doubleshot media

for a strong, fast pick-me-up

Can popular songs ruin or rescue your writing?


This post was inspired by:

1. a funny post I read this morning commenting on Katy Perry’s lyrics:

“It’s the one WHO got away – not the one THAT got away”

It’s a fun, entertaining and educational post – and you can click on through with the link at the end of this post.

2. My little grammar nerd daughter Cleo who scolds the radio as we listen to the  Bruno Mars  “The Lazy Song” :

“It’s… I just want to LIE in my bed – not LAY!”

cleo NB

I know where Cleo gets it from – she probably overheard her grammar nerd dad!

The positive side of being a word nerd

I know that the lyric writers of these successful songs will be a lot richer than the grammar police pendants who point out the mistakes.

My point is that: pop songs can damage your writing by perpetuating the incorrect word use.

Of course pop songs CAN also be an effective and memorable  way to illustrate incorrect usage.

One of my favourites is the old example of a double negative from the Pink Floyd song The Wall.

We don’t need no education

In English: the two negatives cancel each other and create a positive.

In other languages the negatives  can amplify each other and make the message more negative.

So, in English, the result of  We don’t need no education

is that We DO need education.

I suspect the mistake was deliberate – to:

1. sound “street”

2. show (with a sense of humour) that the singer IS in need of education

I LOVE Pink Floyd lyrics – and I also need to keep more current when I train younger audiences.

Tony Biancotti - positive, persuasive messages

I need to study PINK  lyrics as well as Pink Floyd!

…and study more Katy Perry lyrics.

So thank you for that good current example from the amusing post that helped inspire this post.

Here’s a link to the grammar police post – even if YOU think you don’t need no education about correct word use!



In defence of Katy Perry (not that she needs it!)

While WHO is correct when talking or writing or singing about a person rather than a thing, I believe Katy is using the wording of the common expression.

With the common expression, the  word is ‘the one THAT got away’.

Although WHO should be used to describe a person, the expression originated from a fishing expression where THAT  describes a FISH and where THAT is the correct word choice.

If you can think of any pop song word use mistakes – please add to the comments.

(and YES, the PENDANT mistake  above was deliberate – so the eagle-eyed Grammar Police PEDANTS could swoop on the mistake with great glee!)



If you enjoyed this post – Let’s connect:

If you found this post interesting you can follow me and connect with me.

I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious  business communication tips.

I’ve disciplined my self to check ALL my different communication platforms twice a day – as part of my Check-in Ritual.


TB working in cafe


Linked In – under Tony Biancotti

Or you can click to follow this blog.




One comment on “Can popular songs ruin or rescue your writing?

  1. efangelist
    May 10, 2017

    Reblogged this on efangelist and commented:

    An earlier post – last night I listened to great songs with great lyrics, so that prompted this re-post!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: