Articles, quizzes, and grammar tips for word-lovers everywhere

Tag: music

Swift Swift

Quiz: Taylor Swift or Jonathan Swift?

As Taylor Swift’s music video for her single “Shake It Off” goes viral, one question coming up on the Internet over and over again is whether or not it succeeds as a satire. Having previously received criticism about her dancing skills, the video follows Swift as she attempts ballet, break-dance, contemporary dance, rhythmic gymnastics, cheerleading, […]

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record player

James Brown in the OED

With the recent release of the James Brown biopic Get On Up, directed by Tate Taylor and starring Chadwick Boseman, I thought it might be worth reflecting on the legacy of Mr Dynamite. It goes without saying that James Brown contributed in enduring ways to the history of pop music; there’s good reason for his […]

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Georges

Quiz: George Orwell or George Michael?

Did you know that the novelist George Orwell and the singer George Michael share 25 June as their birthday? Unsurprisingly, they’re more than a few years apart – George Orwell (the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair) was born on 25 June 1903, while George Michael (originally Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou) followed exactly sixty years later. […]

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musical terminology

An A-Z of musical terms

Even if you’ve not picked up an instrument since you were eight and tootled away on a recorder, or stood at the back of a school hall holding a tambourine, you probably know the odd piece of musical terminology – forte, perhaps, or andante might ring a bell. Unsurprisingly, there are plenty more where those […]

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jeans

Can -core survive normcore?

What do President Obama, Steve Jobs, and the Toyota Camry have in common? In recent weeks all three have been described as “normcore,” a supposed fashion trend in which the sartorial elite eschew their usual sui generis styles for dowdy clothing of the type ordinary people wear. The concept may have originated as satire, but […]

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I’ll teach you how to “stunt”

bling dollar

In 2003, 50 Cent and his fellow G-Unit rappers released a song called “Stunt 101”, in which they claim to “teach you how to stunt”. I’ve been listening to this song for years without a second thought, but now it occurs to me that this verb stunt is completely baffling–what on earth does it mean!? […]

Eponymous instrument makers: from Sax to Stradivari

Saxophone

Today is Saxophone Day, a.k.a. the birthday of Adolphe Sax, which has inspired us to think about other instruments that take their name in some way from their inventors (sidenote: for the correct use of eponymous see this informative diatribe in the New York Times). Adolphe Sax (1814-1894) Belgian inventor of the saxophone. Fun fact: […]

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Hammer of the gods: the lyrics of Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin

Confession: I grew up in the 1990s. I admit freely that the only musical artists I knew for a while were N’Sync, the Spice Girls, and Blink-182. But then one day I heard a song called Dazed and Confused by a little band named Led Zeppelin and— after several jaw-dropping minutes of that insanely heavy […]

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