Published by Quirk Books on October 6, 2015
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The Bard meets the Backstreet Boys in Pop Sonnets, a collection of 100 classic pop songs reimagined as Shakespearean sonnets. All of your favorite artists are represented in these pages—from Bon Jovi and Green Day to Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé, and beyond. Already a smash sensation on the Internet—the Tumblr page has 20,000+ followers—Pop Sonnets has been featured by the A.V. Club, BuzzFeed, and Vanity Fair, among many others. More than half of these pop sonnets are exclusive to this collection and have never been published in any form.
Pop Sonnets is a cute, quirky little book. Didriksen takes popular songs from over the years, oldies through today’s hits, and Shakepereanizes them, with the appropriate vocabulary and meter. There are few books I read parts of out loud to my husband, but this was one of them. It’s fun to see how he takes songs we know and transforms them.
Here are the opening lines of a couple of my favorites:
Guns ‘n’ Roses, “Sweet Child o’ Mine”
Her smile, it doth recall a simpler time –
the bygone years when I was but a boy;
each day held some discovery sublime,
each exploration brought some newfound joy.
Spin Doctors, “Two Princes”
Two noblemen before thee genuflect,
entreating thee in ernest for thy hand.
The first, he garners riches and respect;
the other’s only flights of fancy plann’d.
Hmm, showing my age there, aren’t I?
The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” is immediately recognizable.
I drove my carriage o’er the darken’d road
when faintly I observ’d a distant inn.
When I arriv’d, their greeting did forbode
the vile debauchery I found within.
But for a lot of them it becomes a kind of guessing game, even if the ending couplet often gives them away. He also showcases songs by Ariana Grande, Johnny Cash, Simon and Garfunkel, Bruno Mars, etc. I think it’s a fun book for just about anyone, a good read aloud with at least some songs most folks will recognize. The perfect audience loves Shakespeare and knows both the oldies and the music of now, but that’s probably a rare breed.
I think this would make a good Christmas gift. It’s the kind of book I enjoy, but probably wouldn’t buy myself.