more recent and again, from the US. What about ‘Poker Face’ by Lady Gaga? Again, if you don’t recognise that song immediately, try it on YouTube. It was a hit in 2008 in the UK - not that recent then - but it was in the charts in 28 different countries, so you may have heard it, perhaps? The idiom ‘poker face’ comes from the card game ‘Poker’, POKER that you might play in a casino. It’s important in Poker that you don’t show your reaction to your cards, you don’t ‘give away’ whether your hand of cards is good or bad. So someone who is good at playing Poker has a ‘poker face’ meaning that their face doesn’t show their emotion. And in the song? Well, Lady Gaga is talking about being bisexual - she’s not giving anything away to the man she’s with - she’s ‘poker-faced’!

Can listening to 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' calm you down?

Another old song - what about ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ by Simon and Garfunkel? So this song title - ‘a bridge’, BRIDGE is a word you might already know. Usually a bridge is where a road or railway goes over water. Famous bridges include ‘The Golden Gate Bridge’ in San Fransisco or Tower Bridge over the Thames in London. And ‘troubled’, TROUBLED can mean of a person, someone who’s agitated, stressed, worried. But ‘troubled water’ literally means water that’s turbulent, stormy. As an idiom ‘troubled waters’ means a period of time in someone’s life where it’s difficult, there are lots of problems and stress. So in the song ‘Like a bridge over troubled waters, I will lay me down’ - means ‘I an offering myself as a support to this other person, who’s going through a difficult time in life. They’ll be a ‘bridge’ for the other person, to help them over the ‘troubled waters’ in their life.

White Flag' - what does surrender mean?

Next one - ‘White Flag’ by Dido . This was released by UK singer-songwriter Dido in 2003. This isn’t quite as well-known as the other 5 songs I’m covering, but it’s still a good one and it was in the charts in 22 different countries. Like I said, music is one of the UK’s greatest exports, I think. So why is Dido singing about a ‘White Flag’? Well, ‘to wave the white flag’ is an idiom which means ‘to surrender, to give up’. If you come out ‘waving a white flag’ in a war or a hostage situation, it means ‘I’m surrendering, I’m giving up, I’m coming out - please don’t shoot me!’. So Dido is talking about her feelings for someone she loves, who’s ended their relationship and moved on. She still has feelings and is basically saying that she ‘won’t surrender!’ The line in the song that the title comes from ‘There will be no white flag above my door. I’m in love and always will be’.

Does 'Gold Digger' unfairly malign women?

The fifth one of these famous songs, with idioms in their title? What about ‘Gold Digger’ by Kanye West? My son loves Kanye, but I have a rather more difficult relationship with Kanye and his music! I can’t deny some of the music is great, but not sure I like the man very much - or always the lyrics! That means ‘the words to the song’ - LYRICS. Anyway, one of his famous songs is ‘Gold Digger’. Is he talking here literally about someone who is ‘digging for gold’ as they did in the ‘Gold Rush’ in America in the 1800s? Well, no I don’t think so. He’s using a phrase, which I find ‘dodgy’ - as with many Kanye lyrics! A ‘gold digger’ means a woman - and that’s part of my problem with this, it’s only used of women, this term - ‘a woman who wants to have a relationship with a man, or who has a relationship with a man, purely for his money, his wealth. That’s a ‘gold digger’. And while there are women for sure to whom this term applies fairly, I object to the fact that it’s used only about women, this idiom. Not really representing the ‘inequality of opportunity’ perhaps here! Anyway, before I ‘go off on one’, Gold Digger was released in 2005. Lovely Kanye!

Another One Bites the Dust' - one for ‘knock out’ competitions?

Last one - let’s come back to the UK for this one. What about ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ by Queen. Again, it’s on YouTube and I think you might have heard of this one. Queen were ‘prolific’ in the UK in the 70s and the 80s, so you’re likely to know something by Queen. Their most famous song, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ perhaps or even ‘We are the Champions’ which is played endlessly at football and other sporting matches? I loved Queen as a child - so much so I cried when Freddie Mercury died! And this one ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ also gets played in a sporting context and usually when someone has failed at something, rather than won at something, or had a success! So that gives you a clue as to the meaning of the idiom ‘to bite the dust’. It means generally that something ended or didn’t succeed - or it can even mean someone has died, though it’s not a very sensitive way of saying it! You might also say ‘Oh those old curtains - they bit the dust’. Or ‘My old laptop has bitten the dust - I’ve just bought a new one’.

Warm Up Your English Skills With Winter Idioms 💜

So in other words, they’ve failed, their time has ended. And in sport, usually the meaning is ‘their time in the competition, the race or the match...has ended’. Why do we say ‘to bite the dust’? Well, the verb ‘to bite’, BITE you probably already know - it means ‘to grab or cut into something with your teeth’ - hopefully food usually, rather than another person! And ‘the dust’? Well, ‘dust’, DUST means the covering, the particles which collect on surfaces in your house, if you don’t clean it. But also dust is what the ground becomes if it’s very dry. So you might ‘bite the dust’ if you fall off a horse or a motorbike. Your face ends up accidentally on the ground in the dust and you might get a mouthful of dust. You’ve ‘bitten the dust’ in other words. So that’s Queen ‘Another One Bites the Dust’. One of many wonderful songs!

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Anyway, that’s your six idioms in famous song titles for today. Let me know whether you enjoyed this podcast and the music - a bit of popular culture with some traditional English learning!


Don’t forget, by the way, to share us with other people who you know are learning English!

Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

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