20 Examples of Metaphors in Folk Songs - Andrew DeBell (2023)

What is a metaphor?

According to literary expertsgrammatical, onemetaphorIt is "an idiom that describes an object or action in a way that is not literally true, but helps explain an idea or make a comparison". Metaphors are commonly used in music, film, poetry, and books to add color and imagery to comparisons.

Take, for example, this common metaphor you may have heard before:"Life is a rollercoaster."

We all know that this statement is notliterallyreal. In everyday life, we don't navigate a railroad of steep inclines and hairpin bends strapped to a small cart.

life is notFor reala roller coaster. However, this metaphor helps us deepen our understanding of the subject,Life,compare life to roller coasters. From his metaphor we deduce thatlifehas many emotional "ups and downs" similar toroller coasterThey have physical "ups and downs" along the way.

Metaphors often use the word "is" to mean that one thing "is" another.Don't confuse this withparablesthat use the words "like" or "like" to compare two ideas or objects.

Here are some more examples of metaphors:

  • The classroom is a zoo.
  • John is a couch potato.
  • Your brain is a computer.
  • You are my Sunshine.

Why are metaphors important?

One of the most powerful tools forimprove your writing, Metaphors add color and spice to dry and boring statements. They help us visualize comparisons and deepen understanding.

Many veteran authors and storytellers praise metaphors for their ability to enhance understanding and allow readers to see old things in new ways.

Let's look at the example of the previous metaphor,"Life is a rollercoaster."We could remove the metaphorical element from this statement and change it to "Life has many ups and downs." This statement has a similar meaning. But it doesn't provide the vivid imagery that the metaphor does.

If you areWrite an educational parodyor an essay for your school project, metaphors are a powerful element. To broaden our understanding, let's take a look at metaphors in popular music.

Metaphors in Folk Songs

From pop to hip-hop to country, metaphors are used in all genres of popular music. These metaphors can help teach students literary concepts in a more understandable and accessible way. Metaphors in popular music also provide real-world examples that allow students to deepen their involvement and interest in the language arts.

If you listen carefully to the lyrics, you can hear metaphors in many of your favorite songs on the radio. Let's take a look at some examples of modern popular music and its use of metaphor.

1. Taylor Swift – Zart

Third floor on the west side, you and me
Handsome, you're a mansion with a view

In this metaphor, Taylor expresses her attraction to a love interest. By describing this person as "a mansion with a view," he expresses that he is beautiful inside and out. She is as attracted to your personality as she is to your good looks.

2. Sangue Jovem - 5 Seconds of Summer

Say you want me out of your life
And I'm just a dead man tonight

The singer doesn'tFor reala walking dead First of all, the dead cannot walk. And if he were dead, he couldn't sing this song! Instead, the singer compares his sad emotional state to the act of dying. Someone close to him wants him out of his life. So the author uses this metaphor to describe the inevitable loss he feels.

3. Bazzi – Minas

Even if it rains, keep smiling
You're on fire, you're a starlike mary

Here Bazzi uses a metaphor to describe the woman he loves. We know this woman is notFor realin flames or arealStar. These metaphors avoid the feeling that this woman is very important and prominent in Bazzi's life.

4. Migos – fry

Life is monopoly
go and find me some land and some property

This song is full of similes, which, as we recall, are different from metaphors. But Migos enters here with a metaphor when he refers to the Monopoly board game as a comparison to life. life is notFor reala board game (we know that!), but with this imagery the author expresses his opinion on the importance of property in today's world.

5. Rudimentary – Nowadays

You were the light for me to find my truth
I just want to say thank you

In this song, the author speaks to an important person in his life. Using the term "the light" to describe this person likely means that this person helped point the way and find a path to truth for the author.

6. Hozier - Take me to church

My lover has a sense of humor
She's the laugh at a funeral
Meet everyone's disapproval
I should have worshiped her sooner

Much of Hozier's writing uses metaphor. In this popular song Take Me to Church we find the example of Hozier describing his beloved. Instead of using a straight line like "she's funny," opt for the metaphorical version, "she's the laugh at a funeral." This is a powerful metaphor saying that your lover is so full of humor that even in the really sad moments, he finds a way to brighten the moment.

7. Katy Perry mit Nicki Minaj – Swish Swish

because you're a prankster
And I'm a killer queen on the court
And you will kiss the ring
You better believe

Katy Perry loves to use metaphors. In this song he incorporates some European history with his metaphor. In the Middle Ages, the king and queen employed the joker (or jester) to entertain guests. Kissing the Queen's hand was a common practice for pranksters to show respect. In these two lines, Katy Perry uses this metaphor to express a social hierarchy that includes her and another individual. Tip: She's in charge.

8. Imagine dragons - Crey duck

Don't tell me what you think I can be
I sail, I am the owner of my seaoh oh
The master of my sea, oh ooh

Here Imagine Dragons uses a metaphor to describe the control they have over their own lives. With the line before the metaphor it says

9. Mark Ronson mit Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk

Michelle Pfeifferwhite gold hat
This one for the neighborhood girls
These good girls, sstraight masterpieces

Bruno Mars uses the term "masterpieces" to describe and compare "good girls". Historically, a "masterpiece" is a piece of fine art or craftsmanship of a high standard, often the greatest work of an artist's career. Using this metaphor in Uptown Funk, Bruno sees these girls as being very highly visual, or rather physically attractive.

10. Frank Ocean - Thinking of you

A tornado went through my room before you got there
Sorry for the mess you made, it doesn't usually rain
Southern California

Frank Ocean is another brilliant copywriter of today. Here Frank uses the metaphor of a room as a representation of his life. Saying that "a tornado blew through his room," Frank says his life was crazy, like a tornado, before his partner came into his life.

11. Marshmello & Bastille - Happier

when the morning comes
When we see what we've become
In the cold daylight we are a flame in the wind
It's not the fire we lit

This song is about a romantic relationship between two people that has recently taken a turn for the worse. The author uses the metaphor of a "flame in the wind" to describe the current state of their deteriorating relationship. In the next line, the author explains that their relationship used to be a "fire" and expresses that their relationship isn't where it used to be.

12. Juice WRLD - Lucid Dreaming

You were plastic, fake
I was caught up in your drastic ways

Here the writer expresses his negative opinion about a former love partner. Saying she was "plastic" probably means she had shallow interests and was unreliable.

13. Katy Perry - Fireworks

'Cause darling you're fireworks
Let's show them somethingarevaleria
Let her go, oh oh oh
As you shoot across the sky

This Katy Perry hit is a prime example of the use of metaphor and simile in modern pop music. She uses metaphors and similes in almost every verse of the song. The example above in the song's chorus states that the theme is a "fireworks display". Fireworks are known for being bright, powerful and energetic. This metaphor often serves to motivate your audience, letting them know they are powerful, brilliant, and important. Other notable metaphors in this song are when he compares life to a "plastic bag" and mentions a "spark within you."

14. David Guetta with Sia - Titan

shoot, shoot
They knock me down but I won't fall
i am titan

Titanium is a chemical element that is characterized by its low density and very high resistance. In this song, the author uses the metaphor of "Titan" to describe its strength and emotional power. No matter what negative words or situations she encounters, she is strong enough (like Titan) to overcome them.

15. Alicia Keys – Spin on Fire

Oh, she's got both feet on the ground
And she's on fire
Oh, she's got her head in the clouds
And she doesn't back down
this girl is on fire

Alicia Keys noted that this song is about new beginnings. The theme of the song is grounded and doesn't back down. "The girl is on fire" is a metaphor for freedom and full control over how one lives one's own life. "You're on fire" is a common metaphor we use in everyday English to describe continued success.

16. Pharrell Williams – Feliz

I'm a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air like I don't care baby btw

In one of the song's opening lines, Pharrell uses this metaphor to talk about his positivity and emotional high. When he says he's "a hot air balloon that could go to space," he probably means he's emotionally happy to want to float.

17. Michael Bublé – Alles

You are a fallen star
You are the getaway car
You are the line in the sand
if i go too far
you are the pool
on an August day
And you're the perfect thing to say

Another example of a song full of metaphors. The lyrics above are just a small sample of this song, but this jam has metaphors woven into every verse. In this song, Michael Bublé describes a romantic couple through a series of metaphors. He uses descriptions such as a fallen star, a runaway car, a line in the sand, and a swimming pool to express his feelings for his partner.

18. Benny Benassi with Gary Go – Cine

I could look at you all my life
you are my favorite movie
A thousand endings
You mean everything to me

you are a cinema
I could watch you forever
I could watch you forever

This popular song is also about a love interest. The author uses the metaphor of "a movie" to describe his feelings for his love interest. By saying that your love interest is your "favorite movie," you probably mean that you could spend hours and hours with that person and never get bored.

19. Calvin Harris - Looks like it

I am your window,suction cupfor your love
i wear your glasses, virtual reality

So many metaphors about romantic love interests! Pharrell drops a few more lines in this song to describe his feelings for his love interest. A window dresser is a common term for a person who views clothing items in a store without making a purchase. The metaphor Pharrell uses probably describes him having a crush on this love interest, but he's out there right now just watching. In the next line, he mentions that he wears virtual reality goggles. Most likely, this line means that Pharrell has delved so deep into his love interest that he sees life through his eyes.

20. Mac Miller - Self Care

Now I know the cure is on call
You look like you're hot enough to melt
, Sim

Can't trust anyone, can't even trust himself, yeah

It is unfortunate that this young and talented musician lost his life so early. This song, Self Care, was one of his most popular songs from his last album right after he lost his life. This song is clearly about Mac Miller's struggle with his own personal emotional issues. The metaphor he uses speaks for itself. He refers to the "medicine" that is on call and uses a metaphor in the next line to describe the intense and overwhelming sensation of that medicine.

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