“Rumour Has It” [Adele]

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A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue
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New post with new lyrics! This time we’ll look at the song “Rumour Has It” by Adele from her album 21. Check these lyrics for your English understanding and learn a bit more about informal terms or cultural points. I’ve taken notes on significantly incorrect grammar or words, and explained more about informal or culture-specific terms. As always I put a short explanation of what I think the song is about, if you’re interested. I’ll also leave the video here on top if you want to listen at the same time. Happy reading!

She, she ain’t real

  • *she isn’t real…

She ain’t gon’ be able to love you like I will

  • “she won’t be able…” also, “she isn’t going to be able…”

She is a stranger

You and I have history, or don’t you remember?

  • To “have history” with someone means to have some past experience with them, usually a long and complicated one. It’s often used to talk about people who were in a relationship together.

Sure, she’s got it all

But baby, is that really what you want?

Bless your soul, you’ve got your head in the clouds

  • “Bless your soul” is an interesting phrase. Even though it sounds kind of religious, it’s used a lot to refer to someone who is clueless or making some kind of mistake. It can be for innocent mistakes, like when you’re talking to a child, or for bigger mistakes like an adult would make. A similar phrase is “bless your heart” which is more common in the South of the U.S. “I’d like to order a file mignon.” “Oh, bless his heart. He doesn’t know we don’t serve that here.” Also, having your “head in the clouds” means to be daydreaming, thinking of impossible or useless ideas, or thinking about faraway places. It can be either a negative or positive thing.

She made a fool out of you and, boy, she’s bringin’ you down

  • She’s “bringing him down,” meaning she is making him feel worse or making his life worse. “Make a fool out of someone” is a good phrase too, meaning to make someone else look foolish or silly.

She made your heart melt, but you’re cold to the core

  • If your “heart melts” this means that you fall in love, basically. I think this is the same in many languages, but being “cold” is being heartless, without emotion, and without care for others. So cold to the core (to the center, deep down) is super cold, as emotionally cold as possible.

Now rumour has it, she ain’t got your love anymore

  • *“she doesn’t have your love…” Saying “rumour has it” is a popular way to start talking about a rumor or gossip. It let’s the other person know that what you’ll say is some kind of gossip. The spelling here is standard British, “rumour,” while in the U.S. (or North America?) it’s spelled “rumor.”

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

She is half your age

Poor guy, this is how rumors spread, Photo by Keira Burton on Pexels.com

But I’m guessin’ that’s the reason that you strayed

  • To “stray” means to go off or run away without warning, usually in secret. We use this word to talk about pets a lot, like a stray cat or dog.

I heard you’ve been missin’ me

You’ve been tellin’ people things you shouldn’t be

Like when we creep out when she ain’t around

  • *“when she is not around…” To “creep out” or “creep” as a verb means to go places, usually secretively under cover of the dark. It has the idea of a snake, cat, or other creature crawling around at night. To be “around” just means to be present somewhere. So he creeps out when his girlfriend isn’t around.

Haven’t you heard the rumours? (Bless your soul)

Bless your soul, you’ve got your head in the clouds

You made a fool out of me and, boy, you’re bringin’ me down

You made my heart melt, yet I’m cold to the core

But rumour has it, I’m the one you’re leaving her for

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

Rumour has it (Rumour)

All of these words whispered in my ear

Tell a story that I cannot bear to hear

  • This isn’t really a slang term, but learners might not be familiar with it. If you “cannot bear” something, it means you can’t stand it, you can’t handle it, you can’t take it, it’s too much, etc. Yes, it is spelled the same as “bear,” the animal.

Just ’cause I said it, it don’t mean that I meant it

  • *“Just because I said, it doesn’t mean that I meant it…” To “mean” something means to be sincere about it. For example, “I said I’m sorry. I mean it.” This is different from using “mean” to talk about a meaning or definition. “Hola means Hello in Spanish.”

People say crazy things

Just ’cause I said it, don’t mean that I meant it

Just ’cause you heard it

Rumour has it (Rumour)

And the lyrics repeat.

Alrighty. This is not the typical romantic song. The story that the lyrics tell is a juicy one, like a soap opera. We have Adele secretly running around with a guy, seemingly her ex. He seems to have moved on, or they sound like they broke up. Still, he is going out with her at night, probably cheating on his current girlfriend, but won’t accept Adele during the day. It sounds like the guy left Adele for a younger woman, maybe someone shallow and outwardly pretty (she’s got it all, she ain’t real), but he secretly still likes the singer of this song. They seem to have a long history and some kind of real connection. The lyrics put us in this weird space where we don’t know if she’s upset and wants to forget this guy or if she is proud that he still wants to be with her deep down. She’s obviously been affected by him, since he did make her heart melt and no one can love him like she can. It’s a different take on romantic relationships, betrayal, and secret desires. Good stuff.

Tell me, y’all, what songs do you want me to explain? I’m waiting on my first comments here and I would love to do a song that you guys are interested in. What do you say? Comment what you thought of this song. Do you love Adele? Does this sound like a relationship you’ve been in? Tell me your thoughts, or email me directly at tietewaller@gmail.com

“20 Dollar” [M.I.A.]

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Flag of Sri Lanka
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AK’s and goat fry. Read the song lyrics below and learn some new English idioms, phrases, or cultural explanations. And don’t forget to watch the video and read more below!

War! War! War!

Talking about y’all’s such a bore

  • *Talking about you all is …

I’d rather talk about moi

  • “Moi” means “me” in French.

Like do you know the cost of AK’s up in Africa?

  • I’m sure you know, AK’s, or AK-47’s, are a type of assault rifle, probably the most referenced rifle in pop culture. Also, saying “up in” someplace is just a more colorful way to say “in” someplace. The “up” has no real meaning here.
AK-47 – Wikipédia, a enciclopédia livre
An AK-47 from Wikipedia

20 dollars ain’t s*** to you

  • 20 dollars isn’t… Saying that something “ain’t s**” or “isn’t worth s***” means it isn’t worth anything, doesn’t mean anything, or it has a super low value/cost.

But that’s how much they are

So they’re gonna use the s*** just to get far

  • To “go far” or “get far” usually means to become successful. “You have a great voice! You’re going to go far.” It can also mean to escape a current situation.

Is gold, diamonds helping ya?

  • *Are gold and diamonds helping you? “Ya” is a popular way for many English speakers to pronounce “you” informally.

Don’t you like my bandanna?

  • A bandanna is usually worn on the face of criminals, like bandits. It can also be used by liberation fighters, protestors, or rebels, which is what I assume M.I.A. is referring to.
Classic Black Paisley Bandana | Apparel @ Hoo-rag
A pandemic-style bandanna from Hoorag

My stains hang low, on my shirt’s like “Ay-ya-ya!

  • “Stains” might represent bloodstains, as with someone who has been fighting a tough battle. This phrase probably comes from a song by Jibbs called “Chain Hang Low.” It’s a hip-hop song that came out a year before this one, so it might have influenced M.I.A.’s lyric here. Stain rhymes with chain. That last “ay-ya-ya” is just something you might say if you’re stressed, upset, or confused. Listen to “Chain’s Hang Low” here.

Got monkey brains and banana

  • *I’ve got… “Monkey brains” or “banana brains” is another way of saying that someone has disorganized and wild thoughts, or that they’re a little crazy. A similar phrase is something is bananas. “This beat is bananas!”

I’ll hit you with my antenna

  • She is talking about a radio antenna. To “hit” someone, besides physically striking them, can also be to figuratively strike them. You can hit someone with a song, with some advice, or with your opinion, for example. Basically, M.I.A. will “hit” us with her music and her style on the radio. Also, hitting someone with a thin metal stick, like an antenna, makes me think of beating or whipping someone for discipline.

I put soap in my eye

Make it red so I look rawr-rawr-rawr!

  • I can’t tell if she’s saying “rawr” or “raw.” Either way, her red eyes will make her look scary, intimidating, or really cool. “Raw” in slang also has these meanings. “Rawr” is the sound a big cat makes, like a lion or tiger. Could be something to do with the Tamil Tigers, a guerrilla group in Sri Lanka that influenced M.I.A.’s family and ancestral country.

So I woke up with my Holy Quran and found out I like Cadillac

  • The way she says “Cadillac” almost sounds like she’s saying “Allah,” meaning God in Arabic. This plays with the previous line about the Quran. Cadillac is an American brand and a representation of a strong, American product. This line might mean that she read the Quran (the Arab/Eastern world) and decided she preferred the Cadillac (the American/Western world). Or, she read the Quran (religion) and decided she preferred a Cadillac (consumerism, buying things, earthly things). There could be a lot of interpretations from this quick lyric.

So we’re shooting until the song is up

  • If something “is up,” that means it ends. This is represented in the phrase, “You’re time is up.” Your time is finished.

Little boys are acting up

  • To “act up” is to be bad or misbehave. Kids are good at acting up.

And baby mothers are going crazy

  • This is related to “baby mama” which is a very popular way to refer to the mother of someone’s child. It has turned into a pop-culture reference to a certain class of people that is uneducated, has lots of babies outside of marriage, and is usually lower class or has bad taste. “What are you gonna do if you quit school? Turn into some guy’s baby mama?”

And the leaders all around cracking up

  • *And the leaders are all around … To “crack up” here means to laugh a lot, or laugh really loudly. “That joke always cracks me up!”

We goat-rich, we fry

  • *We’re goat rich… “Goat rich” isn’t a very popular term at least in American English. I can imagine that it refers to someone who has a lot of goats or livestock (animals for farming and produce). So M.I.A. and the people she represents are not rich in money, but have lots of livestock and make money in a simple, humble, and traditional way. In lots of poorer countries or regions, people still live off of trading and raising animals. Also, adding “rich” after a noun means that you have as much wealth as that thing. “I’m not Zuckerberg rich, but I make good money.”

Price of living in a shanty town just seems very high

  • *The price of … A shanty town is a type of improvised community for people who are either poor or live in extreme poverty. They are usually made of wood, tarp and other plastic, or anything sturdy enough to build a small improvised home. In some countries, these communities can be more dangerous, hold gang activity, trafficking, or just have bad sanitation. Another word for the same idea is “slum.” Shanty towns often start as temporary camps or communities that evolve over time into permanent neighborhoods or miniature towns. That’s why the price (emotionally, or for one’s wellbeing) of living in one can be high.
Shanty town along the Mekong River - Picture of Sundance Riverside Hotel,  Phnom Penh - Tripadvisor
A common shanty town/slum, TripAdvisor

But we still like T.I.

  • T.I. is a famous rapper from the U.S. who represents Atlanta, Georgia. This line can mean that even though they live in poor conditions, they still listen to American music, or hip hop, and still like to have fun.

But we still look fly

  • To “look fly” is to be dressed really nicely or have good style in appearance.

Dancing as we’re shooting up

  • Again, the “up” doesn’t necessarily have meaning. They might be shooting “up” into the sky, or shooting up a place (shooting it a bunch of times). This is similar to the idea to “beat up,” meaning to beat or hit a bunch of times.

And looting just to get by

  • To “loot” is to steal. It’s more of an old-fashioned word, and in the U.S. it reminds most people of pirates who would loot other ships. Also, “loot” can be an informal term for money, in general. Of course, to “get by” means to survive some situation or to get through something difficult.

With your feet on the air

Your head on the ground

Try this trick and spin it – yeah!

Your head’ll collapse when there’s nothin’ in it

And you’ll ask yourself

Where is my mind?

  • These four lines of the chorus were taken from a song by Pixies, “Where is My Mind.” Besides that, it’s just a really cool, trippy, interesting thing to put into a song. Listen to “Where is My Mind” here.

Where is my mind?

Where is my mind?

War! War! War!

Who made me like this?

Was it me and God in co-production?

My Devil’s on speed-dial

  • To have someone on “speed-dial” is to have their number saved and easily accessible. Basically, it means they’re the first person you call when you want something or they are your favorite person to talk to.

Every time I take the wrong direction

All I want is one thing and that is what you got

  • *that is what you’ve got. Or *that is what you have. To me, it also sounds like she could be saying “and that is what you want.” Either way, she wants what someone else has or desires.

Sometimes I go lose my mind, and I feel numb

There’s 24 hours in a day

  • *There are 24 hours …

I used to spilt it 8, 8, 8

That’s 8 – work, 8 – sleep, 8 for play!

Now I give it all it takes

  • To “give it all it takes” is to put in full effort, try as hard as you can.

Got people on the Internet with a new lack for the intellect

  • *You have people on … People on the internet have created a new way to be stupid, basically (lack of intellect). It almost sounds like she’s saying “a new life for the intellect,” but I’m not sure. “Lack” makes more sense to me, it sounds more like what she says, and it’s funnier.

People judge me so hard ’cause I don’t floss my titty set

  • *so hard because I don’t … To “floss” something means to show it off to others. This was before the “floss” dance, but it might be related (?). Titty is kind of a controversial word, and to lots of people, it can be offensive. I just wanted to note that it is a woman’s breast or boob.

I was born out of dirt like I’m porn in a skirt

  • I almost forgot to mention! So “dirty” can refer to something that is covered in dirt and has bad hygiene. It can also mean something that is naughty, sexual, or sleezy. So “dirt” here has a double meaning.

I was a little girl who made good, well au revoir, adieu

  • To “make good” is to make success or be successful at something. It usually has to do with monetary success. “Au revoir” and “adieu” mean See you later, and Goodbye in French. In many places of the English world, France is seen as a place that is rich, fancy, and high class. M.I.A. repeating French words in this song can be a reference to how other people might see her as fancy and high class now that she is making music on the radio and becoming famous. For her, this was especially true in the late 2000s.

I put people on the map that never seen a map

  • *that have never seen … Also, to be “put on the map” means that someone gets discovered by lots of people. They become a landmark much like the Statue of Liberty of Eiffel Tower (since we’re talking about France).

I’ve showed ’em something they’ve never seen

And hope they make it back!

  • “Make it back” here means to survive some wild situation, to come out on top, and to overcome. Think of a soldier “making it back” home after a war.

Then the lyrics repeat.

Sooo … This song is close and dear to my heart. It’s a song that made me fall in love with M.I.A., partly because of the weird and crazy instrumental, buzzing sounds, and her ominous chanting all throughout the song. But the lyrics are certainly a big source of my love for this song. It’s kind of a random song and the lyrics touch on multiple different issues. Most of the song is about M.I.A.’s newfound success and international fame, and how she is dealing with it. She talks about her humble beginnings, places she’s been and how hard life is in those places. She’s made success, but she doesn’t forget where she’s been. She definitely won’t let her listeners forget that there are places in the world where people make a living frying goats or where guns only cost 20 dollars, even if in the world of fame and fortune, that cost means almost nothing.

What did you think of this song? Can you understand her struggle between ridiculous wealth and cruel poverty? Do you know what M.I.A. stands for? Let me know in the comments! As always, if you want to send me a message or suggest a song for me to do next, please send me an email! tietewaller@gmail.com

Oh, and please listen to this song!

“Juice” [Lizzo]

Watch the video below–>

Mirror, mirror on the wall

  • This is from the fairy tale, Snow White, when the witch is admiring herself in the mirror.

Don’t say it ’cause I know I’m cute (Ooh, baby)

Louis down to my drawers

  • As in Louis Vuitton designer clothes. “Drawers” is another word for underwear, often pronounced “draws” for short. Basically, all her clothing is expensive, even the underwear.

LV all on my shoes (Ooh, baby)

  • “LV” and “Louis” are both common abbreviations for Louis Vuitton.

I be drippin‘ so much sauce

  • *I am dripping… In slang, “sauce” is confidence, swag, good looks, etc. To “drip” then refers to someone being so full of confidence and swag that it is dripping off of them like water. A similar word is “drip.” (“Do you like my drip?”)

Got a bih lookin’ like RAGÚ (Ooh, baby)

  • “Bih” is another way to say the B-word without sounding too vulgar or just to be funny. RAGÚ is a brand of Italian tomato sauce, referencing her “sauce” from the previous line. A similar line was made popular in the song “Party” by Beyoncé, where Kanye West says, “You got the swag sauce, she dripping Swagu” (swag and RAGÚ). Listen to that song here
Ragu Old World Style Traditional Pasta Sauce ‑ Shop Pasta Sauces at H‑E‑B
Image from here

Lit up like a crystal ball

  • “Lit” is a way to say that something is exciting, or you have lots of energy, are having fun, etc. (“I am lit 24-7.”) (“That was a lit party.”) But she compares this slang meaning of lit to the literal meaning: to show light. Also, the crystal ball is in reference to mystical things and fairy tales, like from the first line.

That’s cool, baby, so is you

  • *So are you

That’s how I roll

  • This phrase is used to explain that this is the way a person is, usually because of some good quality. (“You always wear the best clothes, girl.” “You know, that’s how I roll!”) A similar phrase is “That’s how I do.”

If I’m shinin‘, everybody gonna shine (Yeah, I’m goals)

  • *Everybody is going to shine… To “shine,” besides talking about light, can also describe someone who does really amazing things, shows off a lot, or is really intelligent. (“I suck at physics! But math is where I shine.”) “Goals” comes from social media. It just means that whatever someone is doing is so good that it represents what other people should do. Most popularly with relationships. (“Mark and Susan are such a cute couple! That’s goals.”)

I was born like this, don’t even gotta try (Now you know)

  • *I don’t even have to try…

I’m like chardonnay, get better over time (So you know)

Heard you say I’m not the baddest, b****, you lie (Haha)

  • A “bad b****” is a woman who is really good at what she does, really confident, pretty, and has lots of good qualities. Confidence is the main factor, though. Although it sounds really offensive, it’s actually a compliment in most informal cases.

It ain’t my fault that I’m out here gettin’ loose

  • *It’s not my… To “get loose” is to let go of anxiety or fear, have fun, release your energy, and things like that. Similar verbs are to “let loose” and “cut loose.” People also use it to stretch and warm up muscles before an exercise. (“Let’s start the game!” “Wait, I need to get loose first.”)

Gotta blame it on the Goose

  • *You have to blame… Grey Goose is a brand of vodka. This line refers to a popular song by Jamie Foxx where he says, “Blame it on the Goose … Blame it on the alcohol.” Listen to that song here

Gotta blame it on my juice, baby

  • “Juice” can have lots of meanings in slang. Here, it’s more ambiguous (not concrete). She probably uses it to say her power, confidence, showiness, sexiness, etc.

It ain’t my fault that I’m out here makin’ news

  • Not actually “making” the news. She’s appearing in the news, doing big things.

I’m the pudding in the proof

  • This comes from a saying; “The proof is in the pudding.” It means that something is good because you can try it or prove it, usually as an incentive to convince someone that something is really good. Lizzo changes it, making herself sound like the source of the goodness/tastiness. She is the whole pudding.

Gotta blame it on my juice

Ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee

Blame it on my juice, blame it, blame it on my juice

Ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee

Blame it on my juice, blame it, blame it on my juice (Ooh, baby)

No, I’m not a snack at all

  • A “snack” is a small meal. In slang, it refers to a person, usually a woman, that is attractive.

Look, baby, I’m the whole damn meal (Ooh, baby)

  • So she’s not saying that she is not attractive, but super attractive. A big “snack.”

David, you ain’t bein’ slick

  • To be “slick” is to try to trick or fool someone. (“You’re not slick, I see what you’re trying to do.”)

Don’t dare try to cop a feel (Ooh, baby)

  • To “cop” something is to get it or try to get it. “Cop a feel” means to try to touch someone, usually in a sensual way. This plays on the name of famous magician, David Copperfield. David, cop a feel. They kind of rhyme.

The juice ain’t worth the squeeze

  • Again, playing on the slang meaning of “juice.” Referring to those juice boxes or packets that you have to squeeze to drink from.
OCEAN SPRAY 100% ORANGE JUICE, 4.2 OUNCE JUICE BOX (PACK OF 40) -  GTIN/EAN/UPC 31200238566 - Cadastro de Produto com Tributação e NCM - Cosmos
Image from here

If the juice don’t look like this (Like this, like this, like this)

  • *juice doesn’t look like…

Hold up, n****, please

  • “Hold up” means wait, wait a minute. “Please” when said like this is the same as telling someone to stop or not think about it, like “stop dreaming.” (“I want to take you out to dinner.” “Boy, please! You don’t even have a car.”)

Don’t make me have to take your b****, s*** (How I roll)

If I’m shinin’, everybody gonna shine (Yeah, I’m goals)

I was born like this, don’t even gotta try (Now you know)

I’m like chardonnay (Okay), get better over time (So you know)

Heard you say I’m not the baddest, b****, you lie (You lie)

It ain’t my fault that I’m out here gettin’ loose

Gotta blame it on the Goose

Gotta blame it on my juice, baby

It ain’t my fault that I’m out here makin’ news

I’m the pudding in the proof

Gotta blame it on my juice

Ya-ya-ee (Ya-ya-ee), ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee

Blame it on my juice, blame it, blame it on my juice

Ya-ya-ee (Ya-ya-ee), ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee, ya-ya-ee

Blame it on my juice, blame it, blame it on my juice (Alright)

Ya-ya-ee

Somebody come get this man

I think he got lost in my DMs, what? My DMs, what?

  • “DM’s” on social media are Direct Messages. To “get lost” in them is like sending someone lots of messages because they really like that person, almost like they’re obsessed.

You better come get your man

  • “You better” is an expression used to tell someone what they need to do. It can either be a piece of advise, or a demand from an authority, like one’s parents. (“You better clean your room, or we’re not leaving.”)

I think he wanna be way more than friends, what?

  • Saying “way” like this means a lot or much. (“I’m sorry, but you were way wrong.”) (“They paid, but I can pay way more.”)

More than friends

What you want me to say?

  • *What do you want…

Lizzo makes a lot of songs about loving oneself, being confident, and appreciating one’s own style and body. This song is no different. The whole concept of the “juice” is this sexiness and swag that she has. She does use more informal English that mostly wouldn’t be acceptable in a professional setting, but is great for using in casual settings or with family and friends. The song is very positive and upbeat. What was your impression of this song? Did you understand it? Do you want to have “juice” like Lizzo? Let me know in the comments!

Video here: