Introduction to the theme
- Introduce the song and its context. Explain that it was released in 1989 as the first single from Phil Collins’ album …But Seriously. It won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1991 and was nominated for Song of the Year. It also topped the charts in many countries, including the US, UK, Canada and Australia.
- Play the video below of Phil Collins performing the song live at Live Aid 1985.
- Ask students to listen carefully to the lyrics and the way he uses pictures in this video. What effect does this have on you?
- Distribute copies of the lyrics : 2 and ask students to read along as you play the song again.
- Discuss the meaning and message of the song with students. Explain that it is about the social problem of homelessness and poverty. The singer contrasts his own comfortable life with that of a woman who lives on the street and asks for help He uses irony and sarcasm when he says “it’s just another day for you and me in paradise,” to show how indifferent people are to this issue. He also repeats this phrase throughout the song to emphasize how common and widespread this problem is6.
- Ask students to identify some literary devices used in the song, such as metaphor, simile, personification, imagery, rhyme, repetition etc. For example:
- Metaphor: “She calls out to the man on the street” (meaning any passerby) [Verse 1]
- Repetition: The chorus repeats the phrase “another day for you and me in paradise” four times, emphasizing the irony and sarcasm of the narrator’s perspective12. The verses also repeat words like “oh”, “think”, and “lord” to create a sense of urgency and emotion3
- Personification: “Oh Lord, there must be something you can say” (giving human qualities to God) [Bridge]
- Symbolism: The song uses objects such as a cardboard box, a blanket, and a coat as symbols of poverty, survival, and generosity12. The song also uses light and darkness as symbols of hope and despair
- Imagery: “It’s cold and I’ve nowhere to sleep / Is there somewhere you can tell me?” (creating a vivid picture of her situation) [Verse 1]
- Rhyme: “street / sleep / me” [Verse 1]; “crying / trying / lying” [Chorus]; “say / away / day” [Bridge]
- Repetition: “It’s just another day for you and me in paradise” (repeated four times in each chorus)
There were some controversies about this song. In groups, discuss if you agree or disagree with the critics;
The song “Another Day in Paradise” by Phil Collins was criticized for being hypocritical and insensitive to the problem of homelessness12. Some critics argued that Collins was exploiting the issue for commercial gain and that he was out of touch with the reality of poverty2. Others felt that the song was too preachy and simplistic in portraying homelessness. Collins responded to the criticism of his song by saying that he was not trying to be a spokesperson for the homeless but rather to raise awareness and empathy for their plight1. He also said that he was inspired by his own experience of seeing a homeless woman outside a recording studio and feeling guilty for ignoring her2. He defended his song as being honest and sincere, and not motivated by commercial success3.
Assign some of these articles for reading that relate to the theme of homelessness and poverty. The links are in numbers at the end of the sentence.
- Homelessness Monitor 2022 | England | Crisis UK: This report provides an independent analysis of the homelessness impacts of recent economic and policy developments in England. It warns that homelessness is set to soar by a third by 2024 due to rising living costs and benefit cuts1.
- Homelessness set to soar in England amid cost of living crisis: This article from The Guardian reports on the findings of the Homelessness Monitor 2022 and highlights the stories of some people who are facing homelessness or living in temporary accommodation.
- Homelessness statistics – GOV.UK: This collection from the government website provides various statistics on homelessness and rough sleeping in England, such as statutory homelessness, prevention and relief, temporary accommodation, and rough sleeping counts and estimates. Source.
- https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jan/23/homelessness-in-england-rises-by-165-in-past-decade . The Guardian
Ask students to write an essay on one of these topics or choose their own:
- How does Phil Collins use music and lyrics to convey his message about homelessness and poverty?
- What are some causes and effects of homelessness and poverty in your country or around the world?
- What are some possible solutions or actions that individuals or governments can take to address homelessness and poverty? The Guardian.
This lesson plan was written with the help of the New Bing.