Reading, listening and interpretation of song lyrics – Students explore themes of cultural diversity through the lyrics of popular songs.
For students to explore themes of cultural diversity through a study of popular songs lyrics.
- Copies of the activity sheet
- If desired, copies of the complete lyrics (obtainable from the Internet)
- If possible, recordings of the songs.
What to do
- The activity can be done as either a whole or small group exercise, simply going through the song excerpts and answering the questions on the sheet.
- Alternatively, the complete lyrics of each song (with recordings if possible) could be studied by students in four groups (each with a different song).
- Each group could then present their song and their opinions to the whole class.
Either individually or in pairs/small groups, students could select and study a song which relates to cultural diversity, and present it to the whole group.
Popular Culture & Diversity Activity Sheet
The Beauty of Gray performed by Live, from the album Mental Jewellery, about examining one’s racial prejudices:
‘This is not a black and white world
To be alive
I say that the colours must swirl
And I believe
That maybe today
We will all get to appreciate
The beauty of grey’
Beds are Burning performed by Midnight Oil, from the album Diesel and Dust, about the dispossession of Aboriginal people in Australia:
‘The time has come
To say fair’s fair
To pay the rent
To pay our share
The time has come
A fact’s a fact
It belongs to them
Let’s give it back’
I Am Australian performed by The Seekers, from the album Night of Nights Live, about appreciating diversity and unity in Australia:
‘We are one
But we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream
And sing with one voice
I am, you are, we are Australian’
Different People performed by No Doubt, from the album Tragic Kingdom, about the benefits of diversity:
‘He and she, two different people
With two separate lives
Then you put the two together
And get a spectacular surprise
‘Cause one can teach the other one
What she doesn’t know
While still the other fills a place inside
He never knew had room to grow’
- What message do you think the artist is trying to communicate through his/her music?
- What values and attitudes are being portrayed?
- Do the lyrics relate to issues of cultural diversity in Australia? How?
- Does the music add to the meaning of the lyrics? How?
- What other forms of popular culture communicate messages about diversity?
Adapted from a Living in Harmony Funded Project, ‘Culture & Colour’, Northern Beaches Neighbourhood Service, NSW, 2005