Every lyricist has heard the dreaded words too often: can’t you make it a little easier? But now the comment is coming from British literacy experts that have come to the same conclusion. As part of the Get On literacy campaign, they sat down and analysed the top 10 karaoke hits, including Robbie Williams’ “Angels”, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and Queen’s “Don’t Stop me Now” – all of which require Level 2 reading skills. They think 17.8 million Britons would have problems reading them. Skills minister Phil Hope said: “Whilst we might think we know these tunes inside out, it’s only on reading the lyrics properly that we realise that some of our favourite numbers are complicated. There are many pitfalls involved in public singing, but once you’ve got the mic in your hand, you don’t want your reading skills to let you down.”
It’s interesting as they didn’t get as far as Duran Duran, Franz Ferdinand or REM, known for their obscure lyrics. The reason the experts looked at lyrics was not so much as a literary exercise. The same people that have trouble reading level 2 lyrics would also have problems with checking their pay slips, reading bus timetables or running a household budget.
But I can’t help wondering what level literacy skills it takes to write a top 10 karoke hit?