Mind your (pop) listening: thoughts on listening material

Mind your (pop) listening: thoughts on listening material

They are back…together! New Kids On The Block meet Back Street Boys! Since 2011 the two iconic boy bands – now NKOTBSB – have been sharing the same stage – how exciting is that?!

If you are in your mid-thirties/forties you remember well the phenomena NKOTB and BSB; and if you’re a woman you might have dreamt about one of those guys. And they didn’t have to strip off or behave provocatively on the screen. They were just so cool.

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Take NKOTB, for instance. They were part of a generation in which pop was not yet contaminated with such large doses of obscene language, sex appeal and sensuality that the music industry throws at us today.

Isn’t it great to look back and laugh at yourself being a silly billy and associating songs only with the possibility of being famous one day, or just performing in front of the mirror when you were on your own?

Learning from experience

It’s amazing the massive role that pop music played (and still plays) in my English learning. When I was in my teens it was magical not only to be able to string one or two sentences together, but also to grasp what the songs were all about. Most of them were clean and pleasant (and silly!).

But little by little (or Step by Step ooh baby) we learn – or we should – how selective we have to become in order not to allow any material to be ‘source’ of learning. We have plenty of good choices from which to learn. There’s no need to waste time with songs and video clips with little spoken/sung English and full of images that add absolutely nothing to intellect and leave very little to imagination.

Not a matter of learning?

You might think I’m being too prudish. Isn’t it true that we learn lots of slang and idioms through songs? Isn’t it true that it’s a great way to bring together pleasure and learning? Isn’t that what we should do in order to make learning more interesting and appealing?

Yes… for all other non-rubbish listening material available. Fortunately, there are quality options. Look at Adele – what a voice and what a songwriter! Other pop options such as Olly Murs bring me some hope too (I love his style and how brilliantly he mixes old and new!). If you are into other genres you might enjoy the likes of Michael Bublé (pop/jazz), Rascal Flatts (country)…I’m sure you will also come up with other good examples too. Especially the guys that might be thinking this article is too romantic. By the way, what about singing along with Olly?

Selecting and recycling

We have to separate the wheat from the chaff. The music industry might dictate and control their contents, but we don’t need to buy them all. On the contrary, we do well to choose and save. Internet has compiled such a great deal of resources that saves us an awful lot of money, and the efforts to get what we want are minimal. We can decide to learn virtually anything and have it halfway done at our finger tips.

Let’s listen to good stuff and consider the oldies. When the world lacks creativity it always goes back in time in search of good stuff. Something good that has always been there. In this case, the good don’t die young.

See you next time.

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Erica De Monaco Lowry

Erica De Monaco Lowry has been living in Ireland since 2008. She is a teacher, an interpreter, a translator, a tour guide and an insatiable learner. Her favorite pastimes include reading, travelling, socialising and catching up with her family.

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