Under Pressure – Queen and David Bowie

I love everything by David Bowie and Queen, and Freddie Mercury’s voice is just fantastic, so here’s a lesson with these legends. Good for phrasal verbs, prepositions or general discussion about the pressures facing us in our lives.

+ Lead-in:  Show students a photo of Freddie Mercury and David Bowie to elicit prior knowledge and fill in any missing information where necessary.

+ Listen to the song once then spend a few moments noting down any words they heard. Feedback to the class quickly.

+ Hand out a copy of the lyrics per student with some missing words appropriate to the level or language you wish to focus on. Here’s what I did:

Pressure pushing _______ on me

Pressing _______ on you, no man ask for

Under pressure that burns a building _______

Splits a family in two

Puts people ___ streets

It’s the terror of knowing

What this world is about

Watching some good friends

Screaming, “Let me _____!”

Tomorrow gets me higher

Pressure ____ people – people ____ streets

Chippin’ around, kick my brains ’round the floor

These are the days – it never rains but it pours

People ____ streets – people _____ streets

It’s the terror of knowing

What this world is about

Watching some good friends

Screaming, “Let me _____!”

Tomorrow gets me higher, higher, higher…

Pressure ____ people – people ____ streets

Turned _______ from it all like a blind man

Sat on a fence but it don’t work

Keep coming _____ with love but it’s so slashed and torn

Why, why, why?

Love

Insanity laughs under pressure we’re cracking

Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?

Why can’t we give love that one more chance?

Why can’t we give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?..

‘Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word

And love dares you to care ______

The people on the edge of the night

And love dares you to change our way of

Caring _______ ourselves

This is our last dance

This is our last dance

This is ourselves

Under pressure

Under pressure

Pressure

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/queen/underpressure.html

and you can find the original here:

Pressure pushing down on me

Pressing down on you, no man ask for

Under pressure that burns a building down

Splits a family in two

Puts people on streets

It’s the terror of knowing

What this world is about

Watching some good friends

Screaming, “Let me out!”

Tomorrow gets me higher

Pressure on people – people on streets

Chippin’ around, kick my brains ’round the floor

These are the days – it never rains but it pours

People on streets – people on streets

It’s the terror of knowing

What this world is about

Watching some good friends

Screaming, “Let me out!”

Tomorrow gets me higher, higher, higher…

Pressure on people – people on streets

Turned away from it all like a blind man

Sat on a fence but it don’t work

Keep coming up with love but it’s so slashed and torn

Why, why, why?

Love

Insanity laughs under pressure we’re cracking

Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?

Why can’t we give love that one more chance?

Why can’t we give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?..

‘Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word

And love dares you to care for

The people on the edge of the night

And love dares you to change our way of

Caring about ourselves

This is our last dance

This is our last dance

This is ourselves

Under pressure

Under pressure

Pressure

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/queen/underpressure.html

+ Allow time for them to fill in any words they heard previously.

+ Play the song again then allow time to check in pairs before feeding back the answers as a whole class discussion. Have students read parts of the song.

+ Some interesting points to mention or elicit when going through the song depending on the levels you are teaching (www.genius.com is a great website for this) :

  • Freddie used to do vocal warm ups with his audiences at shows and used this in a number of songs such as this one.
  • Check understanding of “people on streets”, eliciting that it might refer to homeless people, or protest perhaps (very fitting with recent events around the world…)
  • Get them to think about the line “no man ask for” and correct it grammatically.
  • If asked, explain that “chipping around” could refer to doing nothing, wasting time or even using cocaine.
  • Elicit “to sit on the fence” with reference to making decisions.

+ Play the video if you have time. It’s great and can lead to lots of discussion. You could even talk about whether there are any similarities or differences between the time when it was written (1982) and today.

+ Discuss the following questions in groups, pairs or get students moving by creating discussion corners:

  • What do you think this song is about?
  • What can make people feel under pressure, according to the song? Are there any other things?
  • “It never rains, but it pours” – comes from a well-known expression “When it rains, it pours” – What do you think this means?
  • Turned away from it all like a blind man – Explain this in your own words.
  • What do the singers think about love? Do you agree?
  • (Depending on how well you know your older teens/adults) Have you ever felt under pressure? E.g. work, school or something else (e.g. parental or family pressure)
  • What should people do if they ever feel under pressure?

+ Bring the class back together for some final comments, good language heard and error correction.

I hope you enjoyed this lesson. I’d love to hear how it went, or any other comments and suggestions you have!

I’ll try and post something on here every week, so keep checking back regularly for new lessons.

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