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I often decide to parody songs to adapt them to different contexts -- mainly for fun, for improving my English and causing an healthy amount of groans into people who read my creations.

However, I also care about putting some quality in my work. Sometimes, the subject matter of the original piece and the new context differ too much to simply change words. For example, from my "I'm on a boat" Die2Nite-themed spinoff:

HEY VERVE, IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW (SEE ME NOOW)
EYES LOOKING OUT AT OUR FAKE TOWN (OUR FAKE TOWN)
GONNA TURN THIS HOUSE IN A CASTLE SOMEHOW (CASTLE SOMEHOW)
LIKE LEROY JERKINS
ANYTHING IS POSSIBLEEEEEE

(original: Hey ma, if you could see me now/ Arms spread wide on the starboard bow/ Gonna fly this boat to the moon somehow/ Like Kevin Garnett/ anything is possible)

The second verse makes me cringe, but I really can't pinpoint why. Is it because I couldn't reproduce the same sentence structure (the original used a past-participle, I'm not), a possible syllable miscount or simply because the words are too different from the original?

Should I generally worry more about being acoustically faithful to the original?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 9 down vote accepted

A good parody requires a similar structure and a similar melody while altering certain words and, thus, the intention of the work.

In the case of the posted verse, the syllable distribution disrupts the flow of particular sentences.

  • Hey Verve, if you could see me now | Hey ma, if could see me now

"Verve" is potentially too bulky to replace the simple "ma".

  • Eyes looking out at our fake town | Arms spread wide on the starboard bow

Here you replicate the same quantity of syllables, but you replace a monosyllabic word with a disyllabic (two syllables) word early in the sentence, and vice versa near the end. This dramatically disrupts the delivery of the sentence vis à vis the original.

  • Gonna turn this house in a castle somehow | Gonna fly this boat to the moon somehow

In the original, the hard "T" sound is used in the middle of the sentence to push into the second half. You use the hard "T" early (in contrast to the soft "F" of the original), and the midway point is replaces the hard "T" "to" with "in," a soft vowel sound.

  • Like Leroy Jenkins | Like Kevin Garnett

This is more a matter of poetic meter. "Jenkins" is trochaic, in that it is a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable. "Garnett" is iambic, in that it is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Your new line does not recreate the meter of the original, and thus loses its rhythm.

Parody is a great method of interrogating language and words, and that you are using it to develop your understanding and mastery of the English language is a laudable goal. I hope you view this criticism as constructive, and only as humble advice towards the improvement and furtherance of your project.

All the best.

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