If you wish to wake up students a bit and get them to participate in class, try teaching compare and contrast with songs. Songs are a great way to teach a large number of Common Core skills. Right away, you’re probably thinking that you can teach figurative language and other poetic elements; however, you can do much more. Teaching the skill of comparing and contrasting with songs can be a fun and a memorable experience for your students.
This handout contains all the song titles listed in this series of posts. It also has a printable organizer for students to use with the songs.
Compare and Contrast Songs #1
Let it Go by Idina Menzel (Frozen – 2013) vs. Towards the Sun by Rihanna (Home – 2015)
Both songs are about finding courage.
“Let It Go” appears on the soundtrack for Disney’s animated film Frozen. Elsa sings the song when she leaves the kingdom of Arendelle and creates her own ice palace. At this time, she is hiding her powers from the world. Elsa is afraid she will be rejected if people see she is different. The song encourages listeners to let go of fears and insecurities.
“Towards the Sun” is a song about finding the strength to move forward. Rihanna sings the song for the movie Home. The movie is about a group of aliens who are forced to flee to Earth to seek refuge. The song’s message is about not giving up during difficult times.
Compare and Contrast Songs #2
Hakuna Matata by Elton John and Tim Rice (The Lion King – 1994)
vs. Don’t Worry Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin (1988)
Both songs promote a carefree and positive attitude toward life.
Hakuna Matata, written by Elton John and Tim Rice, was featured in the 1994 Walt Disney animated movie The Lion King. The phrase Hakuna Matata is Swahili meaning “no worries.” In the movie, Timon and Pumbaa want to teach Simba to forget his troubled past and live in the present.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy became a hit song in 1988 by Bobby McFerrin. The phrase comes from the Indian guru Meher Baba. The song appeared in the movies Cocktail (1988) and Casper – A Spirited Beginning (1997). George H.W. Bush used the song in his 1988 U.S. Presidential Election. Mattress Firm even made a commercial featuring this song. The song tells people to focus on the present and not worry about the past.
Compare and Contrast Songs #3
Roar by Katy Perry (2013) vs. Eye of the Tiger by Survivor (theme song to Rocky III – 1982)
Both songs emphasize using people to be strong and courageous.
Katy Perry’s song Roar encourages people to be strong and stand up. The word roar is used 16 times during the song to emphasize the power. The message is about finding inner strength and speaking up for yourself.
Eye of the Tiger was the theme song for Rocky III. In the movie, the song contrasted scenes between the two fighters. Mr. T trains hard to become the boxing champion of the world. In contrast, Rocky Balboa shoots commercials. He slacks off in his training program. The song shows that Rocky needs to get back his hunger to be the champ. The song encourages listeners to never give up and keep pushing through difficult times.
Compare and Contrast Songs #4
Rise Up by Beyoncé (Epic – 2013) vs. Shake It Off by Taylor Swift (2014)
Both songs encourage listeners to stay positive.
Rise Up was sung by Beyoncé in the animated movie Epic. The song speaks of standing up for yourself. Beyoncé voices the character Queen Tara in the movie who is trying to save her magical forest from the evil Boggan leader. The song encourages listeners to stay strong and never give up, even when faced with challenges.
Taylor Swift says the song Shake it Off was her way of dealing with some of her critics. She wanted to overcome her fear of bad press. In the video, Swift dances with professional dancers. She awkwardly tries to keep up. Swift says she wanted the video to spread the message that it is okay to be different. The message of the video of to not let things bring you down and to focus on staying happy.
Compare and Contrast Songs #5
When You Wish Upon a Star by Cliff Edwards (Disney’s Pinocchio – 1940) vs. Somewhere Out There (An American Tail – 1986)
Both songs focus on the power of hope and positive thinking.
When You Wish Upon a Star comes from Walt Disney’s 1940 adaptation of Pinocchio. Jiminy Cricket sings the song at the beginning and the end of the movie. The song talks about how dreams come true. Pinocchio, a wooden doll, wishes to be a real boy. The song’s lyrics suggest that no matter how far away our dreams may seem, they can come true if we believe.
Somewhere Out There was featured in the 1986 film An American Tail. In this movie, a brother and sister, Fievel and Tanya Mousekewitz, sing about the love they share. The song’s lyrics suggest that even when we are separated from the ones we love, we can still feel their presence and know that they are thinking of us.
More Compare and Contrast with Songs Ideas
“We Are the World” by USA for Africa and “Heal the World” by Michael Jackson: Both songs promote the idea of global unity, cooperation, and compassion.
“A Million Dreams” by Ziv Zaifman, Hugh Jackman, and Michelle Williams (from The Greatest Showman) and “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus: Both songs promote the idea of following your dreams and working hard to achieve your goals.
“Count on Me” by Bruno Mars and “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers: Both songs have a positive and supportive message about friendship and being there for others in times of need.
If you missed the link to the handout earlier in the post, here it is again.
Check out the other posts in this series.