Review: Pop Sonnets by Erik Didriksen
Author: Erik Didriksen
Publisher: Quirk Books
Published: October 6, 2016
Hardcover, 128 pages
Summary: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.
A few weeks ago, I watched a TED Talk about Shakespeare and music. The speaker, in an attempt to help kids (and adults) try to understand and relate to sonnets and iambic pentameter, paired Shakespeare with hip-hop and hip-hop with Shakespeare. The rhythm from both music and sonnet seemed to transcend flawlessly into each other. So when I came across Pop Sonnets, I was more than excited to see how Erik Didriksen could tackle this.
In case you're not familiar with Erik Didriksen, let me enlighten you a bit. Erik runs a Tumblr page called, you guessed it, Pop Sonnets. It has a pretty big following and has been featured on many sites. His page is dedicated to rewriting songs into sonnets and it's brilliant--just like this book. I'm familiar with about 99% of the songs and sonnets of this book so as you could probably imagine, I enjoyed every page. It's clever, it's fresh, and it's fun. Erik Didrikesen oozes creativity.
Here's a sonnet from a song that everyone on the planet is probably familiar with: "Let It Go" by Idina Menzel.
This mountainside, engulf ’d in snow untouch’d,
reveals the isolation I command;
the icy storms that I once tightly clutch’d
within my heart are blanketing the land.
No longer could I heed my parents’ will
to hold my youthful hopes and fears at bay;
so all have seen I’ve mastered winter’s chill —
my years of forced seclusion toss’d away.
The page hath now been turn’d; I’ll break the chains
that kept restrain’d my true identity.
This queen will rule, but o’er her own domain,
without a care for what they think of me.
— I’ll not again the falling snow withhold,
for I have ne’er been bothered by the cold.
Idina Menzel, “Let It Go”
Pop Sonnets is a book that I think every music lover can appreciate. Even if Shakespeare isn't your thing. But perhaps after reading it, you might find yourself appreciating sonnets a little bit more. Also, don't forget to check out his website, it's hi-larious.