Apprendre l’anglais en chanson : Gimme gimme gimme… ABBA!

Hi there English learners!

J’ai rédigé cet article en anglais. C’est une bonne façon d’introduire du vocabulaire de base et du vocabulaire du thème concerné.

Sans compter que lire de l’anglais est une étape cruciale pour bien l’apprendre. Pour vous aider, je vous ai mis le vocabulaire à la suite de chaque paragraphe.

On commence par une introduction pour donner un peu de contexte (et par la même occasion du bon vocabulaire). Ensuite je vous mets les paroles de la chanson, avec le lien vers une vidéo pour écouter en même temps. Et on finira bien sûr avec le vocabulaire de la chanson en question.

Let’s go! And don’t forget to enjoy learning! 😉 🕺

Learning English with songs 🎶

I always say that you should learn English in an entertaining1 way. So if you like video games, then play them in English, if you’re fond of2 movies or series, then watch them in English… And one great way to have fun learning this beautiful language is through3 music. 🎼 You’ll also find it easier to remember4.

1 entertaining: interestingly amusing and enjoyable
tr: amusant, distrayant, divertissant

2 to be fond of (sb/sth): having a liking for or feeling affection for (sb/sth)
tr: aimer beaucoup qn/qch, adorer qn/qch

3 through: by doing sth, by using sth
tr: par, à travers

4 remember sth: to keep in one’s mind, to have sth in memory
tr: se souvenir de qch, mémoriser qch

 

And some say repetition is one of the best ways to learn, well you cannot really watch a series over and over again5 (okay you can do it, but you’ll probably end up6 being fed up with7 it at some point) and it’s tricky8 to remember it because they equal to a big amount9 of time. Whereas a song it’s short and also quite10 repetitive, perfect!

5 over and over again: repeatdly
tr: sans cesse/arrêt, encore et encore

6 end up: become, to be in a state after doing sth or because of doing it
tr: finir par, se retrouver à

7 fed up with (sb/sth): very tired of sb/sth, to be exasperated by sb/sth
tr: en avoir ras-le-bol/marre/assez de qn/qch

8 tricky: difficult to deal with and needs careful attention or skill
tr: délicat, difficile

9 amount: a quantity of sth
tr: quantité de qch

10 quite: very, to a very noticeable degree or extent
tr: assez, plutôt

 

My experience: starting to learn English thanks to music

As far as I’m concerned11, I have learned a lot of English thanks to12 one of the most famous and successful pop groups of all time: the one and the only, ABBA! I would spend my days listening13 to their genius songs (on LPs14 back then15).

11 As far as I’m concerned: this expression is used to give your opinion
tr: pour ma part, en ce qui me concerne

12 thanks to: with the help of, because of
tr: grâce à

13 I would spend my time doing sth
tr : Je passais mon temps à
Ici “would” est utilisé pour exprimer une habitude passée (to refer to a repeated action in past). On le traduirait en français par un verbe conjugué à l’imparfait.
spend one’s time doing sth: pass time in a specified way (doing a particular activity) or in a particular place
tr : consacrer/passer du temps à faire qch

14 LPs: LP (plural LPs) stands for long-playing (record) so it’s a vinyl, a phonograph record, one that turns 33 times a minute
tr: 33 tours

ABBA vinyl
A vinyl looks like this. As you may have noticed, this is a ABBA one.

15 back then: in those days
tr: en ce temps-là, à l’époque

 

I’m sure you know ABBA or at least some of their songs. It’s a Swedish band16 formed by four members, two women (Agnetha, the blond one, and Anni-Frid or Frida, the brunette) and two men (Benny and Björn). The name is derived from17 their initials:

16 band: a group of musicians who play modern music together
tr: groupe (de musique)

17 to be derived from: to come from
tr: être derive de, venir de

 

To make it short, they became world famous by winning The Eurovision Song Contest with the song Waterloo on April 6, 1974. ABBA dominated the charts all over the world throughout18 the seventies19 and into the eighties. As you’re probably aware20, they are still extremely popular today. In the nineties, Benny and Björn composed the famous musical21 Mamma Mia! which is entirely based on the songs of ABBA.

MM! in New York
Mamma Mia! is the 9th longest-running Broadway show and the longest-running jukebox musical in Broadway history!

18 throughout sth: during all of a certain time
tr: tout au long de, durant tout qch

19 seventies: a set of years (a decade) ending in digits ranging from 70 to 79
tr: années 70
N.B. : Bien sûr on peut faire de même avec les autres décennies : the sixties = les années 60, the twenties = les années 20. On peut également voir leur abréviation, par exemple pour les années 70 qui donne donc the seventies, l’abréviation en anglais s’écrira ainsi : the 70s (on peut aussi mettre the 1970s).
En général, ce nom ne prend pas de majuscule, sauf lorsqu’il constitue un nom propre qui fait office de titre pour une décennie, surtout aux Etats-Unis, comme par exemple the Roaring Twenties ou the Swinging Sixties. Lorsqu’il est écrit en chiffre vous pourrez le trouver parfois avec une apostrophe en anglais américain (par ex. the 1970’s, the 70’s ou the ‘70s) mais la grande majorité des codes typographiques (style guides) suggèrent de ne pas l’utiliser.

20 As you’re probably aware: there is a great chance you know what is going to be said
tr: Comme vous le savez probablement,

21 musical: a movie or play that tells a story with songs and often dancing 🎵🕺👩‍🎤
tr: comédie musicale

 

The smash hit22 musical has been and still is played in more than 50 countries in all 6 continents, and it has been translated into23 22 languages! A film adaptation was released24 in July 2008. The feel-good25 hit movie starring26 some of the biggest names of the film industry (Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters…) was one of the box office smashes of that year. And an amazing sequel27 has been released this summer.

Posters of Mamma Mia! The Movie

22 smash hit: a person or often a play, show or song that is very successful or popular
tr: gros succès, tube, faire un carton
N.B. : A propos de cette expression, je vous conseille d’aller jeter un coup d’œil à ce super petit article sur le blog du célèbre dictionnaire Merriam-Webster :
https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/smash-hit-origins-definition

23 translate into: to change words and their meaning from one language into another language
tr: traduire vers

24 release sth (a movie, show, album, anything in the entertainment world): to make sth available to the public
tr: sortir, paraître

25 feel-good: causing good, positive, satisfying or happy feelings
tr: qui donne la pêche, qui réchauffe le cœur

26 starring: featuring in a lead role ⭐
tr: avec XXX dans les rôles principaux

27 sequel: a book, movie, etc., that continues a previously related story in another book, movie, etc. 1️⃣2️⃣3️⃣
tr: suite (d’un livre ou d’un film)

Make use of your passion to learn English!

Okay, I’m a huge fan and could spend hours telling you stories about ABBA, explaining their history but that’s not what this blog is about. By the way, I’ve also learned a lot of English while reading books about them when I was a kid and a teenager. So really, if you’re passionate about something, find books, videos, and other stuff28 like interviews you can read on the web… in English. Trust me, it’s THE best way to learn!

28 stuff: informal word for thing(s)
tr: truc(s)

ABBA LP cover for the song Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)

Let’s start learning English with the song Gimme29! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) which was recorded30 and released in 1979. It was written and composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, as usual31, with the lead vocal sung by Agnetha Fältskog. “Agnetha, as the narrator, weaves the image of a lonely32 young woman who longs for33 a romantic relationship and views her loneliness as a forbidding34 darkness of night, even drawing parallels to35 how the happy endings36 of movie stars are so different from her own existence.”

29 gimme: contraction of give me
tr: donne-moi

30 record (music): to put the words, sound, speech, performance etc. on something (such as a disc or magnetic tape) in reproducible form
tr: enregister
N.B. : Le verbe to record et le nom commun a record n’ont pas la même prononciation (accentuation différente d’un terme selon s’il s’agit d’un verbe ou d’un nom) :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DC83GB5PWmY

31 as usual: in the way that happens or exists most of the time or in most cases
tr: comme d’habitude

32 lonely: sad from being alone, from being apart from other people
tr: seul(e)

33 to long for sth: to feel a strong desire or wish for something (not likely to be attained)
tr: brûler d’envie d’avoir qch, avoir très envie de qch

34 forbidding: having a frightening, discouraging or threatening appearance
tr: austère, menaçant

35 draw parallels to: making comparisons
tr: faire des rapprochements

36 happy endings: everything ends well, with a positive outcome
tr: happy end (anglicisme)

 

Here’s the official video. Of course you’ll find the lyrics37 below with its vocabulary 😉

37 lyrics: the words of a song
tr: les paroles
N.B. : Ce terme anglais s’emploie pratiquement tout le temps au pluriel.

Lyrics

Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)

Half past twelve
And I’m watching the late show in my flat38 all alone
How I hate to spend the evening on my own39
Autumn winds
Blowing40 outside my window as I look around the room
And it makes me so depressed to see the gloom41
There’s not a soul42out there
No one to hear my prayer

Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight
Won’t somebody help me chase43 the shadows44 away
Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight
Take me through45 the darkness to the break of the day46

Movie stars
Find the end of the rainbow, with a fortune to win
It’s so different from the world I’m living in
Tired of T. V.
I open the window and I gaze into47 the night
But there’s nothing there to see, no one in sight48
There’s not a soul out there
No one to hear my prayer

Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight
Won’t somebody help me chase the shadows away
Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight
Take me through the darkness to the break of the day

Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight…
Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight…

There’s not a soul out there
No one to hear my prayer

Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight
Won’t somebody help me chase the shadows away
Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight
Take me through the darkness to the break of the day
Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight
Won’t somebody help me chase the shadows away
Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight
Take me through the darkness to the break of the day

 

Songwriters: Benny Göran Bror Andersson, Björn K. Ulvaeus

Gimme Gimme Gimme lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

Vocabulary

38 flat: an apartment typically on one floor 🏢
tr: appartement
N.B. : Ce terme signifie appartement seulement en anglais britannique. On dirait apartment en anglais américain et unit en anglais australien.

39 on one’s own: by yourself, without anyone or anything else
tr: tout(e) seul(e)

40 blow (blew, blown): air or wind moving with speed or force 🌬️
tr: souffler

41 gloom: when sb is in a sad mood, it means depression, melancholy
tr: tristesse, morosité

42 not a soul: nobody
tr: pas un chat, pas âme qui vive

43 chase away (sb/sth): banish, get rid of, cause sb/sth to go away
tr: chaser, repousser (qn/qch)

44 shadows: dark area with no lightening 👥
tr: obscurité, ombre, pénombre

45 take sb through sth: to explain to sb how sth happens or is done by explaining the details of each step
tr: guide/accompagner qn dans qch

46 break of the day: the time when it begins to get light in the morning 🌅
tr: aube, point du jour

47 gaze into sth: to fix the eyes in a steady intent look and often for a long time
tr: regarder fixement qch

48 in sight: visible, within view
tr: en vue

 

Please let me know if there’s vocabulary you think is missing. Also feel free to suggest songs you would want us to add in this blog. 😉 or even other things you’re passionate about so that I can attempt to write blog posts with helpful and educational stuff for you.

Happy learning day to you!

Gif dancing queen in mamma mia the movie

 

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