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Four songs’ use of literary devices

Following today’s theme of literary devices, we are going to delve into the use of literary devices in four songs. To make sure we both have a clear understanding of the term, here is an explanation of literary devices from [1] Literary

“Literary devices or literary techniques are specific structures that writers often use to add meaning or create more compelling stories for the reader. Some common examples are metaphor, alliteration, hyperbole, and imagery. These techniques can give the reader a greater understanding and meaning of the writers intent.”

The first excerpt of a song we are going to cover is [4] American Dreamz by Tom MacDonald. American Dreamz is a social commentary on America’s gun culture and the contradictions between their love for peace and weaponry. In the opener of the first verse, we can see the use of the hyperbole, anecdote and the analogy:

“We’re making murderers’ famous
They kill a bunch of kids and get on all the front pages (on all the front pages)
I don’t know none of the victims
I know the guns in the system promote the ones who are dangerous (ones who are dangerous)
It’s become entertainment” (MacDonald, 2019).

Here MacDonald uses the hyperbolic statements of how we are making murderers famous and how killing children get people on all the front pages of the internet and the news. While he isn’t entirely wrong, because murderers tend to get famous and covered on the news, but not every single murderer is a famous celebrity as he claims. There is also the anecdotal statement of how he doesn’t know any of the victims, which might be true and does show how we give murderers more recognition than the victims, it is still a personal anecdotal claim that does not apply to every single person. Finally, Macdonald uses the analogy of how it has become entertainment to watch murderers on the news, here he draws the line of how we have reached a level where it is similar to entertainment in how we give murderers a lot of publicity, recognition, and fame.

The second excerpt of a song we are going to cover is [2] The Beautiful People by Marylin Manson. What we are going to cover is the first half of the second verse’s use of symbolism, analogy, and metaphor:

“The worms will live in every host
It’s hard to pick which one they hate the most
The horrible people, the horrible people
It’s all anatomic as the size of your steeple” (Manson, 1996).

Here Manson uses the worms as a symbol of corruption and the narcissism within people, these people are the horrible people. Afterward, Manson draws the analogy of how being corrupt and narcissistic is as natural as the size of one’s penis. Finally, this might be a metaphor for society’s corruption and narcissism, as he uses the word people. Keep in mind that this is all my interpretation.

The third excerpt of a song we are going to cover is [3] Creep by Radiohead and its use of simile and conflict in the first verse:

“When you were here before
Couldn’t look you in the eye
You’re just like an angel
Your skin makes me cry
You float like a feather
In a beautiful world
I wish I was special
You’re so fuckin’ special” (Radiohead, 1992).

Here there is the use of simile in how a female is just like an angel and floats like a feather, meaning she is incredibly beautiful, elegant and kind. Afterward, we are faced with the conflict of the song, she is a beautiful and special person, while he is not, he is only able to wish for it upon himself.

The fourth and final excerpt we are covering is from the song [5] Glassy Sky by Yutaka Yamada. Here he uses three consecutive metaphors:

“Glassy sky above
As long as I survive, you will be part of me
Glassy sky, the cold, the broken pieces of me” (Yamada, 2015).

The first metaphor of how there is a glassy sky above him, referring to the glasslike look of an evening sky, filled with beauty, similar to delicate glass. In the second metaphor, he conveys how as long as he is alive the person he is talking about will always be a part of him, not literary of course, but in memory and spirit. In the third and final metaphor, he says there are cold and broken pieces of glass within him, meaning there are many varied emotions, thoughts, and memories causing him to feel hurt.

[1] Literary Devices. (n.d.). In Literary-Devices. Retrieved from
[2] Marylin Manson. (1996). Beautiful People. [Recorded by Marylin Manson]. United States of America: Interscope Records & Nothing Records.
[3] Radiohead. (1992). Creep. [Recorded by Radiohead]. United States of America: Parlophone Records & Capitol Records.
[4] Tom MacDonald. (2019). American Dreamz. [Recorded by Tom MacDonald]. United States of America.
[5] Yutaka Yamada. (2015). Glassy Sky. [Recorded by Yutaka Yamada]. Tokyo, Japan: カナメイシレコード.


Published by Simen Andersen

I am a Norwegian 16-year-old aspiring to become an English professor. Please send me any and all criticism so I may improve myself!

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