Hey there, this is Teacher Ola Podcast episode 67: Learn English With Lily Allen ‘Fuck You’.
My name’s Ola and I am an online English teacher, I teach through one to one classes and what I want you to know is that I believe you can eliminate your language blockade. I’ve overcome a massive blockade myself and I know how to do it. This podcast is for you if you’re an English learner who wants 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!
Welcome back and thank you for tuning in. Today we’re looking closely at song lyrics. And today it’s Lily Allen. I realised that the last time I listened to Lily Allen was probably 10 or 11 years ago or so, and I got interested whether she still makes music. Well, she does. Her last album is from 2018 and I was very happy to listen to it because it’s good! Particularly I enjoyed listening to ‘Lost My Mind’. Ok, but today we’re going back in time, to 2009. First though, let me give you a short breakdown of the episode.
First, as always, I’ll give you some song facts. You’ll find out who she was thinking about recording this piece. Then, we’ll go through the whole lyrics. Line by line. Repeating them out loud. We’ll stop after each section to discuss the meaning behind some words and phrases. For instance: tiny, uninspired, to harbour and many more. You’ll learn why you should not use the word ‘homosexual’ and which word is better instead. What does ‘medieval’ mean and we’ll talk about the ‘f word’. You’ll also learn a few phrases, like: ‘to get a kick’ and ‘to be after something’. And more! So stay with me, I hope you’re ready and focused.
Ok, time to begin. Song facts first.
This song by Lily Allen is a hard-hitting attack on racism. It’s got a seemingly innocent nursery rhyme tune that is basically an attack on George W Bush. Lily Allen explained ‘That song started about Bush but it’s also about things like this’ (she showed a photo on her Blackberry of neo-Nazi graffiti). Then she added: ‘That photo is exactly what that song is about. It was on a wall outside our tour bus. I was so pissed off. And I love to have that conflict of something sounding so sweet but actually being really quite dark’. The song has charted in some European countries under its original (and more radio-friendly) demo title ‘Guess Who Batman’. The observant readers noted that the working title has the same initials as George W Bush. Guess Who Batman. George W. Bush. It was 2009, but a few years back from now she said: ‘Normally, I dedicate this song to Donald Trump, but tonight I’m dedicating it to Liam Neeson.’ This actor has also been in the middle of a racist storm. So. the subject matter of this song changes. We can generalize and say this song is a finger pointed at people who don’t respect others.
Ok, time to go through the song lyrics. Shall we? Listen and repeat:
Look inside your tiny mind
Now look a bit harder
‘Cause we’re so uninspired
So sick and tired of all the hatred you harbor
Look inside your tiny mind – tiny means very small in size or amount. Tiny, tinier, the tiniest. A tiny baby, a tiny little town, a tiny bit bored, a tiny fraction. A tiny mind.
‘Cause we’re so uninspired – we don’t feel inspired by your words and actions. We’re rather bored. We’re not excited, to say the least.
So sick and tired of all the hatred you harbor – Two things here. First, the phrase ‘sick and tired’. If you’re sick and tired, you’ve had enough. You’re angry or bored with something that has been happening for a long time. You’ve had it up here. The second phrase in this line is ‘all the hatred’ you harbor. Hatred is a noun. I’m sure you know the verb: to hate. Opposite of ‘hatred’ is ‘love’. To harbour means to keep bad thoughts, fears, or hopes in your mind for a long time
Let’s move on to the next verse:
So you say
It’s not okay to be gay
Well, I think you’re just evil
You’re just some racist who can’t tie my laces
Your point of view is medieval
It’s not okay to be gay – ‘gay’ is an ajdective and it’s used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic and, or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex (e.g., gay man, gay people). In contemporary contexts, lesbian is often a preferred term for women. Avoid identifying gay people as ‘homosexuals’. It’s an outdated term considered offensive to many lesbian and gay people. Please use ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’. The word ‘homosexual’ carries negative meaning to it.
Well, I think you’re just evil – evil. If someone is evil he or she is enjoying harming others and that is morally bad and cruel.
You’re just some racist who can’t tie my laces – a racist. It’s a person who believes that some races of people are better than others and may show this in violent or unfair treatment of people of other races. Racist is also an adjective, like in ‘racist attacks’, ‘racist remarks’. The noun is ‘racism’.
Your point of view is medieval – your point of view, your opinion is connected with the Middle Ages, Dark Ages. It’s the XXI century but some people think we should come back to the Dark Ages. These views are old, old-fashioned. It’s used in a disapproving way. To criticise somebody.
Ok, the chorus. Listen and repeat:
Fuck you (fuck you)
Fuck you very, very much
‘Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So, please don’t stay in touch
Fuck you (fuck you)
Fuck you very, very much
‘Cause your words don’t translate
And it’s getting quite late
So, please don’t stay in touch
Fuck you very, very much – Sounds a bit like ‘thank you very very much’, right? So the ‘f word’ or the ‘f bomb’! It’s a swear word, but you know that. I’m sure you never encountered this word as you studied English at school. You didn’t see it in a vocabulary bank, or a reading task, story or discussion. Nevertheless, this word is used daily by speakers of English. There are phrasal verbs with this verb and … there’s so much to say I guess there should be a whole episode only about the word ‘fuck’. Here, it expresses anger.
And we hate your whole crew – crew. It’s a group of people working together, with special skills. A film crew, a fire crew, the cabin crew, a ship crew.
So, please don’t stay in touch – to stay in touch. If you stay or keep in touch or keep in contact with someone, you keep writing to them or calling them.
And it’s getting quite late – notice, that in this case we use present continuous. It is getting lat. The situation is dynamic and it’s changing with every minute.
And the next verse, listen and repeat:
Do you get a little kick out of being small-minded?
You want to be like your father
It’s approval you’re after
Well, that’s not how you find it
Do you get a little kick out of being small-minded? – to get a kick out of something means to feel amusement, delight or excitement about something or someone. Being small-minded is being intolerant. Having fixed opinions and ways of doing things and not willing to change them or consider other people’s opinions or feelings. Also, interested in small problems and details and not in things which are really important
It’s approval you’re after – to be after something, someone is to to be looking for someone or something. Also when it belongs to someone else. For example, I think he’s after my job.
Then the lyrics continue, listen and repeat:
Do you really enjoy living a life that’s so hateful?
‘Cause there’s a hole where your soul should be
You’re losing control a bit
And it’s really distasteful
You’re losing control a bit – to lose control, to become angry, or in general, to be unable to control one’s feelings or actions.
And it’s really distasteful – unpleasant or offensive.
Finally, the last verse. Listen and repeat:
You think we need to go to war
Well, you’re already in one
‘Cause it’s people like you that need to get slew
No one wants your opinion
That’s it! We’ve just gone through the whole song. You’ve repeated all phrases and it’s time to practice even more. Let’s put all the phrases into sentences and please repeat all of them out loud. Shall we?
Have you seen Vic’s apartment? It’s tiny.
I was left a little uninspired with his speech.
He was a sick young man with a deep hatred of women.
I think he’s harbouring some sort of grudge against me.
The family was being harassed by racists.
She is openly gay.
Her face was full of evil intent.
Civil rights groups complained that the law was “racist and medieval.”
What the fuck are you doing?
Journalists and TV crews were waiting outside their house.
Bye. I’ll be in touch.
I’m getting tired.
You’re really getting a kick out of that new iPad, aren’t you?
Parts of this story may seem distasteful, even shocking.
Beautiful! Good job. Now homework. Your homework this week is going to be extra pleasant because it’s listening to Lily Allen, singing with her and filling out the gaps in the song lyrics. Download the worksheet from teacherola.com/67.
Here you have it! Yet another episode solving the mystery behind the lyrics. Now you know who made Lily Allen so furious, and you’ve learned lots of vocabulary elements. Do you remember all the phrases? Let me remind you quickly:
Tiny, uninspired, sick and tired, to harbnur, gay, evil, racist, medieval, crew, stay in touch, it’s getting late, to get a little kick, small-minded, to be after something, to lose control, distasteful.
If you know someone who likes learning English with music let them know about this podcast.
Thank you for being here. Next Wednesday I’ll talk to you about some grammar. Till then, take care, stay fearless. See you really soon, happy learning. Bye bye!