Hey there, this is Teacher ola podcast episode 19. Learn English With Music: Taylor Swift ‘You Need To Calm Down’.

My name’s Ola and I’ve been teaching English since 2013.

This podcast is for all learners of English who want to speak English with more confidence and get rid of speaking barriers. You’ll boost your vocabulary, brush up your grammar, improve your pronunciation. Go to my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Happy learning!

Hello again, thank you so much for tuning in today. This time ‘Learn English With Music’, so we’re going to learn some new phrases but albo some grammar with song lyrics. Taylor Swift is going to teach us some slang and other contemporary phrases. Go to teacherola.com/19 and grab a free worksheet and practice on your own.

I’ll be honest now, I really regretted choosing this song. The number of references to various artists, events, situations… oh my oh my! There are hidden links to Kardashians to Aretha Franklin to Katy Perry. You can get lost in it. If you’re interested in details, I do recommend some further reading. I decided to focus on the text itself. I’m not into showbiz, but I’m into language learning. I chose this song because it’s contemporary, filled with modern phrases. But, if you’re interested in digging deeper, I totally recommend, it might be interesting.

‘You Have To Calm Down’ from her new album Lover actsas Swift’s response to internet trolls that drag her and others.

In the lyrics, she’s referring to the minority protesting against gay marriage and LGBTQ acceptance at Pride Parades. Watch the video if you haven’t yet because it’s huge and lots of things are happening there. You’ll see there LGBTQ community, rainbows, festive celebration of love and acceptance for all sexualities and gender identities.

Now I’m going to slowly read each verse of the song for you to repeat, as always, so. Shall we?

You are somebody that I don’t know

But you’re taking shots at me like it’s Patrón

And I’m just like, “Damn!

It’s 7 AM”

To take shots at somebody – means to fire a weapon at someone or something. To criticize someone or something very harshly; to verbally attack someone. To take a shot also means: to try something, doing something. An example, or rather three examples. Please, repeat after me.

Stop taking shots at me, will you?

The soldier took a shot at the target.

I’ve never tried scuba diving before, but I think I’ll take a shot.

Damn! – a swear word used to show that you’re annoyed, disappointed, angry, frustrated and so on. For example:

Damn! I forgot he was coming.

Let’s move on to the next verse:

Say it in the street, that’s a knock-out

But you say it in a tweet, that’s a cop-out

And I’m just like, “Hey!

Are you OK?”

A knock-out –  it has has at least two meanings, as a noun. It’s when a boxer hits his opponent so hard that he falls down and cannot get up again. For example:

The fight ended after the third knockout.

Another meaning. A knock-out is someone or something that is very attractive or successful

Her wedding dress was a knockout.

A cop-out – a way of avoiding doing something that you should do, or an excuse for not doing it. Here, it means that it’s much easier to leave negative comments on social media than to say it straight in somebody’s face. Haters don’t have guts to express their opinion openly. They feel anonymous online. An example sentence to repeat:

She never showed up and I think it’s just a cop-out.

I’m just like – This phrase is used to introduce a quotation. Repeat after me:

I was like: ‘How did you know about that?’

And she was like: ‘Where did you get them?’

It’s a very common way of delivering somebody’s exact words. More popular that reported speech I dare say, especially among young people.

Let’s have a look at the following verse, ready? Ok.

And I ain’t tryna mess with your self-expression

But I’ve learned the lesson

That stressing and obsessing

‘Bout somebody else is no fun

And snakes and stones never broke my bones

To mess with something or somebody – means to get involved with someone or something that may cause problems or may even be dangerous.

Don’t mess with him, he’s a criminal.

The second meaning: to deceive someone or cause trouble for them, for example:

If you mess with me, and I’ll track you down.

Snakes and stones never broke my bones – well, the word snakes has a few meaning here, it refers to Kim Kardashian tweet, but I’m not going to dive deeper. Do your homework, if it’s something you’re interested in, just dive deeper, google it and try to find it out. If you fail to find the information you need email me, and I’ll share the links with you.

There’s a child’s saying though, and I want you to repeat it after me:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

It’s said to show that people cannot be hurt by unpleasant things that are said to them.

And finally chorus:

So, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh!, I’m not gonna sing, forgive me.

You need to calm down

You’re being too loud

And I’m just like

“Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh!

You need to just stop

Like, can you just not step on my gown?

You need to calm down”

To calm down – means to relax and let’s practice:

Calm down, we’ll find the keys.

Take a deep breathe and calm yourself down.

You’re being too loud – at the moment, you’re too loud. It’s great when you don’t want to upset someone who is behaving weird. You might say then: Stop being silly, and it means: stop acting that way. I don’t say you are silly, but you’re acting as such. Repeat please:

Stop being silly.

She’s being childish.

Repeat the next verse:

You are somebody that we don’t know

But you’re coming at my friends like a missile

Why are you mad

When you could be GLAAD?

(You could be GLAAD)

You’re coming at my friends like a missile – well, to be coming at someone means to move towards somebody as though you are going to attack them. Repeat, please:

She was coming at me with a knife.

GLAAD –  it stands for “Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation” and Taylor Swift has been very supportive for his organization that promotes equality and acceptance, she also makes some donations. She wrote a letter to her senator asking him to support the Equality Act, urging also her fans to do the same.

To be glad – also means to be happy, to be pleased. So this is a hidden play on words and there are so many of them in the song! That’s why I told you I regretted doing it but I do not anymore. Really. It’s quite fun and I like the message though.

Next verse:

Sunshine on the street at the parade

But you would rather be in the dark ages

Just making that sign

Must’ve taken all night

You would rather be in the dark ages – you prefer staying in the Middle Ages. The Dark Ages here, not only here, but generally are considered to be not advanced and when people were unwilling to accept the beliefs or opinions of others.

It must’ve taken all night – That’s how you express the past of modal verb. I’m making an assumption, I don’t know for sure, but I have enough evidence or experience to judge. Let’s practice:

You must’ve been there, I saw you.

It must’ve been cold, I saw people were wearing coats.

Let’s continue:

You just need to take several seats

And then try to restore the peace

And control your urges to scream

About all the people you hate

‘Cause shade never made anybody less gay

To restore the peace – it meansto make something to restore to make something return to its former state or condition, here the peace.

To control your urges – to control the strong desire to do something. For instance, and please repeat:

I had to control my sudden urge to shout at him.

The last passage, you know what to do, so let’s do it:

And we see you over there on the Internet

Comparing all the girls who are killing it

But we figured you out

We all know now

We all got crowns

You need to calm down

The girls who are killing it – to be killing it, this is a slang expression that means that someone is doing very well. Repeat again:

You were killing it!

She’s killing it!

To be killing it is a whole phrase and you can’t change ‘it’, replace ‘it’ with anything else, it must be as it is, so: ‘You’re killing it’.

We figured you out – now we understand why you behave in the way you do. We worked you out. Repeat:

Children. I just can’t figure them out.


How do you feel about internet trolls? Have you had any experiences with them? Hopefully not, hopefully, you respect others and spread love as well.  Let me know in the comment section at teacherola.com/19.

You will also find there full transcript as well as a worksheet with ‘You Have To Calm Down’ gapped lyrics to complete and it’s all free.

If you know someone who might benefit from my podcast or someone who loves Taylor Swift or someone who spreads the love and peace, let them know about me!

Next episode is about grammar. We’ll deal with prepositions of time: in, on, at.   Make sure to subscribe and do not miss it!

Have a great week, till next Wednesday, happy learning, bye bye!