Song: Ballad of a Teenage Queen
Artist: Johnny Cash
Theme: dreams, fame, love
What’s it about?
This is a ballad about a girl who is in love with a boy who works at a candy store but who gets whisked away to Hollywood and leaves him behind.
It’s a short song at 2:20 in length (approx). Catchy and to the point.
Nothing that I can think of
Despite this song being 50 odd years old the themes in the song as as relevant now as they were back then. I tend to use this particular song in the upper-primary grades (5-7) because it’s around this age that they are starting to become “fans” of singers/actors/or whatever.
This song can be used several ways in the classroom. The most obvious, as always, is in music lessons. The beat is very easy to pick in this song because of the simplicity of the lyrics and instruments which makes it ideal. You can also look at the tempo and (if you can play a tune on the piano) you might want to compare the timbre between the guitar vs piano.
Literacy wise this is a ballad and thus it tells a story. You can have you class do a recount of the main points in the story, create a story map, or retell the story in story-form. Alternatively you can have the students rewrite the ballad with a male lead (this can also be an alternative task to go with the one below).
My classes have always enjoyed illustrating a line from this song (be warned that you will get lots of singers pictured so best know who your class is into – I got lots of the girl next door being portrayed in Hollywood as Pink and Taylor Swift).
Let’s not forget the old debate as well! Have your students collect data about the song (could be whether they do/do not like it, favourite line, etc) and present in a graph or they can use that data to write an exposition as to why it is/isn’t a good song.
You can purchase the song for a small fee on iTunes.