FluentU EnglishEnglish Language and Culture Blog
(Written on October 31, 2009)
When I watched the Japanese film Sakuran, Anna Tsuchiya who played as a Geisha wearing colorful kimono appeared with powerful and beautiful music, which is composed and sang by Shena Ringo. And the impressive original soundtrack attracted me well for its unbelievable music style which merged Japanese traditional notes and modern electronic music perfectly. This is the first time I met Shena Ringo and her outstanding music, reminding me of P.J. Harvey and Bjork who are talented female rock singer-songwriters. However, Shena Ringo’s music could be identified easily by her unforgettable voice and charming Japanese elements, making her famous among Asia.
Muzai Moratoriamu is the first album of Shena Ringo, one of my favorite musicians, representing her unique music style combined of different genres such as Japanese pop, rock and roll, grunge and jazz. She composed all the songs and wrote the lyrics using Kenji and English, thus creating a special experience for her audience.
Forget the weird but catchy
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About Shena Ringo
Shena Ringo, born on November 25th1978, quit from her senior high school and devoted herself to music career. Although her parents did hope her to dance rather than to sing, she insisted to join band and decided to be a singer. At her seventeen, she wrote a song named seventeen (collected in her single罪と罰) to express her determination by singing “I see same face in school and they say I am different / I think it is an honor / I say it is an honor to be different / I can’t go their way.” It is true that she goes an absolute different way. Her particular powerful melodies, her unforgettable husky voice, and her striking visuals in her music video and concert helped her become a successful musician. She ranked as 36 in top 100 Japanese Pop artists. (HMV)
Shena Ringo created her magical music by endless efforts including learning composing, playing several instruments such as guitar, piano, bass and drum, and even making music in studio. From her debut till now, ten years have passed by but she is still the girl who loves music singing “I can’t go their way” and tries her best to pursue her dream.
music videos such as ‘What does the fox say’ and ‘Gangnam Style’ – a new tune has gone viral but you’ll have to sit down before you watch it。还记得这一个奇葩但高昂上口的神曲么？举例《狐狸叫》《江南style》之类的。以往以此种类又有立异了，可是可别怪未有提示你，听在此之前，你可必须要坐稳了！
Muzai Moratorium, almost composed during Ringo’s teen before her debut, was released on February 24, 1999 by Toshiba EMI. The album debuted at #1 and has sold over 919,000 copies (Wikipedia). Her first album is successful in that it shows her genius on composing, displays her strong and distinctive voice, and presents her abundant imaginations on music. Shena Ringo collected inspirations from not merely her own life but also her observation to Japanese society.
In the first song named Tadashii Machi (Correct City) of the album, she described her inner thoughts when she had to leave her boyfriend to another city to develop her music career. Although this song reflected the sad mood of leaving her love, Shena Ringo used continuous driving drum and bass to deliver her faith and believe about love and hope to her audience. She knew what she wanted to do and what she had to give up, though with regrets to her boyfriend. When I listened to this song, I understand her sorrow that she had to face the destiny of separation and her determination that she must be strong to pursue her dream, because I had to leave my families in China to U.S. for study accounting. In my opinion, this song could provide courage and strength to many people who have the same situation in lives.
In the second song named Kabukichō no Jo-ō (Queen of Kabuki-cho), Shena Ringo told a story from a teenager girl’s perspective that she would become the Queen of Kabuki-cho to sell herself to man. In fact, this song is based on Shena Ringo’s own experience that she once met a pimp from a SM club and was asked to become Queen for the club. In the music video, young Ringo played her guitar, dressing like a cool punker, with disdain appearance on her face. The music style of this song is rock and grunge with forceful electric guitar and strong rhyme. The genre could express her mood perfectly because it is a song about teenager. Like the famous song of Smells like Teen Spirit from Nirvana, this song of Shena Ringo also selected grunge, a fierce rock style, to reflect the confusion and desperation about youth. In many Japanese films, youth is cruel and rock is the best way to annotate by its special direct power.
Besides the above fast songs, Shena Ringo wrote some slow songs to express her desire about true love. In the first album, she composed Akane-sasu Kiro Terasaredo (The crimson-gleaming sun still shines on my way back, but) and Onaji Yoru (Ordinary Night), two slow touching songs, different from her fierce fast songs.
The prior one describes a beautiful but a little bit gloomy scene. The lyric was sad: “I put my headphones on my ears /An Irish girl is singing /As dusk falls, is it too painful to have my tears coaxed out of me?” At the end of the song, she sang in English: “I place the headphones on my ears and listen / Someone sings a song / I feel so blue / Now darlin’ promise me / Please tell me something words to soothe / I don’t wanna cry” (Nostalgic-lavender). It is a common phenomenon that Japanese singers use English in their songs to express some direct words which they would feel shy to speak in Japanese, their first language. Shena Ringo made this song full with eastern artistic conception as lust is always associated with sorrow of separation in Japan and China. As Shena Ringo has excellent accomplishment in literature, she wrote her lyrics in Kenji, providing people more enjoyments besides fantastic music.
The song named Onaji Yoru trans (The same night) selected guitar and violin to show grief mood. Although she used the elegant classic instrument violin, Shena Ringo made the violin sound trembling to reflect her different individual style. Especially at the end of the song, she used a piece of violin solo that sounds nervous made this soft slow song have an unexpected effect. Shena Ringo sang “The same wind is blowing on both of us / We go through the same nights / How I love you, oh darling... / Don't you hear me calling / I'm searching for a person that I can't meet a second time / Everyone can hear the song I'm singing / I still don't want anything / My answer is only the sound of rain” (Videouncovered) , with sentimental and soft voice which rarely appear in her music. The tune of the song is more peaceful than any other songs in this album and the lyric with the mournful music reminds people of their own memories about love, and touches their heart by the same thoughts about waiting and eagerness.
Another interesting song of the album is Sid to Hakuruumu, which related to one of Shena Ringo’s favorite singers, Sid Vicious who killed his girl friend and died in his twenty one. This singer is the bassist of the puck rock group Sex Pistols. Shena Ringo liked to use her favorite singers in her lyrics, such as Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and his wife Love Courtney. From these songs, we can learn that Shena Ringo is affected by western rock bands deeply. And that is why she can combine western music style and traditional Japanese music type without any difficulties.
Besides these songs, other songs in the album are also impressive, especially the song named Koufukuron (A view of happiness) which was her first single. The lyric “You’re there living your life and just knowing this simple little fact makes me so happy” (Jpopasia) became popular after released. Shena Ringo organized the whole album from fast songs to slow songs, letting people know her from her shining appearance as her fast songs with passions to colorful inner emotions as her slow songs with tenderness.
The trick is figuring out exactly how to make something go viral – but if you can’t choose between people dressed in chicken costumes and cartoon chickens – just use both!到底怎么着才干让歌曲像病毒同样便捷传回呢？要是您不知底在mv中应该配备穿着小鸡衣裳的人照旧卡通小鸡的话，那么你就选两样都出现吗！
Compared Shena Ringo to other female rock stars in the world such as Bjork, P.J.Harvey and Tori Amos, they share something in common that mark them as rock queens. All of them have powerful voices, strong composing ability and independent attitude. From their music, people can gain courage and strength of love and live, and they can appreciate another aspect of woman rather than traditional obedience and soft image. However, Shena Ringo who comes from Japan tried more genres and various look and added more subtle and delicate eastern elements into her music. In her music video, she played as high school student wearing “kawaii (cute)” uniform, nurse heating the glasses and kissing female patient, and even Geisha playing guitar, telling people she has unlimited potentials in her world and music. This attitude to life is one of the most charming parts of her because no one knows what the next surprise from Shena Ringo would be
Although as the first album of Shena Ringo, Muzai Moratorium showed her great ability and potential in composing and singing, as well as revealed her fascinating personality and thoughts. By merging eastern and western music successfully, Shena Ringo with her own bold style in music, conquered audience and became one of the most famous Japanese female singers. The album also becomes her representative work, full of imagination and her own experiences, providing people pleasant with its touching notes and vivid lyrics.
Chinese pop singer Wang 罗恩g Rollin, from China, recently released an official pop music video titled 'Chick Chick' but the bizarre clip has left everyone feeling confused.中国流行明星王蓉，方今发布了一首名称叫《小鸡小鸡》的合法音乐mv，奇葩的歌词、毁尽三观的mv画面大概震撼了全体人。
Learn Excellent English with Songs from the Top 100
Top 100 Japanese Pop Artists, HMW
(Accessed on October 31,2009)
Koufukuron Shena Ringo lyrics, Jpopasia
(Accessed on October 31, 2009)
Lyrics and Translation of Shiina Ringo, Nostalgic
(Accessed on October 31, 2009)
Lyrics of chuchumura, Videouncovered
(Accessed on October 31, 2009)
Muzai_Moratorium, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Accessed on October 31, 2009)
In the video, the singer dressed in a colourful ball gown with a 70’s hairdo, uses a fairy wand to make a group of female dancers, dressed in Ve瓦斯-style showgirl costumes appear。在那支mv中，女歌星顶着七十时代的发型、穿着色彩鲜艳的洋装，用手中的仙子法力棒变出了一批身着林茨式的歌舞女郎衣服的女舞者。
You already know how amazing music can be.
But they start dancing and flapping their arms like clucking chickens and as the chorus starts, the language of the lyrics sound mostly like barnyard noises as they squawk。可是那几个女舞者却像一批咯咯叫的小鸡同样跳着摇晃臂膀。副歌部分一开首，当先八分之四乐章听上去就像农场里受惊时的小鸡发出的噪声。
It can cheer you up or energize you.
It is reported that the lyrics are mostly made up of weird and bizarre poultry sounds。据称，那一个歌词实在是由古怪的、古怪的家畜声音组合而成的。
It can make you feel strong emotions.
While the music is playing, there are animated
And it can make your feet want to dance on their own!
chickens dressed in bikinis as they flap their wings in other scenes or even in the background behind real dancers and the singer。音乐举行的还要，一批穿着C字裤并不停扇动着膀子的卡通版小鸡也油然则生在mv中，并视作真人跳舞者和演唱者的背景。
What you might not know is that music can do something else: It can teach you English vocabulary.
It does lack Gangnam Style’s catchy and imitable dance moves, but in its place are the silliest costumes and the chicken dance。那全然不如《江南style》轻松、易模仿的跳舞动作，但代之而起的是越来越令人力不从心尽力而为的奇葩衣裳和小鸡舞。
Do you listen to songs in English? If you do, great! You’re halfway there already. If you don’t, give it a try! Pop music from English-speaking countries is fun to listen to and usually has some great melodies and beats.
There are also topless men wearing silver shorts, socks and shoes, as well as farm animal masks over their heads as they are seen dancing in the clip as well。其它，mv里还只怕有半裸上身的男舞者穿着浅莲灰哈伦裤、短袜和鞋子，头上戴着农场动物的面具不停地跳来跳去。
It’s these catchy tunes that make English songs such a great language-learning tool. You might not remember what you read in your textbook last night, but you can probably sing along to some English songs. From listening to (and reading) the words of a song—called lyrics—you can greatly improve your English understanding.
The video was posted
What are you waiting for? Put on your headphones, and let’s learn some English!
onto YouTube on October 22 by user Mainland China CPOP MV 2 and has received over 3.7 million views and a significant amount of mix responses。那支mv在二月18日被上传到YouTube上后，获得了当先370万次的点击率以及多量的感应不一的评论和介绍。
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
Virgil 奇骏 Garwood posted: ‘I'm laughing harder at the lyrics. Phonetic languages are awesome. Thank you rolling wong for teaching me that Old McDonald's farm looks awesome in Chinese.’网民维吉尔 RubiconGarwood：“笔者快被歌词笑死了。这种语音文字大概太棒了。多谢王蓉让本身知道，原本老式的汉堡王农场用中文唱出来原来这么酷。”
What Kind of English Can Music Teach Us?
Erin von Foerster wrote: ‘When you wake up to go to work, feeling under paid and unappreciated, try not to think about people getting paid to make insane crap like this for a living. ’网上朋友Erin von Foerster：“当您早起去职业，认为薪俸少、不被赏识的时候，不要忘了还会有一堆人以塑造这种神经无聊的杂质为生。”
There’s so much we can learn from English music.
Alvin Johnson wrote: 'I actually love it.. There's so many wtf in this video I'm too stunned to handle'网上朋友Alvin Johnson：“说实话，作者的确很喜欢。那mv里有太多的令人‘卧槽那是啥’的地点，小编当成愣住了，完全胸中无数了。”
English songs can teach you popular idioms, they can make learning vocabulary a fun experience and they can even teach you all about grammar.
Deon Urist wrote: 'We are not hating, we are just stunned by the video and its deep meaning.'网上朋友Deon Urist：“大家并不讨厌它，只是那支mv以及它包括的深层意义…真心给跪了。”
So, pop songs aren’t just fun to listen to. They’re also amazing English-learning tools. Even if a song doesn’t have any new vocabulary words for you to learn, there’s so much else you can learn from it. Modern songs can teach you about:
Phrases and idioms
Casual and informal words
That’s a lot to learn from just three minutes and a catchy melody!
How to Learn English with Pop Songs
To learn language lessons from English music, you have to become an active listener.
In other words, you have to listen carefully to all the words. You have to know their definitions and how the words are put together into sentences. You need to know the complete meaning of the song.
If you don’t understand something, you need to be active, look up the words and try your hardest to understand.
Here are some tips for becoming an active listener:
Read before you listen. It can be difficult to hear the words in a song clearly, so it helps to see them written down before you listen. Use a website like AZLyrics or Google Play to look up the lyrics to a song.
You can also watch a music video with subtitles or just watch a lyrics video (which shows the words as the song plays). Reading the lyrics will help you find any words you don’t know, understand the meaning better and know exactly what the singer is saying.
Sing along. It might feel silly, but singing along to English songs can really help you learn the words. You might find out that both pronunciation and fluency become easier when you have music to follow.
Once you know the words well enough, try turning the music off and speaking them normally. Singing the words may make you more confident and comfortable speaking them.
Pay attention to the way the words sound. We admit, not all pop music has interesting or meaningful lyrics. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from it! Hearing and understanding words in English songs is actually a huge accomplishment. It means you have learned the words well enough to recognize them.
If you’re listening to a song with a lot of repetition (and you haven’t read the lyrics yet), listen to the words. Try writing down the lyrics, then checking to see how well you understood the singer.
Find the mistakes. Songs are like poetry. They can get creative in order to sound better or have a better rhythm. This means some songs use improper grammar or phrases. Try to spot where a song uses poor grammar or uses a word in the wrong way.
This is also something to keep in mind when you’re learning from songs, since what you hear might not always be correct. Double check things if you’re not sure, or ask a teacher or native English speaker.
Most importantly, have fun! Studying English with songs is a fun and creative way to give your brain a rest while still learning. So put away those textbooks for a moment, and take a break with these awesome hit songs from 2016!
The Top English Songs of 2016 for Learning English Words and Phrases
- “The Sound” by The 1975
“The Sound” is a song about love. The band sings about loving someone who doesn’t seem to care much about them. Unlike most other songs, they use words and phrases from philosophy (the study of who we are and why we exist).
Conceited: Someone who is too proud of themselves. A conceited person thinks they’re amazing (even if they’re not really all that great).
Reciprocate: When someone gives you something, you can reciprocate by giving them something similar in return. If someone loves you, you might reciprocate the feeling. You can also do someone a favor in return for a favor they did for you.
Sycophant: A sycophant is a “yes man,” or someone who uses flattery (saying nice things, compliments) to try to get a person to like them. This word isn’t used very often in everyday conversation, but it’s very advanced and useful!
Socratic: Another word you won’t hear often in casual English is Socratic, which is a cultural reference to the ancient philosopher Socrates. The Socratic method involves teaching through asking the student questions that they have to figure out for themselves (instead of just giving them the answer).
Prophetic: When a description of the future comes true, it’s prophetic. A fortune teller might be prophetic, but a fortune cookie rarely is.
Cliche: An overused phrase or action that’s no longer original or interesting.
- “Formation” by Beyoncé
Warning: Explicit lyrics (some cursing and sexual references)
In this song, Beyoncé says that no matter how rich and famous she becomes, you can’t ever take the South out of her. She makes several references to things people associate with the American South, like collard greens and cornbread (two types of food popular in the South).
It’s a good song to learn some slang and informal words and phrases, but it’s also an interesting look at the culture of the American South. Just remember that many of the things mentioned are stereotypes—and stereotypes are things that people say are true about a group of people, but they might not be true for everyone (for instance, not every Southerner likes collard greens).
I slay: This slang phrase means you’re very amusing, cool or impressive. “Slay” literally means “kill.” In English slang, when you’re doing something well, you can say “I’m killing it!” with a positive tone. In the case of “I slay,” you’re so good at something, you’re killing it!
Corny: This word actually has nothing to do with corn (the vegetable). Something corny is either overused or overly-emotional. A joke can be corny if it’s very obvious, and so can a romantic moment.
Cocky: If someone is being very sure of themselves in an arrogant or overly-confident way, they’re being cocky.
Formation: The way something is arranged, usually used as a military term (when soldiers line up, they’re getting into formation).
Trick: A trick is something meant to fool someone, like a magic trick. In slang, this word is a very impolite term for a woman who teases or tries to fool or impress someone.
- “Cheap Thrills” by Sia
Sia’s catchy tune has a simple message: You don’t need money to enjoy yourself. Just keep dancing! The song’s few lyrics repeat a few times, making this a great song to practice understanding English lyrics.
Cheap thrill: A thrill is something exciting, but a cheap thrill is only exciting for a brief moment. Cheap thrills might be fun while you’re doing them but they aren’t very satisfying.
Won’t be long: This phrase is a very useful way to say something will only take a moment. If you want to take a break, you can say “I won’t be long!”
Hit the dance floor: Don’t actually hit the dance floor (it hits back harder, we promise). This phrase just means to go onto the floor and start dancing. You can also “hit the road” (start driving) or “hit the sack” (fall asleep).
- “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake
Another feel-good song, “Can’t Stop the Feeling” is about how great dancing feels—and how great it feels to watch someone you love or like dance.
This song was used for the recent Disney movie “Trolls,” but if you listen to the lyrics you can also hear a more adult way to understand them. Can you hear both meanings?
In my zone: This is a slang phrase that means you’re completely focused on what you’re doing. You might get in your zone when you write, make music or do other things that require skill and concentration.
Phenomenally: Really, really well. A phenomenon is something amazing that you can’t explain. Something that’s done phenomenally is done incredibly well.
Creeping up on you: This slang phrase means something that happens so slowly that you don’t notice it happening. You might have a feeling that creeps up on you, or a deadline that slowly comes closer until it suddenly appears.
- “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes
If you watch the music video for this song, you’ll see the singer getting beaten up by someone invisible. This is meant to be a metaphor—a statement used to represent a different meaning. In other words, the singer isn’t actually getting hurt, but he’s hurt inside by his lover leaving him.
Stitches: You can make a stitch by pulling a needle and yarn through something. You might also need stitches to sew up a big cut.
Cut deeper than a knife: This phrase means something non-physical hurts as much as a knife would. It’s usually used when someone’s mean words or actions really hurt.
Aching: To hurt in a prolonged or intense way. You can have a toothache or a stomach ache, but you can also have an emotional ache: an intense feeling of longing or sadness.
Lure: To tempt someone away by offering something appealing. Lures on fishing lines tempt fish to bite them. The popular new mobile game Pokémon Go lets you set up lures to attract Pokémon to a spot.
Reap what you sow: To reap and to sow are both farming words. To sow means to plant a crop (plant meant for food), while to reap means to cut or gather it. (A popular depiction of death calls him “the grim reaper,” because he collects souls like a farmer might collect crops). The old phrase “you reap what you sow” means that you gather what you plant. In other words, you’ll have to face the consequences of your actions.
- “Heathens” by Twenty One Pilots
Written for 2016’s Batman movie “Suicide Squad,” “Heathens” is a dark-sounding pop song that says you should be careful who you trust, because you never know who the person next to you really is.
The song was written specifically for the movie, so it might actually be about murderers (after all, the movie was about Batman’s “bad guys”). But it can also be about the group’s fans, or even about the church. Listen to the lyrics and see what they mean to you!
Heathen: In the traditional sense, a heathen is someone who doesn’t follow the religious teachings of a major religion like Christianity. The word can also be used to refer to someone who doesn’t follow a moral code. In other words, this is someone bad or uncivilized.
Docked away: To dock something means to “park” or store it away. The phrase is usually used for ships or spaceships, but it can also mean to put something away.
Psychopath: Medically, a psychopath is someone with a psychological illness that makes them act violently. Informally, the word is often used to refer to someone who acts crazy.
Intention: What you mean (or intend) to do. You might have good intentions when giving someone flowers to make them feel happy and loved (even if it turns out that the person is allergic to flowers).
- “All My Friends” by Snakehips ft. Tinashe and Chance the Rapper
Sometimes all the partying and dancing is too much, and it doesn’t end well. Instead of having a great time, this song is about what happens when the singer doesn’t enjoy the party, and ends up going back to someone she’s no longer in a relationship with.
There’s mild cursing (bad words) in this song, but also some great words to learn.
Waver: When you waver, you hesitate or shake a bit.
Wasted: If you waste something, you don’t use it or you use it badly. In slang, though, being wasted means being very drunk.
Polar opposite: The North and South Poles are located at the top and bottom of the Earth, so two things that are polar opposites are completely different.
Propaganda: Information that’s meant to make people feel or think something. Propaganda often uses lies or false information to spread an idea.
Treachery: Treachery means betrayal, or going against someone’s trust.
- “Here” by Alessia Cara
Alessia Cara would rather not party at all! This song is like a poem about what it’s like to be at a party when you’d rather be at home.
Indifferent: You’re indifferent when you don’t really care about something.
Hollering: To holler means to yell loudly, though in slang it’s shortened to “holla.”
Congregating: A congregation is usually used to talk about a church gathering, but the word also means to gather in a group someplace.
Standoffish: To be standoffish means to be distant and unfriendly.
Now that you see how much you can learn from just a few short songs, you can start learning on your own.
Next time you listen to a song in English, be an active listener.
Learn from the music!
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