Learning with the Stars: 12 Advanced English Vocabulary Words from Famous Songs

You put on your headphones.

The music begins to play.

You feel like singing, dancing, laughing and moving around.

There is no greater feeling than listening to a fun song that you love!

So why not bring that enjoyment to learning advanced English vocabulary words?

Yes, you can use flashcards, watch the news, write your own sentences and even read a book.

But there is no better way to learn than when it feels effortless (easy).

So make learning advanced vocabulary easy by listening to your favorite bands and artists!


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Why Should You Learn Words with Songs?

  • It is fun! Who doesn’t like to listen to music? There are so many genres (types) of music out there that every single person can enjoy. Whether it is obscure (not well known) or very popular, there is music for everyone.
  • Many songs are repetitive. Repetitive means that the same words are repeated over and over, many times, which helps you remember those words better. The greatest way to learn new words well is to use them or to hear them a lot. Thankfully, many songs have already done that for you by repeating lyrics.
  • Many fun songs use advanced vocab. This is great for someone like you who is here to learn advanced English words. There are lots of great artists who have written truly brilliant (intelligent/clever) lyrics that are very nice to listen to. Why not take advantage of this by learning while you enjoy these beautiful songs?

Tips for Learning English Words with Songs

  • Read the lyrics! Often, the words can be unintelligible (which means they are hard to understand) because of the music in the background. The singer might sing the words very fast, which makes it harder to understand. To help make all the words easier to hear and understand, read the lyrics while you are hearing them.
  • Remember that pronunciation is different in songs. Lyrics sometimes rhyme. Often, when an artist wants to make two words rhyme, they might twist (change) the pronunciation of the words just a bit to make them rhyme better. Don’t let this confuse you, the way a singer or rapper pronounces a word isn’t always the correct way. Singing sounds very different from talking.

Now, let’s get to the list of 12 advanced vocabulary words that we are going to learn from some of the most popular bands and artists of all time.

12 Advanced English Vocabulary Words from Famous Songs

1. Paralyzed

Song: “Thriller” by Michael Jackson

Paralyzed is most often used to mean that someone is frozen or they cannot move, whether it be because of health problems or because they are frozen in fear (they can’t move because they are so scared).

In the song “Thriller,” which is one of Michael Jackson’s most famous songs, he uses paralyzed to mean that someone is too scared to move.

“You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes. You’re paralyzed.”

2. Melting

Song: “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” by Michael Jackson

Melting has two main uses. First, it means that something is so hot in temperature that it is turning into (becoming) a liquid.

Second, if someone makes your heart melt, it means that you are falling in love with them. This is a more advanced use of this word.

Michael Jackson uses it to mean that a girl is making him melt from how much he loves her. He is falling in love with her.

“Touch me and I feel on fire. Ain’t nothin’ like a love desire (ooh). I’m melting (I’m melting) like hot candle wax.”

3. Groove

Song: “Rock With You” by Michael Jackson

A groove is a long, narrow dip that causes something on it to move in a certain direction. At least, that is one advanced definition of this word.

In music, a groove is the rhythm of a song. As in, “Michael Jackson’s music always has a really nice groove.”

Most often it means a routine or a habit. You can “get into the groove of your new job” or “get into the groove of life in New York.” In “Rock With You,” one of Jackson’s earlier songs, he uses groove with this meaning.

“There ain’t nothing that you can do. Relax your mind. Lay back and groove with mine. You gotta feel that heat. And we can ride the boogie.”

As you can see here, groove means to mean settle in, or to fall into a familiar or comfortable way of doing things. Michael Jackson is telling someone to let their mind groove (get comfortable) with his.

4. Tremble

Song: “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie

When someone is so scared that they are shaking, they are trembling.

This is a great advanced vocabulary word because it sounds much better than just saying “shake” from fear. The person was so scared they were trembling in fear.

“Let’s Dance” is one of David Bowie’s most recognizable (well-known) songs of all time and rightfully so. It is really happy and fun to listen to.

Bowie uses the word tremble to make a simile (or a comparison). Here, he is saying that the love between him and his lover might make the other person tremble. Perhaps they love Bowie so much that they feel weak!

“…my love for you. Would break my heart in two. If you should fall, into my arms. And tremble like a flower.

5. Squawking

Song: “Moonage Daydream” by David Bowie

Squawking is that really annoying sound some birds make when it sounds like they are dying or suffering. It is also sometimes called a shriek. It is a very harsh (rough) noise and is not exactly pleasant.

In “Moonage Daydream,” an upbeat and fun song from one of David Bowie’s most well-known albums, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” Bowie uses the word squawking to make a simile (or a comparison).

“Keep your mouth shut, you’re squawking like a pink monkey bird.”

In this case, he is comparing the way someone is talking to the annoying squawking of a pink monkey bird, whatever that is.

6. Ground Control

Song: “Space Oddity” by David Bowie

Ground Control is a phrase used by astronauts to refer to the people on the ground that are helping them in their flight into space.

Ground Control, as the name suggests, is a team that controls things from the ground that the astronauts (space travelers) cannot control from up in space.

David Bowie famously used this common space-related expression in his song “Space Oddity.”

Ground Control is trying to communicate with the man who is traveling to space, and they say, “Ground Control to Major Tom.” When Major Tom communicates with them, he says, “This is Major Tom to Ground Control.

This exciting, modern song was the beginning of Bowie’s rise to fame in the early 1970s.

7. Wail

Song: “Jailhouse Rock” by Elvis Presley

Wail is similar to squawk because it means some sort of scream or yell. However, wail is different because normally it refers to someone who is yelling because they are happy or sad.

In “Jailhouse Rock,” Elvis uses wail to mean that a group of prisoners were ecstatic (very happy) from singing along to some upbeat music.

“The warden threw a party in the county jail. The prison band was there and they began to wail. The band was jumpin’ and the joint began to swing.”

8. Suspicious

Song: “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley

When someone is not fully trusting of another person or of some sort of idea, they are suspicious.

They are not completely sure they believe what is being told to them. Suspicious can also be used to mean “fishy,” or in other words, it is used to mean that something is weird or off (not quite right) about a situation and leads us to be not completely sure of what we know.

The king of rock (Elvis) uses suspicious in the title to refer to two lovers who have become suspicious of each other and now always have suspicious minds. Both are not sure if they completely trust what the other is doing all the time anymore.

“We can’t go on together. With suspicious minds (suspicious minds). And we can’t build our dreams. On suspicious minds.”

9. Flaming

Song: “Burning Love” by Elvis Presley

Flaming means that something is on fire. It is also similar to melting in that it can mean that something is making us fall in love with it, or to like it a lot and we want more of it.

In classic Elvis fashion, he uses flaming to refer to how a girl makes him feel. In this case, his brain is flaming from how hot she is, and how much he wants her.

“Girl, girl, girl. You gonna set me on fire. My brain is flaming. I don’t know which way to go.”

10. Illusions

Song: “Gold Dust Woman” by Fleetwood Mac

An illusion is something that distorts (messes up) our view of an image or of reality until we think that something else completely is going on. Often they are used in magic tricks to create the illusion of magic. Also, illusion can be used to refer to a lie.

In this case, illusion is used to refer to how we see love.

It means that sometimes someone comes along in your life that makes you question what you think of love. This person makes you reevaluate (think over) what you already have decided love is. And they can completely replace our view of love, or just slightly alter (change) it.

“Did she make you cry. Make you break down. Shatter your illusions of love.”

11. Reflection

Song: “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac

A reflection is the opposite image of something. When we look at ourselves in mirrors, we see our reflections.

Also, we are looking at our reflection while taking a selfie (a picture of yourself).

Reflection can also be used to mean that we see ourselves in someone or something else that isn’t us. For example, in “Landslide,” the band says snow covered hills reflect who they see themselves as.

The word reflection is a word that is often used in metaphors (a way to compare something poetically to something else).

“I took my love and I took it down. Climbed a mountain and I turned around. And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills. Till the landslide brought me down.”

12. Chain

Song: “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac

A chain is something that binds us (locks us) to a post or to something that doesn’t allow is to get away.

A chain is often used as a way of expressing a feeling of being alone and that there is no way out.

In the case of “The Chain,” Fleetwood Mac is using it to refer to the never-ending relationship between two people that a marriage represents.. While writing this album, the members of the band were going through hard times in their relationships. This was the inspiration for much of their music at the time, “The Chain” included.

“I can still hear you saying. You would never break the chain (Never break the chain).”


And that’s it! Did you learn all those great words?

Play those fun, hit songs until you do.

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