Below you will find a list of useful songs along with some ideas on using them.
This is only a list because posting audio files of copyrighted material is not permitted.
For Teachers: extended lesson materials for:
Follow the Drinking Gourd
Riding West of Tucson
Man of Constant Sorrow
Angel - by Sarah McLachlan (from the City of Angels movie soundtrack CD)
Iris - by the Goo Goo Dolls (from the City of Angels movie soundtrack CD).
Complicated - by Avril Lavigne Popular contemporary lyrics. Lots of idioms.
Underneath It All - by No Doubt (from the CD, Rock Steady) Very popular, very contemporary, complicated lyrics for good discussion.
Family Portrait - by Pink Serious song about a broken family.
Come Away With Me - by Norah Jones (from the Come Away With Me CD) This is my favorite! Beautiful, classy vocal jazz. Deceptively simple lyrics that are good for discussion.
Don't Know Why - by Norah Jones (from the Come Away With Me CD) Another beautiful song! Students can guess missing words before they hear it. Little Things - by India.Arie Yet another beautiful song with rich, strong lyrics about values clarification. Highly recommended for young people.
The Game Of Love - by Santana featuring Michelle Branch (from the CD, Shaman) Great pop song.
Smooth - by Santana featuring Rob Thomas from the CD, Supernatural) Students really want to try this one since everyone heard it so much. Lyrics are quite difficult but interesting. Go for it!
Thank You - by Dido (from the CD, No Angel) Classy look at a day in the life of a London working girl. Difficult lyrics but worth it. Lot's of contractions.
I'm Like A Bird - by Nelly Furtado (from the CD, Whoa Nelly!) Difficult but great theme of young independent woman. I use a Before-listening cloze)
That Don't Impress Me Much - by Shania Twain (from the CD, Come On Over) Clever country rock with lots of tightly knit lyrics.
You're Still The One - by Shania Twain (from the CD, Come On Over) I use a cloze that focuses on the numerous contractions. Lots of pronouns.
By The Way - by Red Hot Chili Peppers (from the CD, By The Way) Very contemporary, hard-hitting lyrics packed with idioms.
Breathe - by Faith Hill Romantic country-pop song with loaded with nature metaphors. Excellent lyrics.
Beautiful Day - by U2 Mega Grammy winner! Great song, tough lyrics, students can do it with help.
Back At One - by Brian McKnight Beautiful romantic R&B ballad with clever lyrics. Have students discuss the meaning of the chorus and the title of the song. Lots of idioms.
Livin' La Vida Loca - by Ricky Martin Students love this one and it wakes up any class! Lyrics are tough so we do a vocabulary/definitions match before listening to it.
The Way You Do The Things You Do - by the Temptations and also UB40 Great Motown classic with excellent lyrics tied together in neat couplets.
Waiting In Vain - by Bob Marley and also Annie Lennox Another reggae classic from Bob Marley. The Annie Lennox version is a wonderful comparison. Good idioms.
Another Day In Paradise - by Phil Collins (from the CD ...But Sincerely) Good social themes, two-word verb cloze. Use this with Mr. Wendal.
As Time Goes By - from Casablanca - recent version by Natalie Cole I play scenes from the movie where the song is used. We discuss vocabulary and the concept of which things in life are dated and which are timeless - compare the intro to the body of the song.
Because You Loved Me - by Celine Dion (from Falling Into You) Excellent vocabulary in patterns and everybody loves the song! Upper intermediate.
Blowin’ In The Wind - by Bob Dylan, Peter Paul & Mary, Joan Baez and others Excellent themes, vocabulary, passive verbs.
California Dreamin’ - by the Mamas and the Papas (from Greatest Hits) Easy enough to give the students a cloze with the missing words on the board and they try to complete it BEFORE they hear the song (I just call this a Before Listening Cloze).
Can You Feel The Love Tonight - by Elton John (from The Lion King Soundtrack CD) Excellent vocabulary, themes.
Change The World - by Eric Clapton (very popular) - Modal verbs, kings & queens metaphors.
Colors Of The Wind - by Vanessa Williams, Judy Kuhn (from Pocahontas Soundtrack CD) Clauses and phrases match BEFORE listening, vocabulary, themes. I have enlarged the main text page and laminated it. I have printed the clause strips and phrase strips on different colored papers and laminated them too so it is easier to manipulate, and of course it’s easier to reuse.
Don’t Know Much - by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville (from Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind CD) Groups listen to the song only twice and try to recreate the text from prompts such as the first word of each line on the board, or a writing template which gives them the first word of each line plus a blank for each missing word. Similar to Dictogloss. I call it Song Dictogloss. It’s important that student groups interact and work to reconstruct the text even when it seems too difficult.
Don’t Speak - by No Doubt (from the CD, Tragic Kingdom) Extremely popular with good vocabulary - I use word cards for a “cocktail party” before the song.
El Condor Pasa - by Simon and Garfunkel (from Greatest Hits CD) Modals, I’d rather be a ____ than a _____ writing, sing it! Great pronunciation problems for practice.
Eleanor Rigby - by the Beatles (from Revolver) Character profiles of Eleanor and Father McKenzie, loneliness, masks themes.
Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen - by Baz Luhrman - Incredibly rich! A long text that works well for reading and vocabulary. Also great themes for discussion. For advanced students.
Every Breath You Take - by the Police Good vocabulary in patterns.
Everything I Do-I Do It For You - by Bryan Adams very popular with the students.
Family Tree - by Tom Chapin (from the CD, Family Tree) FANTASTIC song! Themes, places, sing it!
From A Distance - by Nanci Griffith, Bette Midler Excellent theme, vocabulary, good to sing.
Hand In My Pocket - by Alanis Morissette (from Jagged Little Pill) Excellent for many vocabulary activities.
Hands - by Jewel (from Spirit) Excellent lyrics!
Happy Together - originally by the Turtles (from Greatest Hits) There are many cover versions! Great for pronouns Before-Listening Cloze.
Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman - by Bryan Adams (from Don Juan de Marco) Extremely popular with the students - discuss the extreme concept of love portrayed here.
Head Over Feet - by Alanis Morissette (from Jagged Little Pill) Morissette’s songs have GREAT vocabulary.
Heal The World - by Michael Jackson Vocabulary cards (cocktail party activity).
Hero - by Mariah Carey (from Music Box) Two-word verb cloze, great theme and very popular with the students.
Hotel California - by the Eagles (Original 1976 version and 1994 version) This is a real favorite with the students! I play the original 1976 recording, the beautiful 1994 version, and play the video of the Eagles performing it in concert. We discuss at length the themes, images, background and vocabulary. Highly recommended for advanced students.
I Can Love You Like That - by All 4-One Vocabulary Bingo.
I Can See Clearly - by Jimmy Cliff (from Cool Running soundtrack CD) Sing it - good for pronunciation reducing "can."
I Just Can’t Wait To Be King - by Elton John (from The Lion King Soundtrack CD) Homonyms, homophones, puns.
I Swear - by All 4-One, Dolly Parton Very popular - good vocabulary.
In My Life - by the Beatles (from Rubber Soul) A favorite classic with many students and there are lots of other versions such as Bette Midler and a recent spoken version by Sean Connery on the George Martin CD. Good verb forms.
Ironic - by Alanis Morissette (from Jagged Little Pill) Vocabulary Bingo and others, irony.
It’s A Small World - Disney sing it in two groups
It Was A Very Good Year - by Frank Sinatra (from September of My Years) Slow, beautiful, great metaphors.
Jailhouse Rock - by Elvis Presley I like to do one song by Elvis such as this or Don't Be Cruel.
Just The Two Of Us - by Will Smith (from Big Willie Style) Pop rap about his son with lots of great vocabulary and a good theme.
Leningrad - by Billy Joel (from Storm Front) Great cold war theme.
Let It Be - by the Beatles (from Let It Be) Fantastic song for singing and text reconstruction and pronunciation practice Students can sing it at least two times with the text. Then without the text, they try in groups to reconstruct a close-like worksheet missing entire clauses or phrases. Sing it often to practice linking-stress patterns in complex sentences. Men In Black - Will Smith (from Big Willie Style) Tasteful, fun rap song - many students appreciate the challenge of doing a cloze to the rapid fire style of rap.
Missing - by Everything But The Girl (from Amplified Heart) Very popular with great lyrics - like a scene from a movie.
Monster Mash - by Bobby Boris Pickett (from The Original Monster Mash) Halloween classic, good Americana vocabulary.
My Heart Will Go On - by Celine Dion (from The Titanic) Extremely popular and good for lower levels. Your students will enjoy it even though it’s quite sappy.
Mr. Wendal - by Arrested Development Well done rap song about a homeless, but wise man. Use with Another Day In Paradise. For advanced students.
My Way - by Frank Sinatra A classic song - good theme, idioms. Good for A/B partners speaking practice.
No Woman No Cry - by Bob Marley and The Fugees Classic reggae. Discuss Jamaica, the theme of friends in poverty, etc. Compare the Fugees version which changes the setting to Brooklyn!
One Of Us - by Joan Osborn (from Relish) Subjunctive, great religion theme for class discussion.
Opposites Attract - by Paula Abdul (from Shut up and Dance) Back-to-Back Cloze. Student A has one cloze and student B has another. Each need the opposites. They sit back-to-back to complete this information gap activity, then listen to the song.
Salvation - by The Cranberries (from To The Faithful Departed) Very hard-hitting, contemporary anti-drug song.
Sister Rosa - by the Neville Brothers (from Yellow Moon) Fantastic gem about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus strike.
Streets Of Philadelphia - by Bruce Springsteen (from Greatest Hits CD) AIDS theme, vocabulary.
Tears In Heaven - by Eric Clapton (from Unplugged) Discuss the real life story behind this song about the accidental death of Eric Clapton’s 5 year old son.
The Logical Song - by Supertramp (from Breakfast in America) Vocabulary Stand-up cards. Each student gets a large card with one of the words and stands up when she or he hears it. Great theme.
The Rose - by Bette Midler (from Experience the Divine) Clause match, same technique as used with Colors of the Wind. Discuss themes, sing it!
Torn - by Natalie Imbruglia (from Left of the Middle) Very compelling melody with challenging lyrics - Students love this one.
True Love - written by Cole Porter, Good version by Patti Austin (from The Real Me) Easy text so it’s good for the Song Dictogloss activity like Don’t Know Much.
Un-Break My Heart - by Toni Braxton (from Secrets) Very beautiful and popular song. A powerful performance that can be enjoyed on any level.
Under The Boardwalk - by the Drifters (from Greatest Hits) Prepositions of place.
Unforgettable - by Natalie Cole (from Unforgettable) Easy text so it’s good for the Song Dictogloss activity like Don’t Know Much.
Up On The Roof - by the Drifters (from Greatest Hits), James Taylor (from Greatest Hits), Prepositions of place (a good one to do with Under the Boardwalk).
We Didn’t Start The Fire - by Billy Joel (from Storm Front) Fantastic song covering recent American history from a baby boomer's experiences. There are Web sites devoted to this one!
What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor - trad. folk song Sing it! Great song for demonstrating the stress-timed nature of English pronunciation.
When I’m Sixty-Four - by the Beatles (from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) Verbs cloze. Discuss the meaning. It’s a thinly disguised marriage proposal!
Where have All The Flowers Gone - by Pete Seeger, Kingston Trio, Peter Paul & Mary Give student groups the five verses, one per strip of paper. Each student group tries to sequence the five verses in the right order. Sing it! Great for present perfect question patterns.
With A Little Help from My Friends - by the Beatles (from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) Sing it! Good "what would -- if" patterns.
Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong A classic revived when it was played in Good Morning Viet Nam. Easy enough for a before-listening cloze.
Yellow Submarine - by the Beatles (from Revolver) Verbs cloze, sing it!
Yesterday - by the Beatles (from Help!) Play different versions such as Ray Charles, Boyz II Men, and many others
You Gotta Be - by Des’ree (from I Ain’t Nothing) Second person imperatives, gotta, themes.
You Were Meant For Me - by Jewel (from Pieces of You) A very popular song with fantastic lyrics. It’s a slice of her day.