Halftime Leisure

The Weekly List: Songs that Summarize Shakespeare

April 18, 2016

Shakespeare is not everyone’s cup of tea. For those who find the bard’s language a little daunting, modern music artists have been kind enough to recreate some of his pieces in three to four minute stories.  Humans of Shakespeare’s era and we humans of today, we aren’t so different after all.  The Bard just didn’t have a bass drum. Halftime presents the Weekly List: Songs That Summarize Shakespeare.

  1.  Hamlet: “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” – Mike Posner

For the story in which a son basically questions everything and drives his sort of girlfriend literally crazy, Mike Posner delivers a new rendition of what it means to be royal in this day and age, as he questions his own existence as a pop-culture prince.

  1. Macbeth: “Me Myself and I” ~ G Eazy

G Eazy’s song “Me Myself and I” is a striking representation of ambition in our modern court.  The song depicts the rapper and his two other personalities (perhaps a three witches innuendo) alternately reveling in the power that comes from being a celebrity, wanting to crawl into a hole because the power and ambition has become a debauchery of whims, and of course, as the woman in the car with G-Eazy at the beginning of the song, urging him to see his adoring fans and be the center of attention- hello lady Macbeth anyone?


“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury

Signifying nothing.”


Listen and you’ll hear G’s simpler rendition.

  1.     12th Night: “What Do You Mean?” ~ Justin Bieber

When Viola pretends to be a boy named Cesario but falls in love with a duke and Sebastian her brother supposedly drowns but is actually alive and visiting some island that sounds like a disease and the duke of said island is the duke that Viola/Cesario fell in love with and when everyone nods their heads yes but they want to say no because what even… Just what do you mean.

  1. Taming of the Shrew: “Can’t Hold Us Down” ~Christina Aguilera

Xtina, because she’s sporting the dark hair at this point, gives us a modern feminist anthem that pretty much sums up Katherina’s perspective when courted in this Shakespeare classic. “So what am I not supposed to have an opinion/ Should I be quiet just because I’m a woman/ Call me a bitch cos I speak what’s on my mind/ Guess it’s easier for you to swallow if I sat and smiled.” Thanks Xtina for giving us a rebuttal to the misogyny in this play.  Cheers.  


  1. Romeo and Juliet: “I Knew You Were Trouble” ~ Taylor Swift

Well the Taylor’s title pretty much sums up this whole forbidden love.  I’m not sure how these two star crossed lovers thought this whole dating across factions was going to work, but pretty sure Juliette knew Romeo was trouble when he walked in.  And if she really didn’t know it the first time she saw the guy, she should have after he killed Paris. Well, after the poison and the knife, you are both lying on the cold hard ground.

  1. Richard III: “Gimme More” ~ Britney Spears

Britney and the villainous monarch have something in common.  Neither can get enough.  “Gimme More” pretty much sums up Ricky’s ascent to power, killing everything and anything in his way.

  1. Othello: “Jealous” ~ Nick Jonas

So…. The Moorish King kills his wife because he thought she was cheating on him.  Let’s hope Nick doesn’t go that far, but his song gives us a decent idea of the inner demons Othello fought with, and ultimately lost to.  Keep those demons at bay Nick!

  1. A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “Must Be the Ganja” ~ Eminem

In case you weren’t keeping up with the happenings in the fairyland espoused in Shakespeare’s most well known play, Eminem says it straight; “must be the ganja.”  What else could make an angry Fairy king, an Amazon wedding, potions, and knavish sprites seem so vivid?

  1. Sonnets: Lay Me Down” ~ Sam Smith

The sonnets address love: obsessional, beautiful, survivalist, relatable, unending love.  Sam Smith evokes a bit of the Bard’s prose when he asks if he can lay himself down beside his lover. We all search for that one who we can lay by for eternity.  The core of humanity hasn’t changed since Shakespeare’s time.




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